War is Declared on Green Energy

Why has the United States government declared war on green energy? I mean, what did green energy ever do to this country that warrants it being declared an enemy of the people and placed on the top ten list of things to destroy? What happened? Let’s back up and investigate this unusual occurrence as there must be a logical explanation.

Let’s begin on a topic I believe everyone can agree on. There is only one world on which we can maintain life, and that is earth. Human actively, spurred by a crippling population explosion and advancement of third world countries into the industrial revolution is overloading our atmosphere with carbon dioxide and other emissions, which is acting like a blanket in the upper atmosphere trapping earth’s natural heat.

This blanket of gases is not suppose to be there. Nature didn’t put it there, we did by burning fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas. I believe scientists and people who don’t believe in science can agree on this fact.

Trump pushing clean coal ignoring climate change

So what’s this got to do with anything? This is where the first battle begins between the two factions of science and non-science. Science claims this blanket has created a global warming which is wrecking havoc with our weather patterns and thus our environment. This claim is based on facts, but facts matter little to the non-science faction, who claim this is a natural phenomenon that the earth has experienced before.

This is most likely very true. After all the United States was once glacier covered and deep seas existed where only desert wastelands now exist. It might be noted these changes occurred over millions of years. Keep that in mind for future reference.

So for sake of argument let’s look at may happen if the war on green energy was called off.

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Improved Health

Air and water pollution from coal and gas fired industrial plants are responsible for creating breathing problems, cancer, heart attacks, neurological damage and a host of other illnesses. With the dismantling of the EPA, which is charged with policing illegal pollution, the health concerns will only become worse.

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A Harvard University study showed the health care cost for treating such pollutant induced illnesses at $74.6 Billion dollars a year. It doesn’t matter your social status, although the wealthy can afford medical treatment while the poor suffer, or literally die, the causes of such sickness affects everyone. Cancer doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor.

The irony is green energy technology simply does not create the types of pollutants which poison the air and water. Although in all fairness geothermal and biomass systems do emit air pollutants, but are generally only a fraction of coal and gas fired facilities.

Wind and solar energy require essentially no water in which to operate, thus eliminates the risk of water pollution. Perhaps more importantly in some cases, by not consuming water, allows greater amounts of water available for distribution for agriculture, drinking water and other water needs. That may not sound important, but if you live in the Southwestern United States you realize water is growing continually scarcer and more expensive.

Jobs and other Economic Matters

Alright you’re not a scientist, tree hugger or visionary, you’re just a regular Joe worried about making a living and having a difficult time doing it.

Fossil-fuel-generated technologies are mechanized and capital intensive where as renewable energy alternatives are more labor intensive. Manufacturing and installing solar panels is more labor intensive than coal or oil extraction requiring more employees. That should be a great thing, right?

But here’s the giant rub, fossil fuel employees make a good wage while the jury is still out on wages renewable energy employees will command. Does it make sense to lose 250,000 jobs which pay $50 an hour (benefits included) to gain 500,000 jobs at $20 an hour? 250,000 more people working, but at much lower wages. Is that a fair trade-off?

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I guess it depends on whether you’re losing or gaining a job, but in my opinion the answer is a resounding No. This is the classical Race to the Bottom agenda that the government and big business love to employ, which is the exact reason the American middle class, America’s backbone, is nearly extinct.

Why should this subject even enter into the overall discussion of renewable green energy vs fossil fuel? Let’s face it … like it or not, right or wrong, everything in life depends on money. Were Amazon, Facebook, Google created for the benefit of mankind? Hell, no they were created to make the owners wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Trying to bring an illegal criminal enterprise to justice? Follow the money.

Point is, if we were talking losing 250,000 jobs at $50 an hour, but not only replacing them, but adding another 250,000 at $50 an hour, the public would be screaming for the advancement of green energy by the government.

Can we accomplish this? Is the government the answer? Yes, to the first question. Absolutely no to the second. The labor hating government is the largest obstacle to overcome to accomplish the goal. Instituting Rights-to-work laws which essentially cripples unions making them ineffective at collective bargaining, is the single most negative action enacted which stagnates workers wages. Are Unions good? YES! Are there some lousy scoundrels in the union leadership? YES!

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Fortunately or unfortunately I have personally witnessed Union Officials of both types. Union officials that place their greed above the memberships needs should be tar and feathered and run out of town. But then someone will say all the politicians should be included in that group. Touche’ can’t argue that.

But remember, the point is to create good paying jobs in the renewable energy sector, not menial flipping hamburgers wages. Whatever means required to reach that goal is the correct one, unions are just a traditional method utilized.

Speaking of Government

Government loves money, as your taxes illustrate, so green energy should be a no-brain-er for them. For example, Local governments could enjoy a windfall of revenue from green energy with several avenues of new revenue. The property owner where the power company installs their wind turbine will be paid $3000 to $6000 per megawatt, plus royalties, plus rights-of-way leases, all resulting in more taxes being paid. The green energy company is also required to pay taxes. Farmers can produce feed stocks for biomass power facilities. The list goes on and on.

UCS analysis estimate that by 2025 a national renewable electricity standard would result in $263.4 Billion in new capital investment in renewable energy technology, $13.5 Billion in additional landowner income and $11.5 billion in new property tax revenues which flows directly into the local government’s coffers. That’s a lot of money.

Stable Energy Prices

The government likes to crow the example of federal spending to a normal household budget, when it serves their purpose. Using that example what happens to the household budget when hit with a massive and unexpected expense, it shatters possibly destroying peoples’ lives.

Historically fossil fuel prices have experienced very dramatic price swings. In the years prior to 2008 coal demand far exceeded coal production due to global demand, skyrocketing coal costs. In 2008 world demand plummeted as did the price of coal. Natural gas experienced the same dramatic shift in 2005. In 1974 the entire United States economy came to a grinding halt when the price of oil shot up and oil production was cut by OPEC. Utilizing more renewable energy would cushion the blow of a sudden spike in fossil fuel prices regardless of whether it be coal, gas or oil.

There is a price to pay. Upfront investments to build renewable energy platforms of whatever nature, will be expensive. However, once the initial sticker shock of construction is endured the facility will be extremely cheap to operate. Most clean energy technologies employ free fuel, sun, wind, water which can result in very stable costs of energy after the initial investment is recouped.

Additionally, costs of renewable energy technology has steadily and will continue to decline. The average cost to install solar panels on a home has declined 70% from 2010 to 2017. Cost of wind generated electricity has dropped 66% between 2009 to 2016. There’s no reason to doubt the continued cost reduction as technology improves.

Reliability

If I turn on a light and the bulb blows I’m immediately aggravated. Now I gotta find a bulb, a ladder, undo the light fixture, etc etc. How aggravated would you be if there was literally no power at all, for days, weeks or months.

We won’t even discuss the eventual total depletion of fossil fuels, but let’s talk about temporary unavailable fossil fuels. Hurricane Sandy devastated much of New York and New Jerseys fossil fueled electric producing capacity leaving millions without power. Green energy systems in the same pathway of Sandy resulted in much less damaged capacity. Why? One reason is the green energy system is spread out over a large area, which requires massive destruction to put it down.

Water scarcity is also becoming an increased risk potential for non-renewable power plants. Coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants require a tremendous amount of water to function. The recent dramatic shift in weather patterns have produced, and will continue to produce severe drought conditions. An examination of the quickly disappearing Lake Meade should send shivers down your spine.

The risk of disruptive weather events will only increase as droughts, heat waves, more intense storms and increasing amounts and severity of wildfires become more frequent due to global warming.

So What’s the Problem?

By now you may be thinking the argument for increased renewable green energy appears to be solid. So what’s the problem? Why is it taking so long to get going?

Well, in a nutshell … a nut. The Trump administration has declared war on green renewable energy for several reasons. The most ridiculous reason is their absolute denial that Climate change is real. They immediately publicly declared their ignorance by withdrawing from the Paris Climate agreement, the only country in the world to do so, an agreement America spearheaded and helped negotiate. This denial comes as Miami is slowly sinking into the Atlantic ocean due to rising sea levels.

Another reason is pandering to a particular voting block. Trump is an expert con-man who feeds on peoples’ fear and frustration. Coal workers, Steel workers and other hard labor good paying union jobs have been decimated by global free trade. I know, I was an autoworker who suffered greatly under NAFTA. But instead of promoting new skill training for displaced workers, which could feed directly into the green energy segment, he initiates a trade war through tariffs which may destroy the American economy, if not the world’s.

Trump is dismantling the EPA, encouraging renewed pollution of the air and water.

Trump is selling off public lands to mining companies at an accelerated pace. These are not his to sell, but that doesn’t stop a dictator.

Who has declared war on Green Energy? The Trump administration.

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Living Off Grid

Ever consider living off grid? Tens of thousands of people of people dream of escaping the rat race pace and dangers of today’s society in order to live where and how they want to live. The opportunity to wake up to the sight of majestic mountains, a crystal clear lake or a white sandy beach licked by turquoise waters peaks the interest of survivalist, nature lovers and those who just want to live not burden of crushing debt. Living off grid could offer many the opportunity to fulfill their dreams, yet very few actually seriously try.

Why would living off grid be so difficult that only a mere handful of dreamers attempt it? To be perfectly honest, completely cutting yourself off from the luxuries of modern life, they don’t feel like luxuries until you don’t have them, is not an easy task. It requires meticulous planning, a burning desire to succeed, knowledge and the ability to adapt that knowledge and of course money. Yes, living off grid requires an initial capital investment, how much depends on the person, but if you can view it as an investment, it won’t hurt quite as much. Remember the saying “It takes money to make money.”

For those genuinely interested in exploring what it takes for living off grid we’re going to explore methods, available technology (it increases yearly), the pros & cons of living off grid and how to overcome them. In other words, we’re going to lay out in-depth information which will allow you to begin making a strategic plan on how to make living off grid possible for you and your family.

