Category Solar Power Your Home

Getting Creative with a Solar-Powered Sprinkler

Of all the great toys and gadgets the world of solar offers, the clear winner for most fun is the solar-powered sprinkler. Consider this project a bonus, the 11th installment in a list of ten items.

Here’s how it works. You connect the unit (including the sprinkler head and motion detector) to your garden hose and sprinkler and stake it firmly into the ground. Then turn the faucet on. When the motion detector senses move­ment, the sprinkler discharges a blast of water; then it turns off.

The practical use for a solar-powered sprinkler is to keep animals at bay. For example, you can keep deer from eating all your landscaping, skunks out of the cat food, or raccoons off the roof. When the motion detector senses their presence, it sprays, they skedaddle.

But you can also have some fun with...

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Pumping Water to New Heights with a Solar Fountain

Solar fountains have tons of potential for do-it-yourselfers. You can make a small one or a massive one. You can make them work any number of ways. You can make one work all night long, if you want.

If your back is strong and your will ironclad, you can use indigenous rocks and mortar to build a cascading waterfall in your backyard that everybody will marvel at. You can make one very noisy with water splashing like Niagara Falls, or you can make a modest, gentle trickle. You can toss some koi into a pond and create a bio system complete with water plants and nightly rac­coon raids.

The technology is simple, but you’ll need to do some wiring, and you’ll need to think about how the system components affect the whole...

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Charging Your Batteries the Solar Way

This isn’t really a project because you don’t actually build anything. But using a solar battery charger requires strategy and scheduling, and it gives a good lesson on solar power and PV panels. This is probably one of the easi­est ways to start using solar power. Chapter 9 explains what you need to know about getting the most bang for your solar beam.

Reading Under the Sun at Night

An off-grid reading light is a great project, and you can get as fancy as you want. Start with a simple, self-contained camping light comprised of a small PV panel and a little pod containing a rechargeable battery, a light sensor, a switch, and a few LEDs...

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Now You’re Really Cooking

Solar cooking is fun and interesting; it teaches you about solar radiation and how it can vary in different weather patterns.

You can build a simple oven, or you can get fancy and make a super-duper one. You can even design and build an automatic tracker, which follows the sun over the course of the day automatically, so that you don’t have to do it manually. You can make an automatic tracker in several different ways, which all involve interesting physics.

Chapter 24: Ten or So Best Do-It-Yourself Projects

Подпись: 361You can make a solar oven any size you want; Chapter 9 has details for build­ing a basic one and a sturdier one. I have a small solar oven next to my barbe­cue, and I can cook corn on the cob while flipping the ribs. For some reason, the corn has a unique, very pure flavor.

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Providing an Endless Source of Purified Drinking Water

The water purifier project I describe in Chapter 10 is a good project because it’s relatively easy, foolproof, and cheap. Or as cheap as you want to make it. You can make a small purifier or a big one with valves and drippers and all kinds of features. You can purify a gallon of water a day or a thousand, and the concept is the same. You can use salvaged parts, so if your game is to get everything for free, here you go.

This project is good if you’ve got a remote cabin (off-grid enthusiasts!) and have access to a creek that’s of dubious origin (all together now — what do bears do in the woods?). Or if you just want to purify your local tap water, you can use this project for that purpose, too.

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Warming up the Water with an Off-Grid Solar Swimming Pool Heater

You can make a solar hot water heater out of landscape tubing, and you can design it to fit just about anywhere. It’s cheap and just as effective as the col­lectors that cost $600 apiece.

You can connect a small submersible pump to a PV panel, and if you know a few rudimentary things about pumps and pressures and flow, you can make water flow through your homemade collector without having to run it
through the pool pump. Solar collectors don’t care how fast the water is run­ning through them; they’ll put out the same amount of heat with fast or slow flow. So your small system will heat your pool just as much as if you con­nected it to the pool pump, and it won’t load your pump, which makes it cost more to run.

Here’s the thing: You want to run your pool pump as little as possible...

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Sheltering Living Spaces from the Sun

Trellises are good projects because they’re functional as well as nice looking. You can make them out of wood or synthetic material. You can even get kits of aluminum parts. Plant some flowering vines around your trellis, and the results will be fantastic.

Awnings allow you to really shine in the design department. You can sauce up a plain old window with a good awning, and if you design it right, you can take advantage of the winter sunshine and then block the summer sun from shining in.

Overhangs are really nothing more than glorified awnings. You can really change the look and functionality of a house with one strategically designed overhang. You can take a rectangular, boxy house and make it look inter­esting and appealing for a very low cost...

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Venting Your Attic and Cooling Off the Entire House

A solar attic vent fan project is great because you get to do a little bit of everything (in contrast to the solar water heater project where you get a whole lot of everything). You can install a solar attic vent fan in a day or so, depending on how difficult your attic structure is. You get to install a PV panel, which requires you to figure out orientation and placement. You do some simple wiring without having to be too fussy about quality. You can use electrical tape and just twist the wires together, or you can use a solder­ing iron and get fancy with shrink tubing. You need to make some drawings of your attic, and really think about prevailing winds and pressures and how they affect air movement...

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