Eco friendly fly and bug traps

insect trapsEnvironmentally safe fly traps,  cockroach traps and  moth traps, are proven as an effective and cheap method of ridding our living spaces of these pests, yet so few people use them.

The fly traps use a non toxic water solution of food grade attractant to lure and trap flies very effectively, once trapped in the container they drown. When the container is full it can be flushed out and reused with fresh bait. The dead flies  can even be buried in that garden to decompose into compost. The soil is nourished and the environment is unharmed.

The moth traps and cockroach traps use the same food grade attractant  which is mixed into a sticky coating inside the cardboard trap. They become trapped and die. Once the trap becomes ineffective after 3 months,  it can be safely disposed  without harm to the environment.

Visit the pest control category of Ecopia for more information about these non toxic fly, moth and cockroach traps

 

Posted in Eco friendly products

Camping with Solar Power

Solar power is preferable when camping as it is non polluting, quiet and it is a free energy source.
So what do you need to provide solar power for camping?

The basic setup requires  a portable solar panel and a battery to store the solar power.  Most  portable solar kits generate 12 volt DC power which is then stored in a deep cycle 12V battery to power DC appliances and lighting or converted to AC with an inverter so AC appliances and lights can be run.

The solar panels output voltage is controlled by a solar regulator to ensure the battery is not overcharged. Some solar regulators can also monitor and cut off the battery output to ensure the battery is not completely drained as that is bad for any battery. Always try to keep at least 50% battery charge because battery life is greatly reduced when drained excessively.

Higher voltage systems, 24 volts or even 48V, are preferable when using high wattage inverters for running larger AC appliances, but in terms of power production or efficiency they are not any better than the more common 12 volt solar power apart from the fact that heavier wiring is required for lower voltages as the current is proportionally higher.

Solar panels require minimum maintenance,  apart from keeping them clean so they  absorb maximum solar energy. Also ensure the battery is kept in good health by using a good charger controller (solar regulator)  to keep it properly charged and maintained in good health.

Once you have enjoyed the convenience of  solar power for camping you will never look back.
Visit Ecopia for more information about camping  solar panel kits

Posted in Recreation

Types of Solar Panels

There is always a lot of confusion about the types of solar panels in use and the benefits of using one type over another.

Two types of solar panel

There are really just two types of solar panel in general use:

  1. Crystalline – made from silicon wafers cut from crystals
  2. Amorphous – made from silicon film deposited on a layer of glass, these are also thin film solar panels

Crystalline solar cells are made from large crystals of silicon which are sliced in thin wafers and treated with
Mono crystalline cells are  cut from a single large crystal
Multi crystalline cells  (also called poly crystalline) are cut from a block of many silicon crystals fused together, these are called

There is virtually no difference between the mono crystalline or multi crystalline  both will give the same output for a similar sized solar panel and will perform identically.

Amorphous solar cells, also called thin film solar cells (although there are other types also called thin film),  are about half as  efficient and will require twice the area of solar cells to have the same power as a crystalline panel with the same power output.

They do have some advantage over crystalline solar panels;  producing relatively better levels of power in low light conditions than crystalline cells  and they also perform slightly better in hot weather.

Because of their cell layout they are not affected as much by shading issues,  losing less power when partially shaded than an equivalent crystalline module. Ecopia has done tests of amorphous  V crystalline solar panels that show power losses of 20-30%  if  10%  of  an A-Si  solar panel that is shaded , while C-Si  solar panels are much more sensitive to partial shade and will lose 50 – 80%  output when a similar area of the panel is shaded.

Posted in Recreation

How to use Solar Panels for Charging Batteries

Solar chargers  used for charging mobiled phones are becoming popular, they are small enough to carrry around and versatile too because, apart from using solar power for charging they can also be recharged from a USB port.
But these solar chargers won’t recharge theslarger batteries used in cordless tools and rechargeable torches because they don’t have enough power. That’s when you need a 12V solar panel.

Most people see solar panels as a high-tech gadget but really they are pretty simple to use. One of the easiest ways to use a solar panel is to connect it directly to a battery and place it outside in the sun.  But the battery voltage must be the same as the solar panel.

To make up a proper 12 volt solar charger for charging large lead acid batteries you need a solar panel, a solar regulator, wiring and suitable connectors and you have a larger version of the little solar charger.

