A Solar Powered Office, In Winter, In BC: How’s that working out?

Photo from December 20, 2020

I am updating my website, have lots of ideas for ‘the new digital reality’, and am ready to jump in with new content, and a revamped website ….


The first update is related to my solar power situation, and I am going to track my energy input and outputs (in Watts). To show how easy it is to run an office on solar power, even in winter, in BC. 

Solar power for my office is working very well!

Sunday, Feb 7, 2021
It was a beautiful sunny day in Victoria, BC. Solar input was consistently 60W all afternoon. When the sun went down my laptop was fully charged, and both lithium ion batteries were charged to 100% capacity, meaning I started the work week at 9 am on Monday morning with 660W of stored power, and a fully charged laptop. 

Monday, Feb 8, 2021
When my batteries are fully charged, there is no capacity for storage, and my solar power generation is zero. I have been working on my laptop for several hours. There is no need to use a desk light today. At lunch time my laptop battery is 95% and my lithium ion batteries are at 100%

To be as sustainable as possible, I try not to run a printer, and either read docs on my laptop screen or add them to my Dropbox™, which is synchronized with a kobo e-reader (charged using solar generated power). 
At 3 pm: solar output (running laptop, inverter, desk light, and charging cell phone) was 30W. Input was 5W. Battery charge = 100% (I know that doesn’t add up, I can’t explain it). Reports of brief snow in Vancouver, but no snow, or precipitation of any kind, in Victoria!

End of Day Monday: Lithium ion batteries charged 100%, laptop 88%; phone 52%

Tuesday, Feb 9, 2021
9:00 am: Solar power generation = 2W at 9:00 am; running laptop on its own battery. Today, in addition to my regular work activities, I have two webinars (total duration = 3 h). Total stored energy = 660W.
Lunchtime: Input = 33W; output = 25W (desk light and webinar). Lithium ion batteries still charged 100% (660W stored). 

End of Day Tuesday: Lithium ion batteries charged 90% (594W stored)

Wednesday Feb 10, 2021 
Despite snow, solar generation has stayed within 5 to 10W all morning. Both lithium ion batteries were 90%charged at the start of the day. Considering that the next sun in the forecast is one week away; I plan to conserve the stored power by using my laptop monitor only, and not using a second monitor.
Mid-day: Input = 6W; output = 5W

End of Day Wednesday total stored power = 539.6W; Laptop battery charged to 85%.

It’s winter, solar input is consistently low (<5W) with occasional sunny periods. I don’t think input and output details throughout the day are useful. I’m just going to estimate the quantity of stored energy at the end of each work day, and see how long I can power my office on solar power alone. Moving forward updates will be the total Watts of stored energy at the end of each work day, or when the sun goes down.

Thursday EOD (end of day): Total stored energy from solar generation = 565.2W

Friday EOD: Total stored energy = 558.8W

This weekend it snowed heavily in Victoria. Therefore no solar power generation to charge my batteries. Total stored power  usage for the week (Feb 8 – 12) = 101.2W. It is raining now, but I hope to top up my batteries, and keep the office running on solar power, even with low winter light levels. 

Week starting: Monday February 15, 2021

9 am Monday: total stored power = 542W

Feb 16: EOD total stored energy = 461.6 W

Feb 17: EOD total stored energy = 565W

Feb 18: EOD total stored energy= 418.4 W

Feb 19: EOD total energy storage = 372.6 W

Feb 22: 9 am total stored energy = 404.6 W

The last two weeks of dull, and dreary, BC winter, have included snow, rain, and some sun; The total stored power has been depleted by 118 W and 137.4 W per week respectively. It is reasonable to assume that running a full time office with multiple Zoom meetings per day, a desk light, a fully charged laptop, that is running the full suite of MS Windows, is connected to the internet by Wi-Fi, and is keeping a phone charged, will need up to an additional 140 W of power most weeks. This means that once the batteries are fully charged, during winter, I can expect to keep the office running on solar for five weeks without a top up.
Today was a beautiful sunny day, and I stored an extra 147 W of power. If tomorrow is similar, my lithium ion batteries will be fully charged by the end of day (EOD).  This winter was a bit of an experiment to see if I could keep running my office on solar, in dull, grey, BC, and the answer is heck yes!

Monday Morning Solar battery updates:

total stored solar generated power

Monday, March 8…………………………………………………………………………………………. 605W

Exciting News!

Alison Edwards has been selected as a speaker at the Society for Technical Communication’s (STC’s) Technical Communication Summit Conference and Expo (5-9 June 2021). In 2021 the Summit will be entirely virtual.

I will be talking about tools for creating fundraising narratives.  Explaining how to use the ‘Hero’s journey’ and ‘Logic Models’ to create narratives for donors/sponsors and funders (grant proposals).

My talk is titled ‘Slaying Dragons and logic’, I will also be submitting a proceedings paper.


