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Tom Connolly

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since Apr 20, 2013
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Recent posts by Tom Connolly

Using solar power (PV cells) has been around for about 40 years now.  For those of you who have taken the plunge - especially those of you who have designed and built your house from the ground up, what are your regrets?  The things when you say "I wish I had done xyz!".  I am looking for really practical things like "I wish I had put more/fewer outlets in the house"  or I wish I had used more/fewer propane appliances.  I would like you to share your "mistakes" with the rest of the world so that we don't have to make the same ones - we can make our own new ones ;)
1 week ago
Are there some vegetables that naturally have a longer shelf life than others?  I am thinking especially of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers....
Hmmm Good points!  Costco's cheese prices are starting to look pretty good!
I would like to find an animal that is relatively small and easy to care for so that I can get some milk..but most importantly, to get some cheese.  Ideally, something like cottage cheese, cream cheese and mozarella - those kinds of cheeses.  Would only be for 2 people. Any ideas?  
I am looking at something to filter water for household use.  Yes, the RO and UV bother me.  Those are the suggestions I get on most other I turn to you, my partners in grime, for a solution that is maintainable :)  If winters were not so cold where I have my land, I would consider user water plants as a prefiltration system.
1 month ago  This link shows a simple bio-water filtering system.  It is 3x5gallon plastic tubs stacked one on top of another.  The top one is filled with gravel, the middle with sand and the bottom with activated charcoal.  It actually reminds me of the water filters that I had in my aquariums!  This is probably the cheapest system I have seen but how effective is it?  I usually like things as simple as possible but for a water filtration system I am trying to look at multiple parts so that I have a backup.  I was thinking a 275 gallon ibc tote planted with water hyacinths might be a good preliminary filter, as well as a settling pond, though a settling pond would have to be bigger than the tote.  There are fiber filters that work well to screen out objects...diatomaceous earth..uv...RO...then the gravel, sand and activated charcoal...  Questions: does making this more complex make it more fool proof?  Open to any discussion here as to thought process and logic for setting up a water filtration system.  
1 month ago

James Freyr wrote:

Tom Connolly wrote:... what are the other options for removing arsenic?  

Reverse osmosis filters will remove arsenic, and everything else too, and unrefined sea salt is one good way to add minerals back to the water.

Thanks!  That is one option.  It does "waste" water, but the wasted water could be diverted to water flowering plants and shrubs.
2 months ago

James Freyr wrote:

Tom Connolly wrote:Because of many years of mining - and poorly managed water use - arsenic levels in the ground water in Northern Nevada - and maybe other places - is rather high.  I am looking at ways of addressing this issue.

You'll be ok distilling water without arsenic carrying over into the collection vessel. Arsenic is heavier than water, and its sublimation point at which it goes from a solid metal to a gas is 1137°F. Any arsenic in the water to be distilled will be left behind in the distillation vessel.

Thank you! At the risk of hijacking my own thread, what are the other options for removing arsenic?  I have seen some rather inexpensive solar stills for water that do distillation - inexpensive but large - that are easy to maintain.  One option I was thinking of was to distill part of the water - enough to remove some of the arsenic.  I am aware of the benefits of the TDS in water...must make wise choices here.  My idea is to start out with some simple mechanical filtration - probably activated charcoal or even a fabric prefilter.  Some kind of settling pond or tank might be in order if there is a lot of silt or solid particulate in the water.  I am not sure what to do beyond that.  Right now I am going off of data collected from neighbors and the water district, which should be pretty similar to what I will find.
2 months ago
Because of many years of mining - and poorly managed water use - arsenic levels in the ground water in Northern Nevada - and maybe other places - is rather high.  I am looking at ways of addressing this issue.
2 months ago
Interesting read! There is a hybrid of what you have suggested and that is to have one collection of solar panels with multiple batteries.  For example, you can have one battery that is only used to power your fridge/freeze appliances and one for your well, so that if your xyz appliance goes wild and drains the main batteries, your food will not perish and you will still have water.  You will have to sit down and do the math about $$ to see how it all pans out.  DC is inefficient over distance  That is one of the reasons why panels are usually put on the roof of the house where the energy is being used (the second being easier to secure from theft. Putting them on the roof also mitigates the upfront cost of installation but have I have heard from a number of roofing contractors most roof mounted panels cause excessive wear on the roof, which will cost more $$ in the long run).   If you want redundancy with your collection of solar panels, has anyone considered keeping them all in one spot but installing 2 controllers- one to control half of the panels and the second to control the other half?  You should factor in a generator in there somewhere as back-up.  If you only have one collection of solar panels, mounting and maintaining a bu generator might be easier to do.
2 months ago