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Old 11-18-2021, 08:17 PM   #1
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Wind Turbines for Pull-Behinds?

Who has tried wind power as an alternative energy source for campers?
If you have dabbled with wind power, what type of turbine did you use, and how effective has the system been in contributing to your goal of recharging batteries? Have you been satisfied with the cost of materials contributing a respectable return into your electrical capacity?

We would add a turbine or two to a solar system, to achieve more flexible alternative power options, and there is great info in these forums regarding solar! My question is simply if anyone has tried adding wind technology as well. Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-19-2021, 12:50 AM   #2
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I thought about it. Briefly. Very briefly. Wind could provide some power around the clock. But, wind would require more infrastructure (a way to raise and lower the turbine(s)), a way to store the machine(s) when on the road, etc.

Wind would also be subject to blockage from trees much like solar; though that blockage would be 24/7 while with solar there might be some hours of sun reaching the roof.

Except in a few geographic locations, wind turbine capacity factor is very low. This is the amount of kWH produced relative to what would be produced with enough wind to keep the turbine at maximum power 24/7. Typically, commercial windfarms in good locations have a capacity factor of around 35%; and they are located in places where wind has been studied and found to be good. Solar only produces during the day time and doesn't have a very good capacity factor either; at least not where I camp.

Mostly I think solar panels on the roof are inexpensive, compact and virtually maintenance free and very reliable (if there's sun, they work). A wind machine would be heavy and cumbersome and surely far less reliable. And more costly.

If one runs A/C on solar, the solar produces well in the afternoon when A/C is most needed. Wind is less reliable at producing during those hours.

Just day dreaming ....... how about an array of small wind turbines on the roof that all fold down for travel. I guess the problem there is wind machines "shading" the down-wind machines. I think I'll stick with 100% solar panels.
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Old 11-19-2021, 01:33 AM   #3
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You need a very windy spot to make wind energy work, but windy spots make bad campsites.
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Old 11-19-2021, 05:33 AM   #4
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Many boaters added wind generators to their anchored boats. I spent 7 years anchored around them. Most went to solar as the price dropped.

They are noisy and very sensitive to vibration with the slights chip in a blade. That makes them tough to store. You just can't travel with them up.

If you look at the output specs, most are listed at full outpt at 20 MPH winds.
Although that doesn't sound like much, it's actually a very windy day. Below 20 MPH, performance drops way off.
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Old 11-19-2021, 07:26 AM   #5
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Here is an article I saved….

https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/...nd-generators/
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Old 11-20-2021, 03:51 PM   #6
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Just read an article on a solar awning. Too expensive now but the idea and future looks good.

xponentpower.com
https://xponentpower.com/?utm_SOURCE=RVLIFE

CHeck it out 1000w 14 foot long... expensive but I could see two on the driver side....lol
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Old 11-20-2021, 09:01 PM   #7
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Just read an article on a solar awning. Too expensive now but the idea and future looks good.

xponentpower.com
https://xponentpower.com/?utm_SOURCE=RVLIFE

CHeck it out 1000w 14 foot long... expensive but I could see two on the driver side....lol
That awning is a nice try, but:
1) It's super expensive. Far more expensive than solar panels on the roof.
2) It doesn't work for rain protection. (It's literally full of holes.) Perhaps not an issue if you only camp in the desert southwest, but wouldn't work most other places.
3) I'm skeptical that the electrical connections would hold up with repeated unrolling/rolling, wind shaking it, etc.

I agree with what others have said about wind. You'd need to get above the trees, if you camp in woods.
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Old 11-20-2021, 09:36 PM   #8
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For good wind power the air flow needs to be very laminar which means up about 20 feet and away from trees, etc. needs a sturdy pole. You have to attach it securely then it shakes your RV. Lots of setup and breakdown time. Big space to carry the components. Need strong wind 20 mph or better but not too high.

I read lots about it and it’s not a good fit for very many RVs better on boats. You’re better off putting money into more solar.
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Old 11-21-2021, 01:03 AM   #9
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For good wind power the air flow needs to be very laminar which means up about 20 feet and away from trees, etc. needs a sturdy pole. You have to attach it securely then it shakes your RV. Lots of setup and breakdown time. Big space to carry the components. Need strong wind 20 mph or better but not too high.

