View Full Version : Solar power

02-13-2005, 03:45 PM
I thought I would show a really easy way to make use of solar power.

This is a heliostat placed about 75 feet out front of our living room windows.


This is what it does:


It lights up the living room for free.

02-13-2005, 03:53 PM
My wife uses a solar clothes direr
http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//tongue.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//tongue.gif

Have Fun
Be Safe http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

02-13-2005, 03:53 PM
And at night?? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif
You live in a magnificent part of the world Evan.

cheers, Ken

02-13-2005, 04:17 PM
At night we use our energy efficient 14 watt bulbs in the track lights above the tree. It helps to keep the SAD blues away.

02-13-2005, 04:23 PM
I am interested in tracking? How do you accomplish that? We had two "freon" tanks on the last one we built in Orlando Fl.


02-13-2005, 05:54 PM
I use solar heat for my shop, with a wood burner to accompany it, and propane as a back up.

02-13-2005, 07:45 PM
Carrol says you do live where you have to pipe in the sunshine..And your wife can never complain about haveing to clean windows.


02-14-2005, 12:53 AM
Tracking? Ha! Run out with the screwdriver and reset the panel every couple of weeks.

02-14-2005, 01:14 AM
you could live here where we get about 4 hours between sun rise and set in mid Dec of course we make up for it in the summer when it does not get dark, got to love it here

Matt in AK

02-14-2005, 01:58 AM
Not much different here.

02-14-2005, 03:39 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by ibewgypsie:
I am interested in tracking? How do you accomplish that?


Footprints in the snow?? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

02-14-2005, 10:30 AM
Interesting approach for the indoor gardener. I wonder how it might work on tomatoes. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

02-14-2005, 10:58 AM
It would work great for tomatos. That mirror is just a cheap ordinary mirror that cost maybe $10. I repainted the back of the mirror to water proof it and mounted it in a wooden frame. The mount can be adjusted alt/az. I sealed the edge of the mirror all the way around with silicone. It has been out there for maybe 5 years and shows no sign of damage.

Back to tomatos; At our last house about 20 years ago I built a fully automatic computerized greenhouse to grow tomatos. I really like tomatos and eat a lot of them. The green house was 8' x 8' square. I used a treated wood foundation of 4" x 4" timbers and filled the space inside them with a ton or so of pea gravel. (most gravel pits will let you have it for free if you load it yourself, I used a mexican dragline [shovel])

On top of the gravel I put a plywood floor painted dark brown to absorb heat into the gravel. The gravel acts as a heat sink to moderate temperature day and night.

The north wall of the green house was insulated with 1 1/2" styrofoam. At the top of the north wall were two vent doors that were opened automatically by a thermostat when the temp hit 80F. When the temp hit 85F a fan was turned on to circulate air and vents at the bottom front would open as well.

At night if the temp dropped to less than 35F a pair of 300 watt infrared lamps turned on to prevent frost damage. These made it possible to extend my growing season by at least two months. The problem here is that our elevation of almost 3000' we can have hard frost any month of the year. I gave up on growing an outside garden although I really like gardening for food. After several years in a row of -10 frost in early August it just wasn't worth the trouble.

I grew the plants in a semi-hydroponic growth medium with an automatic drip feeder system that turned on automatically twice a day to distribute water/nutrient mix to the tomatos.

The first year we got maybe a couple of hundred pounds of tomatos with basically no effort other than pollinating and pruning as needed.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the heliostat is what keeps the Ficus Benjamina tree alive in the winter. The track lights help too but the mirror makes it really happy. I grew that tree from a twig and cloned off two more from it. That tree is over twenty years old.

The mirror is about one half square meter. Full sunlight provides around 1000 watts per sq meter so that mirror is providing around 500 watts of light in the room for about two hours per day.

Another thing, there is a story about the Ficus that I might tell if persuaded. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 02-14-2005).]

02-14-2005, 11:06 AM
Now that may be a solution for our dark north-side kitchen....

02-14-2005, 11:43 AM
This stuff looks interesting for controlling a greenhouse,



02-14-2005, 04:12 PM
I've been running a small (200W) solar system for about 15 years now. Just put a wattmeter on it last year and last month even here in Arizona got only 25kWHr (a third of summer output)out of them. Been raining a lot this winter though, thank God.

Greg C.

Lynn Standish
02-15-2005, 10:32 AM
So..... What's up with the ficus??

02-15-2005, 10:50 AM
I was waiting for that http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

We try to take the tree outside at least once a year to wash it. It's pretty big and heavy so we usually scoot it along on a skateboard. One nice summer day we were doing this which means taking it through the dining room to go out the sliding glass door to the back deck. We had been enjoying a couple of glasses of wine and so were maybe not quite as alert as we otherwise might have been. It wasn't until we heard the whack whack whack sound of the ceiling fan almost pruning the top branches that we realized our mistake...

Lynn Standish
02-15-2005, 11:12 AM
Ceiling fan... Reminds me of a Paul Harvey story on the radio.

Seems a fellow was working in his yard one afternoon when he heard cries for help from inside the house next door. He ran to the front door of the house as the cries continued. He rang the bell, but no one answered and the cries continued, so he forced the door open and entered. The cries were coming from upstairs, so he ran up the stairs and into the bedroom where they originated. There he found the lady of the house naked and tied spread eagle on the bed while her husband (similarly naked except for a cape and mask) lay unconsious on the floor. Turns out they were playing a little game, and when the masked crusader launched himself to the damsel's rescue from the top of the dresser, he had an unfortunate mid-air collision with the spinning ceiling fan........ http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//redface.gif

Norman Atkinson
02-15-2005, 11:20 AM

02-15-2005, 06:08 PM
I hate it when that happens.

02-16-2005, 01:32 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by IOWOLF:
I use solar heat for my shop, with a wood burner to accompany it, and propane as a back up.

Nice building. Glad to hear it - excellent idea. Do you have the building insulated at all? If you don't I imagine it gets damn hot in the summer. Worked in one place that had a sttel roof and no insulation freezing your ass off or baking your brains - no inbetween. Not good for the machines either - tempeature screwed them up all the time...