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Is it worth it to get solar panels for a smaller home?


Far Cheaper than 120 or 240 volt ac systems driving huge stoves + AC + radiators + walk-in fridge etc for big places, is our 34 years experience of TOTAL 12 VOLT dc Appliances driven by 2 small 46 watt Solar panels driving old car battery OFF-GRID with POWER DISTRIBUTION BOARD on our 2 small homes – cost could be about $300 off-Grid: powerful blender from a SMALL starter motor – homemade 12V rheostat bed warmer – reduced jug element to heat thermos water for coffee etc (never needed to boil) – direct solar water-heating & cooking if not wood stove – brilliant long life economical LED lights – 12 v TV + Antenna + cassette + instruments, games & toys + 2-way radios, players, CB and/or mobile radio, video / audio spy pen – There are two automobile Vacuum cleaners: one from the dump draws 1.8 amps, the other monster with attachments draws a whopping 7.8 amps & what a racket, both can act as air pumps for laundry on pipe reversal; or manual carpet-floor sweeper. House yachting submersible bilge pump + tiny check valve for rain tank & dam, mosquito & cockroach zapper, sewing machine, flash-gun. 12 volt drill + screw-driver + many tools medium drill & attachments (jig, circular saw, sander, plane, grinder & kitchen items like mixers), micro tools, 12 v 30w solder iron, 24 volt welding from 2x12v batteries in series etc. Alternative laundry including 12volt vacuum cleaner bubbles in laundry bin water, hand or motor-rotated hot water pressure laundry, esky of laundry water on scooter or bike or boat trip, or standing on laundry in bowl whilst showering – ironing under mattress. Better than so-called “Rocket or Dakota Stoves” (though these could be considerably likewise improved with following HELIXTOVE), small smokeless controllable one-stick HELIXTOVE stove that has air-preheating & after-burning + tiny fan if extra rocket-heat needed. Bush oven sits on top. Unlike 120 & 240 volt, 12 volt is quite fireproof. There are plenty of 12-volt microwave ovens on Google with a good battery + our 12 volt fridge surrounded by 15cm foam insulation. Prize-winning homemade 25yo, 3-wheel, dual, 1/4hp, 1WD, 40kg solar TRiCAR here needing no rego, licence or insurance on roads (not motorways), uses small gel car battery.

However, Off-Grid without a battery is easy: Simply have a good inverter to produce 12-volt or 120 or 240-volt etc when it is sunny, so then you can cook, charge the e-scooter or TRiCAR, do laundry, heat coffee, warm bed hot water bottles, use blender, even small printer + sewing machine + charge small battery devices like mobiles etc + charge a small 12-volt car “BLACKOUT KIT Battery”. This battery provides many HOURS of power to several brilliant LEDS lamps on cables, radio, 2 or 4 watt 12-volt fans + small 12-volt color TV, mobile charging, laptop etc.

SMALL ITEMS (some items worked from attached small solar panel without battery, though windup better in emergency): VOLTAP diode chain for items < 12 volts – “ tiny brilliant torch that needs only about 1 squeeze per week, shaver, calculators, stirrer, 3 clocks, watch, doorbell. Hose-reel garden pump where small solar panel drives its windscreen wiper motor directly – if not driven by a stream or wind – to drip-feed food plants. Blackout Kit = 12 volt battery charged by mains if you on grid, able to power small TV, fans, radio, mobile phone, camera, LED lights but $30 gets garden-charged & switchable Solar LED lamps for inside & emergency.

INVERTER on Solar car battery for machines such as: mini microwave cooker, also to produce 240 or 120 V to drive mains adaptors to charge scooter, & other batteries for whipper snipper, chain saw, saw, tyre pump, hedge trimmer converted to a lawn mower + brush cutter with handle & 2 trolley wheels, Computers & Printers, table lamps. Bed Hot water bottle like 2 litre drink bottles heated by microwave etc to avoid water waste.

KEEP COOL: Water evaporator for entire house, though ceiling fan is usually plenty. We hand-spray our T-shirt with water, then have a small fan playing on the moist T-shirt in real heat waves, that usually gets too cold & we have to slow or redirect the fan. With 2 or 4 watt car fan playing on bare legs is much cooler than if fan playing on face, arms etc; fans can often save more than ½ air conditioning power that we find unnecessary even in Queensland. For low-humidity areas we have a tiny 12volt water evaporator; big home units are very economical & take little power to supply cool air ducted around to each room. For outside in the sun, my favorite is a white hat topped with a small solar PV panel powering a cute little fan built into the front brim. Air Conditioning: Simply have a fan blow air into a bucket of ice if available. Cool water drinks help + cool water swim or garden hose spray. All these replies are using the wrong type of inefficient fridge. Our old unit “TOP-LOADING FRIDGE: Homemade most efficient 40L plastic trash drum = 12 volt, 2.3 average-watt unit under house, in breeze & shade + part-buried & never in hot kitchen, with 15 cms polyurethane foam all around; uses 30 times less annual energy than other fridges + good ice maker. Alternatively, Commercial FRESHIELD vacuum food preservers + hand pump + many sized containers replaces fridge, ours now for 1/4 century (sausages fresh for months; check weekly & pump again if the pressure rises slightly). Power from a car battery used for entire 12-volt house that is charged by the cheap small 46 watt solar panel. Fridge takes about 2 days to cool down. In cool climates, this outside fridge can be permanently off during winter. The unit uses a 12 volt DANFOSS Danish kit compressor system. Ceiling insulation + attic venting + summer trees shading the home are all useful. Take a summer holiday up a mountain!

TO KEEP WARM IN COLDEST WINTERS: 3 layers of box cardboard insulates on floors under carpets. Also on walls behind Book cases & cupboards against walls facing outside + in ceilings; there are millions needing it!!! Long socks on your hands are wonderful in bed etc. Hotwater bottle covered in a knitted bag keeps bed warm all night. Our 46 watt solar panel provides total house power including summer fridge, blender, fans, LEDs, pumps, TV & radio etc; but best of all a bed warmer comprising a rheostat – variable power resistor – inside a MILO or big coffee can which is placed in the bed. Save bathwater there till cold to warm house a little. In bed we have all 3 meals as well as watch TV, use computer & phone, read books, play & listen to music + radio etc. Our single-stick air preheating & after-burning Helixtove with flu heats wonders with no wood chopping. Wellington gumboots are real warm outside; fill with water & walk around for a few minutes to clean boots & your feet. Migrate to warm New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu or Australia where we virtually have every day cloudless & no violence or racism etc. Cold-climate solar heating needs: Not the electric type but the cheap hot water panels heat all our water real hot. Like my home in Cornwall I had a glassed-in veranda south-facing which heated the entire house via big slot in top & bottom of door to house from veranda. But big east & west-facing windows heat house most of day. Ideal cool-climate plan-view house shape is my “SUNNY HOME” with veranda above & big windows on sloping ends that house-heat most of the day if sunny; /TTTTT\ like our Cornwall UK home having long sun-facing glassed veranda that over-heated entire winter home to summer temps; door to house from veranda had wide slit above & below, covered at night. Note corridor connecting rooms below – This figure is made entirely of keyboard entries including 5xTs etc in Bahnschrift font. A lake facing the house sun-side heats house even more by reflection. Let us know if you want finer details!

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