Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a shift in the beverage industry as it aims to be eco-friendly. We have noticed improvements in the way beverage store owners recycle water to minimize water consumption, natural process methods have been used more widely both due to tasted and reduced environmental impact, coffee roasters have identified more sustainable packaging options for their coffee and beverage store owners have started providing discounts to individuals who bring in reusable cups.
So, what do you get when you combine the environmentally-friendly beverage movement with the food truck craze here in the US? The answer is a solar-powered beverage stall!
If you run a beverage stall and wish to lower your carbon footprint, continue reading this article to learn more about how to set up and run a beverage stall with portable solar power panels and generators.
What Are Portable Solar Panels?
As their name suggests, portable solar panel systems are small solar panels that you can take anywhere to produce electricity. They are easy to install and supply electrical power, just like regular roof-mounted solar panel systems. Depending on their size, portable solar panels can generate up to 350 watts of power.
Portable solar panel systems use the sun’s rays to generate electricity with the help of photovoltaic cells. The panels consist of silicon cells and are available in multiple sizes. Additionally, they can be easily carried around and kept inside a vehicle for easy transportation.
In addition, the portable solar panel system includes other components, such as a battery, a solar charge controller, an inverter, a stand, and a storage case. Among them, the must-have elements to run the off-grid system are portable solar panels, a battery, an inverter, and a charge controller.
This portable solar power system is primarily used for powering appliances, heating, and lighting purposes. You can get mobile solar panel systems in various forms. However, they generally come as a folding suitcase panel kit. The system serves as an alternative to a generator, which is generally uncomfortable and loud.
How to Setup and Run a Beverage Stall with Portable Solar Panel Systems?
Here’s how you can set up and run a portable solar panel drink stall.
Step #1 – Understand Your Power Needs
When you are planning to set up a beverage stall with solar panels, the first thing you need to do is understand your power needs.
When it comes to size, solar energy is an incredibly flexible source of energy. You have to first consider how large a system you require, i.e., the amount of electricity needed.
Thus, you should start off by listing down the appliances you wish to power on your beverage stall using portable solar panels. This can include anything from a mobile charger, a few LED lights, an espresso machine, smoothie blenders, a mini refrigerator, etc.
Now add up the power requirements of these appliances. Suppose the power requirements are as follows:
- LED lights: 30 watts
- Espresso machine: 750 watts
- Blender: 400 watts
- Mini refrigerator: 80 watts
Step #2 – Choose the Solar Panels
After you have calculated the total amount of power needed, it’s time to decide the type and size of the solar panels. Let’s assume that considering the appliances and devices mentioned above, your total energy requirement is 1260 watts.
In this case, it would be advisable to go with four 350-watt solar panels, providing total energy equaling 1400 watts. This way, you can account for unpredictable levels of sunlight and efficiency losses.
You can choose between flexible solar panels, regular solar panels, and rugged, portable solar panels. Even though all solar panels basically work in the same way, all of them have their own set of benefits. Rigid, regular solar panels are the least expensive, whereas flexible panels are incredibly portable and durable.
Portable solar panels come with protected edges that make them more long-lasting. It is easy to set them up in the right position using mounting kickstands. Thus, it’s’ quite convenient to install a portable solar panel system using portable modules. Portable foldable solar panels are another more compact option.
Step #3 – Get a Battery and Charge Controller
You will need a battery to use the solar energy produced by the panels at night along with a charge controller to ensure safe battery charging. Before choosing which size of batteries to purchase, you need to determine how much power you need to store. The four 350-watt 24 volts panels we decided upon are going to produce 8.4 kWh of energy, assuming you get six hours of full sunshine. Assuming the panels are connected in series, the total voltage will be 96 volts (24 x 4).
To get a battery that can store the entire 8.4 kWh, you will need to perform the following calculation to get the battery size in ampere-hours (Ah):
Wh ÷ V = Ah
Thus, (8.4 x 1000) ÷ 96 = 87.5 Ah
Keeping a buffer for battery efficiency and depth of discharge, it is best to opt for a 100 Ah battery. Different kinds of batteries are available for solar kits. However, to minimize maintenance hassles, you should choose lithium-ion or lead-acid batteries.
