The PowerWagon Gasless Generator

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by nhcaveman, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. nhcaveman

    nhcaveman Barrington, NH

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    Mar 25, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Earlier today something prompted me to compare Honeywells HW2000i portable generator with Hondas EU2000iA portable generator.

    Then tonight this "PowerWagon Gasless Generator" caught my attention.

    Before buying the Pup we were looking at different types of campers including the "Little Guy" Teardrop trailer, and every once in a while I get an email from Ebay with a listing from Little Guy.

    Tonight I got this email which shows their prototype, "Little Guy PowerWagon Generator Teardrop Camper Trailer", which is where I found the link for The PowerWagon Gasless Generator.

    "The PowerWagon Gasless Generator" is a small trailer that as you tow it around the motion of the wheels going around (8 MPH minimum speed required) charges a bank of deep cycle batteries. I'm still looking through the site but it looks like it comes in either a 3500 watt or 5000 watt model, and could last a few day camping on a single charge which requires 50 to 70 miles of travel.

    What do you think? Imagine if as your driving to your camping destination and the wheels on your popup were storing enough power for your entire trip. I think it's a great idea.
     
  2. 96Rockwood

    96Rockwood New Member

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    Whitmore Lake, MI
    I think it is a cool idea, but remember that your towing load will increase. This is due to the drag created on the tires from the power generation. Think of it this way, look at the HP engine required for a 3500W or 5000W generator, and this is the required HP to generate that power while towing. Just something to consider.
     
  3. Mountainbikecop

    Mountainbikecop Death Smiles At Everyone -- Marines Smile Back"

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    Oct 20, 2009
    Broadway VA
    Never heard about it sounds cool, keep us informed, I'll have to check those out.
     
  4. nhcaveman

    nhcaveman Barrington, NH

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    New Hampshire
    Not sure what you want me keep you informed about. I was just saying that I came across these things, and thought the idea quite interesting. Just click on the link in my first post, that says:
    "The PowerWagon Gasless Generator", it's all right there.
     
  5. Storm Trooper

    Storm Trooper New Member

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    Central Connecticut
    Wow, sure is pricey. Just looked up on google and got prices starting at $8,600. Then you have to have another vehicle to tow it as well as one for you camper. Kinda makes the cost of a honda or yamaha generator seem cheap....
     
  6. nhcaveman

    nhcaveman Barrington, NH

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    Mar 25, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Storm Trooper,

    I just google searched it myself and got the same price of $8699. which I find odd because In my original post up top there is a link to the Little Guy teardrop camper that incorporates the PowerWagon Gasless Generator into a trailer with the teardrop, and the buy it now price is only $6500., and the Teardrop Campers themselves usually run about $5000. So I sent an email to the company that makes it, I'll post what I find out from them after they respond.
     
  7. JamesRL

    JamesRL New Member

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    Nov 1, 2007
    Brampton, Ontario
    There is no such thing as a free lunch...

    Does no one remember those old bicycle lights that worked the same way? The drag was noticeable.

    It can't be different for a tow vehicle/trailer combo. Any drag will increase your fuel consumption. While I don't have the means to test, I would bet that it would be less efficient to generate electricity this way than by a decent generator.

    James
     
  8. nhcaveman

    nhcaveman Barrington, NH

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    Mar 25, 2009
    New Hampshire
    I got a reply from Paul Wilkes of Powerwagon regarding my email asking about the cost of these generators.

    I asked:
    Dear Sirs,

    I was just wondering what the price of these gassless generators is, both the 3500 watt, and the 5000 watt.

    Thank you
    Todd

    His reply was :
    The 3500 watt Is $3800. plus tax, and the 5000 is $5800. plus tax, without extra tool boxes.

    So even though they are not $8600. as Storm Trooper and I both got from a Google inquiry, priced be a retailer I'd guess, They still are quite expensive.
    But still a great idea I bet we'll see more of in the future.
     
  9. Storm Trooper

    Storm Trooper New Member

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    Feb 14, 2008
    Central Connecticut
    Todd,

    That is quite a difference from the dealer advertising it. Wow.
    I'll stick with my yamaha generator.
    Now, I guess the question is, Can you put a rack on it to carry Kayaks or bikes??? [:D]

    Lou
     
  10. bcrewcaptain

    bcrewcaptain New Member

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    Sep 14, 2008
    I guess I fail to see where this is any advantage over simply taking an extra charged battery with you, the added weight of the generator/battery box/batteries, the space they take up are certainly an issue. I didn't see the weight specs so I'm not clear how much they add over the standard camper but it must be significant if they need the 8ply tires and to use a ghetto-fabbed truck axle on the rear.

    I'd be interested in seeing run-time data etc, but it hardly seems like anything that's going to be anything other than a conversation piece, along with an empty wallet.
     
  11. JamesRL

    JamesRL New Member

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    Nov 1, 2007
    Brampton, Ontario
    It would be complicated to do the math, but lets just take a guess.

    The 3500 Watt PowerWagon costs $3800.
    To operate, it probably costs between 1 and 2 MPG in drag (just guessing but it has to be something and this is probably on the low side), or say 10% increase in gas consumption (assuming 20MPG, again a conservative number)
    If someone did 10 travel days a year with a trip on average of 150 miles, thats 1500 miles. That would end up at about 150 miles or rounded up, 8 gallons of gas, per year. More obviously if you travel more. And how do you recharge the batteries for a weeks boondocking, if you run out after 3 or 4 days? Hitch up the trailer and drive around? Buy a gas generator?

    How much would it cost to buy a 3500 watt gas generator and run it long enough to charge the batteries? I'm thinking it would be a long way to come even close to the $3800 figure.

