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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Frugal Tuesday - A DIY Solar Power Fix

One of the biggest changes today was waking up to power! I think unless you live like we do you might take your power for granted. You get up in the morning and turn on a light or faucet without thinking about it. Not us. Our power is turned off at night and it doesn't get turned on in the morning until we have enough to run the necessities, or we end up charging for a bit. Especially on rainy days. But today the batteries were charging long before we woke up thanks to Mountain Man's new invention. The sun is funny up here. It rises in the east and sets in the west just like everyplace else but where it rises changes with the seasons.


This photo is courtesy of Nuffield Foundation's lesson on Astronomy found here. Of course it is not exactly like this at our house but it gives you a good idea.


In the winter we can watch the sun come up and set from our living room windows, not so in the summer. It actually comes up behind the house in the north east and makes a huge arc through the sky. This means that it doesn't hit our solar panels on the roof until about 9 am or later even though it has been up for hours. 


This has bugged us for some time but the cost of purchasing a special device which tracks the sun and turns the panels with it was cost prohibitive. So what to do? The fix turned out to be easier than we thought. (Hmmm...  Sure took a long time to figure out though as we have been here for a five years!) Mountain Man found an old satellite dish mount with pole and all. He then commissioned a neighbor to weld some pieces of metal together to create a holder for the panels. The metal post was cemented in the ground as it needed to be stabilized well due to the high winds we get here at times and then the panels were attached. 


We now have two panels which can be moved in any direction to catch the sun. It only takes a few minutes every day to go out and change the direction but what a difference it makes! As long as we set it to where the sun rises we will have power to use before we even get out of bed all summer long. Well, as long as its not too cloudy!



So, what was the cost of this wonderful fix?

Satellite pole/holder Free (There are a lot of these just laying around it people's back yards so they are pretty easy to find.)
1 bag of premix cement $7 (This pole already had a LOT of cement around it otherwise you would probably need about 5 or 6 bags)
The metal and welding for the frame $60
Total cost $67 

We do have to go out a few times a day to change the direction it is pointing but its not a big deal and only takes a few minutes a day. If we aren't here we don't use electricity so will just set it to face south like all the other panels. 

Way to go Mountain Man! It certainly takes a lot of ingenuity to deal with all the things which can arise when you live the way we do but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Also linked in to Mind Body and Soul and Frugally Sustainable's blog hop.

13 comments:

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