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Old 01-02-2010, 04:28 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Location: Currently Denver, CO
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Year: 1972
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Re: Trusted Compass Bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceni John
I plan on having a walkway along the spine of the roof, all the way from the front escape/vent hatch to the rear hatch (I'm guessing that's about 25 to 30 feet), and attaching all my solar panels to the edge of this walkway. They will be hinged to the walkway, allowing them to be raised up 45 degrees or more from their outer edges above the windows.

I've heard that dust/bugs/etc can make a significant difference to the panels' operating efficiency.

TrustedCompass, I would recommend at least one roof vent or hatch, for ventilation purposes and for an emergency exit, plus it will give you easy access to the roof without needing an RV-type ladder hanging off the back (which would also give other less-desirable members of society easy access to your expensive solar panels, or worse). Ask at any local bus barns or truck wrecking yards if they have any used hatches; if you are near the coast there may be a surplus yachting supplies place with used marine hatches that will probably be more watertight that any truck/bus hatches.

John, always hatching plans for his bus
My thinking exactly on another reason why I don't want an external ladder. In addition to temptation for kids and liability issues.

I like the surplus boat hatch idea. I clearly want to have the hatch in hand before I start cutting open the roof. And finding an existing hatch will be far easier. I am not exactly close to the coast, about 4 hours, but the south is full of boating enthuisaists, coastal and lake. And I have seen tons of 'junk' boats in my searches for RV parts. I may need to consider other parts as well. At one time I thought of using the swivel seat of a bass boat, the kind they fish from at the front of the boat, to make swiveling solar panels.

I am heading to Nashville for my brother's wedding Jan 15 and it will represent my first leg on my trip west. Can anybody give me tips on Skoolie salvage yards in the South (It would be great to find another 1972 GMC Carpenter or similar Body that I can harvest some parts off. Ideas where to find relatively inexpensive bus tires (my sidewalls are cracked from lack of use and baking in the sun while parked in the church parking lot). Thoughts on purchasing retreads to replace my tires? Where can I find new, clean 75-100 gallon drinking water tank? I may have to suck it up and buy one online and have it shipped to my brother's. One the biggest challenges of being so off the grid is that I don't have a mailing address. I plan on using my brother's in Tennessee but that will be for low cost small postage items like regular mail.
Alot has been made of WVO conversions and I will be looking into that more seriously soon. I have two 'saddle bag' type gas tanks under the bus (think big rig) that are 50 gallons each with a fuel line connecting them so that when one tank is filled is (slowly) goes into the other also until they are even. I could separate one for WVO purposes. My biggest concern would be collecting and filtering WVO myself. It has been awhile since I read that forum. I will reread it closer to when I make that addition. But before I invest time and energy to that area, could anyone tell me if it is worth the trouble for a nomadic fulltimer to collect/filter/store large enough quantities to justify initial financial investment.
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Old 01-02-2010, 05:12 PM   #12
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Re: Trusted Compass Bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by trustedcompass
are you saying just having them tilted will be beneficial instead of tracking the sun's progression? I understand that it would be labor intensive moving the panels to track the sun and I want them to have a nice efficiency/labor balance.
I said east/west tracking gives up to a 10% gain in winter, and up to 30% in summer when the noon sun is higher and there are extra hours to track at dawn and dusk on the horizon. In many opinions it's not worth climbing up on the roof every 1/2 hour for the extra power.

I had forgotten that around midsummer, the extra energy collected by a horizontal panel at dawn and dusk offsets the slight loss at noon compared to a tilted panel, and produces a slightly higher daily total unless a tracker is used. This means buses used only in summer really need not worry about tilting the panels at all. Buses traveling south of the border toward the equator in winter probably don't need to worry much, either.

My actual figures for 43 north, compiling a 30-year average (1961-1990) in kilowatt-hours per day impacting a one square meter panel:

0 (flat/horizontal), best for May (tie w/28)through July without a tracker:
December: 1.41 kWh; July: 6.06 kWh; Yearly average: 3.79 kWh;
28 (summer noon), best for April through August:
December: 2.10 kWh; July 5.97 kWh; Yearly average: 4.29 kWh;
43 (average/latitude), best for March, September, October:
December: 2.35 kWh; July 5.54 kWh; Yearly average 4.28 kWh;
58 (winter noon), best for October (tie w/43) through February:
December: 2.49 kWh; July 4.83 kWh; Yearly average 4.20 kWh;

90 (vertical facing due south), for when there is no other way to mount panels:
December: 2.36 kWh; July 2.77 kWh Yearly average 2.98 kWh
East-West tracker, Improves as much as 30% in summer
December @ 58: 2.74 kWh; July @ 28: 7.74 kWh; Yearly average @ 43 5.37 kWh;
2-axis tracker, best anytime:
December: 2.76 kWh; July 7.88 kWh; Yearly average 5.55 kWh.

Note that this is the power hitting the panel face, not the power going out into the wires. Photovoltaic arrays are between 9% and 21% efficient, with the average being about 15%. So figure 150 watts output for every kilowatt from the table above. Panels to heat hot water or hot air are more efficient, well over 40% if I recall.

To figure how much actual power you will store in a day, if using an MPPT charge controller multiply the rated panel wattage times the number above. If using a simple controller that disconnects the panels when the battery shows a full charge voltage, multiply the panel short circuit current rating (Isc) times the actual battery voltage times the number above.
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Old 01-03-2010, 03:25 AM   #13
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Re: Trusted Compass Bus

Ok, I think my idea wasnt explained as well as I should have...

