Hybrid Trailer Unit - Suntura 400 w/ Windtura 500

Discussion in 'Solar Power' started by timber, Mar 2, 2011.


Do you think this is a workable idea?

  1. What the heck have you been smokin'?

    0 vote(s)
  2. Nice dream but it'll never fly.

    0 vote(s)
  3. Possible but not practical.

    0 vote(s)
  4. This might even work if you plan well, keep the runs short and camp in ideal locations, not sure I'd

  5. Heck, give it a shot, let us know how it works ... can I come visit when your camping (if I bring my

  6. Dang, wish I'd thought of that ... killer idea, I like it!

    0 vote(s)
  1. timber

    timber WindyNation Engineer

    Hi All, please bear with me, I'm sort of thinking out loud here but thought I bounce this concept off you all to see what your thoughts might be. We're pretty low budget so a nice off-grid or even grid-tie is not ever likely to be the route we go.

    I've been thinking of ways to get the most from past and future investments in Alternative Energy.
    We live on-grid and. to date, all AE has been more or less a hobby/ minimal back-up system.
    As we make small changes or improvements to our house or do minor renovations I want to incorporate more use of AE for lighting and low wattage use throughout the house. I have two Auxiliary Circuits now and these will branch as needed.

    We also have a travel trailer and go camping, usually quite close to home in the woods, nearby mountains or along the Columbia River gorge here. We generally keep to remote areas rather than specified camp grounds ... so power is usually not available. Normal camping would be a minimum of one week stay at single location.

    I'm thinking why not try to use our AE system both at home and/or while camping in the travel trailer.
    I've done this on a very small scale in the past, bringing along a 30W solar panel to keep the trailer batteries somewhat charged. It helped but was not near enough to even keep up with the water pump, lighting and small battery charging.

    So here's my idea:

    Trailer - 4'x8' single axle utility trailer.
    Add slide out extensions each side front and back with screw down feet to stabilize once on location.
    Mount the Suntura 400 Tracking System securely to the center of the trailer.
    Mount modest 800Ah battery bank on trailer so it's out of the weather and protected in some type of enclosure.
    Mount DC and AC panel boxes, controller, inverter recepticals etc on trailer in protected enclosure.
    Mount a storage enclosure to store Wintura 500 and misc. guys, screw in augers, cables, wires etc.
    Carry three sections of Rhon tower, base plate and top mounting section on trailer or on top of pickup.

    When Home:
    Park the Hybrid Trailer Unit (HTU) in designated sunny zone. Use existing home-built tilt-down tower to mount Windtura 500.
    Use heavy gauge AC interconnection cable to connect trailer to house (Off-Grid) Auxiliary AC Circuit.
    HTU will serve to supplement in home lighting and light duty, low watt usage circuit.

    When Camping:
    Set up campsite as usual. return to site (remember we usually camp quite nearby home) with HTU.
    Locate and set up HTU in best location near travel trailer.
    Set Rhon tower base, pin to ground, erect tower sections, add guys and anchor using available trees, rocks or screw augers. (I believe that with the right system and care a portable tower can be achieved, can be accomplished safely or I wouldn't consider it.)
    Make connections from Windtura to HTU and from HTU to travel trailer (it's a relatively small travel trailer).
    May use both AC and DC interconnection cables.
    Recheck tower, Suntura tracking system etc ... get out lounge chairs and small table, kick back, open beer ... enjoy life.

    What are your thoughts, I'd like to hear them?


    Dave (aka timber)
  2. timber

    timber WindyNation Engineer

    Actually, this is a nice setup here -----> http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/yago108.html
    Looks like the guy did a great job of it ... and spent some bucks doing it.
    I like the concept of mine but think I'll keep the Suntura 400 at home and use stationary panels mounted to the trailer.
    When home I'll have twice the solar panels ... if I can manage the budget.
  3. murray2paddles

    murray2paddles WindyNation Engineer

    Trying to find the correct words ! Well Timber your idea of camping is quite different than mine.
    My wife and I at one time lived in the bush as trappers with absolutely no electricity.
    I suppose my idea of camping is to be able to leave an ( urban home ) and enjoy the outdoors without the distractions of what I wanted to get away from.

    But, it's all about having fun right ! I would invest more on the solar side especially if the panels could be transferred back tp work at your home site. The wind would only be for evening back- up power or extremly cloudy days, what does your weather pattern history show you
  4. timber

    timber WindyNation Engineer

    Hi Murray,

    Actually, my idea of camping has changed a lot from past years, :lol:
    Used to do a lot of backpacking the high country but age and health have taken their toll.
    The modest travel trailer allows us to get away for weeks at a time and provides a good base for exploratory ventures.

    Wind is perhaps often more dependable near the Columbia River gorge than sunshine but it's also a lot to deal with transporting and setting up.
    Solar Panels will, of course, provide energy even on marginal days (we do have our fair share of marginal days), it just takes a few more of them.

    I think you're right, having some panels to use both in travels and at home is very likely the best bet.
    I can put some tracks along the top of the travel trailer that will allow some positioning of the panels as well as relatively easy removal.
    It will be great having the panels in addition to some others permanently stationed at home.

    Eventually, 1 Windtura 500 flying, 1 induction motor conversion rebuilt and flying again, 1 Suntura 400 and 4 additional solar panels for travel or home use... and as many 6V L16 AGMs as I can afford ... sounds like a plan ... back to work so I can afford to make it happen.

