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Old 03-05-2012, 11:29 AM   #15
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Just some side notes:

* Windmill for cloudy days -- Many areas in Arizona and California have very little wind. If present, it is not strong or consistent enough for power generation.

* Air conditioning & heat can run on solar -- AC and radiant or resistance heaters need a lot of current, and it is unlikely that a small solar/battery system will be able to produce and/or store enough energy. One that can provide the power would be very expensive and large/heavy.

* (My son) ... said we could series wire 12V so I could hook up to 110 when I wanted." -- 110-volt appliances are AC (alternating current) devices and will not work on 110 volts DC (direct current), so wiring batteries in series to produce 110 volts (DC) will not work. For this purpose, you will need an "inverter". Working with AC voltages presents a whole new set of safety problems. Also, a small inverter will not produce enough power for a microwave, resistance heater, hair dryer, and certainly not enough for an air conditioner. And, the solar panels and batteries you have described would probably not power a larger inverter that would be needed for these appliances; at least; not for very long.

A green trailer is achievable, but I think that some Internet research and a few solar/alternate energy seminars would provide a lot of information on the technical options currently available. A lot of the things we see on TV are geared around off-grid homes, which don't have the "portability" restrictions that RVs have.

I don't mean to dampen your spirits, and wish you luck in finding a solution that will work for you...

Note: Sorry for duplicating some of the comments above. I was busy typing when the others were sent.
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Old 03-05-2012, 11:58 AM   #16
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From a practical standpoint you can put perhaps a maximum of 500 watts worth of panels on your trailer as has been mentioned.
A good rule of thumb is you will use around 40 amp hours a day for lighting, TV, roof vents etc.

You can not do refrigeration, or heating without the use of propane. As an example one of the electric coolers pulls about 4 amps continuously or 96 amp hours a day.

Air conditioning is out of the question with out a generator.

I don't mean to put a damper on your plans but a 30 lb bottle of propane would run your gas fridge and do your cooking for about 3 weeks.
a 50 lb battery would run the electric cooler for 1 day with out a complete recharge.



We use 250 watts of solar and do quite well with a small tv, ham radio gear, LED lighting and satellite radio, Our consumption runs around 30 amp hours per day. We have 2 6 volt golf cart batteries and there are cloudy days when we don't get all of it back. There would be little point in adding batteries without increasing the size of the array charging them and we are about out of real estate on the 24 footers roof.

What you are trying to do might be doable in a home installation , but is not practical with in the constraints imposed by a trailer.

We have been boondocking on solar for 12 years and like it however it is necessary to understand its limitations.
From a cost standpoint it isn't cheap either. Far more costly than a generator.
On the other hand it is quiet and maintenance free, other than buying a bottle of windex every now and then.

Written from our solar powered trailer.
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Old 03-05-2012, 05:06 PM   #17
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This is a portable solar unit with batteries weighing 300 pounds you could put in the truck bed to haul - RV'ers can consider.

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Old 03-05-2012, 05:22 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenix View Post
Just some side notes:

* Windmill for cloudy days -- Many areas in Arizona and California have very little wind. If present, it is not strong or consistent enough for power generation.

* Air conditioning & heat can run on solar -- AC and radiant or resistance heaters need a lot of current, and it is unlikely that a small solar/battery system will be able to produce and/or store enough energy. One that can provide the power would be very expensive and large/heavy.

* (My son) ... said we could series wire 12V so I could hook up to 110 when I wanted." -- 110-volt appliances are AC (alternating current) devices and will not work on 110 volts DC (direct current), so wiring batteries in series to produce 110 volts (DC) will not work. For this purpose, you will need an "inverter". Working with AC voltages presents a whole new set of safety problems. Also, a small inverter will not produce enough power for a microwave, resistance heater, hair dryer, and certainly not enough for an air conditioner. And, the solar panels and batteries you have described would probably not power a larger inverter that would be needed for these appliances; at least; not for very long.

A green trailer is achievable, but I think that some Internet research and a few solar/alternate energy seminars would provide a lot of information on the technical options currently available. A lot of the things we see on TV are geared around off-grid homes, which don't have the "portability" restrictions that RVs have.

I don't mean to dampen your spirits, and wish you luck in finding a solution that will work for you...

Note: Sorry for duplicating some of the comments above. I was busy typing when the others were sent.
There's options & alternatives for heat & cooking. Here's one for cooking & if you eat smoothies or vegan or raw you can also have small outdoor charcoal grill ( I just bought a really cool tower charcoal grill with a bright orange enamel dome top I plan on keeping.)
1300-Watt Induction Cooktop Amazon.com: Spt 1300-Watt Induction Cooktop, Silver: Appliances
A back up is needed but deciding what that would be & it would be preferable to not have a generator or propane for me. A small wind turbine could be a green back up & if your home is portable, you can go where there's a good wind, maybe in between valleys?
I don't need an oven or microwave or hairdryer so I have to make adjustments like when I lived off grid before. Just like you do when you're RV ing.
Did you look at lithium ion batteries? They're much lighter & non toxic so they don't need to vent like the batteries RV's use.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:35 PM   #19
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We have an older Solar Panel that works great on our 69' G.T. as long as I keep it mobile with a 25' cord to track the sun. To extend our battery life I am looking for in cabin LED bulbs that will fit the old 12.Volt fixtures. Is there such a bulb and if so where can I find them?