Definition:

Let’s start by making sure everybody is on the same page as far as what living off grid means, as different people have different concepts. Some want to specify or tailor their off grid experience to their own needs or desires, like eliminating reliance on the electrical grid, but not water supply, while others may want to be completely self sufficient. We will cover A to Z offering the information needed for limited off grid living to complete self reliance.

Topics: For Living Off Grid

  1. Providing water

  2. Providing Power

  3. Providing heat for your homestead

  4. What type of off grid shelter (home) to build (popular options)

  5. How to store and pressurize your water supply

  6. How to dispose and maintain waste

  7. How to grow your own food

First things First:

The first thing you’ll have to do is acquire some land on which to build or park your shelter. Many people are so concerned about other living off the grid issues they completely overlook this issue until later where it could ruin the best laid plans. Number one, it is quite possibly the single most costly item you’ll need to buy. Land, even scrub land is not cheap. Why not? Ever hear the saying “they don’t make it anymore.”?

Plus, whatever land you buy could drastically affect the type of shelter you can build. Natural elements could dictate what kind of water system, sewer system, foundation requirements, off grid power sources and many more building requirements. Locate and purchase your piece of paradise before committing money for anything else. You can always resell it if plans change or if money is not an issue, hold onto it for investment.

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Next First Things First:

The traditional first thing to do is investigate the type of shelter you want to live in. This can range from a traditional Tee Pee, you’d be surprise at what modern Tee Pees offer, to a more luxurious log home. There is a newer craze of using shipping containers and mobile “little houses” which in my opinion are equal to an RV built with 2x4s instead of smaller dimension lumber.

I’m going to throw my 2 cents in here. The little house does offer you the ability to design your own unique style, but unless that is an important factor, why would you change proven and reliable systems a quality RV offers? True, the RV probably will not endure as long as a miniature house, but if you tire of the off grid life you have a better chance of selling the RV than the “little house.” Just something to think about.

Regardless of which style or type of shelter you finally decide on there must be one common denominator … it must be small. Large sprawling mansions, which have been the standard the past 30 years, are energy consuming monsters. You’ll want to keep your energy and heating requirements as low as possible, saving money and reducing your carbon footprint. In short; smaller and more energy efficient is the way to go.

Beginning to Wean yourself off the grid

Whatever provoked your interest to live off grid, that great weekend at an isolated cabin, or just an overwhelming desire to get out from under debt and away from people, it’s a good idea to test drive the lifestyle first. Meaning? Begin weaning yourself from the luxury of unlimited energy.

Consider your normal energy consumption. Computers, televisions, radios, electric stove, refrigerator, lights, hairdryer, curling iron the list could go on and on. Do you leave lights on in rooms nobody is in? Have the TV on but not be watching it? The point I’m trying to get across is the change of mental attitude which will be required to move off grid. I’m not telling you to begin throwing computers and TVs away, but there are ways to begin experiencing what it may be like to live off grid.

For instance, an electric dryer, gas too for that matter, requires a lot of energy. Set a goal of two weeks in which you will hang your clothes on an outside clothesline instead of using a dryer.

That 2nd refrigerator you have in the basement or in the garage where you store beer, soda, bottled water and perhaps some leftovers. Disconnect it. You’ll now have to limit the amount of stored beverages, to fit into 1 refrigerator, or figure out some other method for cold beverages. You’ll immediately feel a few examples of off grid living.

It is imperative you do a comprehensive energy evaluation of your home. There are devises which measure energy usage, such as the P3 P4400 Kilowatt electricity usage meter, of each devise. You’ll know what devises consume the most energy, which will help you prioritize what is essential and what is not. It’ll also be invaluable in helping you size the number and size of solar panels or wind turbine you’ll need.

These are all effective exercises for preparing to live off grid and to make the transition as smooth as possible. Should you decide to drop the plan of living off grid you still have identified areas where you can save large sums of money by adjusting your energy consumption.

What are my Power Options for Living Off Grid

There are three fundamental methods for producing off grid power and they all have their own unique set of pros and cons. However, they all three have one thing in common. They all derive power from the natural resources that surround us on a daily basis. We just need to be smart enough to create and utilize the technology required to harness these powers of nature for our own use. Let’s exam Sun, Wind and Water power.

Solar Panels (sun)

Ask the general public what does off grid energy source means to them, and the majority will say “solar power”. Ask them how it works and you’ll get an answer like, “You buy some solar panels, install them on the roof, run an electrical cord to the breaker box and wallah, you have electricity,”

Well, obviously it’s simply not that easy.

First of all you’ll need sunlight and lots and lots of it. Living in Alaska where the sun is absent for months at a time will cause an issue, or living in Seattle where a near permanent cloud bank restricts the sun on a normal basis will also be ruled out. Using Solar energy for power in these types of environments are not feasible.

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Luckily you live 30 miles outside Phoenix and sunshine is not an issue, there’s plenty of it. However, even with the abundance of sunlight solar power can not deliver a consistent amount of power. There is nighttime and you’ll produce less energy in the morning and late afternoon than when the sun is at its apex.

You will need to store the excess energy produced during APEX production for usage when no energy is being produced and that will require a bank of batteries. We’ll get more in-depth on batteries later, but for now it’s important you know you’ll need them, size and amount to be determined.

A quick review:

Solar Pros:

  1. Proven technology which works;

  2. No moving parts once installed therefore, low maintenance costs

  3. Ability to change the size of the system to meet your needs

  4. Proven to work great where sun is abundant

Solar Cons:

  1. Confined usage to sunny environments only

  2. Requires a battery system to store excess energy

  3. Initial installation can be quite expensive especially if all work contracted out

  4. Does require a certain amount of DIY electrical knowledge

Wind Turbines: (wind)

Wind power has become a large contributing factor to providing living off grid energy needs. However, just like the challenges solar power has, wind does not provide a constant energy source, therefore a bank of batteries will be required to store excess energy when its produced.

There isn’t a place on earth absent of wind, but some regions are more prone to experience wind on a daily basis than others. Should you live in one of these regions, such as Texas prairie, great, but it’s not a requirement to live in a windy area.

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What is a requirement is the assessment of the local surrounding area. Depending on their proximity to your house, hills, trees and other buildings can negatively affect wind flow for your usage. You can nearly always overcome these obstacles by installing your turbine higher off the ground creating a clear wind profile.

However, taller support structures cost more, added material, and possibly worse yet, as turbines do require normal maintenance, you’ll be required to climb higher. If fear of heights is no problem, fine, but if you are leery of heights you may want to reconsider your choice.

Speaking of maintenance, turbines do consist of rotating mechanical devises, and anytime something moves it will require maintenance and will periodically breakdown requiring repairs. This will be an ongoing expense unless you plan on performing maintenance yourself, which is not quite as easy as one may expect, there is a lot more technology involved than meets the eye. If you are not mechanically and/or technically inclined, wind turbines may be a bad choice.

Wind Turbine Pros:

  1. Large selection of sizing options

  2. Proven and established technology

  3. Works extremely well in windy regions

Wind Turbine Cons:

  1. Efficiency largely depends on location

  2. Requires a battery system

  3. Amount of moving parts requires regular maintenance and the ability to repair broken parts

Micro-hydro Generators

Under the proper conditions a Micro-hydro generator is as close to living connected to the grid while living off grid as is possible. Everyone has seen, at least in pictures, a water wheel powering a milling station, water flowing over the paddles constantly turning them. That’s the real people. Water wheels were employed to power the required energy to grind corn into meal long before electricity was ever invented.

Water turbines, although much smaller than water wheels, use the same principle of water turning a turbine which creates electrical power which you harness, through electrical wires, to supply electricity to your home.

A huge advantage of this system is the creation of constant power. With solar and wind power you will normally begin each morning with an energy deficit, but there is no interruption of power with a water turbine. In many cases this eliminates the need for a bank of batteries, but even if you still have a bank, the batteries are always fully charged.

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This sounds like the answer to living off grid. What’s the catch? Ah yes, the downside.

In order to operate your micro-hydro generator you’ll require a steady and reliable flow of natural water. Such as rivers, large streams, creeks, as stagnate water will not suffice. The water must be moving in order to turn the turbine blades in order to produce electricity. A huge pond is worthless for our use.

Therefore, just locating a reliable source of flowing water is a problem. Properties with a water source like this is hard to find for sale, and if it is, it’ll command a super premium price tag pricing most buyers out of the market. Locating an existing off grid house is another possibility, but again, few and far between and expensive.

Let’s say you find the ideal property. Do your home work before plopping down a hunk of cash. How reliable is the water source?

  1. If it’s supplied by mountain snowfall melt, what if its a low snowfall year-round?

  2. Does the stream flow continuously or does it historically dry up to a trickle during the hot summer months?

  3. What about a severe drought. Will that leave me high and dry?

Water Turbine Pros:

  1. Constant power which may eliminate the need for a battery bank

  2. Can be found anywhere

Cons:

  1. Hard to find

  2. Expensive when found

  3. Vulnerable to severe drought or other weather conditions

  4. Requires moving parts which require maintenance and repairs

Those are your three main living off grid energy sources. Solar, Wind Turbines & Micro-hydro generators.

Living Off Grid Battery Systems

Currently the deep cycle battery bank is your best bet for living off grid. It’s an established system which has proven capable of effectively storing your excess energy until usage is required. The main issue is safety as locating the battery bank inside the shelter can be problematic. Batteries emit dangerous and toxic fumes which are combustible and can make you ill, additionally the risk of acid leakage is always present.

Another drawback is lifespan. Chemical based batteries, regardless of quality, only have so many loading and unloading cycles available before breaking down. There are programs available which teach the proper recharging techniques and how to bring dead batteries back to life.

Once you recover from the sticker shock of the original expense of buying enough batteries for your needs, it will be a reoccurring expense as batteries expire their useful life span. This may not be the most difficult challenge, when the SHTF battery replacement will become an issue of supply and demand. You may not be able to stop by your Battery Plus store and pick up a replacement.

