Energy Gypsy living in the Nat. Guard, Solar and Wind

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by bsr1st, Aug 1, 2018.

  1. bsr1st

    bsr1st Monkey

    Good evening! First post to the forums, so go lenient on me.

    A TL;DR is at the bottom

    So, im in the guard as a medic, practically living in the back of my field line ambulance without sufficent means of power. Im out in the sticks from as little as a weekend romp, to a month or more at times. This may be a little "oh i cant survive camping" little deal, but this would be used for camping trips, work (since we go to rural areas for construction) and power outages from hurricanes.

    Im trying to expand to new means of power, notably off the grid styled so that I can generate power comfortably without relying on trucks and the rare generator that we can come across

    I do need help, being Im wet behind the ears on eletrical work and engineering, but eager to learn any new bits and bobbles. Learning how to take readings or how to use equipment is fine to me, i just need a mentor for such.

    I currently have an 80 watt portable solar panel by All Powers, that runs to a solar controller and to a RV battery from walmart. This battery, once Ive disconnected the solar charger, powers a 750 watt inverter to power basic low power stuff, but cant power more needy stuff like mini fridges, recip saws, or house amenities.

    I have no idea on knowing the charge state of the battery, how many amps the inverter is using, etc etc. I have no idea knowing any statistics or values of any thing, other than 80 watts of the panel, and 11-14 volts varying of the rv battery depending on load and use.

    Im trying to get a wind turbine set up now to either assist in charging the battery, or get more batterys to charge and store for use.

    My ambulance can hold lots of bits in the patient holding, but all of this has to be taken out and set aside ao we can take patients, so weather proofing (typical louisiana type conditions) is a must. Nothing can be attached to the truck (like setting up a mast on the roof for a wind turbine) and it has to be portable enough that it can be set up or taken down by two people in like a few hours time

    So my questions are:
    What are the neccesities to know of the panel and batteries? How do i calculate/ find out these numbers?

    How do I better this system? Any equipment i should think about getting to improve my set up?

    How do i get a wind turbine aet up? Any recomendations, (something tbat can be torn down and put up with two people, that the generator and blades can fit within a 7ft long space)

    Any equipment or monitors or accesories i should think about getting?

    Thanks for all the help. I know this is scattered, but Im not going off of much!

    Zimmy and chelloveck like this.
  2. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Welcome to the Monkey @bsr1st glad you found us. As for you question, the solar guys should be alone soon. We have some members who are experts IMO. I look forward to reading their answers to your questions.
    Zimmy and sec_monkey like this.
  3. Sapper John

    Sapper John Analog Monkey in a Digital World

    Welcome to the Monkey tree!
    sec_monkey likes this.
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member


    Lemme see. You are, in effect, living in/on/out of a military vehicle, in the field, and dot mil is not supplying you with adequate power? Where the hell is your CO?

    Now, if you are looking to supply yourself with conveniences in the field, start with listing ALL the loads you want to power up. Then, it will be more than worth your while to read some of the threads that address the subject of solar. Got a LOT of those to read up on.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2018
  5. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    First off, Welcome!

    Second, make use of the site's search engine...lots of threads regarding alternate power.

    Third, I used an M1010 ambulance for several months as my home/portable workshop during the first Gulf conflict...did quite well without solar/wind power.

    Having said that, the major problem faced by alt-E folks is not knowing what they need to power, and for how long. Be honest with yourself on this as the only one your hurting is you.

    And I really must echo Ghrit's question...where the hell is your CO and why isn't he/she/it providing for their troops?
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Crank up your Goggle-Fu and check out MPPT Charge Controllers, to get the MOST out of your Panel... Then look at Bigger Batteries in AmpHour Ratings... The big question is can you Modify your Bus by adding panels to the Roof? You can’t store what you can’t collect...
    sec_monkey likes this.
  7. Out in the woods

    Out in the woods off-grid in-the-forest beekeeper

    sec_monkey likes this.
  8. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    LRP would, but they would NOT have a motor with them ----
    sec_monkey likes this.
  9. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    I don't know.... I served in an ASMB unit with lots of med HMMV's. The last thing we worried about was power for our laptop.
    But a small portable gennie would work fine for minimal uses. All of our rigs had radios, so we could tap off batt power with a convertor for most things.

    ANG :rolleyes:
    sec_monkey likes this.
  10. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grampa Monkey

    Welcome Aboard!
    Can you get a towable? My thinking would be, if you cannot mod your ambulance, at least you have a hitch and can drag every thing you need behind you!
    sec_monkey and Yard Dart like this.
  11. bsr1st

    bsr1st Monkey

    Motomom and Sapper John, thanks!

    Ghrit (and to answer some of Techsar): Were ambulance crew, so we get nothing other than our trucks and the occasional resupply of medical stuffs (1-2 years if were lucky. My aid bag was self funded) Generators; if we're in the field, are reserved for officers and the TMC, and usually the S shops gobble them up if were in any kind of field environment (which is always, since im with head quarters). Lower enlisted have to fend for themselves. Sucky, but tis life in the guard. Also, with our M997 A3s, we got short handed and got the shody lot. No cigarette plugs, and i cant hook up my 12 v inverter to the 24v battery system (i think? Its a dual battery set up. Read somewhere it would pretty much drain that battery, and the chsrging system for the truck either wouldnt detect it and work the fully charged battery more, or it would over charge the good battery in attempts to charge the drained). For load of what we use, the army im not going to be using so many watts, but for civy work, our tools like our sump pumps, saws, and maybe the welder (a little cracker box, Licoln Electric work pack, works on 110) are common use. Some of the guys may hook up a foreman grill or something similar.