A Solar Powered Office: How does that work?

I run a laptop, a second monitor, a desk fan, a desk light, and charge my phone on solar power. I can run a printer, but I try not to, because its a waste of energy when I can easily work on a screen.

What I bought:

  • 100W solar panel ($248.29)
  • twenty feet of solar extension ($41.29)
  • Solar Connector to 8 mm Adapter Cable ($39.89)
  • Jackery Explorer500 Portable Power Station ($666.66)
  • Jackery Explorer160 Portable Power Station ($229.99)

I bought the explorer160 Power Station first, and decided that I wanted more power outlets, and more storage capacity; So I bought a second, bigger power station – the Explorer500. My original set-up cost less than $600, and was completely adequate for a home office. I have no regrets about buying a second power station, because I use it for camping, and when there is a blackout, or an earthquake, I will have power 🙂

I have both portable power generators sitting on my desk (see above) and switch the connector cable (from the solar panel) between them throughout the day. When the battery charge is 100% on one, I charge the other. I keep an eye on the battery levels to make sure neither one ever reaches zero.

I bought the solar panel from a local company, on the island, called ‘We Go Solar’, and am very happy with their service!

I bought the power stations from Amazon.ca

Jackery Explorer 500:
Lithium battery power: 518Wh/144,400mAh
battery capacity, 500W Rated Power and 1000W Surge Power from the pure-sine wave AC port.

Jackery Explorer 160:
can charge from USB Type-C, USB and AC outlet.
rechargeable lithium-ion batteries providing 167 watt-hours of energy storage.

The explorer 160 has a type C USB port, but does not have a pure sine wave inverter. The Jackery 500 has a pure sine wave inverter, and three USB ports, none of which are Type C.

Saronic 100Watt 12V Poly Crystaline Solar Panel, with cable and clips +taxes = $248.29 CAD

My 100 W Saronic solar panel

I am very happy with my solar powered office. I like that I can work during a blackout. I live and work in a seismically active area, and consider this to be part of my earthquake kit!

Grammar Tip: Hyphenating Prefixes

Hyphenating prefixes

Prefixes are additional letters or numbers at the front of a word that change it’s meaning.  Examples of common prefixes include: inter, intra, anti, milli, hyper etc. Most common prefixes are not hyphenated (check with a dictionary, or a technical writer).

Prefixes that are hyphenated include chemical terms with an italicized prefix: cis-dimethylethylene, or ß-lactose.

Use a hyphen when the second part of a word starts with the same vowel that the first part of the word ends with; For example, pre-eminent, re-educate, co-opt, semi-invalid, or if the word would be difficult to read without a hyphen; For example, co-author, de-icing.


Intergenerational day, June 1st, is a day that celebrates connections between age groups. This year has been particularly tough for seniors during the pandemic. However, the founder of Edwards Technical Writing, Alison Edwards, was lucky to be able to work from home, and isolate with other generations of her family; Including her dad. Thanks for all the pandemic scrabble games Dad!

Nominated for a Business Award

Edwards Technical Writing is very happy to have been nominated in the category of New Business in the 2020 Greater Victoria Business Awards.

This is a great opportunity to highlight the hard work, value, and determination, that has gone into creating this business. A business that was built from scratch, and has grown over the last two years. Working with the non-profit community, as a business, and as a volunteer, and planning for a sustainable future.


Second Business Birthday

2nd Bday

Happy second birthday to Edwards Technical Writing.

As I celebrate my second “business birthday”, I look back and reflect on lessons learned, achievements, and plans for the future.

I have been nominated for a Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce Business Award!

                                                      **** Woo hoo ****

I am busy, and cannot take on any new clients until March; That is a substantial achievement, as I started the business from scratch, with no clients.

I am working on a writing contract for the federal government (Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa). This is not only incredibly interesting work, but is in the field that I earned an MSc. Scientific writing is something that I enjoy, am good at, and makes me happy!

Writing grant proposals also makes me excited! And its grant season in Victoria! With deadlines either just passed, or imminent for the City of Victoria and the Victoria Foundation.

Business is good!


Plans for the future? Making my business carbon neutral? I’m still figuring out conceptually how this is going to look. If your business is carbon neutral, send me an email, and we can go for coffee, and brainstorm ways to reduce our businesses carbon footprint.

Happy early February everybody!







Grant Preparation Season


Grant Season

  • Is your Grants Calendar up-to-date?
  • Do you have an up-to-date spreadsheet of prospective grant funders?
  • Do your projects have great wording that describes their impact, outcomes and outputs?
  • Do you have a logic model?
  • Are your mission and vision statements top-notch?
  • Do you need to hire a local Grant Writer?

The Victoria Foundations’ Community Grant application window opens February 3, 2020, and closes March 2, 2020.

………….. call Alison Edwards, the owner of Edwards Technical Writing

(250 704 4439)