Winter solstice and solar power

In this society where everything is available to us at the flick of a switch, we become disconnected from the marvels of nature, but since setting up my first solar power rig, I’m starting to identify a little more with paganistic worship ;).

Each day when the sun is shining, it’s not just a case of “hmm, nice day” for me, it’s “hooray, good battery charging day – thank you sun!”.

This year has been particularly interesting for me as where I’m situated is heavily treed. That’s absolutely wonderful, but it also creates a challenge during winter when the sun sits lower in the sky, casting longer shadows. I didn’t want to cut any trees down, so I had to select my camp site carefully, but some of it was guesswork having not been here for a full year.

Today is winter solstice in Australia (summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere) – it’s the shortest day of the year and the day that the sun is at its lowest angle – about 31.7° above the horizon at solar noon – therefore far less charging time than in summer; when on December 18 it will be at 78.5°.

While the last couple of weeks have seen me having to move the solar panel a little more to dodge shadows and get the most from the available sunlight, it’s been great to find that spot I picked to call “home” will suffice! My generator usage, even though we’ve had a lot of cloud/fog cover in the past week has been minimal.

solar panel
My solitary solar panel which powers my work
on Green Living Tips when out on my bush block!
The “guard” dog was an optional extra ;)

Just on that point, it’s a mistake that many people new to solar power make when purchasing a system – not taking into account that while there may be available daylight for X hours a day, during winter peak sun hours are X minus Y. In my neck of the woods at this time of the year it’s around 4.5 hours a day.

While I’m not about to don the druid gear and join the gang at StoneHenge, going off-grid certainly does give you a better understanding of why our ancestors were in complete awe of and worshipped the sun!


Beginner’s guide to solar power