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Jt Lamb

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since Jun 22, 2021
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Recent posts by Jt Lamb

If a location requires a septic system, and does not have an "alternative methods" process, I've found that it is best to put in a septic system to satisfy the authorities. You'll be on record as having an "approved system" onsite.

You can install this system yourself, in most cases ... we installed ours for around $2500, whereas the cost to have it installed (at the time) was around $5000.

Once installed, then you can do your own thing with greywater and blackwater (responsibly, of course) ... there are numerous solutions for greywater, and humanure and/or your composting toilets for the blackwater side, among other more esoteric solutions.

However, the septic system is always there for fallback if neighbors complain, authorities intervene for whatever reason, and so on.
3 hours ago
I'd keep your panels, and revise other components to include mppt charge controller (approx $100 to $200), pure sine wave inverter ( approx $300 to $500), and skip the golf cart batteries in favor of one (or more) 100ah LiFePO4 batteries (approx $300 to $500) each.

The goal is simplification, and FLA batteries won't simplify your life ... they will add complication. They are maintenance intensive, messy, fume-dangerous, and come with a 50% capacity penalty (buy 4 to get the capacity of 2). They are possibly inexpensive in a golf-cart scenario, where they can take the abuse of minimum-wage employees handling 100's of them, but have little place these days in a RE system. Most folks kill their first set of FLA batteries, for many reasons.

It's the total opposite with LiFePO4 batteries ... little to no capacity penalty, way more lifetime cycles, no maintenance, much less heavy and therefore easier to work with and accommodate, and more. It's the future technology, available now.

Otherwise, the FLA batteries will pile up on your property like dead cars on concrete blocks.

If you stay 12v, then get one 12v LiFePO4 battery ... if you move to 24v, as others have discussed, then get two 12v's, placed in series for 24v operation.
7 hours ago
Looked through it all, and my take on it was ... too commercial, big-system oriented ... good info at a theoretical level perhaps, but with little application to the homestead/permaculture site who is or will be dealing with power. Very little within technical reach and cost.

I'd guess that, out of permies readership, 95% of everyone is on-grid (drawing power from a public utility), and maybe 5% or so is off-grid (generating their own power), as we are.

On-grid: consider isolating yourself from public utility outages with RE batteries (buffer), standby generators (power generation); possibly add lots of solar panels, if feasible. Without these, no protection from grid brown-outs or blackouts; no protection from "the big one", like a TX-style outage, which isn't supposed to happen, but does.

Off-grid: No issue with power outages of any size (brownout, blackout, "the big one"), by definition. We use LiFePO4 batteries for energy storage, solar panels and propane generators for energy production. We have backups to the backups, and buffers (capacity) in each element, so hopefully no supply-chain issues, either. Our "thermal management" is a heated/insulated shed.

Long-term, we do want to investigate adding a closed-loop "pumped hydro storage" demonstration system (bits and bobs demo), but only because we have 100' of elevation difference on our 40 acres, and can build this out of at-hand spare parts; everything is within technical reach and cost, and we are about 25% there already. If the demo system shows promise, then swap out parts to get more capacity, stack functions (water also available for firefighting), and fold it into the master plan.

As I read thru the pdf, I tried to compare what else might make a project demo cut on the site ... only pumped-hydro jumped out at me, as we already use LiFePO4 battery tech, thermally protected.
1 day ago
Are we comparing apples to apples?

 [ Mr Heater description I found at ... says "Great for industrial and commercial use" and garage heating.  Count yourself lucky if you've been using it in your home. ]

These heaters linked in the above post seem to be portable (camping) and commercial (garage, shop, construction site) heaters, not our 30k BTU (residential) models, which have many more safety features and are dedicated as indoor wall- or floor-mounted heaters. Even with these indoor units, the advice is "crack a window", which we've always done. If I could get or figure out "trickle vents", I would ... that sounds much better than "cracking a window". More research ...

Our propane heaters are also not setting off our current CO *alarms* (sort of like car idiot guages, as in "hey, idiot ... if you aren't dead yet, I sense a build-up of CO in this area!"), which is better than nothing ... I'll know more when we do figure out dedicated CO monitoring devices. So many devices to figure out, and perhaps *one Raspberry Pi and specialized monitoring sensors wired in* is the ultimate answer.

We are also in a cold climate, which is why, when weather precludes opening doors/windows, we'll have alternative air exchange methods (vent fans, etc.) Some great suggestions above ... thanks!

I think air exchange, however it is done, is the moral of this story ...

Along with active and dedicated monitoring devices ...
5 days ago
All good questions and concerns ... thanks for all such comments, as it helps us figure out all aspects of both our choices and manufacturers' equipment. Our ventless heater brand, Mr Heater 30k btu blue flame models work great ... we've used them for years; safe, O2 sensor and cutoff, thermostat, etc. Vented models have a number of features that didn't work for us, such as complexity of installation, visible flame, and so on ...

But then I decided to monitor IAQ, with an eye to seeing if there were any undiscovered air quality problems from *any* sources ... if I found any, then I would address them in some form or fashion. Monitoring came first; this works, because I'm now seeing the results of our choices in other areas, and can now apply short- and long-term fixes.

Short-term fixes include just getting more air exchanges, by manually opening doors/windows ... the outside air is better (wrt CO2), and monitoring shows that it works. Problem solved, air quality rapidly improves. If you aren't monitoring (and who is?), and don't have automatic air exchanges by some other system (hvac of some kind), then just do the same opening/closing of doors & windows.

