Solar Future 16th February 2022

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Shot Notes

Today marks 1-year living off-grid. It has taken a decade to become independent of Australia’s fossil-fueled electricity. The solar roof provides all my power and most of my water. Until I learn to forage, one day a month is still needed to restock the van. Returning to civilization burns petrol, but this may change one day?

I know of (1,2,3) prototype solar-powered campervans already on the road. To make them viable with today’s solar panels, they use various extension systems to triple the roof areas, when the vans are stationary. I have a different design solution in mind, with a lower centre of gravity.

Power storage is a dilemma. Building a DIY Lithium or Hydrogen fuel cell has fire risks I am uncomfortable with. I hope a less dangerous option becomes available before my dino juice engine loses all its horses.

The speed I travel, maybe a small panel with large storage is enough, this is a guess. To get some real numbers into the design, I need to know the longest drive between bush camps (with suitable non-shaded areas to recharge) that are needed to complete a full year of seasonal migrations. Now the Queensland border is fully open, I can audit a weather led journey for a future zero-carbon route.

6 Responses to “Solar Future”

  1. 1

    I await with interest the outcome of your design study. With Oz sun I guess it should be feasible, but you need to build in a backup in case things go pearshaped. I agree with you about hydrogen it doesn’t just burn it can make a very big bang.

  2. 2
    Jason Benz:

    I plan to have a jerry can and generator for emergencies. Also plan to split the battery to be charged sepatatly by each side’s solar awning.

  3. 3

    I suspect solar awnings are going to be the best option as they can duel purpose as power collectors and shade. Do you want to convert you existing van frame or are you saving up for a trade-in to a new electric option?

    For batteries you will probably want to use mass manufactured cells so it then comes down to connecting them up and power/charge regulation. The problem is the voltages can be quite large DC ones which you need to take care to avoid. Alternatively there are approaches to make fuel from CO2 powered by solar: NASA technology but I suspect running a petrol refinery from your van also has safety issues.

  4. 4

    Apparently DIY conversion of existing vehicles to electric is more of a thing than I realised: diyelectriccar

  5. 5
    Jason Benz:

    Converting this gas guzzler into a sustainable home feels like a useful legacy. Classic vehicles make good starting points as they are not full of sensitive electronics which clash with high voltage systems.

  6. 6
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