Wilderness Power

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DaveK
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Wilderness Power

#1

Post by DaveK » Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:58 pm

With all of the "stuff" packed in the vehicle that uses power, it has become increasingly more important to make sure that the main battery not get too low. I have noticed that on long trips the biggest power hogs are the Ham radios (especially HF at 100 watts), the Fridge Freeze, the computer and related APRS equipment, the compressor.............etc. If we stop at camp for more than a day and all of these items are in use, without the vehicle running, its not hard for the voltage to drop below 12.0.

For a long time I have thought that solar panels were the answer and I have spent considerable time researching the market. While there are some differences in the efficiency of the various panels, they are all very bulky, heavy and difficult to carry -especially if your power needs are above average.

Recently, I came across a device that seems to be the answer to our needs - compact wind turbines. The one that I have been researching weighs 18 pounds, can generate 200 watts (or about 12 amps), is weatherproof, comes in a very portable container, can withstand winds up to 78mph and is easy to assemble.

Like Solar panels, they are weather dependent. No wind, no power. Unlike SPs, they can work 24 hours a day (obviously as long as there is wind).

To get similar results from the usual 15 watt panel, it would be necessary to have at least 12 panels (approx). I don't know anyone that is running wind turbines, but I welcome any input. Below is the WT that I have been eying.
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Re: Wilderness Power

#2

Post by cruiserlarry » Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:29 am

Looks very interesting...

It would be easy enough to set up a 2" diameter pole to mount it on. My concern would be the availability of enough wind to make it worthwhile - looks like you need about 20mph (16 knot) winds to generate a 6 amp charge to a 12v battery...most areas don't have that kind of wind available on a consistent basis. Maybe the ideal setup would be a solar panel during the day, when winds tend to be calmer, and then put the wind turbine up during evening / night, when winds start kicking up at most camping areas...

Any idea on the pricing for this unit ???
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Re: Wilderness Power

#3

Post by DaveK » Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:54 pm

Larry:"

The wind factor, or lack thereof, can be a concern. The combination of SP and WT might be a solution but it means just more stuff to carry.

The roll up SPs offer a quick set up option but I know that they are not as efficient as the hard panels. They would certainly require less room than conventional panels. I seem to recall that you use the roll ups. What kind of power does it deliver and how big is the unfolded panel? Also how durable are they?

The cost of the WT is about $500.00
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Re: Wilderness Power

#4

Post by Fetus » Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:12 pm

Dave,

This has been one of my concerns operating in the backcountry. I carry a separate battery for Ham duties. To recharge it, I have looked into both solar and wind and wasn't satisfied with the cons of each.

I think the easiest and most dependable would be a small generator to a battery charger. Fuel and noise would be the two detractors.

Though if you were in camp for a long term trip the turbine would be ideal.

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Re: Wilderness Power

#5

Post by cruiserlarry » Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:57 pm

DaveK wrote:Larry:"

The wind factor, or lack thereof, can be a concern. The combination of SP and WT might be a solution but it means just more stuff to carry.

The roll up SPs offer a quick set up option but I know that they are not as efficient as the hard panels. They would certainly require less room than conventional panels. I seem to recall that you use the roll ups. What kind of power does it deliver and how big is the unfolded panel? Also how durable are they?

The cost of the WT is about $500.00
$500 isn't too bad, but you still need stuff to set it up - which seems would be bulkier than the unit itself (2"diam pole kit with support, etc...)

I use a Brunton Solaris 26, which produces a max 26 watt output, and folds up to the size of a standard book (about 9"X11").

For more info, check out the Brunton's specs here:

http://www.brunton.com/product.php?id=420
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Re: Wilderness Power

#6

Post by Chazz Layne » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:38 am

For those of us with roof racks, I wonder if the turbine would still be at an effective height if a simpler system for setup was mounted to that roof rack (like some sort of flip-up mount for use when stopped). Might be an easy way to skip the bulk...

Dave, in your studies which rigid panel setup performed the best? My sole reason for a roof rack is as a mounting point for lights/antennas/hilift/pullpal, so permanently mounting something like that may be in my future.
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Re: Wilderness Power

#7

Post by DaveK » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:20 pm

Chazz Layne wrote:For those of us with roof racks, I wonder if the turbine would still be at an effective height if a simpler system for setup was mounted to that roof rack (like some sort of flip-up mount for use when stopped). Might be an easy way to skip the bulk...

Dave, in your studies which rigid panel setup performed the best? My sole reason for a roof rack is as a mounting point for lights/antennas/hilift/pullpal, so permanently mounting something like that may be in my future.

Chazz:

There is a huge number of companies that make SPs and there are many that make very high quality units. Certainly, to some degree, it will matter which manufacturer you select but IMO, it boils down more to a matter of which type of SP you want to use. By that I mean that, at least from my perspective for our uses, there are about two types. The first is the most common SP that I've seen and is meant for the occasional user such as RVs or campers. These panels come in either the thin film or the rigid configuration and usually carry a guarantee of a year or two (or near that). The cost of these panels is lower and the efficiency is correspondingly low as well. If you shop at Harbor Freight, you know what I mean. These are not bad products but they have relative limitations which may or may not play a part in meeting your needs. Keep in mind that in order to equal the power generating potential of the WT, you will need many more of these panels than the more efficient variety. As an example, for comparison here, Larry mentioned that he uses the Brunton Solaris fold-up SP. The Brunton Solaris model 52 generates 52 watts (under ideal conditions) and costs anywhere from $600-$900. It measures 52"x32". (http://www.moontrail.com/brunton-solaris-52.php)

The other type of SP is usually designed for full time residential or commercial use. There are many companies that make this type of SP but they are usually larger in size. The difference between these models and the occasional use models is that these are designed to be used constantly and for many years. They often carry "power output guarantees" of 20 or more years. They also carry a much higher price tag. Again, for comparison, Sanyo makes an SP, designated as the HIT-195,(http://www.solarelectricsupply.com/pdf/ ... 95-RZ1.pdf) which generates 195 watts of power and is virtually the same size as the Brunton - 52"x34". Bottom line is the Sanyo offers about 4 times the power of the Brunton. The difference is obviously the efficiency of the units. While it may not seem like much, the Sanyo pumps out a whopping module efficiency of 16.8% and a cell efficiency of 19.3%. The cost is a little north of $1,000.00.

