· By Ashlin Cook
How we use the sun to power the Winnie Lou food truck.
When we started a food truck for dogs, there was a lot to think about. One of which was how we were going to power the food truck.
From the start, we knew that we didn’t want to use a generator. Generators are loud and they emit greenhouse gases. Not to mention that they probably would scare some of our furry friends!
Colorado has abundant sun (300 sunny days a year!), and powering the trailer with solar was the obvious choice. Next, we installed a battery pulled from a refurbished Tesla Model S (inspired by a couple living out of their trailer with two dogs).
Interior view of our Tesla battery (bottom), inverter (top), and charge controllers (top left)
Long story short – solar and lithium-ion batteries are amazing, and they aren’t that costly. We installed the system in two days. We had power! All was great.
…Or so we thought.
Our panels after installation
Seven days after installing our solar panels on June 18th, we experienced a MAJOR hail storm. Hail, some of which were as big as softballs, pounded our home, car, and trailer. The Winnie Lou food truck had some bruises, but escaped mostly intact thanks to the solar panels protecting the majority of the roof. One of our solar panels was less lucky...
Ashlin smiling after our first major hail storm.
Solar panels are supposed to last 25 years. One of our three panels, lasted 7 days.
We operated for most of the summer with a broken panel. Thanks to our the extra energy from our Tesla battery system, we really didn’t need it. Nonetheless, as soon as we could, we replaced the broken panel and donated it to someone who could make use of its partial power production.
Two of three panels survived
Five months and two snow days later – our trailer and solar + battery system are as good as ever. While this system doesn’t cover all of Winnie Lou’s power needs, greening our supply chain and operations are key pillars of the brand. We’ll be sure to keep a keen eye towards reducing our footprint and improving operations as we scale.