Published on September 6th, 2017 | by Derek Markham0
Solar & Wind Powered Caravan Rotates To Track The Sun
September 6th, 2017 by Derek Markham
The sCarabane travel trailer hits all the trendy buttons, from tiny house living to solar hot water to solar- and wind-generated electricity, but this caravan concept may be more of a crowd-pleaser than an actual feasible product.
Whether it’s primarily for road trips or just for living more simply, the idea of going completely off the grid while enjoying the amenities of modern technology is a worthy goal, and the sCarabane is an attempt to flesh out that concept. The project was originally developed by France’s Fillon Technology from 2013 to 2017, but is now being furthered by an independent company, Green Cat Technologies, with its sole focus being the development of this green caravan, while Fillon remains a partner in the project.
The sCarabane is a pull-behind travel trailer that, aside from the giant bubble window in the rear, looks like any other cargo trailer until it’s unfolded all the way, at which point it becomes a futuristic feature-packed vacation home with all of the bells and whistles. The interior, while appearing more open and light-filled than the average trailer, is designed to do exactly what all RVs and campers do, which is to become a home on wheels. A covered deck offers protected outdoor space with a mini-bar for eating or socializing, a rear sleeping area features both a 77.5 square foot master bedroom and another 59 square foot bedroom, and in the main section, there’s a full kitchen with a dining area that can convert into another bedroom, and a full bathroom completes the interior.
However, the sCarabane is radically different from other caravans in that it’s designed with multiple renewable energy technologies, such as a 500W rooftop solar array, a solar concentrator with a sun-tracking parabolic mirror for producing hot water, a pop-up 500W vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT), and a suite of home automation features to tie everything together.
In addition, two adjustable windows (“rose windows”) help the residents maximize natural light while preserving privacy in the sleeping area, while a large bubble window can be rotated to adjust the lighting levels inside. And to top it all off, the company says the sCarabane can be set up by a single person in under 30 minutes, thanks to the folding design.
Although the inclusion of solar photovoltaic panels, solar water heater, and micro wind turbine alone are enough to make you go hmmm, it’s the rotating design of the entire sCarabane that really stands out. A separate circular track can be placed on a level spot, and the vehicle installed on top of it, which is said to allow for the entire unit to swivel to catch the maximum amount of sun each day. There are only sparse details on how that part of the caravan works, with no indication of how the track is hauled along with the vehicle or leveled on the site, nor how the caravan gets mounted onto it, so that part, while looking cool, may not actually be that feasible unless the sCarabane is set up in a more permanent location than the average camping spot.
There is also no mention of how much battery capacity is installed in the sCarabane, which could make or break the reality of truly going off-grid with this vehicle. The numbers look enticing at first glance, with 500W of solar PV on the roof and a 500W wind turbine, but the actual energy production from the wind turbine is likely to be much lower than that, and although the solar concentrator water heater is said to have a peak output of 3 kilowatts, it’s not going to do anything to offset any electricity usage in the sCarabane. And with an electric washing machine, dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, multimedia system and lighting, plus any additional draw for powering our always present personal electronics, it may take a fair bit of energy management and rationing to make it through each day and night with the generated electricity.
The sCarabane measures 7.8 meters (~25.6 feet) long by 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) wide by 2.8 meters (~9.2 feet) high when folded for transport, and it folds out to about 7 meters in width. The empty weight of the caravan is about 2,500 kg (~5500 pounds).
According to Green Cat Technology, the design is meant to enable self-sufficiency, with the only aspect of the sCarabane not living up to that goal is the inclusion of a propane stove, and the company is said to be developing a rainwater collection and filtration system for clean water. However, what’s not being pointed out in the self-sufficiency equation is the fact that it requires a motor vehicle capable of hauling a trailer like this, along with the fuel to run it, but considering the fact that this is primarily a technology showcase vehicle at this point (though said to still in development for future production), perhaps that’s not really relevant. Learn more at sCarabane.
h/t New Atlas