Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What's your point then?

I'm writing what I could have really done with knowing a few years ago ... how to set up a practical renewable energy system for a campervan/caravan. We spend nearly a month of every year in our beloved Bedford CF, either at festivals or at campsites in the UK or France. We can be parked up for a while, and more than once we were stranded in darkness after our batteries gave up. I toyed with the idea of getting a solar panel, but really, really, didn't give it much thought.

Then one year at Glastonbury, probably 2003, I was roaming the site with the legendary FishEye Sam (which is possibly why I'm not too sure about the year), and came across the Solar Energy Alliance stall. Sam pestered Chris, the genial stallholder, about the grants system, whilst I spotted and started to covet a radio with a solar panel in its handle. It occured to me then that solar might not be just a far-off, industrial process, but something that is here and now, right in your hand ...

After unexpectedly having enough money left over at the end of the weekend, I found the stall still going on Monday afternoon and made the first of what has proved to be the first of many suprisingly expensive, but ultimately highly educational, purchases ... the solar radio was mine!

The next year, the ever erratic gas fridge that had come with the camper finally packed up. Just servicing it would cost as much as an electric one, a new gas one would be more than the entire van, even if we could find one to fit. I saw my chance, and idly pointed out that if we were going to to run an electric fridge, then we would probably need a solar panel, only a little one to make sure it all kept going.

And with that total and complete ignorance of what it actually was that I was doing, I ordered a basic system from Chris at Solar Energy Alliance, said "yeah" quite a lot when he tried to explain the specifics of what it could and couldn't do, and headed back to Glastonbury. When it wasn't raining, it was at least cloudy, but the beer stayed cold and the van started on the Monday afternoon - mission accomplished!

The next few posts will hopefully describe the system I've put together since that start, how I've worked out what each part does, and what else it might be able to do

1 comment:

rob_deeks said...

Brilliant pic of the little one mate and a really interesting blog. Looking forward to seeing how you piece it all together- that van is now legendary.