How did the recent solar eclipse affect the output of the Atacama-158W solar kit?

On August 21, 2017, parts of the United States experienced a solar eclipse. We wanted to do something fun and measure how the Flexopower Atacama-158W holds out during the eclipse. Together with GFA trailers, we set up camp South of Raleigh, NC opened a cold drink and waited. For your information, the maximum eclipse in Raleigh was 93% at 2.44pm.

At full sun, we measured an output of 8,6 Amps and as expected with increasing coverage by the moon the output of the solar panels decreased.  At approximately 20% coverage we measured 6,5 Amps, at approximately 70% coverage a surprising 4,3 Amps, yet at 93% coverage a whopping 0,0 Amps.

The results were interesting because at almost three-quarters coverage the panels still delivered 50% of its rated output. However, it quickly decreased to zero the closer we approached the maximum eclipse of 93%. We did not expect that, as we projected a linear decrease and furthermore thought 7% sunlight reaching Raleigh would still move the dial a little bit.

The learning from this fun experiment is that no matter how overcast the sky may be, the thin film technology of our solar panels still absorb a considerable amount of sunlight generating output. However, if there is no sun, there is no power. The above experiment illustrated this fact of life in a fun way.

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