Archive for the ‘solar’ Category

Update to solar still

Posted: August 27, 2011 in solar, water

Update to solar still.  This would have been a good idea.

Back in March I built a solar still in my backyard.  As Arizona is a dry place and my backyard does not have a creek in it, I tried to suck moisture out of plants.

This did not work.

I finally got around to editing the video.  Watch below if you care to watch my failed attempt as well as my first use of the fast-forward function.  If you don’t care to watch the video, the short version is that a solar still is a ridiculous amount of work for a ridiculously small amount of water.

On a side note, the raised garden did not work either.

Summer break

Posted: July 26, 2011 in arizona, solar

I realize that the Apocalypse is going to be tough, but it is really hot out there.  It’s been a little tough to practice the necessary skills with this heat.  “Sure,” I can hear you saying, “You are going to be fine during the nuclear holocaust, you can’t even take a little sunburn.”  But trust me people, the AZ sun is no place to practice throwing one’s rabbit stick.

As a good friend reminded me the other day, the best rule of surviving in AZ in summer is to respect the sun.  So I suppose I am taking summer off, unless I can figure out a skill I should learn/practice inside.  I am not interested in learning how to sew, some people were just destined to go without pants in the end times.

In the meantime, here are some re-runs.

How to deal with bad sewing skills.  Filmed during the Wednesday night Open Mic at Conspire.

Below is a video my friend Amy Jean and I filmed a while back.  It really demonstrates my bad sewing chops.

I am starting to do some research into solar panels, because after the grid goes belly up then a little bit of juice would be a wonderful luxury.  The problem with solar panels however is they are not easy to hide.    You can’t exactly put big-ass panels hidden away in a corner because then they would not get any sun.  This principal is also why Goth kids tend to be very pale.   But if one puts them proudly up on the roof, then after society crumbles you are just asking for the barbarians to come to your driveways gate.  So……

Maybe portable Solar Panels are the way to go?   For example a solar back pack?

My local Fry’s electronics has a got one shelf of other options as well……
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I am starting my research into Solar Power and I am just generating lots of questions.

How much Juice do I need?

I am surprised how much my total kilowatt hours (kWh) jumps around from month to month.  No surprise the summer months use the most juice at around 600 kWh.


Based on the info above I think I should try to make a solar system that generates 200kWh a month.   But how do I break that down by day?   If a kilowatt hour is equal to 1000 watt hours, does that mean I need 4 separate 50 Watt solar panels to equal 200kWh a month?  I read the Wikipedia entry on kilowatt hour but it just made me more confused.

How much will this cost?

The cost might add up to somewhere between $15,000 to $30,000.  The Fed. Gov. helps somewhat, currently 30% of the cost of the system can be used for a tax credit. Arizonagoessolar outlines Arizona incentives.   A post- incentive price tag of $15,000 to $20,000 gets mentioned a lot in the random examples.   This is a lot of money, it is also possible to lease a system, would this be better?

What type of system is better Grid-tie or Off-the grid?

Grid-tied are hooked into the grid.  During the day, the power generated goes into the grid and at night I pull of the grid.  Some companies have “net metering” which is if your system generates more than you use you get paid by the power company.  It looks like SRP (my local company) has a plan like this in place.  SRP also has a incentive plan to help lower the cost of installing the system.

Off the grid systems are not hooked onto the grid. Because you are now dealing with own storage they seem to be a little harder to figure out at first, but I would expect might be worth it. After all, the Grid-tied system makes you still dependent on the electric company system. In my mind a big hunk of a reason to go through all the trouble of building a solar system is to free oneself. Figuring out how to have both grid-tied and off-the-grid systems just overwhelms me.

One site said if your monthly bill is not at $75 or above, than the cost of establishing the systems may not be worth it.   Plus a full solar panel system on top off a house is like a giant ad to the post-APO hungry hordes. Maybe I should just get a back-up emergency solar system, like this one they had at Fry’s electronics…

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The last temporary visit of the local library yielded some useful videos on how to prepare for Humanity’s waterloo.

There were two decent videos on how to build an enviromental house.  From what I have seen so far, the community of people preparing for civilization’s curtains tend to be a conservative bunch.  One place where the preppers and the far left overlaps is Extreme Pro-Green Building. After all, surviving on your own is the goal of both groups. And I tend to like it when extremes meet.

Back to point of this post, the library had two decent videos on how to build green, a lot of the techniques might be good to know once the giant wire spider stops giving us it’s venom. They were a good start for me on how to approach the learning construction task. I really have trouble with hammers.

Building with awareness the construction of a hybrid home is a good overview of the considersations one might consider.

Building Green Hosted by Kevin Contreras goes into much more detail.  With four discs he walks through multiple aspects of building green during all stages on construction.

Apollo’s Path

Posted: April 6, 2011 in backyard, solar
Tags: ,

As I have been planning and planting the garden I realize that I don’t know the sun’s path intimately.  I know summer has longer days but that’s about it.  Native Americans throughout the America’s had structures that marked where and when the sun was on the two solstices and two equinoxes. 

In Phoenix, on top of South Mountain there is a petroglyph, art chipped into the rock, that marks the summer solstice.

Above:  The view of the sun rising on the Summer Solstice from the view of the Hohokam petroglyph.

Below: The petroglyph itself.  The semi-vertical line that bisects the petroglyph points to the spot on the horizon where the sun rises on the solstice.  From that angle it sun rises on the eastern edge of Four Peaks, a dominant mountain in the area. 

With all this in mind, in March I started marking where the sun sets.  My backyard faces West, so chalk on the back wall is easy to track.

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At this point I am not exactly sure why it would be useful to know how to track the sun, but I figure if almost every civilization ever has tracked it, then I should as well. 

Some dates to mark:

The vernal equinox is the start of spring.  The day is 12 hours long. The Sun rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. (March 20, 2011)

  • T he summer solstice is the longest day of the year because the Sun reaches the most northern point in the sky at local noon.  The days will now start getting shorter. (June 21, 2011)
  • The autumnal equinox marks the start of fall. The day is 12 hours long. The Sun rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. (Sept. 23, 2011)
  • The winter solstice begins winter. It is the shortest day of the year, when the Sun reaches its most southern point in the sky at local noon. The days start getting longer. (Dec. 22, 2011)

Getting ready for the heat.  Today I went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore – south side – to buy window screens.

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Lesson Learned: Security bars on windows make it hard to put in screens.  With the bars, putting screens on the outside of the window is impossible.  Putting screens on the inside is awkward because every time you want to open or close a window there is a screen in the way,  which is a pain-in-the-ruckuss.

Living close to the mountain means I get nice cool night breezes late into the season.  However, if I keep my window open without screens then my house becomes infested with weird desert insects.  Security for comfort is a unpleasant choice.

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Gopher update

Posted: February 17, 2011 in animals, animals, backyard, cooking, gopher, gophers, pets, protein
Tags: ,

I have yet to kill much less catch a gopher. I will spare you the details because otherwise you would think I am cruel.

One of the rules or expressions among the preppers is “eat what you store and store what you eat.” Another sentiment is “practice is better than just reading,” which I totally agree with. With those two ideas in mind the Survival Mom challenges her readers to a monthly challenge or skill. January’s was to bake a loaf of bread from scratch.  

Last night I was talking with my old friend “J” who is quite the foodie, and has been trying all sorts of delicious baking experiments in the last couple of years.  She commented on how she had enjoyed my solar oven posts  because she is going to build a solar oven in order to bake bread in, which I think is awesome.  I told her about the Survival Mom’s challenge because there are (currently) 71 responses to her challenge and some of them would be quite useful for my friends goal.