Small scale with household items for easy understanding... Take a Lazy Susan, a standard door hinge, and a square board about the same size as the Lazy Susan. Mount the Hinge to the Susan, and the board to the hinge, keeping the hinge in the center of one edge of the board so it can tilt up. Use a prop stick to hold the board up at the angle you want, turn the susan to face the direction you want.

No matter how you are parked, you can raise the panels to the angle needed and then twist them to the proper direction. Mounting them all in one spot means less wire run for panels and you can have the whole thing set up in less than 5 minutes. If you use two rectangular or square bars on the sides with slide slots up the facing sides, the panels can have those bolts that use the spin handle to tighten down and hold them in place.


Doing very similar to this, only mounting more panels together into One Big Panel that raises up, and mounting it on a swivel that you can lock in place so it wont spin when you dont want it to. I'm sure you could mount a motor to it to track, but it would have to be computer controlled or you might twist till your wires break.

It might just be my visual thinking, but its very close to how they make the R2-D2 heads spin.
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Old 01-03-2010, 06:35 AM   #14
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Re: Trusted Compass Bus

True, the swivel can rust, but you can just replace it as needed. And, the solar panels are locked together in the same method that they are normally locked together, by little tabs that are connect to the ends of the adjoining panels. You can use several pieces of square aluminum tubing to make the frame that the panels mount onto, or just use the normal angle aluminum that most installers use and comes in Multi-Panel install kits. My idea has alot less wiring also. Meaning, your not running a set of wires times the number of locations to the combiner box, but combining all the panels at one location and running a single cord. From what I have been reading, you normally put the wires from each panel into a combiner box then the cord from there to your main power box.

I kinda like the idea of the 4way tilt mount, and it would be great if most places had their parking so that the sun was sure to come from one of those precise directions. My idea is more heavy duty. Gas struts or an electric motor could help with weight, but most people can lift one end of 4 panels, being close to the weight of a small child. Plus, that guys hinges are going to be rust covered within several months. If properly lubricated during manufacturing, the swivel bearings will last years without problem. I planned for years of service with minimal replacement, and it should last for the life of the bus... needed to be replaced at the same time, ten or 15 years down the road.
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:32 PM   #15
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Location: Currently Denver, CO
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Re: Trusted Compass Bus

I like all the feedback. My ADHD is clearly evident in the way I tackle projects and is probably why I hadn't utilized this board before. By the time I post a question, I have changed the priority on another project and am focusing my energy on that. Ok, here is where I currently stand...I am going to my remote work location where I can work on the bus. I am wrapping up some loose ends based on what materials I have handy. Anybody remember the MacGyver TV series, that's sums up my bus building mentality.
I wish I had pictures and an inventory list with me, I am sure it would spark somebody's imagination on how I could use them. I have: 5x8 Oriental floor rug, about 100 ft of 3/4" aluminum poles that were from several different wedding type tents, Various pieces of wood, Plywood, different sizes furring strips, quarter round, and so much more.
One project I know I will be doing:
Solar Panels- I have 4 low profile stainless 3-hole hinges and matching 'L' brackets. I have 4 3ft pieces of aluminum angle iron, it is 1/2in. My plan is to frame up the three panels with the aluminum angles to provide support. I will screw the angles to the side of the panels, careful not to break panels or cut wires. Then I take the panels and screw hinges into the aluminum angle. I will have to figure configuration of hinge placement to be most effective. I'll have to eyeball it to do that. After that I will mount stainless 'L' brackets to bus. These aren't true 'L' brackets, they are more 2.5in angled aluminum with pre-cut holes drilled that match hinge alignment. Once these are mounted, I will connect hinged panels to them. I will have to worry about getting the strips of metal that will support the panels in the raised position at a later time.
I will take photos and post them to my blog early next week.

What I most like about this forum is the creative ways that solutions are created using parts not typically created for that purpose. In the spirit of living modestly, I like to use what is laying around or given away on craigslist and freecycle. Of course I won't always be able to do this. I have broken free of over a decade in corporate America and I have become addicted to discovering my own resourcefulness. Think 'Into the Wild'. The thing I miss most is having consistent internet access where I could read online for endless hours. I just don't have time to surf all day and night for different answers. So if I ask a question that has already been asked just forward me to that thread.
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:18 AM   #16
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Re: Trusted Compass Bus

lol You sure are a talker I see you're still braving the serious cold weather. I must have missed it... Why are you staying in such cold and not going south?
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Old 01-12-2010, 05:24 PM   #17
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Re: Trusted Compass Bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seeria
lol You sure are a talker I see you're still braving the serious cold weather. I must have missed it... Why are you staying in such cold and not going south?
LOL! Yeah, I prefer to think I am just being social. I'm a natural extrovert. Being pent up on the bus with minimal human contact causes me to really pour it out in the blog.

I AM in the south, South Carolina. I haven't gone south because I have been busy just trying to get the bus into a livable place. Slooow process when living fulltime on it. Then, as to be expected, things came up. Clutch went out. Guy buying my jeep, gave me $500 deposit and thought I provided layaway or that he was on a payment plan. Took him over a month to get the rest of the money. He was a friend of a friend so I was slow in getting firm with him.
My brother is getting married in Nashville, TN in about two weeks. I am driving there this weekend as my first leg of my journey west. My plan is to be in the four corners area (Where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona come together). Hit Arizona in the cold season and drive up into the mountains in the summer.
Besides the cold is good for me right now, I need a good butt freezin'. Reminds me to man up.
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