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Old 03-19-2012, 11:43 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by gnmostream View Post
We have an older Solar Panel that works great on our 69' G.T. as long as I keep it mobile with a 25' cord to track the sun. To extend our battery life I am looking for in cabin LED bulbs that will fit the old 12.Volt fixtures. Is there such a bulb and if so where can I find them?

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I don't know the answer but did you try these threads?

Airstream Forums - Search Results
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Old 03-20-2012, 07:08 AM   #21
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gnmostream

I installed LED lights in the old light fixtures in my 66 Tradewind. See post # 5 in the following link:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f447...des-88369.html

I hope this helps you.

Dan
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:05 AM   #22
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Solar Fridge

If anyone wants a refrigerator that runs on solar ~ here it is at a price way below what a propane fridge costs. This is what I plan on doing for my off grid solar trailer.
http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects...est_fridge.pdf

http://johnlvs2run.wordpress.com/200...ge-conversion/
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:00 PM   #23
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Interesting idea, which I guess works as long as you don't need anything to be frozen.
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Old 03-27-2012, 08:48 AM   #24
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I read through the link and found it very interesting. It is just incredible that the fridge would only operate between 1.5 and 3 minutes per hour to keep food cold. I have the following comments:

1. No information given about how often or long the door was open during the 24 hour period.

2. Most folks keep there fridge around 0-4 degrees C, not 4-10 degrees C (50 degrees F).

3. It would be interesting to test the fridge with the door vertical to see how much this affects energy consumption.

4. I don't know why he did not just change the freezer thermostat.

This guy is thinking outside the box which is good.

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Old 03-27-2012, 12:34 PM   #25
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This concept is of interest to me as it is to many others. Yet it is easy to lose sight of what is fundmental about a travel trailer and that is its mobility. Ability-to-travel. Restricting its use to only most-favorable climates & terrain goes against this, and the loss of utility is not minor. There is a point where sacrifices in search of a particularized ideal cancels perceived benefits, to state what should be obvious. (One can make the argument that tires are more important than electricity rather easily). Needs and desires getting mixed up.

An order of what is second is Water. Storage, access, cleanliness. Propane is a close third as it may be necessary to boil the water, or to heat the tanks in which fresh & waste water are stored. It can also provide lighting. While a manual water pump would suffice for access (and is on my list of what to investigate), electricity for this is a convenience. Propane will run all food storage & preparation as well as heat the inhabitants and provide their lighting with the additional benefit of running an I/C engine. It neither deteriorates in storage nor is hampered by heavy weight in its being.

Electricity is then fourth as it has very little to do with running the trailer. (Exterior lamps, etc, can all be run by the tow vehicle). On board electrical generation is essentially for convenience once beyond air conditioning. We enjoy what it can do for us, but for a travel trailer the need to be connected to utilities at some point or another is really controlled by propane capacity plus water & food storage. (One can convert to diesel to eliminate propane, but with no ascertainable advantage. Water is flat non-negotiable).

That our society is electrically-dependent does not change the equation. Telephones, Internet and the rest (entertainment), while personally important, is not to the end of a vehicle limited in means, capacities, thus range. Electricity, therefore, is a convenience as the need to plug in sooner or later is within the nature of the machine. Fundamental to it's definition as a vehicle. The source of electricity is not vital (to the trailer), but the limit of what one can do to store electricity is. This is the crux of the thing: storage capacities.

The old order of shelter, water, food is not altered by using a travel trailer as one's abode (it is what I am doing), but mobility should be seen as analogous to a roof on a house. It comes first. All else is secondary with a fixed order of importance. And limits on all due to weight & size concerns. Propane makes it possible.

All contributors on this thread express much the same, that, extending range between "utility access" is a desirable goal. But it has to be seen in light of how these different systems function together to ascertain where modifications are beneficial as it is the effect on the whole which begins the disarrangement in the definition of travel trailer.

A travel trailer is a bit of genius made possible by petroleum. Without those liquid/gas products a TT is little more than a highly expensive and inefficient piece of real estate improvement (for its high embedded energy cost and low thermal mass if for no others). We may wish it to be a low-draw abode after initial capital investment, but we can push things too far without consideration of highest and best use foremost. Wishing to travel at arms length from others with the fewest number of inputs is the critical insight.

Fixed abode alternatives have a far lower cost per square foot initially and long term, and even "mobile homes" are much cheaper on the same basis. Mobility is central and unavoidable when we speak of travel trailers. It is itself a desire, not a need. And to which we sacrifice to acquire, maintain and improve. For this thing is, at heart, a luxury given that there are more sensible alternatives strictly from the viewpoint of energy consumption per capita. Mobility means a sacrifice on every input necessary to the maintenance of life -- the storage thereof -- but in their order of importance.

