Alternate Power in the Outback (from sun roof to solar roof)

Plan for the Expedition here. Not an OAUSA sanctioned run.
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DaveK
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Alternate Power in the Outback (from sun roof to solar roof)

#1

Post by DaveK » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:12 pm

Given the remoteness of the GSW and the fact that we may be staying at a location or two for a couple of days, it seemed an appropriate time to devise some alternate power plans. My initial thoughts, for about the last year, centered around the benefits of a compact wind turbine, which I used with some success at Field Day this year.

The reason why I only had some success was for the obvious reason that the wind only blew for part of the time during the weekend. For one night in particular, it was more than enough to make up for the HF use during the day. Otherwise it was calm.

In deciding what type of alternate power to use, it was clear that each had both some advantages and some disadvantages. With wind, calm conditions meant no power generation. With solar, no light meant no power generation. With gas or diesel generators, no fuel meant no power generation. Additionally, on trips where fuel was needed for travel, it was not usually an option to run a generator, it was a heavy or bulky item to carry and it ran the risk of spilling fuel even if secured well.

With all that in mind, I opted for a bit of a compromise solution. One of the benefits of a modestly sized vehicle is having a little extra room. For me, there is a small space on the roof, forward of the roof rack, that for practical purposes, was wasted. Thus the compromise was born. The wind turbine will still be a part of my long-term-trip gear, but it will now be supplemented by an 80 watt mono-crystalline solar panel. The advantages:

1. Permanent and secure mounting, in a location that is never used on these trips and is completely out of the way;
2. No set up time to get it operational. At camp, you simply plug in the SP and it is on line (takes about 5 seconds).
3. Light weight at less than 15 lbs. (total unit including the mounting bracket)
4. Very sturdy mounting bracket constructed with aircraft grade aluminum.
5. Produces just a smidge over 5 amps, more than twice the power used by the fridge freeze.
5. No moving parts, no maintenance, and comes with a 25 year warranty on power output.


The disadvantages:

1. Blocks the sun roof.

These are the first pictures of the installation.
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IMG_0030 (Large).JPG (143.75 KiB) Viewed 3991 times
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BlueFJ
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Re: Alternate Power in the Outback (from sun roof to solar roof)

#2

Post by BlueFJ » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:31 pm

Now your rig is just like my house! :lol:
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Re: Alternate Power in the Outback (from sun roof to solar roof)

#3

Post by Chazz Layne » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:44 pm

Who makes the panel, and how much do they run? Solar has been on my list for a while now, but it keeps getting beat down due to the initial costs involved... :shock:
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Re: Alternate Power in the Outback (from sun roof to solar roof)

#4

Post by DaveK » Tue Jan 25, 2011 10:26 pm

Chazz Layne wrote:Who makes the panel, and how much do they run? Solar has been on my list for a while now, but it keeps getting beat down due to the initial costs involved... :shock:
The manufacturer is Ramsond, see: http://www.ramsond.com/proddetail.php?p ... AR%20PANEL. The price tag is about $380 before shipping, etc. I opted for an MPPT controller which added about another $100. You can save your self some fabricating expenses if you have the necessary skills and tools, but if not, this will be an additional expense. I was very fortunate to get hooked up with a machinist friend of TomS, who made the bracket. His skills are exceptional as are the materials he uses. If you can visualize it, he can make it.
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Re: Alternate Power in the Outback (from sun roof to solar roof)

#5

Post by cruiserlarry » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:13 pm

Dave -

Is the controller you purchased different from the one they list with that panel ? I ask because they show it for $49.95 on the controller page, but only $19.95 when you go to it's link on their site...and I didn't see any other controllers listed...

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Re: Alternate Power in the Outback (from sun roof to solar roof)

#6

Post by Chazz Layne » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:28 pm

Nice, not bad at all. The physical specs are impressive as well, looks like it can take a beating.
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Re: Alternate Power in the Outback (from sun roof to solar roof)

#7

Post by DaveK » Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:46 am

cruiserlarry wrote:Dave -

Is the controller you purchased different from the one they list with that panel ? I ask because they show it for $49.95 on the controller page, but only $19.95 when you go to it's link on their site...and I didn't see any other controllers listed...

Thanks...

Larry:

The MPPT controller I am using did not come with the panel and was not offered as an option from Ramsond. The controller you saw is a PWM (pulse width modulation) type and they are generally a bit less expensive than the MPPT (maximum power point tracking) type of controller. The benefit of the MPPT is a significant increase in panel efficiency. I opted for the BZ product, see: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... vi-content . If you are interested in an MPPT controller, there is a good write up at this link.
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hmfigueroa

Re: Alternate Power in the Outback (from sun roof to solar roof)

#8

Post by hmfigueroa » Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:13 am

have you measured any voltage drop with the shadowing on the solar panels? The was your antenna mount on your rack casts a shadow on your panel some have been known to have a significant loss in available power when any portion of the panel is in shadow.

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Re: Alternate Power in the Outback (from sun roof to solar roof)

#9

Post by salad_man » Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:43 pm

hmfigueroa wrote:have you measured any voltage drop with the shadowing on the solar panels? The was your antenna mount on your rack casts a shadow on your panel some have been known to have a significant loss in available power when any portion of the panel is in shadow.
This is true for most solar panels, a friend of mine had to take down his HAM antenna that was mounted on the side of his house because the 1 inch shadow it cast on the panels brought it down more than half efficiency... This an awesome set up you got here dave, I think I am going to look into getting one of the 50 watt panels, I dont have as much space on the roof of the 4runner, he he.
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Re: Alternate Power in the Outback (from sun roof to solar roof)

#10

Post by DaveK » Sun Feb 27, 2011 6:06 pm

hmfigueroa wrote:have you measured any voltage drop with the shadowing on the solar panels? The was your antenna mount on your rack casts a shadow on your panel some have been known to have a significant loss in available power when any portion of the panel is in shadow.

Most interesting question and the answer is yes.

First, I should mention that the pictures make it appear that the HF antenna mount hangs over the SP more than it actually does.

I finally got around today to hooking up an amp meter to the SP to see just how much it was producing. One thing should be emphasized in viewing these results. If you look at the pictures, you can see that the SP is hard mounted to the roof rack rails in a horizontal position. I have not made any provision for angling the SP to follow the sun. So for today's test I did not move the H2 at all during the day and I noted the amps delivered throughout the day. As you might expect the amps produced were the lowest in the early morning and the late afternoon, as the SP was not pointed directly at the sun and that time of day is not optimum anyway. AND, this was February sun!

From about 9:00AM until about 3:30 PM, I saw the greatest out put at about 80-95% of its rated power. If the shadow had an effect on the power, I suspect that it was minor. Additionally, if there is any effect, all that I will need to do is point the H2 in a southerly direction.

All things considered, I couldn't be happier. It is out of the way, it takes mere seconds to set up, it does not take up any room that was otherwise dedicated to storage, it is lightweight, and it is the essence of simple.

Don't tell Larry. I'll never live this down - DTK as a greenie???
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