Heating water for a shower or water to circulate in a floor radiator or under floor heating system is accomplished with the same method.
This is the concept. Anything black or very dark colored absorbs solar radiation or heat energy. Anything light colored or mirrored/shiny reflects the heat back up into the atmosphere. This process involves placing several feet of black hose in the sun and circulating a liquid inside the tubes to leach the heat out. This heat is then released inside a water tank for heating water or radiator system to warm your home. It is not possible to retain 100% of the solar energy. This is where the word efficiency comes into play. While black objects absorb much of the sunlight’s heat, some is lost due to reflection, atmospheric leaching and wind. Realistically we will be capturing about 60% of the solar heat.
I get asked several times a week about "DIY make your own solar panels". Many people see websites offering this information and assume it is a "from scratch process". The question is actually a bit deceiving and similar to "building your own computer". Making "solar cells" is a complex process using a form of silicon and can best be equated to "making an Intel Processor", not a likely DIY in your garage or backyard task. On the other hand, making a "solar panel" is more like "building a computer" where a pre-manufactured processor is combined with a custom ready to install hard drive etc.
One project that is needed is a larger firewood shed. It has become painfully evident this winter that we don't have enough dry wood storage space. That means wood gathering in the dead of winter, not a fun task! Since woodburning is one of the things that has worked out well here for comfort and utility cost reduction, it will be a priority project. The tentative plan now is to build a 16' x 5' shed w/tin roof.
The next project will be doubling the size of our garden. We plan on planting roughly a 250 sq. ft. area. As it stands now we will be planting sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, beans, and onions. We have installed two 4'x4' raised beds. One has spices already planted in it and the other will be for onions. We have two compost bins in operation and hope to get some product to use this spring. We also planted a blueberry bush this fall and mulched it with pine needles, a tip Garden Girl had on one of her videos! We put in a shelf in front of a patio door to use as a plant starter area.
My wife and I became interested in alt. energy in 1995 when we first got access to the internet at home. I had seen solar panels installed at some buildings here in West Virginia, and was fascinated by the idea of self generated power that I knew was clean and green. After researching solar and wind power over the years we finally decided to try solar power first. Having a little working knowledge of electricity also helped. We watched videos of self installations and gained enough confidence to try it. We started small with one 80 watt panel and two 12v batteries and had success!
Once we were successful with this project, it gave us encouragement to try some other projects including a small wind generator and a bicycle powered generator. I don't know how best to explain it but once we saw the working end result of our labor we were quickly enticed to do more. There is just something wonderful and gratifying about generating some of your own power, especially when you did the installation yourself.
Open blinds and Shades on cold days. By letting the sun in, you will get simple passive solar energy from the sun. Be sure to close them after the sun goes down.
Use a pressure cooker or slow cooker, and try to cook more one pot meals. That will save energy from using all the burners on your stove.
Use LED lights this Holliday Season. LED lights are much more efficient and look nice too.
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