Check these other blogs for more in-depth explanation of batteries and what to look for before buying.

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Hybrid living off the grid Heating Systems

Unless you live in San Diego, Hawaii or other temperate climate regions you will have to provide heat for your home, whether it be occasionally or a 3 to 6 month time span. The logical answer would seem to be electric baseboard heat. They are much more energy efficient and safe compared to models made 10 years ago, and we have seen how to create methods of creating electricity.

Unfortunately this is not a viable option under normal circumstances. To convert electrical power to a heat producing element requires a tremendous amount of energy making the cost vs benefit ratio totally unbalanced. In other words it takes a large amount of electric to produce a small amount of heat.

In order to store that much energy you would be required to maintain a massive battery bank and unless you have a micro-hydro turbine as your energy source, you probably couldn’t make and store enough power produced strictly from solar or wind sources. There’s no need to argue schematics of can or can’t it be done. Yes, it can be done, but is the cost worth it? I seriously doubt it.

Heating with Wood

If access to abundant firewood is available on your property, that would be my first method of heating. Technically it’s a renewable energy source and in some cases thinning older larger trees out will enhance the growth and health of younger trees.

As with everything involving survival, there are trade-offs. Cutting, splitting and stacking firewood is no easy chore and its a never ending job, because green wood does not burn efficiently you’ll have to cut next year’s wood this year in order for it to season. That cutting a year ahead of time results in a never ending assembly line type schedule of constantly needing to cut and split firewood.

There are options. You could buy firewood already cut and split, at least maybe for the first year to allow you a head start on cutting for next year. Do Not buy those bundles you see in front of convenience stores for $3 for 4 sticks of wood. You’ll end up paying $700 – $800 dollars for a cord of wood instead of $100 to $150 a cord from a landscape place or a logger.

Another advantage to wood is if gasoline and oil were to be scarce or non-existent for the chainsaw, you simply bring out your sharpened ax. Won’t that be a lot of hard work? Damn straight, but you won’t freeze to death, cutting it or burning it.

Next question is what to burn the wood in? I’ll tell you what Not to burn it in… a fireplace. 90% of the heat created by burning wood in an open fireplace goes straight up the chimney and out of the house. It’s probably the worse heat producing method of burning wood outside of an open campfire outside.

A wood burning stove is the best heating method available for using wood for your heat source. There is a vast array of energy efficient heat producing wood stoves available. The advanced technology in mass building of wood burning stoves is unbelievable, as it maximizes the burning process, using less wood for more heat. Short on space inside your cabin, simply install the wood burning stove outside and pipe the heat into the house.

Geothermal Heating System

Geothermal heating systems have always been a very reliable and efficient means of providing heat for houses. However, it was expensive and not particularly a DIY operation as it required machinery and plumbing skills. However, in recent years advancement in technology has brought geothermal heating into the main stream and out of the fringes. It requires @ 1/3 the energy it requires to operate baseboard electric heaters.

Basically the system moves water through a piping system that is buried beneath the ground. The constant temperature of the earth heats the water as it passes through it thus creating warmth. The electrical requirements are only used to pump the water through the piping and moving air through the use of small fans.

The actual functions of the system are rather technical and will covered in additional posts, but for now its important to know this is a very good option to use for heating your home.

Compost Water Heater

Another option, which if set up correctly and under the right circumstances, can perform quite well as a home heating source. Living off grid requires you review all options and this is one of the unique ones.

The operating theory behind this system is to use the heat created by fermenting compost to heat piping that contains water and send it through the home, essentially the same operating procedure as geothermal heating.

If you have ever composted or been there when someone turns over the compost, you can feel and see the heat created. This only real downside of this method is you must tend the compost and continually add new organic materials. This can include wood chips, which should be plentiful because you’re chopping firewood, grass clippings, leaves, and if you are raising livestock, manure.

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Living Off Grid Water Systems

Returning to the trying out the living off grid life style, water in terms of surviving, is much more important than electrical power for lighting or heating. We all need to conserve water, but you are going off grid, therefore its crucial for you to begin altering your attitude.

Are you the type who sings in the shower? Stop that and concentrate on getting clean and the water turned off. Shower every day? Do you really need to? I’m not advocating dismissing personal hygiene, I’m asking if sitting all day watching TV demands a shower to clean yourself up. Wash dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher.

While making your attitude adjustment towards water, water should be of the utmost importance when looking to purchase property for your living off grid house. If your proposed property does not have water … think long and hard about buying it. If you don’t have access to a river, lake, pond, spring or stream that would leave you looking for a source of water should the SHTF. A very bad situation to place yourself in.

Water System One: The first method of obtaining water is to go get it at the source and carry it back to your shelter. This is normal in most 3rd world countries where infrastructure prohibits pumping water long distances, but I assure you … you’re not going to like doing it. It’s time consuming hard labor. This method of obtaining water should be reserved for emergency situation only.

Reality Check

I have read other articles that go into great detail of setting up a gravity based water collection system that are great. The only issue is … to find the perfect circumstances to employ this method is nearly impossible. In short … you must find a water source, like an underground spring which pours a stream of water out of a rock ledge, that must be located above the shelter’s elevation in order to use gravity to feed head pressure … blah, blah, blah. To waste time explaining how to set this system up is like telling you about how I’m going to spend my 100 million dollar lottery winnings.

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Drilling a Well: In reality the only method of obtaining a reliable source of water in close proximity to the house is to have a well drilled. This of course is expensive, $15,000 to $30,000 depending on location.

How to: It takes professional equipment and know how to drill a well. A large-scale truck mounted drill is used to drill through the earth until the drill hits the underground water table. This depth varies from site to site. For instance the water table in Maine may be 50 feet, but in Arizona its 250 feet.

The deeper the water table the more expensive to drill, plus the more casement required. The casement, steel or PVC prevents the well walls from caving in after the drill is removed from the hole. A water pump, with attached electrical controls, is lowered into the bottom of the well, which will pump water to the surface.

You’re not close to being done.

The pump must be electrically controlled, telling it when to turn on and off, the water must be pumped to a pressurized storage tank, which pushes the water to the house, a filtration system will be installed between the storage tank and the house.

Well water, although completely safe to drink, will contain hard materials like calcium and lime, which will eventually clog the plumbing pipes and will leave your dishes and sinks looking dirty. That’s the reason for the filtration system.

It doesn’t make the cost of drilling a well any easier to digest, but as you can see, there is a lot involved.

Cistern: Installing an underground cistern is another option for collecting and providing water. If the cistern can be located above the house elevation, a gravity feed supply can be utilized, if not you’ll require a pump.

Rainwater Collection: If you live in an area that has historically high rainfall through out the year, you can use water collection methods to capture the rainwater for usage. I would only use this method as a supplement source because we know how fickle the weather can be. A sudden dry period could leave you hurting.

Living off grid Waste Disposal

Septic-Tank

Living off grid doesn’t end waste disposal issues, it makes them more of a problem. You can divide waste management into 3 basic categories: (1) Human waste (2) Gray water waste and (3) Trash waste

Human Waste is priority for waste management and installing a septic tank is the best method for containing the waste. The traditional concrete constructed septic tank although being the best method, still has a few drawbacks. First, they are expensive. The concrete units themselves are competitively priced, but heavy machinery must be used to dig the hole in which to set the tank, and trenches must be dug for sewer pipes and a leech field.

Evaluating the situation. There are other options than a full blown septic tank system. One or two people don’t require a full blown septic system. Returning to our ancestors we can always revert to the old fashion outhouse. Simply dig a hole, construct a simple building over it and there you go … an outhouse.

If venturing out into the darkness or facing the elements is not your style, try a composting toilet. It uses little to no water and turns human waste into compost, which can be used for fertilizer or fuel.

You can also construct a miniature DIY septic tank system consisting of two plastic or metal 50 gallon barrels in sequence, to handle human waste.

Gray Water is simply any water that does not contain solid human waste. In other words water originating in the shower, sink, washing machine, etc. This water can be be piped together and drained outside and away from the house. Since it;s actually good quality water, although not particularly drinkable, it can used to irrigate gardens, trees, or flower beds.

Living off grid is not easy, especially in the original stages. It requires extensive research and planning, but can obviously be accomplished with hard work.

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How to Use 20 Mule Team Borax

Most people associate, if your old enough, 20 mule team borax with the television show Death Valley Days, a weekly fictional program featuring old west stories. Few realized the iconic 20 mule team wasn’t a stage prop or imaginary happening created to open the program, but an actual historic event, and was in reality the show’s sponsor. The 20 mule team was actually 18 mules and 2 horses that ferried borax out of Death Valley from 1883 to 1898 when they were replaced by the Borate and Dagget railroad. The wagons were among the largest ever pulled by draft animals, carrying 10 short tons, 9 metric tons, of borax at one time. But… to the original question, how to use 20 mule team borax?

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What is Borax?

Borax is a natural combination of sodium, boron and oxygen and is mined directly from the soil. Boric acid is a crystalline material made from the 20 Mule Team Borax and is a unique substance with many wide and varied uses similar to baking soda’s multiple usages. Boric acid is slightly different than the basic Borax, as the oric acid and its sodium salts, each combined with different elements, creates different toxicity levels, which creates the many different applications it can be used for.

Fireproofing paper, cloth and wood

In 1821, a French scientist named Guy-Lussac, discovered if he saturated materials, specifically clothing for the experiment, with boron salts the compound could prevent the clothing from burning. Further experiments found paper and other cellulose-based products to be equally fire resistant. The success of finding a fireproofing chemical that wouldn’t ruin the color of the cloth, or turn it poisonous, was a huge breakthrough.

How does it work?

