VAN LIFE – SAVING MONEY ON THE ROAD WITH WIND ENERGY
Many vanlifers live the lifestyle because they want to simplify their life, travel unrestrained or minimise their impact on the environment. Regardless of the motivation, when living out of a van, recreational vehicle (RV), travel trailer or motorhome, saving money on the road is a major concern for vanlifers. One way to save money on the road is to tap on portable off-grid power sources such as solar and wind energy.
A common power solution for vanlifers is to use a portable power generator. This is a device that converts mechanical energy into electrical power. Portable generators run on some form of fuel such as gasoline, diesel and propane models. They are practical and can provide the necessary power for appliances and devices. However, they are noisy and can produce dangerous fumes that may contain carbon monoxide. As portable generators require fuel, this is a cost that can add up over time. Fuel must also be safely stored in the van which can take up valuable space.
As such, alternate off-grid sustainable power solutions should be explored. When it comes to such sustainable power solutions, most vanlifers are familiar with solar energy generators. The technology and manufacturing processes have advanced in the last 10 years, making solar power generators portable and affordable. The solar panel is currently one of the best and cheapest options to convert sunlight into electricity, and it is environmentally friendly. Of course, the limitation is that you do need clear skies and bright sunlight for maximum effectiveness.
More recently, the introduction of commercially available portable wind turbines has made wind energy a viable source for vanlifers. In this article, we will explore how vanlifers can save money with wind energy with the use of portable wind turbines.
UNDERSTANDING WIND ENERGY AND WIND TURBINES
Wind energy or wind power is a popular, sustainable, renewable energy source that is also environmentally friendly. It uses kinetic energy created by air in motion to produce electricity using wind turbines.
According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “A wind turbine turns wind energy into electricity using the aerodynamic force from the rotor blades, which work like an airplane wing or helicopter rotor blade. When wind flows across the blade, the air pressure on one side of the blade decreases. The difference in air pressure across the two sides of the blade creates both lift and drag. The force of the lift is stronger than the drag and this causes the rotor to spin. The rotor connects to the generator, either directly (if it’s a direct drive turbine) or through a shaft and a series of gears (a gearbox) that speed up the rotation and allow for a physically smaller generator. This translation of aerodynamic force to rotation of a generator creates electricity.”
Wind turbines first emerged more than one hundred years ago, and the first modern wind turbine is considered to have been first developed in Denmark. Traditionally, they are very large structures, and it is only in recent years that portable wind turbines have been developed.
WIND ENERGY FOR VAN LIFE
Currently, there are a few commercially available portable wind turbines that are ideal for vanlifers. These wind turbines can pack down and can be set up in minutes. They can be lightweight, durable, and occupy very little storage space.
Portable wind turbines such as Texenergy’s Infinite Air 18 can charge large batteries and devices with a maximum power of 18W and 27W, respectively. The 12V adapter that comes with Infinite Air 18 can help van lifers charge their 12 volts devices instead of depending on the car battery charger.
The best way to use a portable wind turbine for vanlifers is to use it to charge a portable power station. A portable power station is a battery-powered electrical generator, akin to a large high-capacity power bank with the ability to power standard household appliances, beyond just mobile devices. A portable power station is a silent and safe alternative and ideal for van life. It does not require gasoline or petrol to run, thus having zero emissions.
Since it is battery-powered, a portable power station must be charged through an external source such as through your vehicle’s electrical system or solar panels. Another solution is a portable wind turbine that is a money-saving and space-saving way to charge a power station.
During the driving time, the power station can be used to power your devices and appliances as needed. When you are taking a rest from driving for an extended time, such as stopping for the night, you can set up the portable wind turbine in a windy area and charge your power station overnight.
COMBINING WIND ENERGY AND SOLAR ENERGY FOR VAN LIFE
One very effective way to save even more money and time is to pair wind energy and solar energy. In this setup, both the portable solar panel and portable wind turbine are connected to a portable power station for charging.
Pairing wind energy and solar energy takes advantage of the strengths and weaknesses of both systems. If it is sunny and windy, these are ideal conditions as both systems will work together to charge the power station. If it is cloudy or at night but windy, the wind turbine can produce electricity. If it is not windy but the sun is out, the solar panels will produce portable solar energy.
By combining two off-grid portable energy sources, you can create a system that produces more energy than either alone and can amass large amounts of power to use at any time. This is essentially an off-grid portable autonomous power station.
SAVE MONEY WITH PORTABLE OFF-GRID SUSTAINABLE POWER SOLUTIONS
Portable off-grid sustainable power solutions such as solar energy and wind energy generators can help van lifers save money when used to charge portable power stations, which, in turn, can be used to power their van appliances and personal devices.
In the long run, this will be more cost-efficient than using the vehicle battery (and thus gasoline or petrol) to charge the power station. Sustainable power such as wind energy using a portable wind turbine like the Texenergy Infinite Air 18 is also a cheaper and greener alternative to fuel-based portable generators.
Finally, vanlifers should consider pairing solar energy and wind energy generators that will work in tandem or as redundancies to create an autonomous power station for maximum efficiency and cost savings.
For more information on Texenergy's Infinite Air 18 portable off-grid wind turbine, click here.