So essentially all you need to charge a battery is the right sized solar panel and a solar regulator  connected to the battery with suitable wiring.
Try it,  you will surprised how easy it is.

 

 

Posted in Recreation

Solar power for renters

Many homeowners are installing solar panels  on their roofs for converting sunlight to electricity. This is a great way to harness free energy from the sun for homeowners.
But if you are renting a house or apartment then of course you cant just install a grid-tied solar panel system on the roof.

But there are ways to still take advantage of clean free energy from the sun by using 12V solar panels that can be temporarily installed.

Portable solar chargers and portable solar panels have been popular with  caravan users so the same kits can be used  for renters as they do not require permanent   installation.  The folding solar panel kits are self-standing units that can be used to provide power for lighting and appliances like TVs and radios.
Most renters would prefer a movable solar panel that can be packed away when not needed or semi-permanent installations like pole-mounted solar panels.
This is very useful as a solar power installation can be placed in a sunny back yard or even on a balcony that is north-facing. In a typical portable system a solar panel is used to charge up a 12 volt battery system. The output power can be used as 12 volt DC or  inverted to 240 volts AC for powering normal household appliances. The possibilities and applications are endless.

Posted in Recreation

Choosing the right Solar Regulator

One of the more complicated bits of any stand alone solar power setup is the solar regulator,  its primary function is to ensure the battery is properly charged but not overcharged.

It is connected between the solar panel and battery with one pair of leads bringing unregulated solar power from the solar panel and another pair supplying charging power to the battery.

Some of the better solar regulators have another pair of leads supplying battery power to the load (the device using the power). This is so it can monitor the battery power going to the load and shut of this power supply if the battery voltage drops too low,  thus preventing the battery from running  flat.  After the solar panels have recharged the battery the load supply is reconnected.

The types of batteries being charged by these systems are usually 12 volt lead acid types, either flooded (wet),  sealed GEL or sealed AGM. Most of the basic solar regulators are factory preset to charge either flooded or sealed Gel batteries. The difference is in the maximum voltage supplied,  flooded batteries have the capacity to take a higher voltage while Gel and AGMs need to restrict the maximum voltage during the later stages of charging.

The more advanced solar regulators  can be set to charge flooded, AGM or gel batteries and some with adjustable settings can be set to provide precise levels of voltage during the different stages of the charging cycle.

So when buying a solar regulator always check to see if it will be compatible with the type of battery you are using.

There are 3 main considerations when selecting a solar regulator:

  1. The regulator must be rated for the voltage supplied by the solar panel (12 Volts, 24 Volts, etc)
  2. The maximum amps (Imp) supplied by the solar panel  must not exceed the amps rating of the solar regulator.
  3. The regulator’s charging voltage should be compatible with the battery type. Ge batteriesl are most sensitive to excessive charge voltage, closely followed by AGM. Flooded (wet cell) batteries can be charged with any type. Try to find the battery manufacturer  specifications for charging voltages and compare with the solar regulators specifications.

Therefore a 12 volt, 20 watt solar panel with a maximum current of about 1A will need a 12V solar regulator with a maximum amps rating of 1 amp or greater such as the Morningstar Sunguard Solar Regulator .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Recreation

Are LED Lights Better?

 What are Watts?
Most of us understand how bright a regular lightbulb will be by it’s watts rating, we know a 100 watt incandescent (old type) lightbulb will be bright enough to use in the kitchen or shed and that a 25 watt CFL (Compact Fluoro) is as bright as a 100 watt incandescent because the CFL uses less electricity to produce the same brightness. Some of the newer technology incandescents like halogen lamps are more efficient, a 70 watt halogen will have the same brightness as the 100 watt incandescent, but still be less efficient than the CFL because all incandescents waste a lot of power is as heat.

Illuminating  with Lumens
Although watts are usually used to indicate a light’s brightness, in actual fact they are a measurement of the electrical power used. The proper term to describe the amount of illumination filling a space is the Lumen.

The 3 lightbulbs mentioned before all produce about 1300 lumens.  The incandescent is least efficient at 13 lumens per watt, next is the halogen at 18.5 Lm/watt and most efficient is the CFL at 52 Lm/watt. These three types of light can be directly compared because their light radiates outward in all directions.

LEDs are also categorised by their lumens output and their efficiency is calculated as lumens per watt of power consumed.

