Portable Shelters and Tents that Integrate Technology

For many campers, the traditional tent will do. However, with tablets and smartphones becoming so popular, some portable shelter and tent manufacturers are integrating technology into their designs. So whether you can’t be away from your microwave or Facebook for a whole weekend, there are ways to stay connected while you are in the wilderness.

Goal Zero/Eddie Bauer Katabatic 2

Katabatic 2

Goal Zero teamed up with Eddie Bauer to create the Katabatic 2 tent. The tent’s roof has an integrated 18-watt solar panel that is designed to hook up with Goal Zero’s Sherpa 50 Power Pack. If you are camping with the Katabatic 2 tent you can connect your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other electronic device to the Sherpa and keep them charged. The only thing that might keep consumers from this luxurious tent is the price tag, it’s over $500, without the solar panel.

Barebones Safari Tent

Barebones Safari Tent

Barebones is the sister company of Goal Zero. Barebones focuses on creating portable shelters and accessories. Their products are built for both recreational camping and for humanitarian and emergency response efforts. The Barebones’ Safari Tent is large and designed for extended stays. It is 120 square feet and the prototype comes equipped with outlets that include integrated clamps that secure to the aluminum frame of the tent. The outlets are powered by Goal Zero’s Yeti solar system and allow you to plug into an outlet just like at home. If you want this portable shelter for your next long camping trip it will run you close to $2,000.

Eureka! E!luminate and Media Center

Eureka! Media Center

Eureka! is on the forefront of tent technology. They already of a line of powered tents and now are looking to make camping a little more glamorous. The hardcore camper will want nothing to do with the media center. An integrated pocket allows for you to place a tablet into it for watching movies or listening to music. The E!luminate is a great lighting system that is simple and effective. It is designed to hang from the top of the tent and provide substantial lighting.

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Shed of the Year Award Winner Announced

Shed of the Year

Alex Holland is the winner of this year’s coveted Shed of the Year Award. His solar-powered nautically themed shed was built almost entirely of salvaged materials.

What may have won the award for Holland was the 14 foot boat that was flipped upside down to create the shed’s roof. The shed also features a 20-W solar panels that powers the amenities inside. The shed’s frame was created with four telegraph poles that help hold up the boat roof. The aluminum framed windows were taken from a 1940s caravan and a few other windows were taken off of Hosolar powered shedlland’s farmhouse. To create the walls Holland used a mixture of corrugated metal with some wattle and daub.

The inside of the shed is very high tech. The PV panel the shed uses feeds a battery that provides power to LED lighting and a 12-V sound system, which is the only new item used in the shed’s construction. There is also a plumbed Belfast sink and a 19th century wood burning stove for heat that is fitted with a chimney made from the queen pole of an old circus big top.

Holland took home the top prize of around $1,300, which is more than double what it cost him to build the shed. He plans on using his winnings to buy a wind turbine. It may be difficult to figure out where to draw the line between what constitutes a shed and a “micro-dwelling”, but Holland’s structure is unique, creative, and well deserving of the award.

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Portable Canopy Resembling Flower Creates Solar Power

Lotus Canopy

A new portable solar power canopy called the Lotus Mobile is looking to change the solar power market. Solar innovator and creator of this product, Joseph Hui, modeled his design after his love for flowers. Hui’s design allows for the canopy to fold up to protect itself from severe weather.

The Lotus Mobile portable canopy is designed to resemble a Lotus flower. It is lightweight and pole mounted, with a solar canopy composed of 18 petal-like solar modules. The unusual design is delicate-looking but tough enough for its intended use and hopes to chip away at some of the “soft costs” that have been keeping solar power out of reach for many people.

Lotus Flower Inspiration

The Lotus flower is Hui’s inspiration for the design and overall concept of the Lotus Mobile. He is the President and CEO of the company behind the solar powered product, Monarch Power (He is also a big fan of butterflies). Here is a quote from Hui explaining how the Lotus Lotus Mobileflower inspired him;

“Best of all, you know that you are learning from nature to protect nature, just like the Lotus plant that takes sunlight and water and turns that into fuel, without creating a carbon footprint. The only footprint is a nice architectural shade that your neighbors would find attractive.”

Avoiding “Soft Costs”

One of the major benefits of the Lotus Mobile is that it can avoid many of the “soft costs” of solar power. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, about half the cost of a typical solar array consist of installation and grid connection, as well as regulatory obstacles including zoning, permitting and inspections. Because the Lotus Mobil can be a non-permanent or semi-permanent shade canopy, it is possible that it could avoid many of the “soft costs”.

Creating a Low-Cost Solar Power Canopy

There are a few other design elements of the canopy that contribute to low cost solar power. The Lotus Mobile is designed to be an off-grid device with a lightweight design to cut down on the installation costs. Plastic and aluminum parts are the main factors in the reduced weight. They are not as strong as steel frames or glass-based solar panels when it comes to withstanding extreme weather, but that it why the Lotus Mobile easily folds up like a flower. The canopy uses solar tracking and highly efficient solar cells to convert sunlight into both electricity and hot water. Hui anticipates an installed cost of $1.50 per watt, which is better than the conventional $4.00, but falls short of Energy Department’s goal of $1.00 per watt.

The anticipated cost for an installed Lotus Mobile is about $9,000. At that price the payback period should be relatively short, especially in warmer areas where AC is used often. The unique design, lower “soft costs”, and lower price per watt should make the Lotus Mobile a successful solar power product.

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Solar Powered Carports Being Used to Re-Charge Electric Vehicles

Solar Carport

Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology has been around for much of the 20th century, but it has not been financially available in the residential sector until recently. The growth of the PV industry has helped decrease the cost and increase the incentives for using PV technology. Now that solar panels have become more easily accessible and more efficient, more people are installing panels on rooftops as a way to offset utility bills. Along with placing them on the tops of homes and buildings, carports are being upgraded with PV technology, too.

One of the best things about solar panels are that they can be used almost anywhere. They can be useCar Carportd in combination with a utility grid to offset a building’s electrical needs and supplement the grid by back feeding power. PV technology provides a “clean” energy source and has no moving parts. With PV technologies becoming more affordable, they are becoming more popular at commercial and residential buildings.

Tall buildings have smaller rooftops and don’t provide enough space for the amount of solar panels needed to help offset energy prices. If your roof at home needs to be replaced after you install solar panels, it can be a much more costly job. With this is mind, solar power carports have become more popular over the past few years. Solar powered carports can be beneficial for both commercial and residential use.

Commercial buildings can install solar carports in their parking lots if they do not have the roof space to install solar panels. A large solar carport can generate enough energy to cover a large percentage of a commercial building’s energy needs. At your home, you can have a smaller carport installed that you can park your vehicle under.

A solar powered carport will provide shade for vehicles, lower operating costs and maintenance expenses EV Charging Stationassociated with inclement weather conditions. One of the most beneficial factors of PV technology is the option to connect electric vehicles to them. With gas prices rising and the government decreasing the price of EVs, more people are buying hybrids.

It is possible to install EV chargers in with a solar powered carport. This can be a great way to diversify your business and take advantage of having a PV carport on your property or to have a clean energy source for charging your hybrid car at home.

With utility prices rising, you will see an increase in harnessing solar power. This, in combination with the popularity of EVs, will make it beneficial to purchase a solar powered carport.

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