Solar Power Trailer
Mega Portable Solar Power

A solar power trailer can be any storage or utility trailer equipped with solar panels, a portable battery pack, and any other necessary parts to provide reliable off grid power wherever, and whenever it is needed.

At first glance you may not realize how many different ways this trailer could make your life easier and more affordable so let's begin by exploring several different uses for such a trailer:

Solar Power Trailer Uses

  • A utility free power station for any construction contractor
  • An easy way to provide the comforts of home while camping, tenting, or hiking in remote areas if they are serviced by roads.
  • A way to provide a PA system for outdoor concerts, weddings, receptions, or rallies held far from power connections.
  • A utility free way to power concession stands
  • A way to provide necessary emergency power after any natural disaster that takes out utility power.
  • To take the place of an emergency generator if utility power goes down.

I'm sure you realize this list isn't exhaustive, but it will give you some idea of the many ways a solar power trailer could be put to good use in everyday living.

Solar Power Trailer
Important Parts

We mentioned one of the important parts of your trailer above, but there are several needed parts to have truly reliable power twenty-four hours a day. They are:
  1. Solar Panels -These are the heart and soul of your solar power panel. The higher their efficiency, the more power they will provide for the area they cover. Higher efficiency panels are more expensive, but unless you have a very big trailer, they are probably worth the extra money.
  2. Portable battery pack - This battery pack needs to be large enough to store all the energy your panels will produce in two or three days of sunshine, or to provide all the power you can imagine you'd need plus an emergency reservoir.
  3. Combiner box - Only needed if your trailer will have several solar panels mounted on it. This box allows you to be sure each panel is working properly, to isolate problems if you have them, and to shut down power to any one of the panels individually while letting the others continue to work. This box provides an individual fuse for each solar panel as well as a main fuse that can be pulled to shut off the power from all of the panels at once.
  4. Charge Controller- This is perhaps the most important part of your system apart from the solar panels themselves. It regulates the power to the batteries, and makes sure they remain well charged and stable so your power is uninterrupted, and the batteries last as long as possible. It is a good idea to buy the charge controller larger than what you currently need to leave room for future expansion if your power needs grow over time. Look for a charge controller that will provide safety features such as protection against power surges, reverse polarity, short circuits, current overloads, and high voltage damage.
  5. Twelve Volt Breaker Box- This is used if you are powering direct current appliances. DC appliances are widely used in appliances designed for portable and marine uses. Any power not needed for the appliances is sent through a lightening arrester to the battery bank.
  6. Inline Breaker Fuse-This is an added safety feature, but it is also convenient to turn off power quickly for regular maintenance.
  7. DC to AC Inverter- This will be used if you want to use regular AC appliances or tools such as those commonly run from utility power. If you have a choice on which type of appliance to use choose DC appliances, since some power is always lost in the inversion process. The size of your inverter will depend on the amount of AC tools or appliances you'll need to power.
  8. Portable Battery Pack -Many different types of batteries are available, but golf cart batteries seem to be the most economical choice that will hold up well for this usage.

    Once again, the amount of storage space you'll need in your battery pack is determined by your average climate, and how much you'll need to use power when the sun isn't shining.

    Caution: If you use an acid filled battery it will produce gasses that must be ventilated. Be sure you build your battery pack to provide the necessary ventilation.

Solar Power Trailer
Choices Available

There are three major ways to get a solar power trailer. You can:

  • Build it
  • Buy it
  • Rent it

Which option you choose will depend largely on your finances, you projected usage, and your construction capabilities.

If you're only interested in the solar power trailer for a one time event such as a wedding or a rally, you'll probably want to rent one.

If, on the other hand, you'd like to use it regularly, but have no construction capabilities, you'll probably want to buy one.

Finally, if you'd like to use the trailer regularly, but can't afford to buy one, you could probably build one for much less money.

Solar Power Trailer
Cost

Giving the exact cost for a solar power trailer is like giving the exact cost for a car...

It is impossible to do in a generic sense...

However, to give you some idea of what it might cost to build a solar power trailer, you can get portable solar power kits from one online site that range in price from $750 dollars for the smallest kit, to around $5,000 dollars for the largest kit.

If you are interested in renting one, I found pricing for a 1.6 Kw system in the Minnesota area for $150 dollars a day for any usage, or $100 a day for non profit uses. Of course you'd have to find a supplier in your area to make renting practical.

To buy a system you would have to work with a supplier and let him know what your needs would be before getting a price. I found several places available that supply the trailers, but none that are producing a generic version with an advertised price.

I suspect this means the systems are fairly expensive. However, over the long haul, they still might be much more cost effective than running a generator, and they'll definitely be better for the environment.

Solar Power Trailer
Concluscions

Although a solar power trailer isn't an economical portable solar power application, if you regularly need power where utility hook-ups aren't available, or where utility power is non-existent or unreliable, it might be the best solar power use for your needs.

If you already have a utility trailer, you can find detailed instructions for building one in back issues of the Backwoods Home Magazine. I believe it was a two part series in the November/December 2007 issue, and the January/February 2008 issue. These are available online. Of course, the plans would need to be modified to meet your individual needs.

Your cost will largely depend on how big a solar array you want to attach, and how economically you can find the materials.

If you decide to build your own, please let us know, and share with us how it went.

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