How Prepared Are You As An Airgunner?
Not sure if you knew this or not, but 100% of the air powered shots shown on UpNorthAirGunner since the day I launched my channel have been powered by photons from the sun and the solar photovoltaic effect (PV).
How? You ask. For one, my home gets 100% of our electrical needs from the sun through an 8.2kW solar array that is grid tied with battery back up. Basically we produce all of our electricity on our roof and we pump unused electricity back to the grid and if the grid goes down, our system flips to battery backup.
So any and all electrical devices I plug into an outlet in my home is being powered by the sun. That includes my air compressors I use to fill my Airguns. So all that high pressure air I’m pumping into my guns or tanks is straight from the sun.
Not trying to be political or alarmist, but if the SHTF anytime soon or in the distant future, I feel pretty damn confident my family and my Airguns will have an endless supply of PEW! PEW! power.
If you think the government is out to take your guns, ask me sometime about how you are getting screwed TODAY and have been for quite sometime for your rights of where you get your power or even your water. But I digress....
Yes, I know hand pumps work and I own two, but I like eating venison (deer) and big bore Airguns are not the funnest to pump by hand. I feel sorry for the poor schmuck during the Lewis and Clark Expedition 1803-1806 who was in charge of keeping their Girardoni Air Rifle filled with 1500 pumps by hand. After three years of pumping on that dude probably came home to his family with arms all swole up looking like David Bitkowski from RX Target Systems!
So I got to thinking in recent months, what if my family had to go mobile and live off grid fully in a remote and undisclosed location? The most dangerous thing to fear in situations where resources are scarce is desperate people. I don’t know about you, but seclusion and distance with friends and family you trust sounds like a good plan.
So I can’t unbolt 8.2kW of solar modules off my roof, micro inverters, Lithium battery bank and toss it all in my trunk. This is where a portable and mobile solution is necessary. The way to go is good ol’ fashioned 12V sealed lead acid or gel based battery technology with portable 12v solar modules.
But what about all the new Lithium light weight battery technology we use daily with our phones and computers? I’ve worked in the solar industry for over a decade and will tell you Lithium is great but if you’re out in the world and need to find replacement batteries, traditional battery technology is WAAAAAY more easy to find. Plus Lithium batteries are really finicky and need a lot of computerized battery management systems (BMS) to keep them healthy and alive.
Look in any boat or RV and you’ll most likely find at least one 100amp hour or larger deep cycle battery. Why not just use car batteries that we all have in our cars and trucks to start them? Don’t even try it. You’ll fry the battery after just a few cycles of long sustained discharges.
So in order to keep your batteries healthy, you will need a charge controller. Keeping the batteries topped off when not in use, but not overcharging is critical to not destroying your battery bank. In my kit I also added in a display monitor that shows depth of discharge as well as how many watts of solar are being pumped into my batteries. I have two deep cycle 200amp hour 6v batteries wired in series to bring them to 12v that feed into an inverter.
The inverter is basically what you plug your devices into that transforms the 12v system to a 110v system for common devices. But if you choose the wrong inverter, you might only be able to charge a cellphone but forget about a compressor!
In my testing, I wanted to see what the wattage draw was from all the different Airgun compressors I have access to so I could decide which compressor was best to use off grid and mobile.
The most obvious is the Air Venturi Nomad II portable compressor that is made to run directly off a 12v source which only draw about 750 watts. They are great to use for onboard fills of your Airgun, but not large tanks and can be a bit slow. It likes frequent sips of silicone oil to keep it from overheating too.
That is where an Air Venturi 4500 PSI compressor or the new Hill EC-3000 shine. In this test, I wanted to see the wattage draw was taking the Air Venturi Avenger .25 cal from 100 bar up to 300 bar with the Hill EC-3000. This Hill has been bullet proof over the last month and I have pushed it HARD!
First off, it filled WAAAAYYYYY faster than the Nomad II, but accomplished this by drawing 1100 watts by the time it got to 300 bar. It hovered around 750-800 watts at 250 bar. It takes a lot of ummmmph to push air at those higher pressures.
So now I know it need at least a 1200 watt inverter, but may even go higher to help protect it from overheating and go to a 1500-2000w inverter. This would also allow me to run larger power tools or large refrigeration or heaters if needed.
So what about the magic unicorn sparkles from the sun to keep all of this running? Well it’s all about size. A bigger solar array will pump more electrons into your batteries faster and keep them topped off faster. But like I said, lugging around my rooftop 8.2kW solar array isn’t feasible. So what I have in my mobile kit are 2 x semi flexible 120w solar modules wired in parallel to pump up to 240 watts of continuous 12v power back into the batteries to keep them charged through the charge controller.
This foldable kit can fit into the trunk of a car and can be deployed easily anywhere. Shading is your enemy and full southern exposure with 90 degree solar panel orientation to the sun is your friend. Even in overcast skies these will trickle enough power back into the system to keep it charged. Solar PV collects photons and not visible light. You’d be surprised how much you can still collect even when it’s cloudy.
So there it is. A fully portable solar powered airgunner solution. Stay safe, be prepared, and use the power of air to keep your family fed in normal times or in crisis.