PBS World program (1 Viewer)

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AcWxRadar

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 26, 2006
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40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
Currently watching a unique program here on PBS World. Somewhere in Africa (Mali) they are setting up solar panels for the local community. The community apparently does not have electricity from a power plant or hydro dam. They are building solar panels all from scratch with discarded solar cells. Soldering each individual cell into a complete array and then installing them.

It is quite interesting. Although they are going into the human interest part of the story much more than the technical specifics of the solar panels.

I learned something by watching this program. For one, there is a real place called Timbuktu! Ha Ha! And all along I thought that was just a phrase: "From here to Tenbucktoo" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timbuktu

RADAR
 
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KE4EST

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been watching it too very neat.
 

Dee_Ann

Angry consumer!
May 23, 2009
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I love solar! I love green living! Windmills and water wheels and solar panels wheeeeeeeeeeee!!
I have always dreamed of living off the grid.. When I was a tweenager my mom and I went on a trip all over Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona and in New Mexico we stayed with some people that were real hippies.
They dug a huge pit in the desert and built a log cabin down in the pit. Then they bulldozed the dirt over the cabin so it was buried. From ground level it looked like a huge dirt mound with windows on the top.
They had a large windmill and solar water heaters. I think in the 70's that solar electricity was far too expensive for normal people to afford just yet.

They generated electric with the windmill to charge batteries and they used low power 12 volt lights. They had no TV or radio, they just read books for entertainment so their electrical needs were really low.
In the day time the sun blasted in through the huge windows in the ceilings.
The solar water heater kept a huge water tank buried in the ground full of hot water year round, it was almost steam it was so hot..

Being buried in the ground, the house was kept toasty warm with one small fireplace. There was a large hot tub inside that stayed hot all the time so that helped with the humidity and heat too.

It was very rustic and anti-modern in many ways. All the walls and ceilings were rough hewn logs and the floors all flagstone. I frickin LOVED that house!
You walked DOWN a flight of stairs from ground level to go through the front door.

The next morning it snowed and I was amazed that it wasn't even cold. I was outside in a t-shirt and shorts helping the lady of the house bring in firewood after her husband chopped up a few logs.
It was so pretty and peaceful to be in the snow covered desert and there was no one else around. We couldn't see any houses or people, just desert.

I'll never forget that mega-cool house and I've always wished I could live like that. Just get me a floppy hat and go scour the desert for turquoise, I could make silver and turquoise jewelry and make stained glass windows.
Gardening would be a no-go though.. :( Nothing grows there except cactus.. That would be the one part I would hate about it.

I have solar panels on my roof, my dad bought some for me. It's not enough to run my house but eventually the plan is to have them setup to provide light when the power fails.
I just have to get the lights installed in all the rooms. They automatically turn on when the power goes out, they are dim but they give more than enough light so I won't trip and break my neck on my black dog in the dark.
It's better than sitting in the pitch black for 10 hours which happens 2-3 times EVERY summer..

Solar is cool..

Oh yeah, one last thing, check this guy out and what he did with his solar invention!


And the same thing, different application.

 
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AcWxRadar

Thread Starter
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Apr 26, 2006
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40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
I love solar! I love green living! Windmills and water wheels and solar panels wheeeeeeeeeeee!!

Oh Dee! You really are a trip! LOL! You are great with your words and I think that you are awesome! You have made me cry and made me laugh, made me smile, made me think and made me dream, and sometimes made me mad. Are you my sister? :) LOL

You are really special, Dee. I love reading your posts, but it was the solar panel "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee" That really got me! LOL! I don't really know how you meant that, but it really sparked my day. I owe you for that.

RADAR
 
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Dee_Ann

Angry consumer!
May 23, 2009
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Texas
Oh Dee! You really are a trip! LOL! You are great with your words and I think that you are awesome! You have made me cry and made me laugh, made me smile, made me think and made me dream, and sometimes made me mad. Are you my sister? :) LOL




You are really special, Dee. I love reading your posts, but it was the solar panel "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee" That really got me! LOL! I don't really know how you meant that, but it really sparked my day. I owe you for that.




RADAR








Well honestly, I'm just a little silly sometimes.




