Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’

No thermostat heating for us, no sir, we like to hard work.

No thermostat heating for us, no sir, we like to do things the hard way.

You know the saying “Wood heats you twice…once when you get it and once when you burn it?”  How about when you stack it and/or split and move it?  For all the time we’ve lived in Oregon, we’ve always heated with wood.  There were times when we had so little wood we’d gather it off the beach.  We’d bring it home, split it, only to find it was too wet to burn.   Since we’ve lived here so long, the trees have grown up around us and now we have the option to cut on our own land.

Cat wants to help

Cat wants to help

Stacked up in sun to air out

Stacked up in sun to air out

This is the closest thing to a tractor that I've always wanted, but our acreage just doesn't justify a tractor.

Daughter is driving the power wagon…the closest thing to a real tractor that I’ll ever have.

Splitting wood the easier way.

Splitting wood the easy way…letting your adult children do  the heavy lifting.

Cooking on the wood cook stove

Garbanzo bean and veggie soup cooking on the wood cook stove…tea water always hot.

When our old stove wore out, we wanted to get a stove that would heat the house AND cook our food if needed.  We looked at some fancy catalogs, saw some very nice nickle-plated stoves and stoves that would heat a 24 gal. tank of water, but with our smaller space, we settled on the Baker’s Choice.  We can cook on the 6 sq. ft surface, bake in the oven, and heat the whole house.  The firebox is big enough to hold 10″ diameter wood.  While I miss seeing the warm glow of the fire, this stove heats the house and cooks very well.

Big Eddy enjoys the heat.

Big Eddy enjoys the heat.

15 year old Cody appreciates the warmth.

15 year old Cody appreciates the warmth.

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Solar panels installed in June 2009

If it looks like these panels were not purchased all at the same time it’s because they weren’t.  I bought them as I could afford them.  The bottom four were purchased first.  When I wanted more I was told that Brazil was buying all they could make…just wait a few months.  I didn’t want to wait but found some compatible ones built by Solar World right here in the US.

I wanted to be able to produce my own electricity for “just in case” scenarios.   Since we get all our water from a well, if the power grid goes out, we can’t get water.  While the power doesn’t go out very often, when it does, we are without both water and electricity for several days.  I wanted to be able to power those ‘critical load’ items like the well pump, a few lights, the refrigerator and freezer.  Plus I wanted to prove that solar power can be used even in cloudy climates in states that are “north.”  I live on the Oregon Coast.  If it works here, it can work in 75% of the US.

In fact, this system works so well that in the summer time, I have so much extra power I can run my printing presses with it.

This is a sticker I apply to everything I print with solar electricity.  I would be surprised if any other printers in the US could claim that.

During the rainy season it’s a different story.  Our rainy season is roughly mid October to late May, so it was a big surprise when we had an unexpected sunny day a couple days ago.  We had had rainy weather for about a week and my batteries were down.  The meter said I was a MINUS 109 amp hours.  I was going to have to do some  serious charging.

Minus 109 amp hours  before noon

The charge controller shows we have 34.3 amps coming in right now.  If we can keep that going, it’ll take a little over 3 hours to charge up.  I hope the sun stays out.

Minus 57.9 Amp Hours at about 2:20 pm.  We are catching up while producing power at the same time.

We’ve already produced 134 amp hours and the sun is still shining!

170 amp hours produced by the end of the day.

The sun stayed out and the batteries are full.  Not bad for an autumn day.

My “Solar Roller” water pump and a solar oven…

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Get out the Solar Oven and let’s have enchiladas for lunch.

Enchiladas for lunch.

Now that the sun has warmed up the soil enough to plant, we’ve got to hook up the Solar Roller. These panels are mounted on a 2 x 4″

Solar panels on handmade wheeled cart

cart with some old lawnmower wheels attached. Since I have many trees shading parts of the garden, this roller allows me to follow the sun. I can actually get 12 hours of sun-pumping water into the large tank in the background and then gravity flow to 1/2″ pvc placed in the raised beds. The kit came with solar panels, submersible pump, and a Dankoff control box. This control box allows the pump to kick on in low light and works so well that it’ll pump on a gray shadowless day. I’ve even seen it pump during a light rain.

Gray shadowless day, solar pump still working…thank you Mr. Dankoff, for inventing the controller that makes the pump work on a very gray day!

The tank feeds into a regular garden hose and into the water grids. The grids are drilled with 1/16” holes. Hook up the hose to the grid and plant next to the holes.

Drip water grid in tomato bed

Drip watering potatoes

Placing the plants next to a pre-drilled hole.

Ready to close the tent on the warm loving eggplant and peppers

And that’s how we spent Mother’s Day, how about you?

For more solar check out my little solar system.

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