It is also worth noting that the Sanyo hits the scales at 33+lbs. For me, mounting this on the roof rack, would take a huge chunk of room that I usually use for carrying other camping items. All of this together is becoming a major reason why the WT is looking so good.
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Re: Wilderness Power

#8

Post by cruiserlarry » Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:30 am

DaveK wrote: Sanyo makes an SP, designated as the HIT-195,(http://www.solarelectricsupply.com/pdf/ ... 95-RZ1.pdf) which generates 195 watts of power and is virtually the same size as the Brunton - 52"x34". Bottom line is the Sanyo offers about 4 times the power of the Brunton. The difference is obviously the efficiency of the units. While it may not seem like much, the Sanyo pumps out a whopping module efficiency of 16.8% and a cell efficiency of 19.3%. The cost is a little north of $1,000.00.

It is also worth noting that the Sanyo hits the scales at 33+lbs.
The Sanyo isn't really more efficient, lb for lb - it has less than 4 times the output, but it weighs 10 times what the Brunton weighs, is much bulkier in every dimention, and isn't truely portable and storable. It can, however, withstand one inch hail at a speed of 52 mph - pretty sturdy stuff, IMO. And at $1000, it's not ridiculously more expensive than the Brunton Solaris 52 - it's definitely more price efficient for high-end panels. The Sanyo panels are used on off-road trailers, where they can be put on a slide to pull out when camped.

You can also link multiple panels (of either type) to increase output - this is much easier using flexible, lightweight panels on a vehicle.
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Re: Wilderness Power

#9

Post by DaveK » Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:30 pm

cruiserlarry wrote:The Sanyo isn't really more efficient, lb for lb - it has less than 4 times the output, but it weighs 10 times what the Brunton weighs, is much bulkier in every dimention, and isn't truely portable and storable. It can, however, withstand one inch hail at a speed of 52 mph - pretty sturdy stuff, IMO. And at $1000, it's not ridiculously more expensive than the Brunton Solaris 52 - it's definitely more price efficient for high-end panels. The Sanyo panels are used on off-road trailers, where they can be put on a slide to pull out when camped.

You can also link multiple panels (of either type) to increase output - this is much easier using flexible, lightweight panels on a vehicle.

Unfortunately, solar panel efficiency is not a measurement of how much energy is produced by the weight of the panel. No manufacturer or standard exists that compares SP efficiency based on the weight of the unit.

Using your logic, you would need to purchase 4 Bruntons to match the power output of the Sanyo. This would require 4 times the space necessary to achieve the same power and the cost would be more than twice that of the Sanyo. Not practical or economical.

More importantly, this really does not address the point. I was attempting to explain that there is a difference in the SP efficiency of various models. I was also attempting to compare comparable power producing SPs to the WT.

From a power producing perspective, neither of the Brunton models (the 26 and the 52) produce enough power to accommodate the power needs that I mentioned at the beginning of this thread. Even at 52 watts, from the Brunton, it will only produce 3 amps (1.5 amps for the model 26). The WT has the potential to produce about 12.

Lastly, while it is true that you can link panels together to increase power output, you will defeat the point of this exercise - to find a remote location power producing device that is practical to carry AND deploy. Multiple panels are fine for trailers or RVs but for long terms trips where you must pack everything in the vehicle, multiple panels will not work.
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Re: Wilderness Power

#10

Post by Chazz Layne » Thu Nov 05, 2009 1:08 pm

It sounds like a single, high-quality rigid panel might be the answer for my needs. For the most part, I don't want too much out of the solar panel beyond maintaining power levels during the week (the truck is usually parked M-Th since I work at home) so I never have to turn of the fridge (Engel). I don't often find myself camped in one spot (we're usually in a different spot each night after driving all day) so I'm not too worried about that most of the time.

When we do camp in one spot though we are generally there for 3-4 days. Just having a fire used to be good enough, but it seems these days we have more of a dependence on electronic gadgetry in camp. Of course, converting the back of our truck into a micro-RV hasn't helped with this. So far I've been able to get by with an hour a day to download/review pictures on the netbook (average 8-hour runtime on battery), and flashlights or propane for the rest, but with the addition of HAM it would be nice to have everything fired up and not have to worry about power.

BorregoFest tested our limits on power, I actually had to shut down my phone when we parked for Ready Relief because the battery was dead (I use it to track/geotag pictures). The truck just wasn't on long enough that day to keep it charged after draining it down the night before. I used the netbook to charge the phone on Saturday night so I could have it for Sunday. WT would seem to be the answer to this problem, but it was pretty calm at camp both Friday and Saturday nights. I wonder if a WT would have proved useful there.


Then again, it seems half of the time we camp it is in sustained 20+MPH winds... :lol:
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