    BTPOST, ill have to see about the controller, sounds better than my harbor freight crud that im using for now.

    Btpost and Out In The Woods; cant put stuff on the roof of the truck. Covers up our red cross on top, and weve got to take the time to take all the stuff down if we get a dispatch call. Stuff would have to be set up in our AO, however i do like the ideas of the foldables, like the one ive got. However sticking with solar only did give me a dead zone of power when we got rained out for 4 days solid a couple weeks ago, so wind would have to help.

    Yard dart; did you have SINCGARS radios work off that way? Cause again, we just have the issue of the 24 volt system

    Ugri Ki; good idea, but we cant tow civy ones with us, nor can a diesel gennie fit in our ambulance without a lift. To make matters worse, we cant tow anything on our ambulance by unit SOPs.
  12. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    A number of portable inverters are available in 24 volt versions.
    Don't connect your 12 volt inverter to the truck's electrical system if it's 24 volt, unless you have a fire extinguisher handy and can do without your inverter going forward.
  13. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Forget wind....unless you can build a 100' tower AND have actual wind. A breeze is not wind. IF it can hold a flag out 90 degrees from the pole, you might have wind.....otherwise, you're wasting your money even fooling with it.

    Get a small generator like a Honda EU1000 or EU 2000 to keep the batteries up and supplement it with some solar is your best bet.
  14. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    Well, if you have an ambulance you already have a source of electrical power.

    I'd say connect a second 12V battery to the existing one, with a cutout switch..

    When the ambulance is running, both batteries get charged.

    When it's parked, cut out the second battery and use it as the power source for your laptop, with an appropriate inverter.

    The amount of juice in a car battery should run a laptop for quite a while.

    In the meantime, you won't run the (cutout) ambulance battery down.

    As a bonus, if the ambulance battery ever fails , the second battery can be an an instant emergency jump, all ready to go.

    If there isn't room under the hood for a second full-size battery, consider a smaller 12V of the type used on riding mowers.

    Or even two of them. It all depends on the available cubic.

    If you're in place for an extended time, a little judicious idling will keep your battery charged without wasting a significant amount of fuel.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  15. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Frankly, your tales of poor supply don't ring true to me, ESPECIALLY if you really are in an HQ unit, but that's just me. If true, you need to find a different unit OR blow the whistle and resign before you wind up in the stockade.

    The turnip truck drove away many years ago.
    Yard Dart and TnAndy like this.
  16. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Your T/E has expendable items listed...fill out the EROSL (1348) and get replenished. I know supply can be slow sometimes, but if the forms aren't submitted they don't know what you're lacking.
  17. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    It sounds to me as another sad millennial story about how the military does not provide turn down service, clean cold water and all the comforts of home. You are on a mission, focus on that.... lives depend on it Medic!!

    I spent many months on end...for years..... in some backwater or another all over the world with no hot food, showers or other comforts.... life on. ;)
    Homer Simpson, Zimmy and BTPost like this.
  18. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    You need better than walmart crap & real solar stuff.
    This can be done !!!!!

    What are you using the power for ?? LOADS ??
    I had a danfoss freezer run off 200 w plates over winter @ 50* lat .

    Use @sloth for an reply .
    Very slammed in work /solar & re
    Motomom34 likes this.
  19. bsr1st

    bsr1st Monkey

    Sorry of that, just getting out of the field. But, on that subject for the military, alot of the forms and ways of how the army works past my medical section is all a fog for me. Still pretty new to the service, but it seems that Im the only one that tries to get things done in my section of other medics (5 in total, all SPCs)

    @Altoidfishfins was a good call that I didnt hook the inverter to the truck then! Ill just have to hold off on that then, cause even civillian side we have no machinery that runs 24v.

    @UncleMorgan good idea, but we have already two massive batteries underneat the seat (fills the whole compartment with all the mounts and wiring harness of the truck along with the batteries. Youd be lucky to fit even a drill battery inside this area.)

    @ghrit It is true. Weve had our motor sgt (Think its what she was called? The one who manages the trucks and dispatches, fowards faults of the trucks to mechanics) change units, and the current supply sgt is the only one who is able to sort of subtitue the spot, so he's controlling over two sections now. Frankly this turns him away from providing anything other than bare necessities to us while , and a generator for our little team of medics without even a tent is a bit of a far away dream. Hell, id love to get our own little BAS started for when our med company doesnt tag along, but still, its far fetched.

    @techsar, can i go to a differing company for the 1348? We are technically attached to HHC, but we belong to charlie med. Can I go to then fir supply replenish?

    @Yard Dart completly understandable that Im probably seeming like one, but its for the whole section, not just me. For a real reason; we need our cell phones since our radios do not work/ lose freq/ someone fucks with it/ havent got the right equipment, so at the very least the power is to help us have comms umong us. Surplus power is helpful just for like charging our batteries for like the otoscopes, thernometers, reusable glowsticks, reusable flares, and scene lighting. The whole "3 hots and a cot" with showers; hell atleast I can live without it unlike the others lol

    @Cruisin Sloth, at the very least our cellphones, but the more the merrier with like me addressing yard dart. Its to help recharge our medical equipment; just the only issue is i have no idea as to what the current draw is is to power them.
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