So I guess I should share a few photos of my solar panels since I got all hyped up about it. Gotta back it up with proof.. :D


Dad has a friend that sells used solar panels. He replaces old solar panels with newer, more efficient ones for oil companies, they put them around pipeline valves out in fields to run monitoring stuff. I guess.
So Dad said he would buy me like 10 panels each time he sees his friend, eventually we'll have my roof covered with them.
Things all came to a halt last year when we lost Mom though. I hope that maybe this summer we can get back to this project.
It would be really nice if I could totally replace my lights with battery powered LED lights, the panels could charge the batteries.
I wouldn't think to try and power the whole house, that's just not going to happen. And I don't want to wire it into the house electric.
I want it to be a totally separated and independent system that only provides for LED lights, that way there's no inefficient and expensive inverters, just sweet, free solar generated electricity..
I've got the basic starter stuff, we put up a few panels, a lawn mower battery and a solar charge controller to power a few LED lights to test and see if it's feasible and worth the expense to take it up a notch.
We put the panels you see in the photos up last April and the test light has been on 24 hours a day since then. It generates zero heat and is about as good as a 5watt night light.
I need to buy wire to put to all the rooms of the house and put lights in every rooms, the garage, porch and patio. A relay will be held open as long as there is city power. When the city power fails the relay will close and power up all the LED lights. So in a storm when the lights go out I'll instantly have light that will last for DAYS even if the sun doesn't come out at all for 3-4 days.
Back in 2010 the power went out for about 8 hours in the middle of the night while I was in the shower. :mad:. I was in total darkness. I could not find a flashlight, a lantern, a candle, matches, a lighter or anything else. I stumbled around in total darkness feeling around trying to find anything to get some light. After almost an hour I found a candle and a lighter. The candle was wimpy and almost useless. It took me another hour to find a flashlight that was dead. I changed the batteries out from my TV remote control and then I found a propane lantern. THEN I had light. But the lantern generates a LOT of heat and the A/C was off so it was miserable. I just sat in a chair and was dead still for hours trying to pretend the heat away. That was the breaking point for me, it was then I decided that I had to have some sort of emergency light system and Dad came up with the solar panel / batteries idea.


I looked at a professional solar system but they are STUPID. By law, they are required to shut down when the power fails so that they don't feed power back into the utility lines. They say it could kill a worker that's out trying to fix broken wires. That makes sense but I don't understand why they don't design it so that it disconnects itself from city power when the power fails so that it can power your house without danger of feeding back into the system. That's pretty limited thinking on their part. You've got batteries that can run your house for hours on end and you still have to sit in the dark like everyone else? I DON'T THINK SO!!


So to heck with them, make your own solar/battery system that is 10's of thousands of dollars cheaper and that works when you want it to work.


Now make no mistake about it, I am not an expert on this stuff. Far from it. I just have a smart Dad and a little personal common sense (sometimes) and I lean on my Dad a lot for brain power when I need to overcome the many stupidities of life..

In college in the 60's and into the early 60's Dad was a radio and TV repairman. He had this big black van he worked out of that I was terrified of, it looked like a hearse! At least I thought it did.
Dad said it was, I think, a 1948 Chevy something. We also had several Studebakers over the years, Dad was a big fan of Studebakers until they went out of biz and he couldn't get them anymore.
We had a Studebaker sedan that Mom wrecked when I was very little. I was in the car with her, it's amazing we weren't killed, that car had no seat belts! Seat belts were still optional equipment when I was little!
The car was totaled, Mom and I survived. And there was the wagon. Dad traded it in for a Dodge Dart for Mom and he bought a Ford station wagon and he hated it. It was the last Ford he ever owned.
So anyway I threw the "hearse" and Studebaker photos in just for nostalgia.. This was in front of our first house. The city tore the entire street up to put in pipes for something, sewer I think. Mom was NOT happy with this, it took them months..


