Peter VanDerWal

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since May 28, 2017
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bee bike fish greening the desert solar woodworking
Working on setting up a sustainable household. Currently have a solar array that produces more than we use, an expanding garden, small (3000 gallon) rainwater collection system, L2L system, kitchen rinse sink grey water system. working on shower grey water, expanding rainwater collection and building an aquaponics greenhouse.
Southern Arizona. Zone 8b
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Recent posts by Peter VanDerWal

Is this like the 10 types of people in the world, those that understand binary, and those that don't?  
1 month ago
I'm so glad I have good insurance.  My insulin and supplies (pumps, CGMs, etc.) would cost me over $1500 a month without insurance (I only pay about $150).

Just in case you didn't know, what you are doing is illegal (although it's not often enforced).  Still you might want to avoid bragging about it online.

Also, according to officials in Canada, the majority of so called "Canadian" pharmacies are operating illegally, and many are not even in Canada and often sell counterfeit drugs.
1 month ago
If it's a 450AH bank, you'd want at least 45 amps of charging to keep it healthy.   In general, lead-Acid batteries work best when charged at their C/10 rate (capacity / 10), at least for the bulk charging phase.
1 month ago
Large truck (Semi's) use 24V systems, including 24V alternators.

Also, when searching for solutions, it often helps if you use the correct terms.  "Transformers" only work with AC circuits, for example standard 120V /240V systems.  Transformers do NOT work with DC systems (batteries).

You use "DC to DC converters" to go from one DC voltage to another.  Specifically a "Buck" converter to reduce voltage and/or a "Boost" converter to increase voltage. Perhaps a Buck/Boost if you need one that can do either.

Final thought.  Alternators (cars or trucks) will happily produce over 100V.  As you know, the regulator controls the voltage, replace the regulator you can change the voltage.  Unless you get way over 100 volts, what damages alternators is pushing too much current through them not the voltage.
1 month ago
I can't say for sure whether it will work or not, but my understanding is that "catalytic" converters are designed to burn specific substances.
Diesel converters are designed to work with oxygen, carbon monoxide, and unburned hydrocarbons.   I doubt it would work with creosote & soot, etc.  Or it might actually get really hot, possibly to unsafe levels.

Unless you can find an expert you trust, I would error on the side of caution and spend the extra money.
1 month ago
For most locations you can find rain fall history data.  Rather than using generic rules, or world wide averages, etc.  I think it's best to dig up that data and design your system around rain fall patterns for YOUR specific area.

The things I looked for were things like:  longest period without ANY measurable rain (1 year in my area), the most rain in any one hour, and daily rain patterns.

With this information I've decided to build tanks large enough to hold one years worth of water for my household, 15,000 will just cover household use,  20,000 would  give me enough to keep my fruit and nut trees alive (but probably not productive)
Note: I'm capturing grey water for use in irrigation

The 1 hour max tells me how large the pipes  need to be from gutters to tanks, you don't really need to build to the one hour max unless it frequently rains that hard, but if you can come close then you won't lose any significant amounts of rain from overflowing.

With a spreadsheet, you can use your average daily consumption, average daily rainfall, and tank size to determine how much capture area you need to keep the tank adequately full. With that information I've determined that I need at least another 500 sq ft of roof (hmm, covered parking)

I'm not building for worst case, just good enough for 99% of the time.  Worse case I can buy water from one of my neighbors who has a well, or pay to have it hauled in.
1 month ago
Grid tied solar is cheap, off grid solar is probably 5-6 times as expensive, but still doable.  Don't waste your time or money on wind.

Fruit and nut trees require huge amounts of water.  Depending on where exactly this land is, you might get enough from rain, or might not.

As for livestock, you can be self sustaining with chickens for sure.  Maybe with ducks, but ducks generally want a pond and that may or may not be a problem.
Eggs are an excellent source of high quality protein, and the feed conversion ratio of chicken (meat) and eggs close to the best available.

You're not going to be self sustaining with any of the larger animals, not on 12 acres.  You can certainly raise a few of them, with a lot of external inputs, but you don't have enough land to sustain a viable breeding population.

If you were to use the entire 12 acres for pasture and hay, you might be able to support ONE milk cow, and nothing else.  A milk cow goes through about 100 lbs of food per day.  A dairy goat (especially a dwarf) would be a better option, assuming you can tolerate the taste.  I wouldn't bother with a bull, that's a LOT of food just to support breeding once a year.  Although you could buy a bull calf, raise it up to breed once and then slaughter it.  But that's still a lot of feed that you'll need to get from somewhere else, and beef has one of the lowest feed conversion ratios.  It takes 4-5 times as much food to raise a pound of beef compared to a pound of chicken/eggs

The feed conversion ratio for pork is about 1/2 way between chicken and beef.
2 months ago
Freecycle can be awesome, or horrible depending on the local "moderator".

I used to use it a lot, then we got a moderator that started rejecting 1/2 my posts.  Ok, on one post where I was offering free pond plants and made a comment that I would also be willing to trade for other pond related items, I can maybe see rejecting that one.  But she also reject a post where I was looking for something and stated that I'd be willing to travel "anywhere" to pick it up, she rejected it because I didn't list where "specifically" I'd be willing to drive.  Pretty soon hardly anyone was posting anymore so I quit.

But as long as you don't have that type of situation, it can be a wonderful.
2 months ago
I watched them install a huge solar farm near me.   NONE of the posts were set in concrete.  They had special machines that simply drove the steel posts about 4-5 feet into the ground.

What I have done in the past is to dig a 2-3 foot deep post hole (like you would for concrete footing) and then set 4x4 posts in it and fill the hole with pea gravel.  Once you compact the pea gravel , it is almost as durable as concrete.

FWIW that structure will NOT survive any significant wind without being anchored some how.  Wind blowing over the panels will create 'lift' and flip it over.
2 months ago