My personal opinion on Solar PV (Photovoltaics, that is solar panels) is that if you are interested in saving money then solar isnt the way to go, as it takes considerable investment in time and money. You will have to replace some of the equipment around halfway through the life of the solar array itself and all added up it is not a money saver and you MIGHT make you money back and break even. If you are interested in a lifestyle that is offgrid with more independence or more green and earth friendly than it will be a great part (NOT ALL) to add to your home power needs. You cant look at your house, how much power it uses and then go buy X amount of panels to power it all. Technically you could, but it will be unnecessary and expensive. You size the house to your alternative power, not the power to the house. That is, you should see what you absolutely need, increase efficiency and then size the array to that, you cant power the all the computers, xboxes, cable, refrigerators, etc with just solar, its too inconsistent in most areas, especially here in the north.
Solar PV is a great system to add to an array of alternative energies
I wont go over step by step and every aspect here of solar power, as i am not by any means an expert, but take a look at the links and articles below to get a better feel. These people are who I consider experts, and there information I can honestly say you can take to the bank!
This is a Primer (a start place and general info) on Solar by Jeffery Yago, out of Backwoods Magazine (an excellent source of information that you should look into) It covers almost everything you need to know if you are interested in adding solar to your independence portfolio
Steven Harris wrote a book call “Sunshine to Dollars” where he explains how you can go out and find free panels from manufacturers and dealers, damaged but working (albeit at lower capacity but hey they are free!) You can take these panels connect them in series, and then you just have to get the battery bank, controller, etc and you now have a relatively cheap solar array that can power parts of your home. I will have MUCH more from Steven Harris in later sections here!
SOLAR HEATING/SOLAR OVENS
Solar heating is a simple process of collecting the free heat that comes from exposure to the sun and then exchanging that warm air for the cooler air in your home. This can be done on a small scale through the natural heat exchange process, or through active measures, using a fan, such as a computer cooling fan (accompanied by a small solar panel, you dont even need batteries or other power).
Simple and relatively cheap using wood frame, plexiglass and beer/soda cans
I think that solar cooking/solar ovens are a wonderful and great technology that anyone can
use. With this technology you can save lots of money and have a better tasting meal, and
its a fix and forget it meal maker for the most part. Just think instead of spending a few
more bucks on the electric or gas bill, you can just set out your solar oven, have dinner
ready to cook and set it out, throughout the day, your evening meal will cook slowly and
evenly. In the evening after the sun, goes down, you and your family can grab the meal. All
you have to do now is put your oven back, and serve the meal!
Cooking with a solar oven is different to conventional cooking in several ways:
# It can take a little longer. Usually you prepare your meal early in the day or the middle of the day and allow 2-4 hours for it to cook. But there is good news…
# Food doesn’t burn in a solar oven so you can put your food in there and leave it all day or eat from it when you’re ready…put it back in the sun and it will stay hot for you.
# There is no need to turn or stir food in a solar oven. It will cook evenly without any turning (so you don’t need to watch the food cook…just put it in there and leave it for a few hours until you’re ready to eat).
# The food tastes better. It’s cooked slowly and some people even say that the food is enhanced with the sun’s energy.
# Food that takes longer to cook like sweet potatoes or other root vegetables should be cut into bite sized pieces to cook.
# When you cook food like rice you use as little water as possible to help the temperature get as high as possible.
# If you want to fry an egg you may have to preheat an iron skillet in your oven then add oil or butter till it’s sizzling hot then fry your egg on the skillet.
# Be aware that you’re concentrating and reflecting the suns rays. It’s wise not to look directly into the reflected light and it helps if you wear sunglasses when you’re putting the food into the oven and taking it out.
# If you’re worried about ants forget it. Solar ovens are too hot for ants and most bugs, birds and insects. They will usually avoid your oven even when it’s full of food.
PAGE ON THE “CooKit” how it works and more info
3 Simple Principles For Making A Working Solar Oven:
There are only 3 things you need to understand to make a solar oven that will use the power of the sun to cook your food for you.
1. Reflect the sunlight onto your cooking area. You make a reflector with cardboard covered with alfoil or a windscreen shade, mirrors…anything that reflects the sunlight will work.
2. Trap the heat inside your cooker using a sheet of clear glass, a sheet of clear plastic, a large glass cooking pot, a sheet of clear plastic, a clear plastic oven roasting bag, a clear plastic bag…the possibilities are endless. See what you have already in your house.
3. Convert the light to heat with something black. It could be a black pot you put your food in (with or without a lid), a black frying pan, coloring the inside of your solar oven black…get creative.
Often using just two of these principles is enough to successfully cook food in a solar oven and you can often create a solar oven in minutes using stuff you have in your house now.
a. Get a large glass cooking pot.
b. Get a smaller cooking pot with a glass top (or not top) that has a black base.
c. Put your uncooked food in the smaller cooking pot. Put the smaller cooking pot inside the larger cooking put.
d. Put them in the sun.
e. Position a car windscreen reflector to reflect as much light as possible onto the pots.
f. Leave it for 1-4 hours and your food will be cooked as long as the sun stays out.
I think it’s vital that you understand how simple it really is to build a solar oven and how you really can get a working oven up and running right now in just a few minutes.
Don’t worry about getting it perfect.
Just get anything out there in the sun now and see for yourself how simple it really is to cook with the sun’s power. (permaculturecairns.com/)
BUILDING A PIZZA BOX SOLAR OVEN
How to Build a Simple Solar Box Oven
How to make a reflecting solar oven from just a cardboard box
How To Make A Primrose Solar Cooker
Parabolic Solar Cooker from a Sattelite Dish