View Full Version : Solar power anyone?

10-27-2011, 10:59 PM
Anyone here into alternative energy sources? I'm looking at solar hot water, maybe heat and power. Been reading about guys making their own panels. Anybody here have some good info? While I'd like to power the whole house, current plan is to power the freight trailer turned studio. It already has two 24V batteries. :wink:

10-27-2011, 11:20 PM
Anybody who lives in the south and isn't contemplating solar is a little behind the times in my book.

10-28-2011, 05:40 AM
I've owned a passive-solar, direct-gain house for over thirty years. I built it single handedly in the late 70s. I was inspired by a solar loan program begun by the 39th president.
(but was killed off in '81) :frown:

It has ceiling to floor glass in the kitchen. No north-facing glass. Very simple and, I guess, low-tech. I'm an ardent fan of passive solar as opposed to active solar. Heats itself on cold, sunny days. It has a conventional, high-efficiency oil hot water heat system for cloudy days and to make domestic hot water. ~This~ (https://www.angelfire.com/nj/ccmdotedu/images/house.jpg) is it.

These days, it's our summer house. It looks different and, to my eyes, it looks good. I can't understand why most new homes don't look like it these days (or at least some variation of this concept).
Builders and architects continue to build homes where function follows form (instead of the other way 'round).

10-28-2011, 06:35 AM
In those '70's I was convinced I'd be in western PA for the duration, also convinced a 5-8 frequency 3/4 geodesic dome about 60' diameter, planted in a hillside would be my house. Ferro-cement. Went so far as to draw up plans, build the model. Transparent panels at approximate sun path, heating/cooling via moving water thru closed system exchange underground. Low voltage lighting, water heated with solar. All augmented with gas. Sniffed at buying a USG surplus radar dome of the same size and adapting it.

That all changed in late '77. <shrug>

Still a fan of R.B. Fuller tho. :wink:

<span style="font-style: italic">EDIT: Anyone need a copy of "Dome Book" and "Dome Book II"? </span> :laugh:

10-28-2011, 06:41 AM
No way could I afford enough p/v panels to power much in the house. Would never be cost effective, especially here in New England. But if you can afford it, and you get lots of sun, it'll at least make you feel "grid-less". The "assisted lease" solar electric panel programs we have here are wacky: you pay about $200/month for the panels, and are obligated to pay *a yet to be determined amount* at the end of 15 years. Not for me.

My house was built in 1826, and would cost way too much for me to "solarize". So I just built some passive solar collectors on the south side. Shaded by maple trees in the warm months; leaves drop so the collectors get full sun in the cold months. On sunny days, they heat the whole first floor of the house. Furnace doesn't even run. Designed it myself. Total cost for materials: $65.00


Solar Collector Construction (https://s224.photobucket.com/albums/dd23/freemangarden/Solar%20Box/?albumview=slideshow)

10-28-2011, 06:44 AM
Designed it myself. Total cost for materials: $65.00

THAT'S what I'm talkin' 'bout!! :thumbsup:

10-28-2011, 09:51 AM

10-28-2011, 09:53 AM
Anybody who lives in the south is a little behind the times.

Uhhhhh, that's par for th' course.

( Oh Basil please give me a missing or buck tooth smiley)

10-28-2011, 10:08 AM
I lived blissfully for years with solar water panels that served most my hot water needs, and three 100 watt solar elec. panels hooked to a used 1500 watt truncated wave inverter and a battery maintainer that used 4 deep cycle 12 volt batteries. All bought on the cheap. Assisted in the winter by an old parlor stove with an isingglass door and a copper tube for hot water. A great way to go in my cabin overlooking the lake. My bathroom had a composting toilet that used peat moss as it's medium. Then the developers arrived, sued me to take my easement, put me through 4 and 1/2 years of legal torture which ended with a jury trial which I won. Turned out to be but a pyrric victory as I ended up having to remove my little Lindal cedar home as it was built 5 feet too close to the now resurveyed property line and I had no more cash to fight the !@#$$@!! developers and county minions. Go for it! and if you are interested in a small cedar cabin let me know, you can find me in my van down by the river.

10-28-2011, 11:32 AM
Looks fine and if you had black panels on the wall it would even be better

I believe it is called a trombe panel

10-28-2011, 11:32 AM
and if you are interested in a small cedar cabin let me know, you can find me in my van down by the river.


Hey guys, what are some good resources for info; magazines, forums and such? I'm so outta touch with anything that's going on it's not funny. I've searched around but haven't found anything usefull. Is there a BCF of alternative energy?

10-28-2011, 12:48 PM
This'll get you started. Remember - I'm an old guy, so Mother Earth News was something I read back when it first came out. And "multi-tasking" was six secretaries typing six letters on six typewriters.


www.motherearthnews.com (https://www.motherearthnews.com)


10-28-2011, 12:57 PM
Aint nuthin wrong with that. Thanks. I had forgotten about them. I read about a waste oil heater on that site a while back.

10-28-2011, 01:02 PM
Take a gander at The Green Optimistic on the internet.

10-28-2011, 02:04 PM
I've been screaming: "HYDROGEN!" for years. The complex metal hydride method has been ignored too long! Glad to see it being seriously pursued, finally.

10-28-2011, 03:13 PM
...what are some good resources for info; magazines, forums and such? ...

You can also look at www.lehmans.com (https://www.lehmans.com) . They have lots of "cutesy" stuff but if you search for "solar" on their site they offer a few cheap books and other interesting things.

(We have a friend here who uses solar and wood to power his entire house. He has no power lines leading to his place.)

Wood = solar power also, sort of.

10-28-2011, 03:21 PM
Brother install solar collectors about 10 years ago in Ca outside of Reno.
Has paid for itself already.

10-29-2011, 01:53 PM
I have a simple recirculating solar hot water heater on the roof. A 2 m2 panel and a 200 liter tank, with electric back up. It is good for about 7 months out of the year.

The only problem is that it is 8 stories up so it takes quite a while for the hot water to make its way to may apartment on the ground floor. Next summer I will probably add a recirculating pump to the heat a second tank in the apartment.

These solar water heaters are required by law here on any new construction (for the last 30 years already) and are reasonably inexpensive.

Incidentally, the physics behind the collectors is interesting. The use a special paint which has a higher level of black body absorption than emissivity (normally absorption and emmission are the same) This was a major breakthrough in the 50's and significantly improved the efficiency.

10-30-2011, 06:07 PM
The BCF of alternative energy:https://www.builditsolar.com/index.htm