I read lots about it and it’s not a good fit for very many RVs better on boats. You’re better off putting money into more solar.
Yup. DW and I camp now and then in an Eastern Sierras location that tends to be windy. In spite of the site being in the open (lots of solar), it's surrounded by 40-70 ft pine trees. On the windiest days, we hear the wind but feel almost nothing at RV level. And our solar has us topped off by noon if it's not cloudy.
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Old 11-23-2021, 09:24 PM   #10
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Thanks all for this discussion. We have an ultralight TT so the idea of turbine vibration dismantling the trailer is not something I had really thought of before.
Our area does see a lot of wind, so the raw supply is there at least locally. But I did not know that even with heavy winds a high output for the commercial turbines is only 30s percent range. And the article attached re the Windwalker units suggests those are only for a trickle charge (maintaining, not full recharge?)

We will continue to read up on how this technology may develop, in case a nuclear winter diminishes available sunlight. But the return has to be better than what you all are saying, or my smarter half won't allow me to experiment....... >sigh<
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Old 11-23-2021, 11:08 PM   #11
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.....
We will continue to read up on how this technology may develop, in case a nuclear winter diminishes available sunlight. But the return has to be better than what you all are saying, or my smarter half won't allow me to experiment....... >sigh<
I always wonder what people are thinking when it comes to alternate energy.

One of the things I liked about working at power plants is that I could live in a rural area.

When comes to going green it is the simple things. Conserve, reuse, recycle.

I use very little electricity, about 1200 watt-hours. Therefore, there is very little benefit for alternatives.

I am sailor. I spend a lot of time enjoying the wind. Clearly a hobby that would be considered an alternative. Say I have a medical emergency. Last time it was lifeflight not an emt in a canoe.

The first step in experimenting is researching what others have learned. Boring!

First you need a good wind resource. Bad for camping. The campground where I sail has a wind break. I love to camp on the ocean. A light wind is wonderful too much wind is exhausting.

The second is mechanical. You will fail.

It is like geothermal and solar steam plants. They all fail.

That is the difference between hobbies and R&D. Both can be fun but if you have to show results to a smarter half, you may not get funding.
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Old 11-24-2021, 04:56 PM   #12
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Thanks all for this discussion. We have an ultralight TT so the idea of turbine vibration dismantling the trailer is not something I had really thought of before.
Our area does see a lot of wind, so the raw supply is there at least locally. But I did not know that even with heavy winds a high output for the commercial turbines is only 30s percent range. And the article attached re the Windwalker units suggests those are only for a trickle charge (maintaining, not full recharge?)
Just to dig a bit deeper on the low productivity of wind turbines ...... The problem isn't low efficiency. In fact, efficiency of the large commercial windfarm turbines is amazingly high. They even have blades that flex under higher wind thereby changing shape in a way that maximizes efficiency at that higher wind. Smaller backyard machines are less sophisticated and thus less efficient.

But, the 30's capacity level comes from the fact that the wind varies over time. At times it can be higher than the wind machine can tolerate, forcing the machine to be shut down and the blades feathered. At other times the wind is low enough that the energy produced is not high enough to cover the cost of wear and tear from wind turbine operation. Most of the time the wind speed is between those limits.

For the hours when the wind is suitable, the average wind over the 8760 hours of the year will always be lower than the maximum power the wind machine is rated for.

I'm not quite up to date, but at one time the average capacity factor of suitable wind sites in the contiguous 48 states was around 35%. It might be a bit higher now with the larger and more efficient wind machines (though I'd guess less than 40%). And this is just for places where wind machines could be built (Think Nebraska, the Tehachapi's, etc.).

The most productive windfarms get up into the low 70% range. There are very few places in the world that get over 50% and very very few that hit 70. Hawaii is among the best in the world.

Whether where we camp has useful wind is hit or miss, and where we do encounter wind, it's likely not among the better wind areas in the Country. So as a wild guess, I'd suggest 20% would be good for us; and this is if we don't encounter trees or hills that block or slow the wind. Taking those into account would surely take us down to 10% average over the days and hours we are out camping.

Wind does have the advantage of producing power 24 hours per day, but I don't think the extra hours of production would make it competitive with solar (on a kW for kW basis). And it's not producing when we are on the highway while solar does.

Definitely an interesting question you raised.
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Old 11-24-2021, 05:03 PM   #13
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I have driven by a Wind Turbine farm and had those fans blowing so hard that they almost blew me off the road. lol
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Old 11-24-2021, 05:36 PM   #14
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Tehachapi is one of the best areas in the country for a wind farm, yet the hills are strewn with hundreds of siezed, rusting turbines from farms that went bankrupt. What does that tell you?
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