My “specialty areas” for the project at the moment are Solar Systems and Green Insulation for the trailer–all about conserving energy. Here’s some of the information I’ve gathered in my research for solar power systems:
-Solar power systems have no moving parts, create no noise or smell, and require little maitenantce. (Yay!)
-Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells that convert the sun’s radiant energy into electrical energy. When light hits the cells, electrons in the cells become excited and generate direct current (DC) electricity. Each cell has a potential voltage of about .5 volts. Generally, a minimum of 36 standard cells in series are required to generate enough voltage to charge a 12-volt battery.
(We will probably NOT be using 36 cells in series due to the small size of the trailer and the budget; we’ll need to find another way to utilize solar power.)
-Other components needed to fulfill a solar power system are brackets, mounting hardware, and wiring….and of course, the batteries and charge controller (to prevent overcharging).
Also, the solar cells must be facing south and west to recieve the maximum amount of sunlight; so it would be most efficient to use a fold-out/solar panels that can be moved to slant around different sides of the trailer instead of mounted on top.
While photovoltaic cells are a great way to generate and save energy in a green manner, I learned on our field trip to TreeHouse that there are other ways to conserve energy at a much lower cost; solar panel systems and portable solar cells that we’ve found so far are all going on $2,000– way out of our budget. Jason (Treehouse Employee who gave us the tour) reccomended investing in insulation, saying it can save just as much energy or more depending on what kind you use. Insulation we looked at at TreeHouse is made out of recycled denim blue jeans (they come in “batts”) it looks like a really good choice for conserving energy while keeping the trailer “green.” Denim insulation is safe, recycled, and easy to install.
Jason also told us that the number one consumption of energy is the A/C and heating systems; so it is VERY important that we do focus on the insulation and reducing the heat that escapes and enters the trailer. Other ways we may conserve energy are by providing barriers for the windows and doors so less radiant energy is absorbed if the trailer’s in a very sunny spot on a hot day.
Karrie Newton, Trendy Trailers Inc.