HARNESSING THE WIND
One of the unavoidable disadvantages of solar panels is that they don't produce any energy once the sun goes down. At this point, especially for the HF operators out there, alternate power becomes very important. Evening time for many bands is when things get into high gear and this is when it is especially nice to have an alternate source of power. When you key down at 100 watts, it can draw in excess of 20 amps, and at that rate, it doesn't take long to take the battery below safe levels.
An interesting option is a compact wind turbine. The advantages of a WT are significant, and for the wilderness traveler, it should at least be a consideration. In its "dis-assembled" state, it can be very compact and light weight. While cost may be a slight factor in making this choice for alternate power, it certainly will not be the most expensive piece of equipment you carry,. (or even close.) It will add a dimension to your power capabilities by making it possible to generate power at night. And, a WT can produce a significant amount of power. But for all it's advantages, I have not seen a great deal of attention to harnessing the wind in the wilderness.
There are a few on the market, and like much of the "alternate power"" industry, things are in a constant state of flux. So, you will need to do your research. With the right equipment, this can be a great way to get yourself some free power. Like solar, wind turbines have their limitations - no wind, no power, but when the wind kicks up, it can work very well. The compact WT that I use is capable of generating 200 watts of power, with a blade start-up speed of 4.5 MPH. A nice supplement indeed to my 100 watt solar panel. Here is the spec sheet:
Like a solar panel, the WT requires a controller. Concealed beneath the shock tower cover lies my controller, as well as a connection for an additional solar panel:
A couple of years back, we were in a very remote section of Utah, and as most of these trips go, we used the quiet hours of the evening to play radio. For three days in Beef Basin, we had constant wind, and I took full advantage of this free power. For these three days, especially at night, I was able to operate the radios, at full power, while still keeping the batteries within safe levels. In the morning the batteries were at full charge, despite the refrigerator cycling on and off all night long (yes, the nights were warm).
Another example of my use of the wind turbine was on a recent trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. On the hottest night (by far) on the entire trip, the conditions were perfect for harvesting free power from the wind, which lasted all night. The WT was sufficient to not only power the Ham radio, but the refrigerator, and all the other stuff as well. In the morning, the battery was fully charged.
Having learned the hard way, I found that there are a couple of helpful suggestions I can offer, if you plan on using a wind turbine. My WT was very compact, and could be stored into this small bag, blades and all. This clearly met my "compact" requirement.
Compact it was, but it failed miserably in the quick deploy/quick take down department. it was a major PITA to assemble and disassemble the WT at every new campsite. That's when I fabricated a mount on the roof rack that allowed the fully assembled WT to be installed, ready to go to work. With this set-up, it takes just a couple of minutes to get it ready to go.
I've had this WT for close to 10 years. Today Tycon still makes a compact WT, but not quite as compact as mine.
Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.