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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Real-Life Solar Power Applications Show Its Vital Importance

Usually, my discussions of solar power are regarding its application for fun stuff like camping and overlanding.

I’ve certainly enjoyed having Sunflare XPLOR solar panels on the roof of my SMRT Summit Suite tent, but solar power isn’t just for having fun in the woods. In fact, companies like Sunflare XPLOR are making a significant difference in how search and rescue teams operate, thanks to reliable off-grid power.

The video above by Sunflare Solar highlights its partnership with the King County Search and Rescue Team in Washington state. It’s fascinating to see just how important solar power has become for teams working in off-grid, remote locations.

Below is a quick overview of how vital solar power is for important operations like search and rescue.

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That Others May Live

As highlighted in the video above by Sunflare Solar, the mantra of King County Search and Rescue is “That others may live.”

This band of volunteers risks their lives to find people lost and injured in the vast wilderness areas in the King County area. They rely on one another to make their missions successful, but they also rely on their gear to help them coordinate rescues, communicate with one another, and stay safe while they’re on a rescue.

And, boy, do these folks do a lot of search and rescues…

All told, the King County team does about 150 search and rescues each year. The vast majority end well, thankfully. But sometimes, their rescue efforts turn into recovery efforts instead.

It’s a tough job, for sure – especially considering that these folks do this as volunteers. It takes a special breed of person to put one’s life on the line for others in between regular day-to-day duties for their actual jobs.

How Solar Power Applications Factor Into Search and Rescue

Solar Power For Search And Rescue

Search and rescue teams like the one in King County rely on a bevy of technology to get the job done. 

For example, one of the King County fleet’s primary search and rescue vehicles is a Pinzgauer military vehicle from Switzerland. It’s the perfect combination of off-road capability, space for transporting search team members and rescued people, and simplicity.

These trucks were designed so young military recruits in Switzerland could easily repair them in the field with simple tools. That simplicity is a major factor in the decision by the King County Search and Rescue team to invest in one.

Search And Rescue Solar Power Applications

Likewise, these vehicles have spacious cabins for the driver and front passenger. The King County vehicle’s cabin has loads of technology to assist in search and rescue operations, including radios, headsets, GPS systems, and mapping systems.

The problem with having all those components is that they’re power-hungry. The vehicle must sometimes sit in one location while the driver communicates with team members. This can be several hours at a time and negatively affect the truck’s batteries. That’s where solar comes in…

Solar Power Applications Search And Rescue

With the Pinzgauer’s massive roof covered in Sunflare XPLOR solar panels, the search and rescue team has a reliable, clean power source for keeping the truck’s batteries topped off. This setup has multiple advantages that make it ideal for rugged situations.

Sunflare product shot

First, Sunflare XPLOR solar panels are purpose-built for overlanding and off-roading situations. They’re ultra-lightweight, flexible, and durable enough to walk on them.

Second, these panels have bypass diodes on every cell, so if one cell is in the shade or covered by snow or debris, the remaining cells in the panel continue to work. This is not a feature on all solar panels, so it is a crucial feature that enables the King County Search and Rescue team to continue getting power to their rig.

Solar Power Applications 24 Volt System

Third, the Pinzgauer has a 24-volt electrical system, so if it goes dead, you can’t simply get a jump from a standard vehicle’s 12-volt system.

By having a reliable solar power system onboard the Pinzgauer, the team can protect against dead batteries while ensuring that the truck’s systems continue to run, even when idling for hours on end in bitterly cold weather.

Solar Power Applications are Part of the Solution

Real Life Solar Power Applications

Beyond keeping the Pinzgauer’s batteries fully charged, the Sunflare XPLOR solar power system helps ensure that the truck stays part of the solution rather than becoming another problem.

If the Pinzgauer goes out of commission, so too do the GPS and mapping capabilities and the radios. Without the ability to communicate with the team, the risk of the team members becoming lost or stuck increases. Likewise, a dead truck becomes one more thing that has to be rescued!

Again, adding solar power to the equation was a critical decision that enabled the King County Search and Rescue Team to work smarter, not harder. They can communicate more effectively, have a warm truck for rescue team members and rescued people, and do so while using a clean, energy-efficient system for powering the truck’s components.

That’s not a bad combination!

Visit Sunflare XPLOR to learn more about their lineup of rugged and reliable solar panels and how you can implement them into your camping and overlanding setup.

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