But knowing how many lumens an LED light produces is not enough information when selecting one because its light is not the same, it does not radiate outward as sphere of light with equal brightness in all directions, but just in one direction.

LED Lights Produce Light not Heat
LED lights are different because they produce light directly from electricity. Their light is made up of photons that are emitted from the flat top surface of the LED (light emitting diode). High brightness LEDs emit photons in such great quantities that a powerful beam of light shines directly outward from the surface.

The fact that light only shines directly outward from the diode’s surface is the main drawback because it only provides light directly in front of the LED. Therefore optical lenses are used to spread the light out. (The latest LED lights have beam spreads of up to 150°).

For instance, a 100 lumens LED with a beam spread of 80° will spread its light evenly in a cone-shaped beam of light spreading 40° to either side of the beam’s center point. An equally powerful 100 lumens light, but with a beam spread of 150° will have its light spreading out 75° on either side of the beam center. Both lights produce 100 lumens of light but the degree of beam spread will determine how bright each light will be.

Therefore we need to measure the light brilliance or intensity to show how they differ in brightness.

Bright lights have more Candlepower
Lumens (Lm) represent the total light emitted while Candlepower, Candelas (Cd), and millicandelas (mcd) correspond to the light intensity. Referring back to the two 100 lumen LED lights with the different beam spreads, we can measure their light intensities with a light meter to find the narrow 80° beam has an average intensity of 68 candelas (68000 mCd) while the broader 150° beam has an average intensity of only 21.5 Cd. This shows that while both lights have the same total light power in lumens, the narrow beam is concentrated into a smaller area of high brilliance while the broader beam is less brilliant but will illuminates a larger area.

LED light Colour
There is another variable called light colour that needs to be understood.
LEDs don’t produce natural white light so they use yellow phosphors, chemicals that glow, to produce white light from blue LED light. Different shades of white are produced, from cool white which is a bluish white to warm white which is yellowish white.

But are LED Lights really Better?
Their directional beam is more efficient because the light is not wasted by illuminating areas where it not needed, so LEDs are used in LED lamps and torches where they can produce very bright light with very low power consumption. The greatest need is for LED lighting is as a replacement for the old fashioned light bulbs, so multi-LED units are produced to simulate conventional 360 degree lighting. LED torches are usually rated using the mCd of the LEDs to indicate the brightness of the beam, while Lights for area illumination are rated in lumens for a given beam spread to indicate how much total lighting is produced.

LED lights are unrivaled in low power consumption but also they have a long service life,  in fact they never have to be replaced. They are also very tough,  handling rough conditions without breaking and can be used anywhere.

See Ecopia’s LED Lighting Products

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Posted in Alternative energy

Why a 50W solar panel only reaches 35 watts

A friend recently bought a cheap 50 watt solar panel from a well known auction site to. He wired up the 12 volt solar panel to charge up his 12V battery but once connected up it only produced 35 watts. He was feeling cheated because the sticker on the solar panel clearly said it was a 50 watt solar panel. But I explained that he was not conned, but just not fully informed. You see the solar panel salesmen often do not take the time to explain a few important facts, or worse still they try to avoid mentioning these vital facts about 12V solar panels.

A solar panel must be producing power at its MPP
The MPP is the maximum power point. This is where the voltage and current flow produce the most power. Most solar panels once connected up will be operating off their MPP depending on the system load resistance. The load is a technical term for the total power used. In an ideal system only the device that you want to power is the load, for instance a battery you want to recharge, but in practice all the components that make up the system, such as connections and wiring Finds Keys for Operating Systems: best-data-recovery.com 7, best-data-recovery.com Vista, best-data-recovery.com XP, best-data-recovery.com Server 2003, best-data-recovery.com 2000, and best-data-recovery.com NT. and voltage regulation devices, use some of that power and contribute to the total load on the system. When the system load moves away from the optimum load then the PV module’s voltage and amps will move away from the MPP and the solar module becomes less efficient, thus produces less power.
The solar panel must be fully bathed in direct sunlight
Most of the time the solar panel will not be facing directly into the sun, there may be clouds or shadows obscuring the sun and there may be debris on the solar panel obstructing the sunlight. In a 100% efficient solar module the sun falling on an area of one square meter of solar panel would produce 1000 watts but the average PV panel is about 15% efficient and produces about 150 watts per square meter of area.
The solar cells temperatures must not exceed 25°C
Excessive heat has the greatest effect on the voltage generated by the cells. Don’t be fooled by the ambient temperature, because when the air is about 10°C, the solar cell will be at about 40°C. Solar cells don’t like heat, when the temperature rises then the cell produces less voltage. At 40°C a cell is producing 10% less voltage than at 25°C so on a typical summer day the cell may be at 65°C. and producing 80 watts instead of 100 watts.

