DIY Solar – A Poem

A venting I must go

Bought a freakin’ solar kit

Thought it’d really be a hit

Catch the sun rays from the sky

Found out different tell you why

First you have to wire it right

Clamp them hard and do it tight

If you don’t they break in two

When you strike them with your shoe

Get it all set up and goin’

Plug it in and nothin’s showin’

Check it all with a volt meter

Skip a wire and you’re a cheater

And when you still don’t get power

Throw a wrench go take a shower

Next day when you’re at it still

Find out your controller’s ill

Then redo it put together

Hope that rain’s not in the weather

Find out that your cable’s wrong

Wow this’ now taking too long

All I want is my TV

Tools all over skinned my knee

Cables came redid them all

Will my power come on at all

No of course not that’s too easy

Batteries fried and I’m uneasy

Check the RV for the problem

Breakers sockets test all of ’em

Turns out that we’ll be just fine

Only use it at night time

What to do now what is next

Send the comp’ny email text

Hit the troubleshooting checklist

At the bottom and now I’m pissed

What the fuck did I do wrong

That I can’t turn my lights on

Feel so mad like I’ve been jerked

Bought a gas gen cause it works!







Energy = Power

What hasn’t someone come up with yet?

Energy is power out here (literally and figuratively). Power = survival.

I’m kind of glad, in a way, that our neighbors denied us a utility easement through their property. What is the saying, “necessity is the mother of invention”?

I’ll give you the perfect example of someone who created something new and better as a result of a being in a difficult situation. Roger Lehet of Unforgettable Fire LLC.

My son dated his daughter a few years back and that’s how I know him. Basically, he moved onto a boat during some really tough times. He needed a better way to heat the boat and I believe he experimented with different prototypes until he came up with a really efficient wood stove and created a company around it.

I’m always trying to make things better; improve on the existing so I understand where Roger was coming from when he designed his stove.

I was looking into alternative forms of energy today when I ran into something called a thermal electric generator. It basically uses differences in temperatures to generate electricity. One way is to use one in conjunction with a wood stove. I don’t understand how it works but it sounds intriguing.

I thought of Roger and his stove after reading about that so I messaged him to ask if he had considered moving in that direction with his stoves but to my embarrassment, he’s way ahead of me. He’s already branching out into the thermal electric field. I’m impressed with this guy.

Some other forms of generating electricity we’re looking at are:

  • Wind: we don’t get enough in our area unfortunately.
  • Hydroelectric: would have to be seasonal as we only have water flow in the winter.  I really want to try that. Might also be expensive (expensive for us at this point), unless we can build our own generator.
  • Adding to our solar: One of our best options and at a reasonable cost.
  • Thermal Electric: Need to learn more about this.
  • Geothermal: We’d need help exploring beneath our property. We have warm water coming up out of the bottom of our spring. Would have to wait until next year with better finances.
  • Steam generation? This is one I gotta look into more. Anything that uses basic wood burning to make electricity sounds interesting to me. Considering we’re afraid of our own hot water heater, I’m not sure about this one.

I’ve been thinking of other possible ways to generate electricity. It just seems there must be some way to harness heat, or energy of some form in a way no one has thought up yet. Heat from the sun turned into electricity somehow. Anything that moves in nature, and somehow turn that movement into electrical generation besides water. There has to be something out there…. Or a super efficient system that transforms small movement into much bigger somehow to generate electricity.

I know…ants! Harness their collective energy to make electricity. Just kidding.


I used to have an Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm. Might have to order a new one. They don’t call me crazy for nothing. 🙂

Would the energy of the falling ball be enough to transfer enough energy through the balls on the side to the top ball and cause it to fall and repeat the process?



Solar: The Learning Curve

e=mc/2 = 100 volts/230X67 + 6 batteries and 8 panels now, x the total amount of appliances you have divided by 50 percent of the watts needed to power Las Vegas – 10,000 liters and cubits divided by the number of hours in a typical day in Antarctica figured into whatever parallel you live at and reduce that by another 50 percent and add in the number of teeth your dog has.

That’s the formula for how to calculate how much power you’ll need, how many panels it’s going to take, how many batteries, and how many aspirin you’ll need for your new solar power system.

That is, if you want to use the washer/dryer on Tuesdays rather than Wednesdays and in the spring and not winter. If your preference is winter, redo your calculations and add 1.

End result: Throw your calculator in the garbage, just buy a damned system and figure things out as you go. My head would start spinning while I cruised the websites on calculating power consumption and getting the right system.

I looked at charts of average watts and amps used by various appliances and read about how many watts a solar panel produces and tried my damnedest to figure out how many batteries we’d need (depending on what size) and how configuring them differently would produce more volts or amps or something and less of something else.

I finally gave up and ordered the basic four panel starter kit from Windy Nation. After setting it up, we quickly discovered we needed more panels so I ordered four more along with a second charge controller.

I dug the calculator out of the trash and redid my calculations.

This time I came up with a number that clearly showed we were now at about a third of what we would need to produce 100 percent of our own power.

learning curve

Don’t get me wrong. I love solar power. After the initial cost it’s free! You can’t get better than that. I’m chomping at the bit for more panels. I’m still not sure about the number of batteries though. I’m pretty sure we’ll need more of those too and possibly a larger inverter.

For the time being though, we have a solid compliment to our current power system which is the generator.

You really do learn as you go. The best calculations can’t teach you real world experience. We’re learning about how long we can power the RV and with what appliances. We quickly learned that if an appliance has a mechanical part that must move, it takes a bunch of electricity to do that. A general rule: if it moves it eats power.

We replaced all the regular bulbs with LEDs and installed the infamous gas water heater Two Idiots, A Water Heater and a Hero, and are looking for a propane refrigerator. This is all just a period of tweaking. Give us a couple more months and more panels and we’ll be good to go.

Do I recommend solar? You betcha. Just be prepared for the brain-busting calculating (it might come easy to you), and be ready to learn as you go.

Hopefully your learning curve won’t be tied in knots like ours.