Jeremy Baker

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since Feb 19, 2013
Keen student of Nature. World traveler. Managed properties, permaculture sites, nature guiding, plant nursery and propagation, energy efficient design and heating, solar technology, electric vehicles. Building a custom RV to see as much of N. America and Central Anerica as possible.
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Recent posts by Jeremy Baker

What about a Advanced Teacher Training? Or Advanced Permaculture Course?  I know people who have never taken a course in their lives and possibly never will. Interestingly they own land I do not. They are extremely independent and put financing their own land first. I would prefer to move about Ive decided. So joining in with classes and workshops once in a while makes sense to me. I want to be part of a global village. But I’d like to hear more about how folks earn their way while moving around. It’s been challenging.
My idea is to have a nice short bus and cargo trailer with solar energy parked in the USA for use a few months of the year. Id like to something that unites people. Thanks and best wishes
2 hours ago
Dillon, whoa, 8000 watts is big! That might be two pallets worth. I’ll likely use one pallet full of panels of the highest efficiency [~17%] I can find as shipping on a pallet full is cheapest cost per panel and easiest for the shipper too. Actually it is called “freight” when it’s a pallet full and goes down into a cheaper rate than “shipping”.  Way cheaper per panel rate in bulk but still can be $300-$400 for the pallet load. By the pallet is what I recommend to folks looking for panels. Or split a pallet load with someone else.
 So it’s not very scientific doing it this way. More practical. I call it “growing a system”. A pallet is usually between 20-24 medium sized panels. So 20@200 watts, for example, is 4000 watts to 4800 watts. Plenty for a simple 120 volt workshop. But I forgot to mention charging my goal of charging a golf cart. Now it’s starting to stretch the the system. Grid tied simplifies system design and use greatly. The golf cart can charge from solar during the day mostly using grid use timers. With the grid available as backup for the nights just in case.
 Another big savings is to use locally available unistrut for the solar array racking. Sometimes it’s called superstrut. I’ve built many racks, tilting, flat, or sloped with only unistrut, bolts and the unistrut joining plates. No welding required. 40,000 miles on my cargo trailer rack and I haven’t found a loose bolt yet. Welding is a nice luxury but not necessary most of the time. Unistrut even makes heavy hinges for building a tilting array OR big gate hinges from a hardware store can be bolted on.  Also the panels bolt right into unistrut with 1/4” *20  thread “clamp nuts” that slide down the unistrut track. Use stainless bolts and washers.
 My van has 240 watts and two @60 AH batteries on it. I can run small power tools but have not tested how long for with the van. I try to never run my batteries below 50% depth of discharge so bring the cargo trailer, inverter technology generator, or both if it’s a lengthy job. The inverter technology generator starts, depending on sunshine on the panels and battery state of charge, if I’m going to run a power tool or load for a long time.
 I like to have 800 watts or more if possible. I like to have extra panels then think of ways to use the features of PWM load diversion to use the surplus energy for hot water. Load diversion or auxiliary relays are standard on many charge controllers. Building a energy system involves a lot of “sizing” components. For example, my inverter runs on 24 volts DC. A 30 amp charge controller is rated for 720 watts at 24 volts. So in this example a 800 watt solar array is a good size. The charge controller limits the current and dissipates surplus energy in the form of heat but that isn’t likeky to happen. Maybe dissipates for a few seconds with “edge of cloud effect”.
 Having a huge heavy battery may not be practical if one is driving long distances or everyday. Having a inverter technology generator and a little fuel as backup weighs much less. My cargo trailer has 6@ 60AH batteries (roughly 350 lbs).  So it’s about trade offs. I’ve never heard anyone say “I’ve got too many panels” lol. Yet to see any in the thrift stores. That’ll be the good day.
Thanks Paul for that blast from the past. That cart at the Bullocks might be the same solar cart I was inspired by about 20 years ago. Carts and trailers make a lot of sense. I built a 1100 watt solar energy system for a single axle cargo trailer. That system has powered a lot of tools for a lot of good projects. And also powered outdoor kitchens with bread machines, countertop convection ovens, electric kettles, smoothie maker, and electric programmable pressure cooker.
This year the concept is getting upscaled to a 42 foot semi trailer that will be part workshop, part materials storage, and covered in solar panels. To be determined is if the excess energy can be sold back to the grid from this trailer. I’m guessing they may require the wheels and axles removed for grid tie application. Which may be what happens as the title is lost and I dont want to pay it moved again from my budget. But who knows what the future holds.  
Well, I’d like to use this decent small permanent magnet Lakota turbine I’ve had for a few years. It’s has about a 5-6 foot windswept area. Weighs 34 lbs for the alternator and blades. Has carbon fiber blades.
I’ve moved to a site with more exposure to wind and less air turbulence. My new location has a fairly tall wooden pole about 30 feet tall only 50 feet away from the battery. Problem is I don’t feel like climbing a pole even if I had spikes and harness. Joint concerns. And then there’s maintenance access to consider, raising and lowering. A idea for fabricating a metal turbine tower pole that tilts up and is supported by clamps to the wood pole comes to mind. Maybe it could click into a latch at the top. And a rope and pulley at the top also to raise and lower the tower? This design would require someone climbing to attach the latch and pulley. I could attach the lower hinge to the wood pole myself.
I suppose the other way is to slide a metal tower pole up the wood pole and clamp it about 2/3 the way up. That’s as far as my ladder will reach. A hinged tower sounds better for installation and maintenance while down at ground level.
