August 13, 2020
What is the Sun Chaser?
The old Sun Chaser was the first rendition of the project over 30 years ago and has been a useful tool in educating New Mexico about renewable energy. A new Sun Chaser is being designed to take the place of the older version, one that has greater capabilities and is more representative of modern renewable technology.
A new Sun Chaser is being designed from the ground up with a greater set of capabilities and better function than the previous generation. Technologies included in the new Sun Chaser are:
- Monocrystalline solar panel system
- Solar water heating
- Running water system
- Radiant Floor Heating
- Passive solar architecture
- Deployable solar panel awning system
- Fully enclosed and insulated
- Energy efficient appliances
- Mini split air conditioning
The electricity for the trailer is going to be primarily generated from a photovoltaic system this system includes up to 1700 Watts worth of monocrystalline solar panels leading to a charge controller which will keep a battery bank charged. From this the Sun Chaser will have DC power and AC power from an attached inverter as well.
Solar water heating
The Sun Chaser will have a running water system that includes a solar water heater. The hot water from the solar heater panel will be stored in one of two locations depending on the temperature outside the Sun Chaser. For summer months the hot water will be stored in a container outside the trailer and during the winter months the hot water will instead be stored in a pipe system in the floor of the trailer that will act as a radiative heating system. There will be a sink in the Sun Chaser that will have both hot and cold water.
Passive solar architecture
The deployable solar panel awnings perform multiple functions. One of which is a passive heating of the trailer. The awning provides varied shading to a window to either help cool or heat the Sun Chaser. The awning also allows more solar panels than would normally fit on a 6×10 trailer. The awning also provides shading for others outside the trailer.
The structure of the Sun Chaser allows for insulation inside the wall panels. Insulation is very important in preventing heating and cooling loss, especially in New Mexican summers.
Energy efficient appliances
All appliances in the trailer will be energy efficient and representative of what is available for home owners. One example of this is the mini split air conditioning that will help cool the trailer.
The future of the Sun Chaser
The Sun Chaser will be built in conjunction with ACE highschool, which will provide an excellent opportunity for students at the school to get hands on experience in building and understanding renewable energy structures. This will include installation of solar panels, electral wiring, plumbing, and fabrication which the faculty at ACE highschool can teach about.
Ever since its founding in 1972, Educational Outreach has been a primary focus for NMSEA. NMSEA has delivered thousands of hours of workshops, seminars & classes all around New Mexico covering such topics as passive solar architecture, solar thermal & PV theory & installation, bio-fuels, greenhouse design & construction, and energy efficiency.
Once the Sun Chaser is complete it will be driven across New Mexico and used as a teaching tool for anyone intersted in renewable energy.