Source: ActionBent Recumbent Bikes
Source: Tiger Direct
Okay, so you’re probably wondering what I have planned for this trailer thing with a solar panel. Here’s what I’m thinking.
The trailer is similar to the BOB trailers, except with two wheels. I decided on that because of stability with the panel on top, especially in high winds.
I’ll build a superstructure out of aluminum, or maybe EMT conduit, to support the solar panel. Maybe even PVC pipe. It will lay nearly flat, but I may have some adjustment for angle. It will be mainly flat, though to reduce wind drag, although behind the bike that should be less of an issue.
Whatever I do, it will bolt/clamp on the trailer without holes. I don’t want to weaken anything by drilling unless I absolutely have to.
It will have to flip up anyway for access to the storage area below it. It comes with a bag, as does the BOB, but I’m thinking a large Rubbermaid bin, especially if one happens to fit nicely. They show several on the manufacturer’s web site.
The solar panel will feed the charge controller which will connect to a sealed battery, which I haven’t obtained yet. I’m thinking the 17AH ones like we use for our robots will be a good size and capacity.
The panel is 15 watts at 12-18 volts, which should provide somewhat over 1 amp on most days. That should be enough to keep the battery topped off if I don’t drain it too low the night before. Of course, the worst thing you can do to this type of battery is drain it completely.
I’ll probably find another container for the battery, charge controller, and various accessories. It might go in the Rubbermaid box or behind it. Probably behind it and secured to the trailer.
Chargers for the various items I need will be interesting. I can just use a car charger to convert the 12 volts to whatever the device needs. That would work for the cell-phone and maybe the netbook. I am not sure yet what I might use for charging the Eneloop AA cells I use for the lighting on the bike. I have an AC charger and a small inverter, so I could eat the inefficiency and go that way. There might be a 12 volt charger available for those batteries as well, which would be better.
Most of the power will be consumed in the trailer, but I will be running some power wiring up to the bike for whatever I use there while riding. I may have some radio equipment either in a bag behind the seat, or with me in the cockpit. More on that in another post!