• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Mike Jay
  • Anne Miller
  • Jocelyn Campbell
stewards:
  • Devaka Cooray
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton
gardeners:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Daron Williams

PEP badge brainstorming: electricity (including solar stuff, 12v stuff, etc)  RSS feed

 
master steward
Posts: 26636
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When Alan Booker was here last summer, he had a contraption that he would point at a light switch or an outlet and it would say "fine" or "sucky".    If it said "sucky" then Alan would say "somebody needs to pull that out, give it a massage, a band-aid and a few kind words and put it back in and then retest it.  If you don't, it will soon fail and possibly burn this structure down."   (it is possible that his "to do" list was different for the sucky thing)

I really liked the idea of this as part of the sand badge for electricity.  If the test says "sucky" pull it out, mend it, put it back in and retest it.  Repeat until happy.  I thought this would have a fair bit of education plus it accomplished a good thing.  

An email to Alan reveals that this process might be a bit more complicated than I thought.   It might not be optimal for people seeking a sand badge.   I wish there was a $50 contraption that would do this on amazon.

More about what Alan said in a moment.

For now, this thread is about fleshing out the badges for electricity.     This should include some solar stuff and some maintenance stuff.  And some regular 110v AC stuff.  

For sand badge, I have this so far:

Lead Acid Battery maintenance on three batteries
  add distilled water
  hydrometer test
  clean posts
  test if battery is holding a charge


For later badges:

build a battery backup system - like the stuff found here.


make a small solar cart out of a garden cart.  Something that will play music, charge phones, maybe a few other teeny tiny electrical things.  






make a solar pump - when the sun is out, the water pumps


add a 110v AC outlet somewhere


add a 110v AC light with a light switch somewhere


add something new to the breaker box


make  a tiny solar power system for a small cabin that has zero AC stuff - everything is DC


make a tiny solar power system for a small cabin that has two AC inverters on timers
   - one inverter is 200 watts
   - one inverter is 3000 watts
   - the timer can be set for half an hour up to (maybe) four hours before all power it taken away from the inverter

add 12v or 110v wiring, lights and outlets to a small cabin


Maintenance or repair for an electric bicycle or an electric golf cart



Set up an outdoor electric car charging station

Set up an outdoor electric power outlet


It begins!  What else can be added here to flesh out these badges?





 
gardener
Posts: 906
Location: mountains of Tennessee
244
bee books cat cattle chicken dog homestead hugelkultur hunting solar foraging
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Seems like some sort of intro to Ohm's law & the fundamentals of electronics could be worked in. Somehow. Perhaps something about choosing appropriate wire gauges, etc. Proper soldering & unsoldering. On the other hand, the mere fact that someone builds a system that actually works good is enough proof that they have learned these basic concepts or at least can follow directions well.
 
master steward
Posts: 7638
Location: Pacific Northwest
2579
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids sheep foraging wood heat
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm thinking that, since this badge is playing with electricity, that the sand badge might benefit from some really rudimentary electronics knowledge. I know I don't have enough to work on the higher level stuff. I think some building-blocks of knowledge would be good, rather akin to making the mallet in roundwood.

So, maybe really simple stuff, like putting a wire cap on wires, turning of breaker boxes, installing a light fixture, putting in a plug in? And, a bit more complicated stuff. I don't even know what the slightly-more-complicated stuff is...which I think is a good reason to teach it. You probably don't want someone who can't ID a ground wire vs the wire that bring electricity mixing them up in a plug-in and frying a system. (Story: someone rewired stuff and put a brings-energy-in wire into the groundwire place. When my brother plugged something in, twice as much power went into the appliance as was supposed to, and a bunch of stuff got fried).

Anyway, looking at Paul's list, I wouldn't want to attempt ANY of it without a lot more rudimentary work before hand, because I have no idea what wires do. I'm probably not the only one...
 
Posts: 1
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
MAy be my first post, but here it goes, since I deal with solar constantly.

Basic badge can easily involve a lot of that.. 12 volt single battary, why you want a charge controller, the wattage of your panel and battery sizes and usefulness.

More advanced, using different voltage batteries, 3v, 6v, 12v... Stuff to learn why its better to advance to the more intricate charge controllers, why the lower voltage gives you a better reserve to fall back on for battery life.

Extremely advanced.  MPPT handling, diversion/dump loads so you dont "nuke" your batteries?  In all stages like Mike mentioned, why you want to solder, sizing everything to your load and distance the load must carry is a given.

Easily able to get a Bronze/Silver/Gold setup right away with that idea.

Further, helper sub badge? helping set up and train others to understand HOW to wire their battery banks and Panels to achieve the voltages needed for the power changes?

Distant... Panel setup to capture maximum amounts of power, moving solar panel holders so they can always get maximum direct sunlight, the pro's and cons of the setups?

Hopefully I helped add a bit more idea and insight.