To totally understand the entire process you must know the different scientific stages of the flammable and combustion process, which there is no need to go into. There are two keys to the flame retardant process, sodium borates, combined with additional elements, release water when exposed to heat which prevents a fire from erupting, boric acid, when combined with additional elements, and exposed to heat, will create a primitive form of glass, which covers and smothers the flame.

How to make clothes fire-retardant

Although we use the term fire-proof, there actually is no such thing, but is rather fire-retardant, making it difficult and slow to catch fire. This allows us the opportunity to put the fire out before it expands or to escape. It must be noted this process only works for natural materials such as cotton, jute, wood or paper and will not work on synthetic materials like polyester or nylon.

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Materials Required:

Borax (sodium borate) laundry booster

A measuring cup

A Tablespoon measuring spoon

An old pan

A storage container

An applicator (paint brush, spray bottle, sponge.)

Step 1: You’ll want to make a solution which will saturate the item thoroughly.

Boil 1 cup of water

Add 2.5 Tablespoons of Borax to the boiling water

Stir the solution until the Borax completely dissolves

Remove the pan from the heat source and allow it to cool to room temperature. Some of the Borax will evaporate as the solution cools, which is normal. The remaining clear liquid is a flame-retardant mixture ready to apply.

Step 2. There are various methods of application depending on what you are trying to saturate, the size and your personal preference.

For this example we’ll be making a pair of blue jeans fire-retardant:

  1. Emerge the pair of jeans completely into the solution and let set for an adequate time period, I’d suggest at least 10 minutes.

  2. Fill a spray bottle full of the solution. Hang the blue jeans on a clothes line or similar method which allows easy access to every portion of the jeans, and completely saturate the fiber. The solution should literally drip from the jeans indicating it cannot absorb further liquid.

  3. If using a paint/foam brush, use the exact method as #2.

The goal is to completely saturate every fiber of the jeans with the fire-retardant solution. Allow the jeans to dry. Remember, this is a one time procedure. Should the jeans become wet or is rewashed, the fire-retardant solution will be washed out of the fabric, and a repeat process will be required.

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Let’s explore many other methods of How to Use 20 Mule Team Borax:

  1. Clean tubs & showers by sprinkling borax on a damp sponge, exactly like using the more expense Ajax, scrub and thoroughly rinse for a clean bathroom.

  2. Clean hair brushes and combs by filling the sink with warm water, add ¼ cup of borax and a squirt of dish soap, stir and let the items sit in the solution for 30 minutes, then rinse.

  3. Rehabbing an old house or a vacation home toilet filthy and stained. Pour 1 cup of borax into the water, thoroughly stir, then let it set overnight. The next day use a scrub brush to remove stains, resulting in a white sparkling clean toilet.

  4. Unclog a sink drain by pouring ½ cup of borax, using a funnel, down the drain. Add 2 cups of boiling water, let set for 10 minutes, then flush with boiling water. Repeat if necessary.

  5. Clean sinks and counter by using a solution of 1 tablespoon borax and 2 tablespoons of vinegar poured into a plastic squirt bottle. Fill with hot water and a few drops of dish soap, for a great all purpose cleaner.

  6. Clean the outside of the refrigerator with this same solution, but for food stains on frig shelves, use 1 tablespoon borax in a quart of hot water.

  7. In order to clean and sanitize mold and mildew, mix 1 cup of borax with a quart of hot water, poured into a plastic spray bottle. Spray the mold and mildew until it is completely saturated. Let set for several hours, then rinse thoroughly with clean water. It’ll kill the mold & mildew.

  8. You cannot clean cast iron cookware with dish soap, as the porous cast iron will absorb the soap resulting in making your food taste soapy. Mix 1 teaspoon of borax with 1 teaspoon of salt, spread it around the entire interior and scrub with a brush. It’ll clean the surface and not risk any bad tastes lingering.

  9. In order to remove rust from cast iron surfaces, use 1 part borax with 1 part lemon juice, spread the mixture onto the rust and let set for 30 minutes. Wipe the mixture off and thoroughly rinse.

  10. To get rid of that aggravating sticky goo that gets left behind by gum, tar, grease and other adhesives, mix ½ cup of borax with a ½ cup warm water, pour on goo and scrub with brush.

  11. Remove stubborn laundry stains by mixing 1 tablespoon borax with 2 tablespoons of water, spread on stain, let set for 30 minutes, scrub stain away and wash like usual.

  12. In order to remove carpet stains, mix ½ cup of borax with 2 cups of warm water. Using a sponge, dipping it into the solution, saturate the stained area, then scrub vigorously. Let set for 30 minutes, then vacuum.

  13. Deodorize the home. Mix 1 part borax with 1 part baking soda, sprinkle over the entire carpet, let set for 30 minutes and vacuum. This will neutralize any odors trapped in the carpet fibers. Deodorize curtains, couches, stuffed chairs, by making a solution of ½ cup borax and water, spray lightly onto the fabric, not wanting to saturate them, removing odors.

  14. In order to clean and deodorize your mattress, use the same method as for carpets except add a few drops of lavender essential oil for a fragrant smell.

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Insect Killer

Boric acid is an effective weapon to use on your war with unwanted insects. How? When the insects eat the boric acid it disrupts their stomach and nervous system. Borax is also an abrasive and by merely rubbing against it an insect’s exterior protective armor is destroyed. It can also be used as a weed control. The borate salt dries the plant out, and additionally prevents the plant from producing energy from the sunlight, thus killing it.

15. In order to kill ants, mix equal parts of borax with sugar, and sprinkle it anywhere you see unwanted ant trails. The ants which eat it will not only die, but when they transport it back to their nests, those ants will also die. Thus eliminating the entire problem.

16. Borax will repulse insects such as cockroaches, fleas and bedbugs. Sprinkle it in known areas of infestation.

17. Sprinkle it along any known pathways or where signs of mice are spotted, as it will repulse them. Sprinkle it on bait and it won’t only kill the mouse that ate it, but hopefully it will transport it back to the nest.

18. Use it as a weed killer. Sprinkle it on weeds between cracks in sidewalks or along the foundation. You must be careful because the borax will kill anything it comes in contact with, so never spread it on a windy day or if rain is in the forecast.

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Last but not least: Borax can be used to:

Deodorize the trashcan, the litter box, mop the floor, wash patio furniture, wash windows and … put out fires. Baking soda is the normal recommendation for putting out fires, but borax is just as effective.

You can see how to Use 20 Mule Team Borax, an all purpose product would appeal to pioneers. The product has the same uses, probably more today, but we have become spoiled to prep-packaged cleaners and honestly are ignorant of how to use the product. The old adage “Use it or Lose it” comes to mind. We have such a varied choice anymore we don’t stop and think what else could I use that is just as effective and much cheaper to use than what’s available on the grocery shelf. You know of one now.

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Effects of Global Warming

Effects of global warming could care less about political viewpoints, so you who still believe the earth is flat … feel free to click off. Not to be belligerent, but nothing I can say will alter your mind one iota and people (99% of the peoples of the world) who do believe in the catastrophic consequences awaiting us because of our ignorance and mistreatment of our environment, aren’t concerned about trying to enlighten you. Keep your head in the sand until the ocean covers you. Meanwhile we’re going to look at the effects of global warming on our planet, and subsequently ourselves.

Just the Facts Sir

The facts are the entire planet from the North Pole to the South Pole is warming. Just since 1906, the global average surface temperature has increased between 1.1 and 1.6 degrees F (0.6 to 0.9 C). That may not sound like a large increase, but consider it had taken thousands of years for the temperature to rise hardly any at all, but in a little over 100 years it has exploded, even the staunchest skeptic should view this as something might not be right. Don’t believe scientific theories, OK, believe your eyes? The increased heat is melting glaciers millions of years old and sea ice, which is effecting weather patterns. Just like the proverbial canary in the mine, animals are on the move abandoning historic hunting, breeding and resting grounds. Let’s take a stroll down Logic lane, turn onto What’s in Front of You Avenue, possibly be forced to detour around It’s Happen Before street and end hopefully end up on Save the Planet Plaza.

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Let’s begin our journey at a place nobody can dispute is incurring a monumental shift in stability, the Glaciers. Standing on the deck of a luxury liner watching an ice glacier fracture, then split and fall off the glacier body, falling with a thunderous splash into the sea is an awesome sight to behold. Onlookers are thrilled to see the spectacle of Nature’s power not realizing they should be horrified at witnessing Natures’ demise and another step closer to the possibly of human extinction. They don’t realize they just witnessed millions of gallons of water falling into an already rising ocean, and it has to go somewhere. It has … Australia, Hawaii,Thailand and all other countries across the world with a coastline just lost 1/millionth of their country reclaimed by the sea.

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The earth’s polar regions are particularly vulnerable to a warming atmosphere as there is nothing to deflect or alter the effects of increasing temperatures, just ice. The Arctic regions’ temperatures are rising at double the rate of the rest of the world, and the ice sheets are melting at an accelerated rate. Imagine if you will, a frozen ice tray in your freezer. Unplug the refrigerator and wait an hour to open. You’ll probably notice the lack of cold air hitting you in the face as temperatures rise without power to generate cold air. Tapping the ice tray with your finger you’ll notice a slight give sensation. Repeat this over several hours and the frozen ice tray will develop a layer of water over the ice, then will become slushy… then seemingly out of nowhere become pure liquid. This elementary explanation is exactly what’s occurring on both poles. The horrifying thought is unlike the refrigerator that can be plugged back in and refreeze the ice, glacier melting is irreversible. You can’t refreeze the ice, only attempt to not melt anymore.

I’m sorry, but I must vent a bit. Our leader(s) and I use that term with a vulgar intent, has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the only country to do so, because supposedly it would cost America millions of dollars to comply with its obligations. There are arguments to the contrary, but let’s say I concede that as fact. Consensus of world experts estimate if the stem of melting is not stopped by 2100 the oceans will be four (4) feet higher than they are now. Should that be half way accurate, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, and other countless coastal cities will become flooded and uninhabitable. The only way to maintain the cities is to somehow put a barrier between them and the ocean. Know how many Trillions and Trillions of dollars that would cost even if doable? But … what do I know?

