Interested in power- and energy-related technologies and projects? As we kick off 2024, you can deep-dive into various relevant topics because Elektor has been publishing projects and articles on these topics since the 1960s. Here are some of the content team’s favorites on the topics of PV solutions, DIY solar, power supplies, and battery storage applications.

Off-Grid Solar Systems: Electrical Energy Independent of the Mains Grid (Elektor 5/2022)

An off-grid solar installation requires at least three components: the solar panel; energy storage in the form of a rechargeable battery; and a charge controller that ensures that the battery is not overcharged. In May/June 2022, Dr. Thomas Scherer dove into many of the details.   
Power and Energy - engineering off grid solar

"The energy required to provide one day of reserve power is at least 500 Wh," Scherer noted. "At a nominal voltage of 12 V we will need a battery with a capacity of at least 40 Ah. Since our inverter is specified with an output power of 1 kW, we must also keep in mind that at maximum load it will be drawing a current of at least 85 A at its input. This is an important consideration in selecting a battery. First we must decide on the battery chemistry. A lithium battery pack rated at 40 Ah can comfortably deal with this current (about ‘2C’, or twice the current that the battery can deliver for one hour) because of its low internal resistance. However, such a pack can easily cost over €250/US$280/£210 and requires careful management."

Adjustable Low-Voltage Power Supply (Elektor 7/2010)

Would you like to check the behavior of an electronic circuit at low voltages? You might find this adjustable low-voltage power supply to be a handy solution. Powered from a 3-to-16-V source (DC for sure), it can provide a stable output voltage in the 0-to-1.5-V range.
Adjustable low-voltage power pupply
Adjustable low-voltage power supply
"Multiturn trimpot P1 allows the output voltage to be adjusted with good precision," the designer explained. "The BC337-400 output transistor raises the output current to about 200 mA bearing in mind that the minimum supply voltage is 3.5 V. The transistor’s dissipation should be taken into account, and a more powerful type used if necessary."

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Power Multivibrator (Elektor 7/1998)

In 1988, Elektor published a simple, highly efficient multivibrator circuit that was able to drive heavy loads. The circuit supplied a symmetrical rectangular signal that floated with respect to the supply voltage. An astable multivibrator was formed by T5, T6, R1, R2, C1 and C2. The collector currents of T5 and T6 drive T1 and T2, respectively, while the emitter currents drive T3 and T4, respectively.
Power multivibrator circuit
Power multivibrator

Solar Power Generation (Elektor 7/1987)

Back in a 1987 article titled "Solar Power Generation," Elektor offered readers an informative overview of solar power technology and solutions. The article covered the following topics and more: solar collectors, how Magneto-hydro-dynamic (MHD) generators convert thermal energy into electricity, and solar cell operation. 
Solar cell construction engineering
Solar cell construction
At the time, Elektor predicted: "Although the cost of solar power generation is at present such that it precludes the widespread adoption of solar power generating systems, it is expected that prices will fall dramatically over the next 10-15 years."

Unleash the Power of Solar Energy with This Mind-Blowing Mendocino Motor Kit! (2023)

Get ready to witness the power of solar energy with the Mendocino Motor Kit! This unique kit allows you to build a magnetically levitating electric motor that runs purely on the energy of the sun. Learn how to assemble your very own Mendocino Motor Kit in this step-by-step video guide. The Mendocino Motor is a solar-powered, magnetically levitating electric motor that makes for a cool gadget. While it isn't particularly useful for driving anything, it is a great conversation starter and perfect for anyone interested in renewable energy technology. In this video, we share our experiences and practical tips to help you assemble your Mendocino Motor Kit with ease. Get ready to amaze your friends and family with this unique gadget!

Video: Charging Batteries from Solar (2022)

This is the recording of the Microchip University course "Charging Batteries from Solar" which will help you understand how to deal with the dynamic impedance of solar cells, apply power-point tracking algorithms, size your battery and solar array, and negotiate between tracking efficiency vs. the charge waveform required by your battery chemistry. In this webinar Clemens Valens (Elektor) and Dan Holt (@MicrochipTechnology ) will guide you through the course. They will cover the most important aspects of the technology, give background information, show several videos from the course, and go into more detail about the content in these videos.

Video: Saving Energy with Home Automation? (2022)
In this episode of Elektor Lab Talk, Jens Nickel and a former Elektor engineer discuss several home automation options for electronics engineers and if those are really saving energy. As always in those sessions, they also discuss several other engineering topics, where they bring you information, insights, and experiences from the world of electronics. They cover the following: saving power with smart lighting, smart in-house power measurement, and more. 

More Projects and Engineering

In the coming weeks, we will highlight more classic Elektor projects, articles, and engineering insights. If you have feedback, post your comments section below. The engineering never stops!

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