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Category Archives: solar

Snow and The Solar Panels

..sort of like Groundhog Day ( the movie that is) . Snow was followed by rain and we had an inch layer of ice on top of the panels blocking the ever important power prodution. I am not helping anything by not having the panels tilted for optimal winter sun collection so with this angle/panel setup the snow accumulates too much…but we have not really had much snow so I have not been putting my whole ass into making sure the panels are continually clean of snow…plus we are tentativly planning on installing our whole system in the summer..image

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A broom, 1 water jug filled with well water and some soft scraping with my gloved hand..and 15 minutes later (with multiple soakings) the panels are clear, I have an empty water jug and soaked gloves..which promptly froze as I was wearing them in the -16c weather..literally 5 minutes after finishing I could no longer pick anything up due to stiff gloves…so back inside to do some chores.

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..look outside 2 hours later and thanks to snow falling I get to do it all over again..deja vu all over again.

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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in power, solar

 

Solar Sound System

Long ago in a house faraway we owned a massive component stereo..it was a Sony and consisted of a DVD player, tape player, cd player, VCR, reciever and massive speakers. I loved the stereo but it was a power hog..we knew if we wanted to go offgrid there would be no way to power it so around 4 years ago I bought this little 12v reciever. It had great reviews with professional sound quality but it was a power sipper…So, I got rid of all my space taking gear..and took my rear speakers and this reciever as my ‘pumping stereo’. For the last 3 years we have had it hooked up in a myriad of places but the bookshelf is where is is going to life forever..so instead of just hooking it up to a car battery ( which we kept on the window sill ) we wanted a long-term sound solution that did not cramp our window. The idea is to use a 12v (5w) panel to charge a battery which runs the stereo ( on the other side of the house ).

SO, without too much thought or preparation I started. A* was out for the day so it was a perfect time to start hacking the place up..and I started with a saw to the ceiling( yellow handle, the reciever is the silver thing(power and volume..complicated!!)):
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..not pretty but I wired the panel to go in through the vent. The battery is in the attic for the winter but when spring hits I am going ot have to change locations for everything cause it will be too hot and it will kill the battery life. Perched at the top of the ladder I had a tough time getting the panel attached to the side of the house..precarious( I nearly fell over backwards as I was screwing the panel in)..don’t worry though cause if I fell I had Jango and Loki below me to cushion my fall.
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I needed some strand wiring for the battery to the charge controller so I made some with some excess wiring from the shed.
Finish making the cables…
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Bring everything to the attic..attach the panel..I attached a 12v light to make sure I had a current to signal that everything was attached correctlyimage
..and it works(as well as the ‘charging’ indicator). Now to connect the stereo. I feed some 16g wiring into the ceiling hole..
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So, moving on I head back downstairs and connect the wire to the stereo. Turn on the stereo and turn on my iPod..this way once I connect it upstains (again) the music will start blaring.
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..reseal the hole for the cable…
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..I marked the + of the wiring with red tape, connect the wires to power the stereo..and ‘RIde of the Valkryes’ starts pumping out..SWEET!
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…and the working rig after cleanup. Now we can pump tunes whenever we want without fear or running out..a long term solution ( until the spring when it changes )..we also had some car speakers donated to us too..sometime in the near future I am going to set these up under the eaves of the house so we can have both inside and outside speakers which we will be able to turn on/off inside the house..we need louder music outside..especially for gatherings(coming 2014)!

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Construction, solar

 

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Yearly Propane and Winter Solar Panel Repositioning

..we don’t like paying bills but we do like hot water so we topped off our tanks before winter. I was last November when we last got our propane delivered. 2 people for 1 year and basically 2 months of spot starts in april/may and october for our propane wall heater. Sweet..we have upped our usage every year so far..year 1 we basically did not use the heater at all and the top off was under $30..I thought there was a problem that year when the guy started filling the tank then stopped all within 1 sentence as we chatted.

The solar panels needed a winter adjustment for an optimal gain to compensate for the lowered angle of the solar elipsis(.sounds like too technical an explanation for putting a 6×6 board under our homemade stand.hehe) . Once I have more trees down I will finalize the location of the stand too..It is getting too much shade where it is but I am on the fence if I should just move it or cut down the offending trees..soon.

In some other snapshots – Jango and Loki share a chew toy and do their best ‘Lady and the Tramp’ meets ‘Freaky Friday’ impression..this is one of their friendly inside quiet games and the other inside friendly quiet game is to try to bite each others teeth while barking incessantly ( which loki does from partially underneath our bed) – A* teaches the chickens to fly ( she is working at a grocery store giveaway where they are throwing live chickens out of a helicopter and she wants them prepared! Hehe) – a daredevil ladybug temps fate..I am in a touque and I didn’t see any mittens on that ladybug. – darg..wrong picture but I am not going back..A* is actually feeding Hoppy and gonzo..the chicks are getting big..We see the old hens chase them less and less. (You should have seen that shot of the flying lesson!)