Does anyone know of any suitable hardware that is available?. Or will fabricating hardware be required? Thanks
6 days ago
Thank you. I took the survey. I’ve wondered about the influence of “micro” renewable energy on individuals, families, and society. I also wonder who, what portion of the population, will be sampled by this survey. The population of Permies in addition to whom else?? I have given much thought to how a web based survey is done.
I was slow. The survey took about 15-20 minutes. Coffee still kicking in. Stay with it past the first page of questions if your looking for questions directly pertaining to micro renewable energy.
6 days ago
I love it! Yay to the microbes. Thanks for the timely link. I connected a salvaged sink and kitchen faucet outside my off-grid cabin yesterday and noticed the faucet aerator is missing. I'd like "fluffy" soft water and even more need to conserve water. I haul water and the barrel goes down very quickly!!  The 12 volt RV pumping I'm using is doing too good a job. Hopefully a flow reducing aerator will help. And yay for running water with friendly microbes.
8 months ago
The Polar sheds look very cozy. If they are price competitive with wood sheds that's what I would consider if I'd didnt prefer cargo trailers. The cargo trailer route is even better in my opinion. This previous Winter I saw many converted cargo trailers. I was quite impressed with them.
On a side note I've seen people make simple foam structures inside their homes by glueing the foam sheets together into big boxes. On another side note I saw there are videos on DIY paneling covered foam interiors for campers. These structures are more complex and aesthetically pleasing.
If I had access to a nice shop and lots of aluminum I would build a custom cargo trailer using aircraft construction similar to Airsteam trailers. Mine would be taller. And a blank slate like a cargo trailer with a wood stove.
8 months ago
It's great to see some responses. Thanks Christopher. I'll call you. I'm almost back to a place to regroup in N. Idaho. The places I visited in N. Arizona, W. Colorado were very worthwhile, educational, and inspirational. I definitely recommend visiting other permaculture sites and folks. Perspective is priceless.  
 I'm excited to build a cordwood addition, heated cob floor, and rocket mass heater/water heater in Idaho this Spring/Summer, 2018. Hope to learn how to document better. Will update soon.
10 months ago
Hello Dan. Is that Viewstsr 404 a older Renogy charge controller? I don't see it on their website. I hope your charge controller didn't go bad.  They sometimes go bad when a system is worked on. Some charge controllers only like to be connected to the battery before the solar. I always turn the battery on first but gave forgotten a couple times.
Some charge controllers have auto detect for the battery voltage. I was trying to look yours up. Some have dip switches inside to adjust voltage settings.
If you do indeed have three 12 volt panels in series then you should not need to change them for a 24 volt system. 2 in series is the minimum for a 24 volt system.
I'm assuming you upgraded to a 24 volt inverter and battery from a 12 volt inverter and battery. If the 404 charge controller will auto adjust to 24 volts then it should work unless something else is incorrect. Such as a dip switch inside the charge controller needs to be changed from 12 to 24.  
If that doesn't fix it check the input voltage to the charge controller and let us know. Check fuses or breakers.
10 months ago
Thanks for contacting me Gary. My quest to bring beauty down to Earth continues. I'm definitely learning a lot about what other permaculture people are doing from this great forum. And learning from my current situation with a modified solar motorhome and a converted Van. Winters are the biggest challenge. Practicing permaculture in the South would have definite advantages.
Hooray, it looks like I'm headed to Colorado next via central Arizona. I've gotten two fantastic contacts in Western Colorado now which are on my way back to Idaho. I'm excited to see some of Colorado as I've heard so much about it. And see some of the Canyonlands of Utah. In Colorado I'm going to help survey potential for a micro hydro energy system among other things.
My Winter in Arizona was mostly a flop as far as permaculture is concerned. I found zero permaculture contacts on the West side of the state. I was majorly distracted by the logistics of obtaining dental work in Los Algodones, Mexico. Now that is done I can get back on track. I read about the SE Arizona "Sky islands". This area sounds amazing. I wish I had time and funds to go there now. There is arable land near diverse mountains near Mexico. Sounds great to me!
I was not idle all Winter. I built 2 Solar energy systems. One in West Palm Beach to charge electric Porsche conversions. Another in Arizona to light and power a business with solar. And I improved my solar energy, built a custom heater, modified my expedition rack on the Van, and refined my solar cooking and diet.
 I also planned to go to N. Cal to help with some beautiful land on a mountain but unfortunately it's on hold. A 4x4 is needed to access the property and I don't have one. " Oh Lord Won't You Buy Me A Mercedes Benz 4x4 Sprinter Van". It's a worthy project to also develop a animal rehab center. The Klamath/Siskyou area is amazing.
Ive learned that at 6'5" tall  my regular height van is not comfortable for long term use. I bang my head if I start having any fun. So if I plan to continue doing roving permaculture a high top vehicle, like a Sprinter van, is required (I left my big motorhome in storage until I find a new semi permanent place for it).
  So, in a nutshell, I'm headed back to Northern Idaho to regroup via Colorado.
 It's hard to find a good base to do roving permaculture from. The timing and logistics are difficult. I'll work on my permaculture charismatic megafauna skills.
Funding is a whole other challenge. There's obviously lots of funds in the world for exploitative and extractive activities. Funds for creative and regenerative activities are a whole different challenge. Luckily I don't require a lot. But the initial vehicle infrastructure is spendy even when I do most of the DIY improvements myself. Currently I have a too big and a too small vehicle. It's sounds like the story of the Three Bears. I'm hoping with a Sprinter Van I'll get it " just right". And better fuel mileage.
That's my update for now. Happy Spring

11 months ago