Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Unleashing the Sprinter...Season 2 Unplugged

Just when we all thought Heather and I's "Ultimate Multisport Van" couldn't be improved, we found a way just in time for UMV Season 2 with the addition of a self sustaining solar power system that allows for perpetual Hybridliving. We all ask ourselves how we can give more back the earth than we take? How can we tread lighter yet live life to the fullest? How much electricity do we actually consume per hour? If I can pay for electricity by burning coal cheaper than other energy sources, why does it matter?

For about $500 for a 135 watt PV (photo voltaic) panel and an additional $400 for charge controller and installation, $300 for 2 440amp/hour deep cycle batteries, $1000 for a Xantrex AC inverter/DC converter, and $200 for Hell Roaring battery isolater, we have perpetual power to operate our minimalist design multisport van's refrigerator, lighting, TV/DVD, water pumps, and heater for up to 7 days without starting the engine. Our system including the panel, charge controller, batteries, inverters, and installation was approximately $2500. This setup on a larger scale would absolutely work for your home however your average consumption per hour is closer to 800 watts at any given moment. A typical solar panel has a 12-15% efficiency rate providing 100% return on investment in 10 years and a lifespan of 15-20 years (except $300 batteries have a 5 year life span). Once solar panels hit 20% efficiency this year, ROI will be accomplished in 3 years!

As you may know, solar panels require an amperage charge controller device to keep the batteries from being overcharged and they are also only as good as the ability to store DC power. Going back to physics 101, a 100 watt appliance uses 100 watts  or 11 amperes per hour on a 10-12 volt system .(Power = Amperes x Voltage). This would exhaust a 440 ampHour battery in 40 hours without replenishment. It takes about a 150 watt solar panel (producing 10-11 amps)  to offset this 100 watt consumption due to inefficiencies in conversion of solar energy to electrical energy/less than perfect sunlight/limited number of hours of sunlight exposure, etc. Additionally, it takes a reservoir aka batteries to store energy when possible because it's impossible to match electrical needs with sunlight availability.

Overkill perhaps but most importantly it's symbolic of our commitment to treading lightly in our surroundings and detaching ourselves from the traditional life of decadence "living on the grid". The Sprinter is just the earliest phases of living a simpler life off the grid as the cards play out. Until then, we look forward to spending time on the grid plugged into our favorite travel destinations.

We also added a wireless Roku modem to the van this year to stream Netflix movies to less remote locations.No more repeats of the movie 300... just name your request and we can stream it!

For a complete summary of the Sprinter's unleashing.... Season 1

See you all on the trails and rivers!

Heather and Jeremy

Friday, January 14, 2011

Right to Float Law: Battleground Colorado.

American Whitewater and The Right To Float from Amongst It on Vimeo.

Right to Float: Statutory and Case Law in Colorado
I'm sometimes asked by new kayakers "is it true a river is a public resource and may be floated across private land" as long as I don't touch the ground ? Yes, the actual case law is "People versus Emmert, 1979" that was actually lost then overturned on certain points. It's accepted that public waters are not to be obstructed but it's not clear what happens if a floater come across an obstruction.

What if a dangerous water level fence, bridge, or rapid affects my ability to make passage safely? Grey area. It's generally acceptable from case law the paddler may safely walk around the obstruction incidentally without trespassing.

How can I help? Be a respectful paddler and citizen when crossing contested lands in a kayak.  Try to pass fly fisherman wide and avoid impacting their fishing experience as much as possible. Plan ahead...don't use the restroom or plan lunch on private land. Join the AWA above. Additionally, contact your state legislature when interest groups need your help.  Be informed by watching the video above from the AWA!