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..edited for clarity..I just read this post online and it did not make any sense and wordpress did some funky things..and my spelling was terrible.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2011 in fun, heat, solar

 

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Solar Oven Cooking with a Sun Oven

Loving gadgets the way that I do I just got a new toy in the mail ( 3 years ago..but posts always seem better when they are fresh..like bread )..it is a solar oven by a company called Sun Oven. How does it work you ask? Simple really…you buy it, unwrap it..then unfold the reflecting panels. Then point it at the sun when the sun is out. In the back there is a mechanism to raise or lower the angle of the box..less angle in summer..more of an angle in winter. It is super insulated and holds the heat generated by the reflectors..then cooks your food.

So, to use:

  • place in a sunny placeimage
  • unfold and adjust the back for optimal sunimage
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    • let heat up.

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    • add in ‘foo’..if it is chicken or meat it really helps to cube it up
    • when you add it..make sure it is in a thin metal black container..the heat will transfer and the black aids in absorbing more heat ( in this example I am using the sun oven to bake some eggshells so the chickens can eat them.

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  •  allow to cook..give it more time than ususual..nothing will burn
  • take out and eat ( in this example you should not eat these chicken egg shells…they taste gross..even after I baked them..too crunchy )

We originally started with some cubed chicken with rice and have moved on to cook almost anything in it since we bought it 3 years ago..no cookies yet but I have read some recipes..the only difference between this oven and a regular oven is that it takes longer to cook..and you need full sun. It also works in the dead of winter..as long as there is sun the temperature will be hot enough to cook MANY things..You can make them fairly easily too…the directions are on the net. try google..they help find things. For us it is mostly a summer tool as we use our cookstove all winter ( with some fall and spring thrown in for good measure )..the technology and cooking time for both the sun oven and cookstove are very close and after 3 years we are pretty good at cooking with it when we want to bake. One of my favorite things about this Sun Oven is that I prepare my supper at lunch time, put it in the sun then open up the sun oven at supper and everything is ready and hot..not to mention moist and occasionally delicious..there are also techniques I employ for more time sensitive cooking where I put the sun oven in a shaded area that I know will get sun mid-afternoon..so when the sun starts hitting the sun oven it starts cooking…cooked to perfection.

..cooking some spuds to go with supper on the weekend.

Sometimes the moisture can cause the sun over to cool off ( as the condensation covers the glass ) so in instances like the picture above I occasionally open it up and give it a wipe..be careful when you open it up..it’s HOT!

Never worry about the power going out and having no warm food or drinking water..the Sun Oven also comes with a little gadget that you can put in water..heat it up to make it drinkable and the gadget lets you know when it is safe..I would have a picture of that too but I lost it…anyway..a great purchase for around $200.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2011 in power, solar

 

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A week now

..we put our clothes out last saturday and most of it dried then..but some was still damp so we put it back on…5 days ago. We hvae had around 20 hours of sun in the last 3 weeks…someone make it stop raining!

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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in solar

 

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battery bank

the new power source!

..bought a battery bank, wiring, 3 charge controllers, battery maintanence tools, 12v charger, 240w of pv solar panels..I saw the advertisement on an online classifieds site and was the first there and negotiated a GREAT price on everything..I had been pricing the equipment for a while so when I saw it online I knew that I needed to get there quick. The battery bank is 5 years old but has been on a trickle charge for years..not an optimal solution but the truth of the matter is this..with the price I paid I am really only paying for 3 of the 4 panels..the 4th panel and everything else is free..so I will see what I can do with it in the meantime. They are Trojan 6v batteries that I have wired paralled and in a series..so they are 12v..they are capable of 75amps for 108 min each..so we will see..They say for many off-grid battery owners usually ruin thier first batteries through not knowing what to do or how to do it properly so the risk is fairly minimal when the batteries are free! Now I just need to hook it all up and run it to the panel in my house and I should be good to go..Obviously I still need an inverter…but now that I have the rest of the components I should be good to go!

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2009 in power, Purchases, solar

 

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Off-Grid Lighting v1

..Ok. So when A* and I are doing any major work we have been using the generator and when that is on there is full lights since the power is on. No problems.

After the work is done we are using a Portable Power Unit with a built in inverter that can run up to 600w. Works well for the power it consumes. I think there is some loss due to conversion from 12v to 120 but I am not sure what the cost is..To help cut down on the costs we are also using a LED LIghtbulb that I bought off of eBay a couple of months ago. They screw in and only use 1.5 watts vs the 7 or so of a CFL. The light is not super bright though and once you leave the room it is in you are immersed into complete darkness. The only way to get around other than that is a flashlight or a headlamp. I am quickly habitually putting my headlamp in the same place when I go to sleep so that I can find it in the cold mornings..its bad enough that the days are getting shorter but now I cannot even turn on the lights too see. Well at least the place is a dusty disaster anyway so there is not to much to see anyway! Small miracles I guess.

there is the light and power for now...WE'RE WORKING ON IT! Upper is a CFL and the lower is an LED bulb that consumes 1.5 watt and gives 9 lumen..if that's how you spell it..or if it's gives more..or less.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2008 in lighting, solar

 

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