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Old 03-28-2012, 09:37 AM   #26
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The fridge cited benefits in 2 ways. One is that a chest type tends to trap the cold better and the other is that a freezer is usually better insulated. That, and the elevated temperatures noted will help keep the energy budget down. A typical modern EnergyStar rated kitchen fridge will run on about 1 kwh/day.

The 500 watts max for the TT sounds about right. Energy harvest from that is likely to be 1 or 2 kwh/day.

The battery weight comment is also right on. Lead acid batteries have about 12 watt hours per pound usable energy storage at a draw of 1 watt per pound. Most TT's come with 100 to 150 pounds of battery. Lithium ion batteries cost ten times as much and have an energy density about 5 times as much.

There are dreams here. My apologies for being rather harsh on the ideologies behind them. I see entirely too many folks who swallow the dreams as being real and find out the hard way that there are reasons that the scenarios described here are exceptional rather than routine. It is no big deal if you can afford it but many are not able to spend money that way without serious consequence elsewhere.

This is like the guy over on another forum who chipped in on a fuel cell thread about his experience. He managed to acquire a 75 kw fuel cell manufactured for hybrid buses in Canada and installed a half dozen hydrogen tanks on his moho for it. The problem was that this was presented as a viable option for anyone in contrast to the typical couple a hundred watt fuel cells commonly found for RV's. It's nice when money is no object but for many of us, we have to be careful about where we put our funds.

Quote:
That our society is electrically-dependent does not change the equation.
Do keep in mind that our energy budgets have significant impacts on health, safety, and life fulfilment. Electricity is just one form that is convenient because it is so easily transformed into other forms.

There are some deep philosophical and psychological implications in the presumption that using less energy - in any form - is better in some way. Experience tends to go the other way and that means there is a dissonance to resolve.
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Old 03-28-2012, 11:17 AM   #27
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In history people used small mobile homes ~ covered wagons before the automobile and travel trailers after the auto. The times called for mobility in seek of employment, when they had to travel to find work. They were also recreational for the wealthy. For many years now people used them for recreational temporary homes and our lives have changed greatly because of oil and technology. The technological advances currently available & in development open the door to many new possibilities as we move into the future, the way we will live is not something most people think about or can envision, naturally. For example, the RepRap self-replicating rapid-prototyping machine giving us the ability to replicate a bolt or any part of a trailer. This already exists. The travel trailer utility for people reflects our current culture which is something ever changing and evolving.

Becoming petroleum independent is critical and intuitive. The days of cheap oil are coming to an end. We are entering a time when we need to think outside the box and be open to ideas that are much different than what we know now. What ever I can do to become energy independent is of interest to me taking into account meeting my basic needs in a slightly different way in comparison to living in a permanent structure which is the norm today. My life style vision is about living in a tiny home. My trailer could be temporary because I'm also interested in building a earth bag tiny home which would be my base when I'm not hopping around the country in my trailer. It's just a matter finding the way to do it.

I agree propane is essential but can be reduced or substituted in some cases if the alternative is efficient enough to meet your needs. What about all the free energy we have like solar & wind? For me personally, the mobility of a trailer means being able to go to favorable locations reducing my need for heating & cooling so I see mobility as an advantage. I'd like to be able to live off grid when I want and still have the ability to hook up to electric when I want to. 200+ watts on a steel roof is doable. 4 golf cart batteries don't weigh too much if you keep the interior contents weight down. The guy at the battery store said lithium ion batteries for my application would not be advised because of cost & safety. Plan and weigh & measure & adjust accordingly.

Thanks for all the really great comments everyone. It's interesting to me that there will always be people arguing against an new idea instead of asking questions or doing research or trying to be open & think about how it "can" work, not how it "can't" work. It's an automatic knee jerk reaction. Best to learn as much about it as you can before forming an opinion & be open to changing your view as new evidence & discoveries emerge.

I don't disagree with the points made. I'm in the learning process curve myself.
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Old 03-28-2012, 01:18 PM   #28
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I found some more threads on this topic here.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f382...est-87469.html

Just thought I'd mention ~ I have a stripped down trailer ready to design from the ground up as opposed to many others here who might an aluminum roof or needing to work within the existing trailer fully furnished without the advantages of access to wiring or redesign challenges for example. And when a trailer is your only home, prioritization of it would be the same as other people put into their permanent homes like mortgage payments or rent, utility costs & maintenance. I know some of the equipment is expensive so I'll do it a little at a time. The freezer conversion would be a good option for someone like me who goes to the store almost everyday for fresh food so I don't need a freezer. I'm also considering an evap portable unit 12 volt unit for cooling. Propane for all devises that heat up or provide heat. Solar/12 volt pump for water or hand pump for kitchen & outdoor solar showers work sometimes too. Of course I will be able to hook up to electric when I want to & other little details like sanitation, water hauling, back up generator, etc need to be in the plan.

I don't need much. When you think about what you really need it's not what all the things people own. Possession and ownership of all that stuff is burdensome & costly in my opinion so I don't want it. Instead, I want time to enjoy my family & my life so reducing living costs means not needing to work as much giving me more time to do what I want like volunteer work & learning & teaching. Not to mention reducing stress that leads to good heath.
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