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I'm going to Africa this summer for a veterinary mission and need an egg incubator. Considering I will not have a steady supply of power I need to find an efficient way to power an incubator continuously off of a battery and solar power.

I need to run this incubator: http://www.flemingoutdoors.com/little-giant--10200-circulated-air-incu.html

I found this battery/solar setup: http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/59/Sherpa-120-Explorer-Kit/1:1/

Though I don't think the setup is going to be powerful enough to power it continuously, any suggestions?

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What kind of eggs? The cheapest incubator for e.g., chicken's eggs is a broody hen. She knows what to do, including how often to turn the eggs, and you can pay her chickenfeed! –  lyndon May 7 '11 at 20:17
Your first step is to contact the incubator manufacturer and obtain it's power consumption (or even better current consumption) and operating voltages. After that, you can start looking for a kit that will power it, because you will actually know what to look for. Also, since you're considering alternative sources, please describe locations which you'll be wisting and your budget. There may be other alternative solutions available which could work better than a solar cell (for example is there's a stream, you could use car alternator to construct a power plant and use it with inverter). –  AndrejaKo May 7 '11 at 21:24
Or obtain the incubator and measure the power usage yourself with a kill-a-watt. –  AngryEE May 8 '11 at 1:34
@AngryEE The advantage of not measuring the consumption is that you don't have to spend money on the device itself. Another manufacturer may have device with similar characteristics and lower power consumption. –  AndrejaKo May 8 '11 at 10:32
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2 Answers

Assuming the night is 12 hours near the equator you have about 10W of power for the incubator before the sun starts to shine again. Depending on the insulation and the ambient temperature this might be enough, or it might not. Unfortunately there is no specification how much power the incubator will need.

To reduce power consumption you could try to improve the insulation by packing it in styrofoam.

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I contacted the manufacturer and he gave me: Little Giant 10200 or 9200 with Fan Kit = 48 watts He also mentioned another: HovaBator 1602N with Fan Kit = 34 watts (at full power) Egg Turner = 3-5 watts incubatorwarehouse.com/index.php/… @AndrejaKo Ill be visiting Alduba, Ethiopia and my budget isn't an issue. –  Brent May 9 '11 at 22:15
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There is only one answer - you will need a LOT more solar power generation than simple calculations will suggest:

48 watts for 15 hours (assuming a 60% on time averaged over night and day) is ~700 watt hours. With nominal 12V batteries call that 60 amp-hours capacity.

Don't forget that in the day you need to be able to charge the battery and run the incubator at the same time so a nominal output of 100W minimum is needed (unless the incubator heater is off most of the time).

1 Solar cells rarely achieve their full rated output which assumes they are exactly normal to the incident light (pointing straight at the sun, in English)

2 The batteries won't be 100% effceint in taking or yielding up their charge

3 You will need lead acid batteries designed for deep discharge - i.e. leisure batteries. Even then remember you won't be able to use part of their capacity

4 Even in Ethiopia you can't guarantee day-long sunshine

Though you may get away with one, I would suggest using two 60Ah leisure batteries (to be on the safe side). If you have 10 hours sun and achieve 50% of nominal output you will need ~1400 watt-hours or 140 watts of panel capacity. So go with the BP 160W panel here or similar:


So even if the sun isn't full on to the panel it should make 100W - worst case 50W incubator and 50W for the battery.

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