Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How much does solar REALLY cost?

This is a video on posted by LDSreliance. I thought it was an interesting topic and decided to check out the numbers myself. It has been a long time since I purchased solar equipment and prices have fallen quite a bit. In the video it breaks down prices based on 3 systems; Small (hobby), Medium, and Large.

This equates to $2.50 per watt for the panel and $12 per watt for the system. I decided to check on to see how prices compared:

10 amp / 12 Volt charge controller = $11.99
12 Volt SLA Battery - 8 amp hours = $17.99
400 Watt / 12 Volt inverter = $23.48

I believe the wire connectors and mounts would be about $30 as stated. This means that the $120 price tag is conservative.


This equates to $1.40 per watt for the panels and $3.20 per watt for the system. This is how the prices compared on

60 amp charge controller - 12 volts = $45
Batteries - 450 amp hours at 12 Volts = $700 ($350 each)
600 Watt sine wave inverter = $89
Wire, connectors, mounts, etc. = $100
TOTAL = $1,350

The price was a little higher than expected, especially the batteries. A better option might be to desulfate some forklift batteries and save lots of money. I explain how to do that in my wind power ebook.


This equates to $1.00 per watt for the panels and $2.83 per watt for the system. This looks fairly close to me as well. I would probably use three of the 60 amp charge controllers at $45 a piece, for a total of $135 instead of $1,100. But, overall, I believe the video to be fairly accurate.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Solar Tracker

Making a solar tracker for a solar cooker or solar panels is easier than you may think. You could design one that uses a micro-controller or complex circuit. But, it can also be done with JUST small solar panels and a DC motor.

The concept is simple. You have two or four small identical panels that are each powerful enough to spin a small DC motor. There is a divider between the panels that cast a shadow when the unit is not pointing directly at the sun. The panel that doesn't have a shadow cast on it produces all the power and turns the motor. As the shadow starts to minimize, the other side's panel starts applying reverse current to the motor and slowing it down.

solar tracker circuit

You could have more than one panel each side, as shown below.

solar tracker circuit

Something to remember is that the motor will have to be geared down so the output is lower. Or you can find a geared motor, such as a windshield wiper motor. You could also use a smaller motor and just use a string wrapped several times around the spindle or capstan of the motor. The rest of the string would wrap around a wooden pulley or disk from both sides. And, of course, the string would be stretched taut.

Then Take A Look At This!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Make your own powerful and simple alcohol stove

I uploaded a couple of videos testing this powerful alcohol stove and some people have asked for instructions on making this. It is very quick and easy to make. Have fun!


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Weird way to furl a windmill

I was watching a video on youtube where supergokue1 was running a double windturbine on one mast and connecting the motors in series to get more voltage. The test didn't produce as much voltage as he had hoped, but I had an interesting idea about furling this windmill under higher wind conditions.

SuperGokue1 on

The idea involves a physics concept called gyroscopic precession. This is a phenomenon occurring in rotating bodies in which an applied force is manifested 90 degrees later in the direction of rotation from where the force was applied. We use the right hand rule to determine the torque direction or spin vector.

Applying the right hand rule to the double windmill, based on direction of blade rotation, means that the spin vector is a force acting outward towards the wind. Each blade set is doing that so both forces are balanced. But, what if you design one of the blades so it spun in the opposite direction? And, then, you make the tail smaller? 

The result would be that higher winds will cause the windmill to yaw out of the wind slightly. This will slow the blades down, then gyroscopic procession will decrease as the blades start to spin back into the wind and the process repeats...until a sweet spot is found. This should work nicely for small fast spinning wind turbines. This should protect them in higher winds. Just imagine 40 mph winds while the wind turbine is furled sideways at a 45 degree angle and still producing safe power.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Survival Lilly Survives Canada

Survival Lilly came to Canada....and survived. She spent about a week in the bush, practicing her bushcraft and survivalist skills. The helicopter picked her yesterday, and yes, she was in one piece. Unfortunately, we have to wait a few days to see her video updates. I can't wait to see those.

We gave her a ride to the BC-Ferries terminal today. I have a nice Survival Lilly patch to show off now. But, don't worry, she left with a Canadian flag patch of her own. Now, she is off to her next secret survival spot to live the adventure. Rock on Lilly!