Newsletter Archive

E-News Issue #93

Feb 6, 2006

Solar Courses

Our popular weekend course for homeowners will take place on 25 & 26th February. We are also holding one in the Stanthorpe area on the 11 & 12th March.

Solar Cookers

As some of you know, our introductory order of solar cookers got sold out in a few weeks late last year. We have a much larger order (16 pallet loads) arriving in a couple of weeks. Please be patient - models and prices will be released in our next newsletter.

Sundaya Ulux Lights

We now have a range of 6, 9 and 18W Ulux compact fluoros in 12Volts. These are the Sundaya top of the range fluoros with a replaceable tube. The tube is rated for 10,000 run time and the ballast for 100,000 switching cycles. More details will be on our web site in a few days. All our top of the range Sundaya lights, lighting kits are listed under SUN-XXX in our Price List.

The Sundaya compact fluoros come with an ES17 (small Edison Screw base) Sundaya chose this lamp base size so that their 12V lights would never be connected to a standard 230V AC lamp holder. This is an important safety feature - I´d say extremely important if you want to run both 12 and 230V lights in the one house.

I know a lot of people may not want to change their existing fittings, however, the Sundaya range is very economical, functional and high quality.

There are several fittings available - the Apollo is a better lamp holder which attaches onto your ceiling. You can screw in an Extender cable with a pendant lamp holder to bring the light closer to your table. If you want to highlight a poster on the wall, the bendable Extender will do the job! Need a desk lamp? Just screw an Extender into a Tablo lamp base. A variety of lampshades are available to add to your light. The red, green or translucent lampshades add a touch of class and warmth to your light. A Halo lampshade will direct the light downwards for you. The Wally is a UV resistant wall-mounted white lampshade. Have a look at our web site for more details of all these products.

SKYPE

Skype is a free `internet phone´ (VOIP) which allows you to talk to other people with Skype for free. You need a microphone and speaker and the software is free and fast to download. Ideally you need Broadband/ADSL but it will work with a good quality dial-up connection. Overall sound quality is variable and generally not as good as the phone. Text messages can also be sent (similar to Messenger). We still prefer to receive written messages by email but if you think a brief conversation is more efficient, you can try and Skype me on rpc-dl. If you want to know the price of something, our Price List is available on our web site for Aussie customers. Overseas customers are asked to email us with their details and we´ll email you back a price.

Solar Lanterns

Over the years we have looked at many 'rechargeable lanterns' for use in rural villages. There is a large selection available from very cheap ones in camping shops for under US$50 to fairly expensive ones (up to US$250) for use in rural villages. Generally, they look nice - quite similar to the hurricane kerosene lantern. They often work well for a few weeks before all the inherent weaknesses start manifesting themselves.

Generally, the weaknesses relate to the general low quality and the inherent limitations of the design concept. More specifically some of the problems include: 1) Cheap basic electronics to look after the battery - e.g. protection from deep discharges and overcharging. The electronics driving the fluoro tube are poorly designed.

2) The battery and solar panel are usually too small to allow the lantern to be run for 3-4 hours a night after 2-3 days of cloudy weather. Otherwise the lantern becomes too heavy and bulky if a suitably large battery is used.

3) Low quality switches and connections which soon corrode, particularly in tropical and marine environments. Their 'portable' design often encourages their use outdoors in the rain and even on small boats for fishing.

4) The general 'packaging' is for appearance and often is not UV resistant, waterproof or impact resistant. They tend to break the first time they are dropped or knocked over.

5) The solar panel is often a cheap plastic amorphous type which is not designed for long term use in the sun. Good quality solar panels will come with a 10-25 year warranty!

To conclude, I think the overall concept fails from the size and design limitations. If you equip it with an 8-12kg battery, it becomes too heavy to market as a 'portable' lantern. It is not cost effective to make good electronics to look after the battery and the tube for a single light. A larger system to run a couple of lights is more cost effective than a single lighting package.

As a company, we have not found a solar lantern which we feel would be completely suitable for use in rural villages. We feel one is better off buying a small Sundaya lighting kit. The small kit includes a 14W solar panel, a sealed battery (20-40Ah) in an enclosure with a sophisticated charge controller, a couple of lights with 15-30m of heavy duty cable. The kits are largely 'plug & play' and can be installed with limited tools and knowledge. Their cost is similar to the more expensive solar lanterns on the market.

Cheers from Dave and all the RPC crew.

Dave Lambert (Director)

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We install solar systems in Northern NSW and Southern QLD.


QLD:
Gold Coast (from Coolangatta to Southport), Nerang and Hinterland (Beaudesert) and out West (Warwick, Stanthorpe, Killarney)


NSW:
Northern NSW (Tweed Heads to Yamba, including Evans Head, Byron Bay and Ballina); the Far North Coast Hinterland (Grafton via Lismore to Murwillumbah) and out West (Casino to Tenterfield, including Drake and Tabulam, as well as Woodenbong and Bonalbo)

For larger system we also go up to Brisbane or down to Coffs Harbour and even Glen Innes. Other places by arrangement.