Both the starter, post, and I gotta give credit to Mike..some excelent ideas, all a matter to admins and all on how to run it.
 
gardener
Posts: 460
Location: SoCal USA
72
bike cat dog tiny house trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would add my 2 cents to emphasize the "always safety first" aspect of each level for electrical. While there are lots of things that can kill us, I expect the average person to show some basic sense towards a running chain saw or felling large trees (although that is a risky assumption)... but how in the world could that little bare wire kill me just because I touched it?!?!

Perhaps there's already a plan to include the standard chunk of legalese to every BB so this covered. Best to cover all the bases in our litigious society though!
 
Mark Tudor
gardener
Posts: 460
Location: SoCal USA
72
bike cat dog tiny house trees
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
While these are usually more hands-on, what about:

"calculate sun hours for your site during winter use"
"determine expected load using use monitor like kill-a-watt"
"calculate storage needs based on estimated use and depth of discharge"
"generate current using people power"

These seem like important initial steps for most off-grid systems.
 
Posts: 59
12
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To build on what Nicole suggested about rudimentary initial skills for those with no experience handling electricity perhaps an early project might be constructing some sort of simple battery powered light where you would need to learn to wire together the light bulb or perhaps LEDs with an on/off switch, and connect to a small battery to supply power.  I'm suggesting a small battery, like some AA's or perhaps a 9 volt battery, so that the dangers of electrocution are minimal.  You might be able to shock yourself if it was done wrong, but you probably wouldn't seriously hurt yourself.
 
Posts: 212
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
30 years ago one of my first classes in my electronics curriculum at the local Community College was called "Servicing Techniques".  Sadly that class is no longer offered, but it was one of the best things I've ever seen regarding working around electricity (line voltage) as well as circuit boards.  It has served me well over the years.  I'll have to spend some time thinking back but I would like to contribute to this effort.  I have almost no experience with solar so I don't feel I can add to that.

Some BB's to create:
Safety - Knowing what the dangers are and how to work safely
Know and do the various splices (I can't remember them all but the two main ones are pigtail and inline)
Soldering
Proper way to apply electrical tape
Testing house wiring/plugs
Create/repair an extension cord by adding ends to wire
How to wire a plug & switch
3-way & 4-way switchs
build 12v or 5v DC power supply
 
Posts: 194
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think this is where your "skilz" emphasis might hit a snag. No one should touch electric stuff before a solid theoretical knowledge of what electricity is and what is happening in those wires. First, of course, is the safety, but there's also a lot of money on the line. You can ruin some pricey equipment in real short order.

If you want a badge, I would say make it something on paper. Like, draw an electric diagram of any of those systems you mention Paul. But there's no way I would advise asking people to do those tasks without knowing if they have proper supervision or training.
 
Mike Barkley
gardener
Posts: 906
Location: mountains of Tennessee
244
bee books cat cattle chicken dog homestead hugelkultur hunting solar foraging
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some suggestions for sand badge consideration.

Replace an outlet, light switch, or light fixture safely. Show some sort of lock out/tag out procedure & verify with a KNOWN GOOD meter that the device is OFF before replacing the device. Show the new device installed & working. This is a skill that almost everyone could use at some time or another.

Wire cutting & wire stripping. Perhaps using several different techniques & tools. It's not difficult but I've seen terribly unsafe examples. Maybe the use of wire nuts or crimped splices or a terminal block along with the fresh stripped wires.

I strongly discourage the use of electrical tape. It has a purpose but it's not the cure all prevent all miracle stuff some people try to use it for. Shrink tubing is generally much safer & easy enough for sand badge.

Securing outdoor wires so they won't chafe the insulation & cause sparks.

Eliminating those cheesy outlet expanders that allow multiple things plugged into one socket. Or too many extension cords. Or cords hidden under rugs. A good surge protector is one thing but no use asking for electrical fires.

Maybe baby proofing all outlets with the plastic cap inserts.

Showing a fire extinguisher rated for electrical fires mounted in the shop or somewhere central.

Demonstrating the use of a simple outlet tester.     https://www.lowes.com/pd/Southwire-Analog-120-Volt-GFCI-Receptacle-Tester/50129726

Maybe a few ugly pix of the consequences of doing it wrong!!!


These tasks (& the battery maintenance) all emphasize the safety aspect. They also seem like logical useful starting points for the average homeowner/builder.

I would almost suggest demonstrating all the basic functions of a multimeter as part of sand badge but that can be bypassed with simpler/alternate meters that folks might already own. So DVM functions might be a better starting point for the next badge.
 
master steward
Posts: 13232
Location: Left Coast Canada
2721
books chicken fiber arts cooking sheep writing
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My first big solar project was to create a light on a timer for the hens.  (the advantage is to mimic the day length that chickens are used to because our winters are too dark and the hens were starving from not eating enough - 2hour longer days and we have healthy hens.)

I needed a battery, solar panel strong enough, controller thingy, timer, and light, and wires.  

The one I liked better was a motion sensor light for one of the sheds.  Also, battery and solar powered, much easier to set up.

 
Acetylsalicylic acid is aspirin. This could be handy too:
The Home Grown Food Summit - Starts March 18!
https://permies.com/t/107118/Home-Grown-Food-Summit-Starts
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!