I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how to best communicate the capacity of the Sunshine box. It is difficult to say ‘how long it lasts’ or ‘what it can support’ because of the variables at work, but I will do my best in this blog to set the framework for how those constraints and capacities can be discussed and measured.
Please, if there are any errors in my explanation or confusion in delivery – let me know. I am writing this without really fact-checking, in the spirit of getting the discussion started and getting us all on some common ground. I welcome corrections.
We will use a cell phone as an analogy. How long does a cell phone battery last? How many apps can it run? These are questions we don’t really have to worry about because we have a battery indicator to tell us where we are and often we never run into the memory limit which is the bottleneck for multiple applications running at once. But in terms of the Sunshine box there is currently no capacity indicator so we have to talk about that – and we WILL run into a bottleneck when it comes to devices which can be powered – this is due to the amperage being supplied by the batteries within the Sunshine box in relation to the electricity consumption that the connected devices are drawing from the battery.
Sunshine box charge capacity
Right now there is no visual indicator of battery charge capacity on the Sunshine box – but there is a way to know the voltage being supplied by the box, and thus the ability to provide electricity at an amperage below the fuse and within capacity of the battery. If you examine that sentence, it really doesn’t say much, because so much depends on the devices you plug into the box. What you are able to measure is how much voltage is being supplied by the battery and that will give you an estimate of what you can power. Say for example the 12VDC battery is reading 5VDC, then you can assume you have 1/2 a battery full of electricity. You would take the reading by connecting a multi-meter to any of the outlets on the box.
What can a Sunshine box support
When talking about what your Sunshine box can support, you must first understand the three guiding factors of electricity; voltage, amperage and wattage. Most appliances in North America use 110v, and as I said earlier the outlets are currently 12VDC. So you would either need to user devices that use 12VDC (such as USB devices) or convert that energy to 110v with an inverter. The inverter takes some of the amps and turns them into volts but limits the watts. Look at what you are wanting to power and take into consideration the amps, watts, and volts it needs, a high usage in any one of these will mean a lower value in one of the other numbers. This is why we cannot power a full size refrigerator yet, but we are working on it! But you can power 12 cell phones at once! Because the amp draw of the refrigerator is so high that it exceeds the ability of the box to push out electricity at that rate and a fuse pops. Each box is supplied with 10 extra fuses, so you should be alright learning the capacity of your particular usage 🙂
This a lot to understand – and explain – but this is a long journey and we are in it together. Let’s discuss, evolve and embrace this journey towards energy independence!