Acidic Oceans – What goes up … must come down

The rising sea levels are not our only concern. We continue to pump tons of excess emissions into the air and it will not stay airborne forever, it will eventually fall back onto the earth and into the oceans. This fallout is making our oceans more acidic and as this acidification accelerates the environmental changes it creates threatens underwater sea life. Particularly hit hard are creatures with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons like mollusks, crabs, corals, oysters and lobsters. A 2015 study by the Pacific Northwest Oyster industry blamed acidic conditions for a $110 million loss in harvest. It’s only a matter of time the yearly $1 billion dollar fishing industry will also be negatively effected.

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How is global warming creating extreme weather?

The facts are indisputable, the oceans’ temperatures are becoming too warm, which may be great for the vacationer on a sunny tropical beach, but potentially catastrophic for the rest of the world. Without a science lesson, simply put, hurricanes derive their power from the oceans, and the warmer the water the greater intensity a hurricane becomes. Scientist have sounded an alarm about the frequency and increased destructive capability of North Atlantic hurricanes. There is little doubt in the meteorology world that global warming is the direct cause of a once category 3 hurricane, now becoming a category 4, which is terrifying when the differences of destructive capabilities are understood.

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In reply to the nay Sayers and the “It costs too much” group. The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration clearly documents that weather related catastrophes, floods, wildfires and drought from the years 1980 to 2010 averaged $5.2 billion dollars in destructive costs. The years 2011 to 2015 the annual average loss was $10.8 billion. In other words, the costs to rebuild after a natural disaster is adjusted for inflation, thus $1 in 1980 equals $1 in 2015 eliminating the increase in costs being attributed to labor and material costs. Therefore, the only other option to explain the two fold increase in cost must be attributed to increased amount of damage caused by each event. The events are becoming more powerful and destructive due to global warming.

Let’s Start Listing Some of the Ill-Effects

Irregular weather patterns have begun to pose a problem. Increased precipitation in the form of rainfall in polar and sub-polar regions has raised a red flag, as global warming increases the more evaporation of the ice in the polar regions, resulting in more rainfall. A viscous cycle you may say. The problem is native vegetation and animals can’t adapt to the quickly changing environmental conditions, plants are dying and animals are migrating to other food supplies. The entire ecosystem is being destroyed and we know from experience that creates a ripple effect.

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Drought periods have not only increased, but are also becoming more severe. A prime example close to home is the drought California and the western United States is mired in. Drought conditions have turned forests into tinder boxes where forest fires have devoured entire mountain ranges of trees resulting in the destruction of millions of trees throughout the Colorado Rockies. (supply & demand, wood costs more, housing costs more)

The effects are not limited to the United States. Large scale evaporation has created hellish conditions in many African nations resulting in millions starving to death. The Quelccaya ice cap located in Peru is melting and evaporating at a rate that projects it will no longer exist by 2100. Hundreds of thousands of people stand to lose their only source of drinking water, as well as a power source for producing electricity. An entire culture could be lost.

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Wildlife extinction rates are skyrocketing. If you believe in evolution, Darwin claims animals change and adapt to environmental change in order to survive. Non-evolution believers will concede God placed these creatures where he did in order to survive in their environment. Same ending, different paths. In any event its accepted by everyone nature can not turn on a dime. The 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change study clearly shows vertebrate species of animals, those with a backbone, like fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles are disappearing at a rate 114 times faster than should be occurring. This is directly linked to climate change, pollution and deforestation.

Diseases will become more prevalent. As temperatures rise and rainfall increases it creates an ideal environment for waterborne diseases to explode. Two such killers are malaria and the resurgence of the Zika virus, both carried and transmitted by mosquitoes. The intensity of heat waves will increase as the cold climates decline and cases of heat related deaths and diseases will increase.

Agriculture is at the mercy of global warming. Thus far, in modern agricultural countries like the United States, modern farming techniques and equipment has kept the effects at a minimum, but as the climate continues to change technology will not be able to keep up. Plants are the anchor in our links of food supply. Crops fail, herded animals, like cattle and sheep starve and since we’ve already destroyed the oceans, fish are in short supply and will be quickly eradicated. Economic collapse will be immediate, starvation will be agonizingly slow.

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Health risks created by decreasing air quality will have a devastating effect on people, especially the elderly and those already suffering respiratory problems. The trapped carbon monoxide in the atmosphere will create a ground level ozone which will elevate pollution and smog levels to dangerous levels, deadly for some people. We have proof, through experience, that this type of air quality condition is linked to higher hospital admissions, higher death rates from people suffering cardiac or pulmonary disease, and for hay fever suffers, the increased airborne pollen will make life miserable. As a footnote to the “It cost too much” group, it is estimated the U.S. is expected to spend $60 billion for respiratory diseases and symptoms treatments.

Moral of the Story

According to the National Climate Assessment and the entire scientific community, minus those being paid by Fox news and the Republican party … oops … sorry about that … human influences are the number one and most serious contributor to global warming. The evidence is black and white. The time period of 2000 to 2009 was the hottest decade in the past 1300 years. Thirteen hundred years ago the Chinese had just invented gunpowder and the world was still considered flat.

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Curbing dangerous emissions and the usage of alternatives to fossil fuels must be undertaken with the zeal Americans bring in the New Year. Look I get it. Coal miners don’t want to lose their jobs. As an autoworker I felt the same about robotics infiltrating my world and taking our jobs. I still hate foreign cars, but it is what it is. Get used to it and adjust.

The entire thing is so overwhelming. How can one person have any effect? A year ago I would have agreed with that feeling, but United States newly elected dictator … damn … I did it again … proves 1 person can have a dramatic effect. Unfortunately it goes for negatively as well as positively.

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How to Build an Aquaponics System

Before attempting to build any project you first must understand what it is you are trying to accomplish, the principle operating system and procedures and how to tie it all together for a successful, functioning project. Before learning how to build an Aquaponics system, we first must know what it actually is and how it functions.

Aquaponics is not a new technology as evidence of ancient Aztecs using a similar system was discovered long ago. Aquaponics also is not one system, but rather a combination of aquaculture, the growing of fish and other aquatic animals, and hydroponics, the growing of plants without soil, which utilizes a symbiotic combination which feeds the plants fish waste, and in return the fish receive clean water. The benefits of this system is enormous as it allows the growth of an incredible amount of food in a very small area.

How does the system work?

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Simply put, Aquaponics recirculates water from a fish tank through a vegetable grow bed. Nutrient-rich fish waste feeds the plants, the plants by removing all the waste, provides clean water returning to the fish which keep them healthy. A classic Win-Win situation. The modern systems are technologically advanced from the primitive original, but works essentially identical in theory and practice. There are numerous different styles and designs of grow beds, the two most common are flood and drain and floating raft style,which the Aztecs used.

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Sampling of benefits:

1.The driving benefit of Aquaponics is the ability to grow consumable fish and plants in one system.

2. The system uses about 1/10th the water required to grow plants in the ground.

3. Products grow at a faster rate producing greater yields.

4. Relatively low energy usage.

5. No need to weed or tilling of soil-based plants.

6. Protects against soil borne diseases.

7. Plants are naturally fertilized by the fish waste.

8. Eliminates any dangers of pesticide or chemical contamination.

9. There is no waste water runoff, contamination or erosion.

10. Fish are a critical protein source.

11. Gardening chores are virtually eliminated saving time and backaches.

12. The system can be placed anywhere, outside, in a greenhouse, in the basement if combined with a grow light.

13. It can sized from a windowsill herb garden to a full blown commercial farm.

14. Once the system is setup and running maintenance is very limited, as you’ll have to monitor PH levels, top off water from evaporation and feed the fish.

Samples of Common Varieties of plants grown:

Nearly all types of lettuce

Nearly all types of herbs

Watercress

Tomatoes

Cucumber

Squash

Zucchini

Peppers

Broccoli

Melons

Strawberries

What types of fish can be grown:

Perch

Talapia

Catfish

Koi

Oscars

Peruvian Pacu

Goldfish

Freshwater prawns

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How to Build an Aquaponics System: Let’s build a typical small type Aquaponics system. Bear in mind this is only a hypothetical model … you can modify the size to fit your desired goal.

Material List:

  1. A fish tank. For this example a 5-20 gallon glass or plastic tank. The standard sized fish aquarium tank is 10 and 20 gallons and are reasonably priced. As a rule of thumb, you can support 1-2 square feet of growing area for every 10 gallons of fish tank.

  2. Gravel. You’ll need @ 2.5 lbs. Of gravel for every 5 gallons of water. The gravel is for covering the bottom of the fish tank, which will serve as a home to the nitrifying bacteria that converts ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate, from the fish waste, in order to feed the plants. Pet stores carry natural or colored aquarium pebbles, which are @ 1/8th inch in size. No matter what type of gravel used, be sure to thoroughly wash because any dust will cloud the tank.

  1. Water pump. 3-4 watt pump with the capacity of lifting water 18” to 54” in height at 100 gallons per hour. A small fountain pump is ideal. The pump is used to pump water through the tubing from the fish tank to the grow bed, where after the plants absorb the waste, gravity takes the cleaned water back to the fish tank.

  2. 3 feet of plastic tubing sized for pump outlet.

  3. Aquarium air pump sized for the gallon capacity of tank. The air pump is required to blow air into the tank, which is required by both the fish and plants, through the tubing which is connected to the air stone. The air stone breaks the large bubbles created by the pump into micro-bubbles which greatly enhance the oxygenation of the water.

  4. Air stone – 1” to 3”

  5. 3 feet of air tubing to connect air pump to air stone, sized for air pump outlet

  6. Grow Bed: Sits on top of fish tank and should be 3” to 8” deep. The grow bed sits on top of the tank and must be slightly larger both in width and length. The bed is filled with a growing medium that the plants grow in. A plastic Rubbermaid container that sits on top of the tank will suffice as long as it’s 3′ to 8” deep.

