Ben Peterson

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since Aug 28, 2014
Been a lifelong fabricator and innovator. Just spent 7 years helping to revive and evolve wood gasification so people can make fuel from their own wood. That knowledge is now in a book, so I can start the next project, prototyping an entire village. I want to blend permaculture common sense with modest use of technology to make something really cool.
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Recent posts by Ben Peterson

Cristo- Charging cars and homes is what version 3 and the crowd funding project is all about. If you watch the video it goes into more detail on what v2 is for and what we are doing with v3 development. Just updated the crowdfunding video a day or two ago. Thanks
3 years ago
Thanks for all the great feedback everyone.

Kill-a-watt is a very valuable tool. I love mine.

The building is wood with metal siding. It has a series of 4x4 wood timbers underneath to support the weight.

The batteries in the recreational model are a marine deep cycle that is good for both storage and cranking power for a backup generator if needed. When we install batteries in the v3 we will of course go with big bad ass deep cycle batteries.

Has anybody found any other battery that they like? I saw the comment on AGM having a bit less juice. I was actually looking at a company in Utah that makes a seawater type battery. It will require some more research and real world testing. Tesla has the lithium batteries coming to market and you can get the forklift version of them now which is an option. There was a nickel type battery that was supposed to be pretty indestructable, but harder to get out of china.

I am powering the tools to build v3 with v2 electricity. I don't work 24/7, just 10/5 and not all of those hours are electricity consuming.

The v2 is a recreational model for camping and outdoor fun, charge an rv or tiny house.

Just added the last 2 panels onto v3. At present I still have plans to make the whole little building track the sun in the future, but obviously site conditions and budgets vary. A windy spot might be better served with more anchoring.

3 years ago
Just an update for those following. We are now at 1500 watts of capacity on the version 3 solar station and will add 500 more soon.

We went with a barn door style fold out thinga majiggie. Pardon the tech speak. Here is a photo or two that speaks louder than words:

3 years ago
Good point Steve.
3 years ago
Don- I left a gap along the front roof lip for a gutter for rainwater collection. You are right that it isn't a large surface area, but depending on where you live it could still add up quick. It rains alot here. I was thinking it could be possible to put a small water storage tank inside the shed if needed. I am going to put my composting toilet in mine and a little storage tank with a foot pump sink would be nice for washing hands.

Steve- There is no doubt you could put panels on any structure and if you already have a shed that may be the way to go for economy. But this particular shed design was built to take 3 small panels or two large panels and leave the mounting studs at the corners to dig into the thick wood beams. Plus the roof angle is optimized for solar performance. The nitty gritty is running the wires in a clean way and having appropriate placement of the batteries for sealed convection draft of any off gassing so its safe to sleep inside. The goal is to have space that is clean enough to use as an office or guest loft so it's more valuable than just a solar system or "bog standard shed." The material cost is dependent on where you live. I know many Permies readers live all over the world and will pay different amounts for things. In the US, I paid a little over $3000 for all the materials and hardware to finish it inside and out.

If anyone is debating the value of a $25 detailed, photo rich plan set then it's probably not for them. No big deal. I know that having a solar shed has been a great addition to the property because it gives me a place to put security lights at the end of my driveway, I can plug in my electric weedwacker without using 50 extension cords and my kids have taken it over as their playhouse (ah! peace)

What is your time worth? I know one extra trip to the hardware store (to get the right part) in my truck is gas money & time. More than $25, but hey everyone is different.

Thank you for our questions and comments. Keep them coming. Enjoy your Sunday.
3 years ago
Amber- I used off the shelf lead acid batteries so some ventillation is required if you want to spend time in the shed. I have a vent low and a vent up high in a sealed chamber so convection can handle it. I feel confident enough that I hang out in it and so do my kids. We will go to sealed AGM batteries in the future to avoid the need for this.

Allen- Flat pack is a good idea if there are local contractors to do the assembly.

I don't know what this project will turn into. It just seems like one of those ideas that is so obvious and yet its rare to see a solar shed and it doesn't seem to exist on any manufactured level at least not that I have found. Maybe a few small shed shops somewhere do it. The greatest untapped resource is mirror neurons. Billions of mirror neurons in billions of people. aka Monkey See, Monkey Do.

I think this will become like the tiny house movement. Lot's of people building their own versions to sell locally. It's not patented, but I don't want to venture into open source either because it has become an ideology of everything must be free by people who largely don't spend any of their own money on R&D. Even a relatively simple project like this still cost me over $15k in parts, trial & refinement and this darn Seattle rent. F Microsoft!

I would be most happy selling a shitload of plans and conducting workshops for local builders. I'm ultimately going to build my own little eco village with the various tech I've been working on. Making stuff is hard on the body. I've been building for 20 years and most of my actual profits end up with the massues or chiropractor!

Thank you for your feedback.
3 years ago
Yup, there are batteries in there.
3 years ago
Hey everyone,
Ben here, taking a break from woodgas for the summer to focus on this solar project I have been working on called Solar Station.

There is alot to love about solar, but I think it could be done better. Right now each install is custom, so it's slow. We as a society are adding more power consuming gadgets faster than we are adding renewable energy. My big idea is to make solar power scalable. Send these puppies off an assembly line like Henry Ford. To do that they need to arrive complete. Pre-installed, wired, inverted, with batteries. So I thought about it and the common garden shed is the ideal delivery mechanism for weapons of mass electrification.

By combining solar with a shed you have more flexibility on orientation toward the sun. You have a place to put your batteries outside of the house if they ever (god forbid) caught on fire. They are alot easier to clean. (dust and pollen) And you get extra space for storing stuff, outhouse, office or even a guest bed. Plus if you move, you can take it with you!

I put together one of those crowd funding thingies and despite the fact that I'm a noob (mistakes were made) and I launched it right before a major holiday it's doing alright.

What's in it for you?
-We have cheap photo rich plans for backers
-We have video workshops and other goodies so you can build your own
-Can't build right now? No big. You can send a plan set to a school instead and teach a whole bunch of young minds
-Plus a portion of the proceeds benefit permaculture shenanigans (of course)

Here is the link to solar goodness.

COMMENTS & FEEDBACK APPRECIATED (unless you are complaining about the price of a complete unit:)

Oh, I forgot to mention that the money being raised is going toward construction of a BIGGER Solar Station, v3, to power homes and charge cars or even tractors! We are 1/3 funded, so we have already begun building the larger station and will update the campaign page with our progress throughout the month. Note: We can't finish v3 without reaching our goal, so please share a link to this page with your network so we know that visitors are Permies.

3 years ago
Hey everybody! This is a follow up to an earlier thread about the Wood Gasifier Builder's Bible.

My birthday is coming up and my wish is that more people would check out woodgas, like millions more. So I set up free online access to read the book and included a share link that you can share with like minded "back to the land" types folks. It's good for 7 days and you don't have to give me your email or anything markety like that. I want to see if this could go viral.

If you like what you read and you decide to buy something please use code Permies-15 to save 15% on your purchase and then I can kick down some cash to Paul for devious plots and world domination shenanigans.

3 years ago
Thanks for having me guys. When I get the addresses I will send out the books!
4 years ago