Solar Power Generation Updates

July 22

  • It’s noon in July, and only 28W are being generated.
  • At 12:15 pm 57W were being generated, and all lithium batteries were at 100 % capacity.
  • At 5:00 pm input is zero, but all batteries are charged 100%.

July 23

The first summer I had a solar panel I moved it a lot. Changing the angle of the panel optimized the power being generated. However, it is heavy, the cables are cumbersome, and I broke some connections; I also have limited battery storage. So, this year I have picked one good location and angle, and kept the panel stationary. The power generated is adequate for my needs.

In order to manage the power that is generated, and stored, I want to know what times of day are good for generating power. That is the data I am collecting today.

Heat Dome powered solar panels; Okay to power my office, but not amazing!

I’m not sure why, but my 100 Watt solar panel is only generating, a maximum of, 55W during these sunniest of days…

There have been times when a tree branch moved, and caused a small amount of shade, but a large drop in Watts. Also its very hot in direct sun, so maybe that is affecting performance of the solar panel.

I think its time to wash down the panel. There’s definitely some bird poop, and dust. Input pre wash is 53 W…

There were THREE small bird poops on the solar panel! I washed them all off. Then, as I was returning to my office to check if there was any improvement in output – I tripped on the cables, and broke a connection. Suddenly the panel is generating zero watts, eep, but is nice and clean! I fiddled around with the connections, and now am generating 56W! This suggests that each bird poop was decreasing my power generation by 1W each.

Power generation has previously been in the high sixties. Maybe its the angle of the panel, and the sun. But I’m happy with 56W. All of my lithium ion batteries are 100% charged. I’m running a laptop, and a fan; these are drawing 61W. I will try to do some work on paper, and unplug the laptop later this afternoon. To make sure that my lithium ion batteries are at 100 at end of day.

4:30 pm solar input is 10W. There isn’t a cloud in the sky, but the sun has dropped down behind the trees.

July 1: As the heat dome moves eastward, the temperature has decreased, the skies are overcast, and solar power generation is 10W at noon. An odd day, because at 4:22, power generation was up to 27W

In the past, moving my panel around the garden has caused cable connectivity issues. So I am a bit cautious about doing that, and as long as my batteries are almost always 100% full, I don’t think there’s any need to manage the angles more closely. If I was generating more power; without increasing my storage capacity, my batteries would be continuously maxed out at 100%. Monitoring solar panel output is fun, but my office usage does not warrant more batteries, or more effort to track the angle of the sun.

I have never run out of solar power, for my office, in any season. Solar powered office is working well!

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

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!