  7. Growing Medium: Ample supply of pea gravel. Perlite, coconut coir, expanded clay pebbles or peat moss to completely fill the grow bed. A growing medium is a porous, chemically treated inert material that holds the plant roots and maintains moisture.

  8. PH test kit and PH+ and PH- chemical

  9. Fish and Plants to be grown.

Suggested Tools Required:

Electric drill with 1/4”. 3/16th and 1/2” drill bits

Scissors

Electrical tape

Tube cutters

Hose clamps

Screw Driver(s) … flat & Phillips

Assembly Instructions

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Step 1 – Thoroughly wash the gravel several times insuring there is no residual dust, then spread over the entire bottom of the fish tank.

Step 2 – Drill 1/8th inch or 3/16th inch holes (your choice) in the bottom of the grow bed, spaced every 2 square inches for the water to be able to drain back into the tank. Drill a 1/2” hole in a corner for the tubing from the water pump to pass through.

Step 3 – Place the water pump in the fish tank, reset the grow bed on top of the tank, feed the air tube through the 1/2” hole. Leave enough tubing to wrap it along the entire inside of the grow bed. Before feeding the tubing through the hole, drill or punch a small hole every 2 inches to allow water to drip out of.

Step 4 – Fill the grow bed with growing medium, enough to bury the tubing.

Step 5 – Once you fill the tank with water, plug the pump into the electrical outlet to ensure water is being pumped into the grow bed and results in a continuous flow of water back into the fish tank. You may have to adjust the flow on the pump to get the desired water flow.

Step 6 – Connect the air pump tubing to the air stone, place it in the bottom of the fish tank and plug it in. There should be a steady stream of bubbles rising through the water providing plenty of fresh oxygen.

Step 7 – Check the pH level of the water with the PH test kit. Adjust if necessary. The ideal pH is 7, which is neutral. Below 7 and the water becomes acidic, above 7 and the water becomes caustic, both bad for fish and plants.

Step 8 – Allow the entire system to operate without plants and fish for 24 hours to ensure all the chlorine has dissipated. Should you want to add fish sooner, add a chlorine remover, available at pet stores, first.

Step 9 – I recommend adding only half the fish you anticipate raising until the system has about a month to establish itself. Then add the remaining number.

Step 10 – It will require some time for fish waste to collect, therefore it’s best to wait 4 weeks before planting. However, if you can’t wait plant a few seeds or sparsely spaced plants, adding more later.

Optional Items

Aquarium Heater – Should you decide not to raise fish to eat, but rather for the enjoyment of watching them, you’ll most likely choose tropical fish, and they require warm water of at least 78 degrees F. (25.5 C). In order to accomplish this you will need an aquarium heater, which come in either tank-side mount or submerged styles.

Tank LightMost aquariums come equipped with a florescent light to enable viewing. If yours doesn’t you can add one, but it’s not necessary.

Grow Light – If your system is set up in a low light area it may be necessary to introduce artificial light by utilizing a growth light. Be mindful that direct bright light encourages algae growth which is not good. Be sure not to aim the bulb directly at the tank, but rather above and indirectly at the system. Should you not be able to control the growth of algae introduce a plecostomus, a fish which thrives on eating algae. Depending on tank size and growth rate, you make need more than 1 of these fish.

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How to Store Water for Emergency Preparedness

Finding shelter when caught in a freezing, blinding blizzard, running to high ground if a tsunami is washing ashore and getting to the basement or other suitable shelter as a tornado approaches roaring and twisting, are part of a handful of priorities that trumps obtaining a potable water supply. Other that these types of imminent danger situations any Prepper will agree water is the number survival commodity you need to have, and how to store water for emergency preparedness is part of that problem.

Everybody’s water requirement will be different, but we need a baseline, a place to start, when calculating the normal water need, then adjust from there. The general rule of thumb is one gallon of water per person, per day for drinking and hygiene. FEMA recommends storing enough water for three days, which they estimate as the normal time to restore water service after a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or tornado.

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Okay. A little quick math. Family of 4 x 1 gallon each daily = 4 gallons x 3 days = 12 gallons of water. That ain’t so bad. Pick up 12 gallons of bottled water at the grocery store, store them in the pantry and your set for any emergency. Whoa. Back that truck up cowboy. Those are estimates of FEMA, and not belittling the agency at all, I checked to see what professional survivalists and preppers have to say, and not surprising, there is a difference of opinions.

The consensus of the survivalist group is that a two week supply of water is the bare minimum one should have on hand. Unfortunately the hurricane destruction in Puerta Rico, where drinkable water was absent for months in some locations, prove this estimate to be more realistic. Suddenly our 12 gallon store for a family of four explodes to 56 gallons of water, and with this comes unforeseen problems. 56 gallons of water requires quite a bit of room to store, especially in a two bedroom apartment, add the expense, many people don’t have an extra $200 to buy water, and you begin to see the issues. As with everything in survival preparedness, we need a plan.

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Two-Week Water Storage Plan/ Options

  1. The easiest, which is also usually the more costly, is to go to the grocery store and buy containers of packaged water bottles, which come in various sizes and amounts. Theses bottles are encased in plastic for easy transportation, are in food-grade bottles, which will become important later, and are easily stored under a bed or stacked in a closet. For example a package of 35 count water bottles will provide 4.6 gallons of water, enough for 1 person for four days… 4 cases for 2 weeks. However, that’s 16 cases for a family of 4, as you can see it adds up in a hurry.

  2. If you recycle this next option won’t be so hard to remember not to dispose of the plastic container. Use empty plastic bottles, soda, Gatorade, water, power drinks etc. by thoroughly cleaning them, then fill them with water from the tap. The screw on caps must be tightened securely before storing.

  3. They make 5-7 gallon water jugs specifically designed and intended for campers. They are sturdy, food-grade plastic and normally come in a dark color, like blue, in order to restrict light and thus the growth of algae.

How to Store Water for Emergency Preparedness/ One Month

Whether the idea originated from the movies, actual civil preparedness sites, or just what seems to be a good idea, filling the bathtub with water in order to store it is a common known technique. At face value it does seem smart, as a bathtub can hold up to a 100 gallons of water, and that’s a bunch when the spigot gets turns off. However, when was the last time you thoroughly cleaned your bathtub? Yesterday, that’s great. Did you use harsh chemicals, the type with the Do Not Consume labeling? Either way that crystal clean water doesn’t seem quite so sanitary now, and without a cover, contaminants will continue to fall into the water.

I’m not suggesting you don’t use this method, but take certain precautions before drinking it straight from the tub. There is another option … a water BOB. A what? A water BOB is a giant, heavy-duty plastic bag that is specifically made and intended to be filled with 100 gallons of water from the tub faucet. Reasonably priced $30-$40, it simply provides a sanitary container in which to store the water in the bathtub location, but insulated from contamination.

How to Store Water for Emergency Preparedness/ Long Term Storage

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Whether short term or long term water storage it’s imperative you have safe containers in which to store it. Using food-grade plastic bottles is the primary choice, but glass can be used, as long as non-food items haven’t been stored inside them, and stainless steel can used. The only drawback with stainless steel is you cannot use chlorine to sanitize the water because chlorine is corrosive to stainless steel. Lastly, it is imperative no matter the container, it must be seal-able. You don’t want bacteria or any other contamination negatively affecting your water.

Water Barrels: For long term storage of a large amount of water you can’t beat 55 gallon plastic water barrels. They are constructed from sturdy food-grade plastic, and have bungs at the top that provides for a super-tight seal which protects the water from contamination, as well as the plastic being BPA-free and UV-resistant. Two of these barrels offer a family of four enough water to last 27 days. There are down sides. Space being a major one. You can’t even consider this option if you live in an apartment or other small space without the option of being able to store them outside. Secondly, these barrels, at 440 lbs. (@200 kilos) are not portable when full of water. Cost is also an issue as each barrel will probably set you back $90 each, you’ll have to buy a pump, @ $50 and a specialty drinking hose. If the space and expense are not an issue this is an excellent method of storing a larger amount of water.

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Rain Barrels: Collecting rain water is another weapon you can add to your water storage arsenal. By connecting a rain barrel to your home’s gutter downspout you are able to collect nature’s contribution without lifting a finger. (My kind of exercise) This water source can be utilized for several purposes, such as:

  1. Watering gardens, an essential food source for catastrophic conditions as well as fun to grow, instilling a sense of self pride and confidence you can survive on your own.

  2. Use this water for hygiene purposes, washing your body and hair, washing dishes, washing clothes, any non-consumable activity.

  3. If properly treated and strained the water can be made potable adding to your drinkable water supply.

Water Cisterns: These are types of water storage units are nothing new to farmers and ranchers, but are literally unknown to urban dwellers. They’re basically a huge holding tank, anywhere from 1,400 to 12,000 gallons of water, which is connected to a rain water capture system, which will be more complex than simply hooking it to your downspouts. Naturally the drawback is space, a system of piping required to collect and deliver the water, and cost. However, if you’re in a situation of requiring large amounts of water, IE watering livestock, or are planning for an-end-to-the-world-as we-know-it scenario, this is an excellent choice, but the water will require treatment before being safe to drink.

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How to Store Water for Emergency Preparedness/ Common Questions

Do I need to rotate my water on a yearly basis? Assuming you have properly stored your water, properly sealed it, there is no need to swap water out. Water has no expiration date, it will remain potable indefinitely. Foreign substances like bacteria and other contaminants is what makes water unsafe to drink, which again is why proper sealing is so important. However, if it makes you feel better to have fresh water available, by all means rotate it.

