Jeff, the founder of Sharpen While You Shop found inspiration for this project came from his fellow knife sharpener and mentor, Terry Beech, and his company SharpQuick. Terry has a completely restored 1969 VW van, including wiring for solar panels integrated into the electrical system of the van and sharing a single battery. This seemed like a great idea because as knife sharpeners we work on location outside all day.
I took a slightly different approach and permanently installed the solar panel on top of my vehicle. I ran the wires through the body of the car to a controller module. This critical piece of the puzzle keeps the solar panel, battery and inverter working in concert with each other. In my stand alone system the solar panel feeds the battery which feeds the inverter that powers my machinery. I ran the wires from the inverter out to the back end of the car where I installed a standard household outlet for the extension cord to my machines. On an average day the system generates about 5 amps. Beside the obvious savings on gas and generator wear and tear, the solar arrangement has turned out to be a great conversation piece.
Stop by and check it out. And if you would like more details I would be happy to give you a list of the components, prices and where each was purchased.