Designing the electrical

By ayr September 11, 2008

I’ve hinted at this before, when covering grease conversions, but I’m faced with two conflicting goals:

  1. I’d love to do as many energy-smart things as I can on the truck
  2. I’ve got to keep the costs very low

Today I spent some time on the electrical design. The low emission route would be to use the sun to heat my water and power a solid portion of my electrical. The cheap option is to run power off of a generator and heat my water with electricity. Here are the solar challenges I’m facing:

  • Solar panels are very costly, we’re talking $1,500-2,000 for 300 watts or so, which isn’t much power (only 10% of my estimates needs)
  • I would need a bank of batteries to run off the solar. These are also very very expensive. I could easily spend $2-4,000 on a bank of deep cycle batteries (the kind you need for this type of purpose because they are made to be run to near empty)
  • If I’m running off batteries (DC) I’ll need an inverter. Powerful inverters (3,000 W +) can cost a ton of money, say another $1-2,000

I’m not yet sure what solution we’ll choose. I’ve been considering running the AC appliances directly from the generator, no batteries. And then having a completely separate DC circuit that includes a couple of modest batteries, the photo¬†voltaics, LED lights, and my simple DC appliances.

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