    Sure, for people who don't want to mess with gasoline or the noise of a generator, it has some advantages. But its pretty pricey. Might be ok for someone who is permanently on the road and not staying long (charging the batteries every few days)

    I usually camp in places with electricity, but if I want to boondock, I think I'd look at the propane powered generators, easier than gascans.

    James
     
  12. nhcaveman

    nhcaveman Barrington, NH

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    Mar 25, 2009
    New Hampshire
    bcrewcaptain,

    Yes I do agree I almost mentioned the same thing about the weight and space needed for the batteries being an issue, but otherwise I don't quite agree with you.

    First it's not a "ghetto-fabbed truck axle", I think the reason the axle has that housing is that the gears inside there are what are used to generate the power being stored in the batteries, it's not just some oversize axle being used to carry the weight, which by the way the brochure says is 1050 - 1200 lbs. Remember now that is for the units they build and includes a trailer etc.

    But to think of it in terms of just applying the technology to say your popup, which is where my thoughts on this are.

    First, you don't need a trailer, you've already got one, subtract 350 or so lbs, and probably another 150 or so lbs for all that fabrication with the diamond plate, angle iron, and such.
    Next, you change out your existing axle for the one which is used on these PowerWagon generators, yes this will add a little weight back, but I don't think all that much, say 30 lbs.
    Then, in your first sentence, you've already brought along an "extra charged battery". The PowerWagon generator has four batteries, so divide the battery weight in half, since you already have two.
    Subtract 60 lbs for your portable generator, and another 40 for the 5 gallons of gas for it, you can leave those home now.
    I think when all is said and done it would probably end up adding about 350 or so lbs to the weight of your popup. However, your pup would now have it's own inclusive, silent power plant that cost nothing to operate. I doubt it would have any effect on your gas milage at all. It won't bother your neighbors. You don't have to pay extra for a site with electricity, or even worry if there will be electricity at the campground. You can camp places you otherwise might not have camped, (not everybody dry camps, boondocks etc.).

    I think this is the kind of thinking we need to help promote a greener future. Imagine if they could use a similar method to say charge the batteries that are running the very same electric automobile that's doing the charging? If the rate of charge keeps pace with the rate of discharge, it would make for a totally self sufficient vehicle wouldn't, it? Just something to think about. To say, "it hardly seems like anything that's going to be anything other than a conversation piece, along with an empty wallet", to me seems like the kind of closed minded comment that will keep progress and development of new ideas from ever happening. Also people must be buying them, the guy just opened up a second plant to build them, creating more "green collar" jobs.

    From the Huntington, WV Huntingtonnews.net:

    A group of West Virginia University engineers have given a thumbs up for the invention, for which a patent application is pending. “They said it needed to be on the market now.”

    JamesRL,

    I think like every other new technology, the cost is higher in the beginning, and would likely become more reasonable in the future.

    Also if the popup manufactures did incorporate it into the build, the cost I'd imagine would not be more then a few hundred dollars. Think about it, they're already building the camper, it would just need to be incorporated into the current build. They would not be having pass along the cost (probably marked up) of a trailer that is probably in the case of the Powerwagon being bought elsewhere for their build, etc.

    Only time will tell, I guess.
     
  13. bcrewcaptain

    bcrewcaptain New Member

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    Sep 14, 2008
    I had to go back and look at the pics after thinking something over in my head on how to do this on the cheap...the pics said I right [LOL]

    it's simply using an alternator( a 200 amp unit can be purchased for under $175) I would assume the reason for the axle being they are using the axle shafts to spin the alternator, it's out of the box thinking, but also IMO is taking advantage of those that are unaware of what they are actually getting, each to his own I suppose, my TV already has triple batteries and the pop-up has doubles, all are charged from the vehicles alternator as I'm on the way to the campsite(with a 7500watt inverter in the TV), so same concept, just a few bucks cheaper



    EDIT:you posted as I was...I agree it's a neat setup, for the money though, not worth it in my eyes as I know I could fab that up for far far less. Batteries are nice and quiet sure, but also quickly drop power with certain things used. The main issue I see is having to hook up and drive around to charge, I don't want to do that, I'm camping, which means I don't want to be back in the driver seat for a while. Also factor in the low voltage shutoff on the power inverter, this is a major issue in this case, one of the reasons in fact I scrapped an inverter in my own system. Most power inverters will shut down at 11.5-11.8 volts, the batteries will hold at an absolute MAX under 13.5volts. not a big window to work with when running motors or anything with a large turn on spike(microwaves, etc). I think it's a neat idea to charge your batteries while on the way to the site, advertising it as a "generator" is a bit of a stretch however....
     
  14. 96Rockwood

    96Rockwood New Member

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    Mar 21, 2008
    Whitmore Lake, MI
    ^^bcrewcaptain, I came to the same conclutions as you. Our previous '78 motorhome had the same set up in it, and based on the components it had been in there at least since the early '80's. One battery under the hood and 4 deep cycles in the back. The 4 deep cycles where hooked to the 12 volt systems and a 3500W inverter that was locaded in the battery compartment. The inverter was wired into 2 110 v outlets in the RV on in the kitchen and one in the bathroom. The motorhome has a 175 amp alternator. So this generator is just a new spin on OLD technology. I just need to get this system into the newer motorhome that doesn't have it, or put a generator in. Best part is I didn't have to go for a drive when the battery bank was depleted as is the case with the powerwagon generator, I just had to idle the engine for 30 minutes to bring the charge back up. A 5000 W gas generator would use less gas in that 30 minutes, than that 360 V-8 did though.
     
  15. Alter Ego

    Alter Ego New Member

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    Dec 5, 2009
    This is an interesting solution for a problem I don't have. If I need more battery capacity, I'll just add more batteries and charge them at home before I go or on the road with the TV.
     

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