(pic #1 is 1961, pic #2 is 1963)

:)
 

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freezy

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 19, 2009
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Land of Sky Blue Water
That law means your connection to the grid needs to Automatically turned off and manual reconnect once power has been restored. You can still operate. Or disconnect your array from the grid you generate and lose the "excess-power" income. That switch gear isn't cheap
 

Tron

SatelliteGuys Master
May 6, 2005
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Metro New Orleans, LA
Dee, solar power can be harnessed in many ways. I gave a friend an old 3-foot prime focus dish that I had no use for. He stripped the paint from it and turned it into a solar cooker. I've never seen anything heat up as fast as that dish could. It can be very dangerous, though, if you're not careful...
 

Dee_Ann

Angry consumer!
May 23, 2009
3,420
286
Texas
Dee, solar power can be harnessed in many ways. I gave a friend an old 3-foot prime focus dish that I had no use for. He stripped the paint from it and turned it into a solar cooker. I've never seen anything heat up as fast as that dish could. It can be very dangerous, though, if you're not careful...


My ex had talked about doing something like that with C-band dishes he had collected. His brain f*rt idea was to heat a hot tub with satellite dishes. He never took any steps towards doing it other than talking smack and stock piling old dishes that ended up getting crushed by a bulldozer. I had no part in it, I had other things to worry about than his kookery.

Since then I've seen videos on youtube of kids setting things on fire with satellite dishes, I was amazed and a bit frightened to see teenagers playing pyromaniac games with no adults to be found anywhere around.
I've seen on the History Channel where they aim mirrors at a tower and generate electricity. That's neat as all get out but not exactly a DIY project... :)
 

the_man_one

SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 22, 2006
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google automatic transfer switch dee.... it senses the incomming curent when it goes out it turns off (acts like a relay usually to power up a generater)... this action disconnects u from the grid & allows u to power ur house without backfeeding thru the grid... dont be allarmed to find out that u become the mos important peson on the block when u have power tho
 

Dee_Ann

Angry consumer!
May 23, 2009
3,420
286
Texas
google automatic transfer switch dee.... it senses the incomming curent when it goes out it turns off (acts like a relay usually to power up a generater)... this action disconnects u from the grid & allows u to power ur house without backfeeding thru the grid... dont be allarmed to find out that u become the mos important peson on the block when u have power tho


Oh I know... We get hurricanes here all the time and I have a generator that will run all the lights in my house (I use all CFL bulbs at the moment), my air conditioner, my coffee pot and my fridge.
I don't evacuate, I stay home and ride em out like the fool that I am.
Early on in the process the entire county goes black and in the case of Rita, they intentionally shut off the power, gas, water, etc a half day ahead of the storm.
I didn't ride out Rita though I wish I had. I came home after a 10 day mandatory evacuation to a LOT of damage from flooding and mold that I could have prevented by being here to clean up as soon as the storm passed.

Anyway, when it does go out I run my generator and I'm the Queen B**ch of the hood! Neighbors that also stay want to come hang out in my A/C and listen to the radio.. Um, nope! Get your own generator folks!

I did look at a professional solar grid with all the fancy switches but heck, they cost more than my OLD house is worth! I can't spend that much money on this dump, it's likely to blow down anyway the next big storm we get.

My dad is installing a fancy natural gas powered generator at his house that has that auto start up and switch over stuff but it's a very complicated wiring job and he's been stumped on it and has left the wires dangling for like 3 years now. :(
I wish he would get it fixed because it's a HUGE generator, I think it's a 40kw which is more than enough to run everything in his house. That's where I would rather go to ride out a hurricane..

With my generator I have to pull the electric meter out and plug in a special adapter. It keeps the house isolated from city power so that no one can be inured or things damaged. But it's a royal pain in the rump to bring the generator around to the back yard and hook it all up. But it's better than sitting in the dark. I'm hoping that my little home made solar system will at least serve to give me instant light in a power failure and if it's only a short one for like a few hours, I'll just wait it out. If it's going to be a long term problem like after Ike and Rita where I didn't have city power for a month (Ike) and 6 weeks (Rita) then I'll use the generator. The generator is good stuff but it's mega heavy and almost impossible for me to move it alone. I need to build a little crane winch to pick it up and put it in my lawn mower trailer so I can carry it to the back yard without having to go get help.

Life on the Gulf Coast is unforgiving. You learn to adapt.
 
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