Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Solar Suitcase

The first ever Solar Suitcase class @ Solar Energy International (SEI) was given in the last days of June, 2011 in sunny & beautiful Carbondale, CO, @ SEI's famous & eco-groovy Third Street Center. Our modest group of 19 was taught by SEI's own smart & perky Soozie Lindbloom, & Hal Aronson of WE CARE Solar, base in Berkeley, CA. A great team, Hal & Soozie explained all of the components of the Solar Suitcase in easy to understand terms, & the great necessity for these suitcases in developing areas was driven home by WE CARE's Laura Stachel, who shared her experiences in Nigeria, Liberia & Haiti in rural hospitals as a world-traveling OB/GYN-turned humanitarian. Check out WE CARE Solar's impressive accomplishments with the Solar Suitcase @

Instructor Hal uses defenseless student, Scott Secrest, to demonstrate the essential components of the Solar Suitcase in the SEI classroom.

The class is let loose to put together some suitcases to be used as demos @ SEI, as well as donated to environmental organizations striving to bring small solar lighting systems to developing areas around the world.

Dedicated students hard at work wiring together the components of the solar suitcase circuit board.

The circuit board in it's skeleton form, displaying a breaker box, charge controller & load center... waiting to be joined with the battery & PV panel.

As you might imagine, the biggest perk of the solar suitcase is that it fits into a small box.

Tinkering around with some little panels to get us started with general circuitry, we started the workshop off by wiring together a small system & powering a little cassette-playing radio with 2 3-volt PV panels. Such a simple & inexpensive system ~ this would have changed my life in Peace Corps!

And what's more fun that solar powered bubbles?!?

Taking a break with a solar cooked potluck : )

The solar suitcase in it's entirety (sans case): an 18V/2A solar panel, LED light fixture, 12V/12A battery, [triple] breaker box, 30A charge controller, & a load center consisting of 3 12V cigarette lighter adapters & an O.S. connector. Pretty simple stuff, & all fits into a water-tight plastic suitcase which can be easily transported to a rural area in dire need of a simple lighting system.

Chuko from Nigeria gets his system situated & fires it up in the sun outside the Third Street Center.

A proud group demonstrates their solar suitcase success.

Our group's was the best, of course ; )

Glenn scratches his head @ Hal's effective sabotaging attempts during the troubleshooting stage of the class.

This resourceful group uses it's spectacular height advantage to get the panels as close as possible to the sun when the weather turns cloudy.

The team as a whole after demonstrated success!

Thanks Hal & Soozie !!


  1. SO awesome! Yeah, I woulda loved a solar powered tape player in PC too! I'm impressed with all the intricate wiring stuff that was taught...

  2. The Solar Power is considered as the new energy for us and it is green power for the environment. We should encourage more people using it in the life.

  3. I am very happy to read such a wonderful blog which gives the helpful information