Should I treat the water with chemicals like chlorine before storing it? That’s a good question. If you are filling your container directly from a well system that has not been chlorinated, I recommend treating it. Also, once you break the seal in order to use the water, I’d recommend treating the water similar to the way you’d treat swimming pool water, probably weekly. I’d buy water treatment drops which comes with complete directions and measurements for ease of application. If you are using water from the tap there is no need to add chlorine because the water company has already treated the water.

What if my water tastes funny. Is it spoiled? Again, water does not spoil. The odd taste, flat tasting, most likely is caused by the lack of oxygen in the water. Simply swirl the water around in your glass or container, restoring the oxygen content, and the odd taste will disappear.

Should I boil the water before using it? If you have reason to think the seal was compromised and there’s the chance the water was compromised, boil the water. If not, boiling the boiling the water is a waste of time, fuel and money.

Can I drink my swimming pool water? How many people would freak out if I said yes, go ahead? Some for sure, but how much water do you accidentally drink or inhale through your nose in a day’s activity of swimming? Chlorine levels of a properly treated swimming pool is @ 2 parts per million. Levels of 4 parts per million and below are perfectly safe for human consumption.

As stated swimming pool water is potable, but … here’s the problem. The pool’s filtration system, along with chemical treatment, keeps the water free of contaminants like bacteria and algae. However, if the grid goes down and the pump and filter are inoperable, the water will go bad quickly despite treating it with chemicals. If that happens do not drink the water, but rather boil it and use it for hygiene purposes. If the pool water is your only source of drinking water, boil and treat it with chlorine before drinking.

What if I use Saltwater in my pool? This situation creates disagreements. Many say the salt level of the water is safe to consume, which is true or else it wouldn’t be legal. However, salt of any amount will increase a person’s thirst, and could be detrimental in a survival situation. I’d suggest using the saltwater for hygiene and washing of dishes and clothes. You can buy desalination devises, but it takes a long time to purify any substantial amount of water for drinking.

I hope these methods of How to Store Water for Emergency Preparedness helps you in your quest to prepare for the unthinkable.

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How Much Do You Know About Compost Toilets?

I doubt there’s a person alive, who has thought about attempting to live off grid, that hasn’t wished they knew a few insider tricks to help that dream come true. Well, I’m going to give you a Golden Trick, … s**t rolls downhill. Speaking of that. How much do you know about compost toilets? I’m betting not much, but they could be an integral part of any off grid living plan. Let’s explore the world of compost toilets.

The very first question nearly 98/100 people ask, I was in that 98, is do composting toilets smell? The short and long answer to that question is … No. There are several reasons for this, but the two main reasons are:

  1. Compost toilets rely on aerobic microbes to break down the waste, which results in producing odorless carbon dioxide and water vapor, whereas anaerobic bacteria (septic tank) produce pungent by-products such as methane, hydrogen sulfide and ammonia.

  2. The second reason is the toilet is sealed off, and behind the seal a ventilation system which continuously pulls fresh air in from the outside air supply and vents the gases to the outside. It basically operates the same as a normal toilet, which has an integral water trap (seal) inside the commode. In other words, no air exchange takes place within the interior of the home. No smell.

What is a Compost Toilet?

With the advent of travel trailers, increased sanitary regulations imposed by government agencies, both state and federal, there was a need for a waste disposal system which would not be connected to a traditional sewer or septic tank system, yet provide safe waste disposal. They needed to avoid a mass viral outbreak. Thus, the creation of a compost toilet, which turns solid waste into compost by creating an oxygen-rich environment where aerobic bacteria breaks the waste down. These toilets are basically one of these two types of design.

Self-contained units, which houses the composting system, with the compost chamber stored beneath the bowl. This is the design you’ll find in RVs, tiny homes, boats, or seasonal homes which don’t incur a lot of use; however, some models can handle full-time residential usage.

Central (also called remote) systems, directs the solid waste, and probably liquid, to a central compost unit located away from the toilet, in the basement or, weather permitting, such as in Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, outside the house entirely.

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How Does a Compost Toilet Work?

Regardless of which system you use, self-contained or central system, it is imperative you establish and maintain an environment which contains the right moisture level, carbon-nitrogen balance and temperature for aerobic bacteria to thrive, in order to enable composting of the solid waste. This environment is created by monitoring certain variables. (Before buying a unit check to see how these variables are handled by the product)

Moisture level could present a problem, as too much moisture will drown the oxygen-breathing aerobic bacteria, thus stopping the composting process. Disposal of urine is a major concern. You may ask why? To begin with solid waste is not really solid, it’s nearly 75% liquid and the gases produced by the composting process, @ 90%, will eventually turn into a liquid form. Unchecked urine disposal not only creates an over moist condition, but can also result in an excessive buildup of nitrogen. In order to maintain a proper nitrogen balance, carbon-rich materials, such as peat and coconut fiber must be periodically added.

Temperature is also important, which is why outside containment units are restricted to moderate temperature regions of the country. Consensus says a temperature range between 60 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit are optimal for providing the best composting results. Many manufacturers now incorporate thermostats, sensors and automatic mixers in order to address the temperature issue.

Some units direct the urine into a French drain or drain pit, which is essentially a hole or pit dug and filled with gravel where the urine dissipates and evaporates. Caution, if the hole or pit is not deep enough it could emit a smell. Other units are equipped with devises which evaporate the liquid waste, but a backup system, such as a container or drain pit must be still be incorporated in the event there is too much liquid to properly evaporate in a timely basis. As a very last resort, the urine can be directed to a storage container that you’ll have to manually empty.

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Different Types of Compost Toilets

There are only two types, self-contained and central/remote. However, there are many different specific types of these two versions. It’s like when you buy a motor vehicle, there’s the basic model, then there’s the model with all the bells and whistles. Same for your toilet. (ever think you’d hear that?)

Dry composting toilets uses no water to operate, hence the term Water-less composting toilet, which include most toilets. Some manufacturers are sensitive to traditional prejudices and use some water to create the feel of a normal toilet flush, but usually use less than 1 pint of water to create the effect.

Electric composting toilets uses electricity to power a small fan which creates a continuous air flow through the ventilation line, and some include a heating element which helps maintain good bacteria and kills pathogens. These units are broken down into further subsets. Some plug directly into an electrical outlet, while some use rechargeable batteries to power them. For complete off the grid operation, solar operated toilets offer the option of recharging batteries or direct operation. More complex versions and operating systems offer accessories for converting the toilet to solar powered. How much do you know about composting toilets? A lot more than you did a few minutes ago.

How Much Do Compost Toilets Cost?

Now for the most important question. How much does it cost? Depends. Don’t you hate that answer. I do! But unfortunately that’s the nature of the beast. Elementally speaking a basic composting toilet starts at @ $600 for the self contained unit, while the more advanced and complex systems can run as high as $5000 to $7000, or more. Talk about sticker shock! But … the costs, although much higher than a traditional toilet, must be viewed in a broader context.

These systems are a specialty item, and anything outside the ordinary will carry a higher price tag. Call it a penalty for being different, plus supply and demand for a particular system will drive costs up. However, a traditional toilet must be hooked into a plumbing system, the water delivery system itself could cost several thousands of dollars, and that’s assuming you already have a well drilled. Drilling of a well, installation of a holding tank, electrical systems for pressurizing the system, installing water lines into and inside the house could run as high as $20,000. Installation of a septic tank and drain field will run well over $10,000. When viewed from this prospective of an expense of $30,000 or more for a traditional system, a few thousand becomes chump change.

It must be noted the water system may be required anyway if that’s the chosen water delivery system to the home. Also, keep in mind the size of family and anticipated usage will greatly effect the price of the system you’re required to install in order to handle the job.

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

How long does it take to make the compost?

Again, it depends. The small self-contained toilets may need to be emptied every few weeks, larger central units, every few months or merely a couple of times a year based on usage. You can speed the composting process by adding accelerators, but the longer it takes to break down, the better quality compost produced.

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What do I do with the compost?

That question enters the realm of personal choice. If you plan on using the compost for fertilizer, it may be best to use it around flowers, shrub, etc and not around edible plants, such as a vegetable garden. The composting process should destroy any harmful pathogens, but I wouldn’t risk it as it’s not worth the chance of becoming ill. Disposal of urine is another issue. Using urine to water grown trees is fine, but on smaller vegetation, and flowers dilute the urine with water before pouring it on them.

Can I use toilet paper for a compost toilet?

Yes. There are toilet paper products specifically made for use in RVs, etc which will easily compost, but don’t throw anything else into the toilet, cigarette butts and thick tissue are all but indestructible under these conditions.

Who can install a composting toilet?

Unless prohibited by ordnance, anyone with the needed mechanical skills can install a compost toilet. The hardest part is installing the ventilation system which will require an intake and exhaust line being installed through the wall. It’s standard procedure to place the toilet against an exterior wall for easy ventilation access, but ventilation can also be run through the roof if desire, so location is really not a problem.

I’ve completed installation, what now?

You’ll need to prime the process by introducing microbes into the tank in order to begin the composting process. I highly recommend buying their starter kit. You can use natural products, some suggest simply throwing a shovel full of dirt into the devise, but there is always the unknown involved with doing that. Although the problem of something being in the soil which creates a dangerous situation is remote, the chances of having gnats or similar critters being in the dirt is always a possibly. Why risk it?

What about gray-water?

Gray-water refers to any water that doesn’t contain biological material, such as, water from sinks, washing machines, humidifiers. This gray-water is normally disposed along with the black-water from a traditional toilet, but that sewer system no longer exists. A separate waste line must be installed and run outside to a leach field, french drain or simply out onto the ground as it is perfectly safe water for the environment. You must be conscious of a possible wet spot where the water exits, so don’t drain it too close to the house are in anticipated heavy traffic areas. Additionally, the system must be vented or else it won’t flow properly.

Why would I mess with a compost toilet?

