Streak Day #33 Sucks: The Shitty Solar Panel

I’m on break at work again. I think I should make a habit of writing while on break. Sometimes magical things happen when you sit around bored and force yourself to write. Get the creative juices flowing and see what happens.

Not that there is much else to do on break. I sometimes read but it’s hard to force yourself to read if you’re not in the mood for it. Also, reading fantasy books like The Wheel of Time puts you into a strange state where you almost cease to exist in the world; it’s shocking to come back to the real world, especially when the real world is work. It’s a jarring feeling.

As is standard, I have no idea what to write about. Well, maybe I do have one thing to bitch about…

A half week ago I bought some massive $110 solar panel from Amazon. I think I mentioned that already. My little 10 Watt panel wasn’t doing shit to charge my phone, so upgraded to a 100 Watt panel. It arrived yesterday and is ridiculously huge for charging a singular cell phone. Whatever. Overkill is never a bad thing here.

I took it out of the box and even inside the house attempted to check the output of it. Usually ambient light in the house gives some voltage even if it isn’t near the peak that it could output. This panel was only putting out like a half-Watt. Whatever, it was cloudy and it was inside so it wasn’t a big deal.

The damn panel had plastic connectors on the wires that had no obvious way to plug into the charge controller that came with the panel. The was inconvenient. I thought about the problem and decided to solder my own wires to the output on the panel. I decided to buy two cheap extension cords because that’s an easy and convenient way to purchase wire at Walmart. I even came up with a better idea: I could leave the plug attached to the cord and put the female end of the extension cord into the charge controller. This way I could simply plug the panel intothe charge controller. If I wanted to add panels, just plug those bad boys in as well. Let me take a picture of it to clear up what I’m talking about.

Don’t judge my setup too harshly.

I did all of this work yesterday while drinking heavily. I put the panel in the window and plug everything in. It was ready to go for today and I was eager to see how the system would work.

I woke up and the panel didn’t seem to be doing shit. None of the lights on the charge controller were on, and checking the panel output with my tongue (yes) proved that it wasn’t putting out a damn thing, nowhere near 20 volts. Using a multimeter showed it was providing about a half-volt of potential. This thing should’ve been putting out 24 volts max and 0.5 volts was way too small. What was wrong?

I eventually took the panel outside into the direct sunlight and measured the output. 3 volts. THREE GODDAMN VOLTS. You can’t charge a 12 volt battery with 3 volts. Maybe I could charge two AA batteries with it? I kept trying to find something that I was doing wrong, but a solar panel is about as simple as anything can be. You put it in the sun and it gives you power. That’s it. There isn’t a button or a switch or anything technical about them. I wish I could’ve found something I was doing wrong, but there wasn’t anything.

I’ve came to the conclusion that my $110 solar panel from Amazon is simply a piece of shit. It’s defective. It’s broken. I got a piece of junk. So now what? I was thinking of taking it apart and trying to fix it — maybe there was a broken connection somewhere — but the panel appears to be sealed very well. There aren’t any screws or anything to remove. I really think I’ll just have to ship the damn thing back which is another major pain in the ass.

Amazon has a ‘defective item’ option which I’m assuming means if I want to return it I’ll have to package it back up, print off a shipping label, and haul it to UPS. I’ll have to track down all those stupid styrofoam packaging things too. I know I work there, but I really don’t like the idea of going to work with a massive boxed up solar panel to ship back to Amazon. I wonder if I could go down the road from UPS to the Amazon building itself and give them the junk panel. I’m sure that wouldn’t work though.

And I don’t know if they’ll ship me another one or if I’ll get a refund. I was really excited about my new panel, and it’s frustrating knowing this project will have to be put on hold until I get a replacement panel or order a second one. My Amazon solar panel fucking sucks.

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