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Download free Solar Power for the Digital Field Worker.pdf The modern fieldworker is increasingly carrying digital equipment into the field to conduct research. Digital devices open up an exciting world of possibilities, potentially allowing a fieldworker to collect more and higher quality data and to use and build upon this data in ways that were previously laborious or impossible. On the other hand, this new workflow introduces a whole new set of problems for the fieldworker, not the least of which is how to power these devices in remote field settings. This article will present a simple solar setup for the modern digital fieldworker.

Solar Power for the Digital Field Worker. In order to effectively set up a solar system, to estimate power consumption, and to troubleshoot in the field, it is important to understand something about electricity. The first and most important feature of electricity is that it is dangerous and testing and troubleshooting electrical equipment should be approached with caution. Two types of power will be discussed here: AC and DC power. In general, AC comes from the wall socket or a generator, and DC comes from a battery and sometimes from a generator. Apart from a little addition and multiplication, there is only one mathematical formula important in estimating power consumption: Watts = Volts x Amps

Solar Power for the Digital Field Worker. Watt Hours is a measure of how much power you have to use. Eighty watt hours means that you can deliver 80 watts for one hour, or 40 watts for two hours. If you have a 40-watt lightbulb and an 80-watt-hour power source, then you will have light for two hours.

Ideally, the researcher should have all the field equipment gathered and tested before purchasing the solar panels. In reality, fieldwork and equipment grants are often given at the last possible moment, and fieldworkers will be buying and testing equipment on the fly. Nevertheless, the method discussed below should help even the impoverished fieldworker estimate power consumption.

Solar Power for the Digital Field Worker. The first step is to decide which devices will be using the power gathered from the solar panel (as opposed to, for example, running on disposable AA batteries). This equipment will need to be budgeted into the power-consumption plan. To estimate how much power each device will consume, check each power adaptor


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