When a traditional waste/water system is not viable. A septic system must pass a Perk-Test which means a specific amount of water must be absorbed by the ground in a specified amount of time in order to pass inspection. Should the soil fail, the normal resolution is to add more drain-field, which is very expensive. Installation of a normal septic-style tank is expensive, and considering soil content, a septic tank system may not be able to be installed, such as solid rock preventing digging. That’s not actually 100% correct. What I should have stated is the cost of using explosives or other rock piercing methods are entirely too costly.

One last tip: do not buy a compost toilet system that is too small in order to save money! The extra maintenance and attention an undersized unit will require will far exceed the extra cost in time and aggravation. The toilet is intended to stay as long as the house, why skimp?

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Learn About Solar Batteries

Whether you are interested in checking out solar power for your main home, cabin in the woods or bug out spot, unless you are independently wealthy and don’t care about cost, there are things to research in order to make an informed decision before buying. I, personally, become overwhelmed when too much new information is thrown at me at one time, therefore, I’m going to research the topic as if it were intended for me. If I can understand it, you won’t have an issue at all. Let’s learn about solar batteries.

The first thing to learn is batteries are not the same and may have totally unequal life and performance expectancy, even when labeled with nearly identical specifications. Choosing the wrong battery for your solar system could lead to frustrating downtime, lower than expected performance and/or expensive repairs or modifications.

Materials and Manufacturing Matter a Lot

Simply put, a battery produces electrical current through a chemical reaction that converts the stored chemicals into electrical energy. That’s enough science. The important part is this whole process begins with the lead itself and the cost of lead has went through the roof since 2006. Since lead comprises 60% – 80% of a battery’s cost there is a push to use less lead and more additive formulation and lead-oxide production in order to keep costs down.

All American battery manufacturers use recycled lead, so there is a common baseline for all batteries, the difference begins with the amount of lead used for the battery and quality of manufacturing.

  • Some manufacturers use expanded metal and stamped grid production because they are quicker, but these methods tend to embed impurities and porosity into grid wires. In contrast grids which are produced by gravity casting contain no impurities and nearly zero porosity, therefore producing plates that provide extended life and improved reliability.

  • Active lead materials are applied to plates in a process known as pasting, and there are dozens of variables involved in paste mixing and application which significantly affects the battery performance. Conventional systems rely on manual hand pasting, which is as good as the operator that day, while others employ a computerized system which eliminates any variables.

  • Once the grids are pasted they are cured in specialized ovens, set at specific temperatures and humidity, in order to bond active lead materials to the grid for better performance and longer life. Be sure your battery was built with plates cured in such ovens.

  • After curing, the battery plates are stacked in groups and are connected by fusing the plates together with a lead strap, which creates a parallel circuit between the plates. Many companies still utilize the strap-assembly process, where workers manually attach lead lugs to a strap and burn them together using a torch and lead stick, or by manually pouring molten lead around a jig, This process, which began in the early twentieth century, produce weaker connection points.

  • In contrast other companies employ a cast-on-strap (COS) assembly system which fuses the battery plates simultaneously at the optimal temperature. This method insures strengthened connections, resist cracking and improves battery life, as well as reduces corrosion, increases current and reduces maintenance.

  • Following assembly, batteries are charged for the first time in a process called formation that converts lead sulfate and insures maximum capacity. Some companies speed up this process by using higher currents, which cuts production time and costs, but doesn’t fully activate all the usable material, which negatively affects performance and life expectancy. In contrast low current formation results in longer battery life.

Why did I run you through a quick tutorial of battery assembling? I wanted to demonstrate a few of the differences which make one battery better than the other although they are rated the same. By being able to recognize quality and compare manufacturing techniques and materials you are better equipped to know what type of battery you actually need and how much to spend to get it.

You’ll need to choose a voltage for your solar system, which can be 12, 24, or 48 volt. The higher the voltage the less energy loss, although most off-grid homes use a 12 or 24 volt battery system. Is it possible to use a car or truck battery? Yes, for short bursts of high energy, but they are not intended for a deep discharge, and more than likely you’ll require a deep-cycle, lead-acid battery which permits partial discharge and deep slow discharge.

Understanding Different Battery Types

Lead-acid batteries are made for specific applications, therefore not all of them are suitable for usage in a renewable energy system. For instance, automotive and commercial batteries deliver short burst of power and stay charged most of the time making them unsuited for long term usage with a solar system. Uninterrptable power supply batteries (UPS) are designed to provide electrical energy for short term emergency situations, but won’t last under continuous discharge and charge cycles.

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Deep-cycle batteries are capable of delivering electricity for a long time, several days, because they are designed for constant charge and discharge cycles. The deep-cycle battery and renewable energy battery are very similar, but the RE battery is fine tuned for specific renewable energy applications required for solar power.

Flooded batteries are the most commonly utilized battery in renewable and grid-backup systems. They are easy to maintain, long-lasting, reliable and most importantly affordable. Valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries are maintenance free, but usually more expensive. Again, the quality of materials and quality of construction methods will dictate the reliability of the battery. Ask questions. Do research on the manufacture.

Best Solar Batteries?

Batteries used in solar power systems (renewable energy systems) are made out of one of the three chemical compositions; lead acid, lithium or saltwater. Lithium ion batteries seem to be the most popular choice for solar panel systems, but other battery types can be more affordable at a small loss of ability.

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead acid battery technology has an established track record as they have been used in off-grid energy systems for decades. As with everything there are pros and cons, but this is the least expensive option and like I said, it has a proven track record for reliability and energy storage.

Lithium ion Batteries

The majority of new renewable energy technologies favor some form of lithium ion chemical composition, because they are lighter and more compact than lead acid batteries and tend to have a longer life span. However, they are quite a bit more expensive than the lead acid option.

Saltwater Batteries

Saltwater batteries are a relative new comer, which contain saltwater electrolytes instead of heavy metals. The main advantage is a saltwater battery can be easily recycled while heavy metal batteries require special disposal, which is great for the environment. However, the technology by being relatively new, is untested.

How Long Do Charges Last on a Solar Batteries?

That is a one of those it depends question and answer. There are many variables involved which can effect that calculation. The best way to explain is to use a hypothetical example.

Based on the US Energy Information Administration, the average U.S. Household consumes @30 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per day. The typical solar battery can deliver 10 kWh of capacity per day. Based on those numbers, 3 batteries will power your entire household for 24 hours. However, nothing is that simple.

In reality due to fluctuations in operating draw, batteries will not be able to operate at 100% capacity, but is actually closer to 90%. So your 10 kWh just went to 9 kWh of useful capacity. Ultimately, if you’re pairing your batteries with a solar PV array, one or two batteries can provide sufficient energy during the nighttime hours when the panels are not producing, but may require 3 or 4 batteries to power the household during the daytime activity. It is also essential to have additional batteries in reserve to provide power during extended cloudy weather conditions when your solar panels produce no power. A solar battery or solar installer representative will be able to offer a more definitive answer to your particular situation. However, you will require a bank of batteries, whether it be 3 or 10.

From what we’ve learned about solar batteries is their lifespan is between 5 and 15 years. Currently if you buy a battery today you can anticipate you’ll need to replace the battery at least once, if not twice, to match the 25 – 30 year lifespan your PV system will last. Or you can learn the simple method to recondition batteries and never have to worry about replacing them.

However, everything associated with solar power system technology, cost down, productivity up, improves as the demand for solar energy increases. As we learn about solar batteries it can be reasonably expected battery life span will increase with technological advancements.

On a parting note; batteries for a solar energy system are not cheap, but if you view the expense as an investment which could pay big dividends in energy cost savings, then it takes on a different light.

Bubble Wrap As Insulation

Using bubble wrap as insulation has gone from a “Poor Mans’” method of insulating to an established method of reducing energy costs. Graduating from packing material to useful energy savings material has resulted in manufacturing changes to address the new concept. Let’s look at this new and booming field and see if it’s a real savings thing or a fad thing.

Bubble wrap for Duct work:

Relatively new in design bubble wrap insulation looks like a sheet of bubble wrap sandwiched between two panels of reflective material similar in texture and feel of tin foil. The theory of this type of insulation product is the reflective surface provides heat transfer resistance, keeping the heat flow inside the duct work, not leaking into unattended areas. This is the first area of argument as some experts maintain the insulation works, while others say it’s a waste of time and money. Let’s continue on the assumption, which I believe, that insulation wrap works.

Advantages of using Bubble Wrap as Insulation:

  • Heating costs can be reduced
  • Helps ensure consistent temperatures
  • Itch and fiber free material
  • Lightweight and clean
  • Inhibits condensation
  • Requires less space than fiberglass insulation
  • Class A/Class 1 Fire Rating-W
  • Resist growth of fungi, mold and mildew
  • Does not require protective equipment or respirators to install
  • Lowers heating bills year around

Bubble Wrap As Insulation

Proper Installation is critical for success:

Perhaps just as important as the insulating material is proper installation. Take the time to check these items before insulation installation.

  1. Visually inspect all duct work, especially that which runs through unconditioned spaces such as attic, crawlspace or unfinished basement. Incorrect installation, aged material or house shifting could cause joints to come loose or separate.

  2. If you discover a problem either replace or repair the joints, depending on how critical the issue is.

  3. Seal joints by spreading a nickle-thick layer of mastic sealant around the whole joint, or HVAC specified duct tape. It’s imperative to stop all air leaks.

What to Choose?

Using bubble wrap for insulation still poses choices. You can use Foil-backed self adhesive foam which works very well for irregularly shaped duct work. Simply wrap the insulation around the duct and press it into place. Be sure that all the wrap is pressed tightly against the duct work.

Foil-backed bubble wrap is of higher-quality than self-adhesive and affords better insulation factors. However, spacers must be used to prevent the insulation from directly touching the ducts. These spacers create a layer of air between the duct work and insulation greatly enhancing the energy saving benefits.

Using bubble wrap as insulation is a cost effective, easily installed method of helping save energy costs. Be sure to adhere to the manufacturer’s installation instructions for whatever specific brand you decide to use.