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Solar-Powered AC Chore Tractor
You can't plow with this solar-powered tractor, but the folks who built it say they use it every day for all kinds of chores.
"We use it to haul 1,500-lb. bales to feed sheep and to pull wagons for farm tours," says James Chapman at the Marshfield Renewable Energy Center (MREC) in Missouri.
The MREC trains homeless and unemployed veterans in renewable technology installation. Workers at the centers are also encouraged to experiment with renewable technology.
"We stripped the engine, radiator, fan and hood off an old Allis Chalmers and installed a 15 hp electric motor," recalls Chapman. "The shaft matched up to the transmission perfectly, but we did have to make a plate to bolt the DC motor to the transmission."
A 50-watt solar panel was installed over specially built fenders, and two banks of batteries were added to the side of the frame.
"When the sun is out, there is enough output from the panels for continuous work," says Chapman. "The panels can recharge the batteries in four hours or less."
Chris Allison, also of the MREC, says an important element of the system is the charge controller on each set of batteries. It prevents over charging, which can be a problem. He also cautions that the batteries must be kept from freezing.
"Each bank consists of three 6-volt deep-cycle storage batteries for a total of 72 volts, with an additional 12-volt battery dedicated to power the control panel and the starter," says Allison.
He estimates costs for the solar power conversion at less than $3,000 for the electric motor and about $4.25 per watt for the solar panels.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, The Marshfield Renewable Energy Center, 3215 Hwy OO, Marshfield, Mo. 65706 (ph 800 228-5284; mobile 314 910-0594; info @moreenergy.org; www.moreenergy.org).

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2007 - Volume #31, Issue #6