Saturday, November 21, 2009

Canadian Tire Eliminator Solar Solution

If you live in Canada, you know Canadian Tire. Even small towns like Powell River have their own store. It's where you go for everything from gardening supplies to small appliances, oh, and of course, tires.

Lately, we've been using two Canadian Tire Eliminator products for extra power at our off the grid cabin, two 15 watt solar panels and a PowerBox 800 battery pack.

One nice thing about this 12 volt, 15 watt solar panel is its quick-connect plug that mates directly with the PowerBox. But it also has DC clips to use to charge other types of batteries. The regular price is $99 CAD, but watch for occasional sales. We mounted our panel on the same pole as our wind generator. At the bottom of the pole is a wooden case to house the battery pack during charging. This protects it from the elements (we do get our share of rain).

The PowerBox 800 is the most powerful of the four models. It has AC outlets and 28 amp-hours of stored energy when fully charged. There's also a built-in radio, light and alarm clock. If you want to use it as a booster pack for starting or charging a vehicle, it comes with its own cables. In addition to the direct connection for an Eliminator solar panel, it comes with an AC charger.

UPDATE: We've now owned two PowerBox 800s with problems. The first lasted two years before the inverter died. Last night, it's replacement had a malfunction in the charging system. Because they are sealed units, they can't be repaired. We couldn't find the receipt, but took it back to Canadian Tire anyway. Because we used our Canadian Tire credit card, they were able to search their computer records. They found it and the full amount was credited to our card without question. That's GREAT customer service! We still like our Eliminator solar panels, but have switched to a Nautilus Booster Pack. It doesn't include an internal inverter, but we feel that is one less thing to go wrong. We can easily plug our DC to AC car adapter inverter into the built-in DC outlet to run cabin devices. Plus, it gives us five more (33) amp-hours of stored energy. Regular price is $169 CAD but we got ours on sale for only $99, a 40% savings. I'll keep you posted about it's performance. -- Margy

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for the info. I was wondering whether you can charge the powerbox 800 and use it simultaneously. I'd like to rig one up with the 15W panel at the cabin up the lake and use it to run our new composting toilet, but I'd need to charge the box and run the toilet at the same time. Any guesses whether I can or not? Thanks.

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  2. Hi Jerry - We charge our box in two ways, directly connected to the solar panel and through an AC connection inside the cabin using our battery bank system. In both configurations, we have used it simultaneously during the charging process. We purchased one box specifically to leave connected to the solar panel to run a low wattage bulb in our boat during the winter. Unfortunately, at that time of year the input was less than the necessary output, but that wasn't fault of the box. If the power necessary to run your composting toilet is minimal, you might be able to keep the box charged enough to do it. You will just need to mathematically calculate how much power it will require vs. how much input you can get from the panel, especially in winter. During long sunny summer days, I would think it would work fine. An alternative would be a larger solar panel if there isn't enough charging power. By the way, the box comes with three options for output: AC, DC and jumper cables. If you have any more questions please let me know. You can link to my e-mail via my profile if you prefer. - Margy

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  3. This was great info!! I'm printing this post and hanging onto it for future reference. Thanks!!

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  4. Yes Canadian Tire is your "go to" store...I love it...hubby can look at the tools et al while I wonder the houseware isles....yes and think their customer service is great!!s

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  5. How do you connect a 30 watt solar panel to a 700w motomaster Eliminator Powerbox?

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  6. Pleeklee - The panel comes with DC connectors, but that might not be the best because there isn't a charge controller built in to protect it from overcharging. What we do is use the panels to charge or cabin batteries and then use our cabin inverter and system to charge the power box via our AC system. - Margy

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  7. I have no words for this great post such a awe-some information.solar power

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