  5. murray2paddles

    murray2paddles WindyNation Engineer

    Thanks for your post, you ave sparked a lot of exciting memories for me. Yes my idea of camping has Aldo changed over the years as I have become urban. However my urban means we live in a community on the edge of the boreal forest so if I walk 100 ft back of my house into the forest it is hebsame as having been 100 miles. :eek:

    The spot you camp at is that your regular site ? Do you or can you set any of your equipment up there stationery or is it safe to do so ?
    If so I might have something for you that might help out a bit .

  6. timber

    timber WindyNation Engineer

    Hey Murray,

    We're about 60 miles outside a major city in (what I would call) a rural town.
    Pinchot National Forest is about 6 miles down the road but we do have close neighbors in an old 1960's residential loop.
    Only have a 100' sq lot so our options are definitely limited in terms of both wind and solar but I'm hooked and feel good about making it happen regardless of how efficient or cost effective it is (it's never going to be either). The wonderful thing is that our home is finally paid off and we are in an area that we love with lots of forest, mountains and rivers quite near, so lots of variety in types of places to visit and enjoy without using much gas or time to get there.

    We have a number of favorite, off the beaten path, local camping spots but these areas are also used by some other locals so not a place I'd want to leave anything of value over any long period of time. I've left the travel trailer and camp gear there for a day or two without being there but wouldn't feel comfortable that some bored locals might mess with things if left there too long. The battery bank on the travel trailer gets very little use and only by water pump, lighting and charging flashlights so charging requirements would not that tough to meet using a couple of decent solar panels even on cloudy days I think.

  7. murray2paddles

    murray2paddles WindyNation Engineer

    I will send you a note tomorrow on your pm., and let you know what I have for you if you are intetested. ( no cost)
    Hmm, all I have to do now is remember to write :lol:
  8. timber

    timber WindyNation Engineer

    Cool, thanks Murray ... catch ya then.

    I've been figuring out how to make my own Solar Pathfinder this evening ... the company sells replacement parts so all I really need are some solar path charts at $1 ea and a replacement reflective dome which goes for $10 ... I can make one relatively easy from those two parts to find the best locations for panels.
    $15 vs $269 for the Solar Pathfinder ... the manual is just a PDF download so no cost there. Love that DIY stuff, makes the rest of it all affordable.

    Speaking of making things, how's that nose cone working out ... I'm just going to have to make one myself for the WindTura 500.
    Forgot what you used to round the nose out ... was it fiberglass resin, bondo ... ?

  9. timber

    timber WindyNation Engineer

  10. murray2paddles

    murray2paddles WindyNation Engineer

    That 8 * 4 inch pan looks pretty good. I know the 8 in will be real close to fitting inside the blades on the hub, if your unit is on the ground you will be able measure that out fast !
    On my bowl it had what seems to be a little more protruding lip and that is what I drilled through and attached the bowl to the hub.
    Timber, I tried almost everything to round them off. Ended up epoxying a piece of high density foam I use in canoe building, shaped it then finished any roughness off with an epoxy fillet material. BUT, if I had remembered to use bondo as you suggested that would have been my choice, for cost , fast , easy to shape.

    I was too fussy about the finished / perfect look, because after it is up on the tower you or no one else would see any imperfections. Also on the ground an 8 inch pan may look large but after it is up there size had it's way of shrinking . :roll:
    I have two turbines standing beside each other and the one with no cone looks like something is missing or that a part fell off . The cone is a definate YES !
  11. timber

    timber WindyNation Engineer

    Ya, the price is even a little less for this pan a few other places, one with the cheapest shipping probably wins out.
    Can't imagine that the cone would make much if any difference in the fluid dynamics of air movement but it sure does give the turbine a nice finishing touch.
    That and some bright red banded blade tips painted on and she'll be flyin' in style! Although, like you noted, things have a way of diminishing by the time you get it way up there on the tower ... :roll:
    This is the only thing close that I could find online, I'll be getting one for sure. It appears that there is enough of a lip to fasten it down as you did with this one.
    I measured the size and like you say, it's 8" and no more so I hope it will do it ... If not I'll get out the sledge hammer ... :mrgreen:

  12. murray2paddles

    murray2paddles WindyNation Engineer

    the sledge hammer, lol just love it, my kind of finishing work..

    I think it will make a difference in performance,, don't you notice if you wash and wax your vehicle it just seems to run smoother, well same goes for a cone :lol:

    Will start putting your package together for you, will send you the turbine weight and blade rotor size later
  13. timber

    timber WindyNation Engineer

    Hi Murray,

    If you have a hub that fits it, that would come in very handy, if not no problem I'll be able to find something online.
    I'm wondering if gearing the blade to motor might help get some current at lower wind speeds with this motor.
    Realizing that V-belt gearing is about useless due to the tremendous amount of friction involved, a synchronous belt and pulleys might do the trick to keep the friction down but get some higher rpms at the motor.

    I went through this gearing thing when I built my electric bike. (24V system, golf cart controller, 72Ah in batteries, synchronous belt/ chain gearing of 11/1 ratio) so I sure as heck know what doesn't work (V-belt). I think in this situation a 2:1 ratio would be sufficient to get the rpms needed. ... did you ever try gearing that motor?
    Chain/ Sproket might work also but not as smooth as Sync. and more maintenance.

    I'll catch ya via PM on what you mentioned about weight/ size etc. ... Thanx


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