A solar charge controller is imperative for optimal and safe charging. To calculate which charge controller is suited to your needs, you just need to divide the net energy produced by your portable solar panels by your battery’s voltage. This way, you can get the current rating for the charge controller. However, you should multiply the answer with a safety value to account for variations in the output power of your portable panels. Keep in mind that the voltage of your charge controller should match the voltage of your solar battery.
Among the two kinds of solar charge controllers, Pulse-Width Modulation charge controllers are cost-effective but have a lower efficiency. The costs for charge controllers have fallen substantially in the past few years. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend that you set up a solar panel system using an MPPT controller to get the maximum benefit from your system.
Step #4 – Invest in an Inverter
An inverter converts the DC power from your portable solar panels or batteries into AC power. Usually, most devices and electronics, including coffee machines, blenders, refrigerators, etc., use AC power as that is the power supplied to houses by the grid.
These appliances and devices cannot run on the DC power generated by your panels and will instantly get damaged if you try to run them directly on AC power. Thus, you need an inverter to convert the DC power into usable AC power.
The inverter’s input rating needs to be lower than the total wattage of all the electronic items you will be using in your beverage stall. Additionally, the nominal voltage of the inverters needs to be the same as the nominal voltage of the inverter.
For effectively running a beverage stall, your portable solar panel should be well-equipped to handle the combined wattage of all the appliances you will be using at any point in time. In addition, you need to keep a safety buffer to deal with unpredictable energy surges and size your inverter 20% higher than the combined wattage of all the appliances and devices you’ll be using at a specific time.
Step #5 – Complete the Wiring
The last step is the most important part of installing a portable solar power system to power up your beverage stall. Since you are using 24 volts panels, you can easily connect them in series by connecting the positive terminal of one panel with the negative terminal of the other panel.
When connecting the panels, make sure they are not exposed to sunlight, as DC power can be dangerous. It is extremely important to connect or disconnect your portable solar panels safely.
Why Invest in Portable Solar Power for Running a Beverage Stall?
Now that you know how to run a beverage stall with solar panels let’s take a look at whether this technology is actually worth it.
1. Minimal Maintenance
Portable solar panel systems don’t have any moving parts, which means you don’t have to replace or lubricate moving parts such as bearings. Thorough cleaning and washing once every few months are all the maintenance the system needs. This means you can serve delicious beverages to your customers without worrying about system failure due to malfunction or lack of maintenance.
2. Easy to Use
The only thing portable solar panels need to generate electricity is sunlight, which is a nondepletable and sustainable resource. Plus, nearly every place in the world has access to this abundant resource. Thus, you can produce electricity with your portable solar panels to power your beverage stall, no matter where it’s located!
Portable solar panels, such as the ones we sell at BLUETTI, feature a handy foldable design so you can fold them up and stow them away without any trouble. This is something other portable energy systems, such as portable fuel generators, cannot offer.
4. Green Energy
One of the biggest downsides of conventional energy sources is that they are not environmentally friendly. Fortunately, portable solar panels don’t require any dangerous fossil fuels or chemicals to run, which means you will not be harming the environment when you use them.
5. Noise Free
Portable solar panels make very little noise when they are working. In fact, some models are completely silent – making them perfect for both outdoor and indoor use. When you use portable solar panels, you can create a relaxing environment for yourself as you work and prepare coffee for your customers.
Last Few Words
Because of the vast benefits they offer, portable solar panels are something that every beverage stall owner should invest in. Excluding the initial investment cost, portable panels are cheaper to operate compared to fuel-powered generators. Plus, you don’t have to invest too much on their maintenance which means you can stay focused on making the best beverages for your customers!
At Bluetti, we have a vast range of portable solar panels and products that you can use for running a beverage stall – and more!