All of these factors add to the total energy loss of the solar generating system so when you measure the actual usable power it will be less than the panel’s rated output. For more details and diagrams see this article covering how to get the most out of your solar panel on our website at Ecopia Portable Solar

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Posted in Recreation

Solar lights for bikes are great!

Yesterday afternoon I was out riding and it took fairly long as usual for me, I don’t like to speed along especially as the dual-use cycleways along the coast are very popular with the evening strollers.

As darkness fell fell I switched on my front and rear Solar bike lights and continued riding. My ride is a basic down-the-coast-and-back trip and the section where I turn is a loop road that is rather rough and pebbly. After bumping along for about ten minutes I reached the main cycleway and needed to cross a busy road. I always check all lights are still on before crossing any road after dark.  Feeling behind my saddle I couldnt feel the solar powered bike tail light and to my alarm noticed it was missing. I turned back to look for it and noticed it from a few hundred meters away, flashing red in the darkness like a beacon beckoning me. To my joy it was still intact and only had a scuff mark in the front plastic lens. I also found the bracket screw that had worked out probably because I had not tightened it properly and after replacing it continued  my ride. I have since tested it and it still recharges and the solar panel is still perfect and working as before. Another plus for the benefits of using good quality solar lights from Ecopia’s range of solar panels

Ride carefully and wear a Helmet!

Joony

Posted in Recreation

Choosing a Solar Charger

We all want to save on electricity and combat global warming by using solar power to reduce atmospheric CO2.

Why not do your bit by using solar power?

One of the simplest ways to keep your mobile phone charged is with a solar charger, Most are small enough be kept in your bag or pocket and it makes a good statement about your commitment to saving the environment.

At Ecopia we sell many types and sizes to suit all types of devices but many customers are puzzled by how to choose one, not surprising because there are a few things to consider:

What size solar charger do I need?

Look at the nameplate data on the wall plug-type charger that came with the mobile phone and find the bit that states the output DC volts and milliAmps, you might have to look closely, on the plug will be written something like OUTPUT DC 5.0 volts 900mA.

This tells us the solar charge must provide a voltage of 5 volts, you will be able to use a charger that puts out a bit more voltage, say 5.5 volts or 6 volts but not less than 5 volts and definitely not too much because that could damage the phone.

Volts is the pressure of the electricity in the wire.

Let’s compare electricity to water. Imagine you have long garden hose and you are trying to fill a water tank on a hill high above the tap.Now if the pressure of the water system is too low you won’t be able to fill the tank because the system water pressure is too low to push the water already in the hose all the way up the hill.
It’s the same thing with electricity, if the voltage (electrical pressure) is too low it won’t flow through the circuit.

Now lets look at the amps required.

The amperage is the measure of flow of electrons through the wire.

Using the analogy of the garden hose its similar to the flow of water along the hose.In electrical terminology its called the current and now you know why.

A solar charger can provide more or less that the rated 900 milli-Amps.

A higher amperage from the solar charger won’t do any damage and a lower charging current from the solar charger will mean it will still charge up the phone but it will take longer.

Most mobile phones use Lithium-ion batteries and these actually benefit from a slow charge so using lower amperage to charge you phone will take longer, but it’s better for the battery.

What cables and connectors do I need?

This is an important consideration that a lot of the other suppliers don’t address adequately because its like choosing tyres for your car.

You need to know the make and model of mobile phone.

Each solar charger will have an output cable that will accept interchangeable connectors that will fit the various makes and models of phones.

Luckily, at Ecopia we make this much easier for you by allowing you to nominate the phones you need to charge and we will supply the right cables and connections (See here). If you dont know the make or model then email a photo of your connector and send it to us.

Unfortunately not every new model of phone is catered for so first ask us if connectors are available for your new phone before you buy a solar charger. If you need any help just ask and we will be happy to assist, because we are Ecopia the Friendly Eco shop.

Posted in Eco friendly products