Other short-term fixes would be something that addresses the kinds of heating/cooking devices we have (ventless heaters, wood stoves, cooking appliances) ... now that I know there's a problem, based on our choice of these devices, we'll implement the fixes, as we find them. We *do* have a vent hood over the propane range, but we don't use it all the time ... we'll now test that, and hopefully solve the cooking issue of IAQ, w/o giving up cooking on gas,, which we love and would never give up. Thanks for that reminder!

Long-term, an automatic air exchange system of some kind seems the best way of ensuring we get air changes without lots of effort, and would also solve the winter problem ... just now looking into this, given that monitoring reveals problems.

Curiously, first monitoring, and then *research* into the results, reveals that CO2 *is* an IAQ problem, with health effects. I don't believe we can trust the old "1200ppm, 2000ppm, or higher levels" in homes, businesses, and subs are still "good enough per EPA and others"; I'm not sure I can trust a government or other agency that values business more than people. If outside air is 400ppm, then that is *my* target. We have CO alarms, but no direct monitoring yet of CO values ... good news is that our generator isn't in the house with us!

BTW, don't monitor, if you aren't ready to tackle what such monitoring might show ... that was our first mistake : )
6 days ago
Hmm ... humidity is an indoor air quality problem. Didn't pick up on that ...

Indoor Humidity: apparently, too much is not good ... 45% being a number to stay under. Luckily, the CO2 monitor also shows indoor humidity, so I can track that as well.

Outdoor humidity is watched via an AcuRite Atlas weather system (indoor display, outdoor sensor array). This helps us keep an eye on outside weather conditions, mostly lightning ... we either hear thunder somewhere, or see lightning numbers going up on the display, and outside work ceases until storms move away.
1 week ago
Update: our CO2 average was around 500ppm (green range) when we were able to throw open doors and let in fresh air this fall; we did a reasonably good job of that day and night, just by paying attention to natural ventilation with doors & windows. Normal propane cooking activities drove levels into yellow range all the time, but ventilation drove it back down. Need to pay attention to throwing doors and windows open ...

Our first big cold snap came through, and IAQ suffered ... ppm levels went into the yellow range and stayed there ... with some effort, it would occasionally dip into green levels. Here's the rub ... every instance of propane ventless heater kicking on drove ppm levels into the red, and as it's cold outside, we can't throw open doors and windows else it's a vicious cycle of heat/cold air. We have a "drafty" home, but that doesn't help ... air quality drops in the winter.

When we complete the kitchen rework, there will be a wood-fired kitchen cook stove in the mix, and I expect a further hit to CO2 levels from that ... I hope there are IAQ ventilation methods for such woodstoves ...

Short answer, need a better (automatic) ventilation method for winter season ... something active (powered fans venting out?).

On to radon ... Got our Airthings Corentium radon device in, and we are at the same level of radon as outside air, after a few weeks of testing. So far, so good here ... draftiness probably a good thing, in this one category of air quality.

No "particulates" monitoring happening ... no devices identified yet.

Hope this helps others ...
1 week ago
I would tend to avoid the corp routes (LLC, S-corp, etc) as the IRS paperwork and *fines* structure (late paperwork) is very onerous for small groups of people. It's OK for hundreds of partners in big firms with lots of money, where fines are pocket change ...

If no pressing business reasons (liability and such), perhaps a trust is a much better route ...

Of course, I'm no lawyer, but you want as little to do with them as possible ... they have no problem with taking your land away from you, unlike most any other creditor.
Absolutely no symptoms, but I was playing with it, and was able to immediately open doors and get ventilation going. How long the level stays high after cooking might correlate to how drafty or air-tight the house is, or what other family members might be feeling.

Part of the research remaining is to determine exposure stuff ... how much, what symptoms at each level, etc. What constitutes a truly bad level, and for how long?

It's not so much short-term effects, because opening a door or window seems to bring the numbers down ... the device is sensitive. It's long-term effects ... if we never knew it was a problem, how do we correlate it to other health issues that we might be experiencing? Is it worse in winter than in other seasons, when we can't open doors/windows?

No clue to these things at the moment ...

I hope the radon sensor puts that same kind of concern to rest as well ...
1 week ago
We consciously chose to live rural, with one of the benefits being better outdoor air quality than that found in the city ... but, what about indoor air quality? Up to this point, I've been guessing, and hoping fot the best.

I finally got the first of many sensors, so I can see what is happening, stop the guessing, and actually record some data. Our first sensor, a CO2 monitor/logger "IAQ Max" from co2meter.com arrived, and with minimal fiddling, we were recording data.  Outdoor CO2 is in the low 400's (a green category), and after calibration, it showed the same inside ... all is well.

Until we started doing things ... cook a meal with the propane stove ... numbers went up into the yellow cat egory. Heat a room with a propane heater ... numbers go up. This got us doing remediation, like opening doors and windows ... sure enough, numbers went down, and we were back in the green.

So, this will take some integration effort ... recording data, correlating to activities, and figuring out remediation steps throughout the year. But, it's a start ...

The next sensor we have coming is for radon ...

Both can be moved around as needed ... different rooms or spaces, other buildings, etc.

The sensor device itself, to add to arduino or raspberry pi boards, was somewhat costly, so I just bought the entire device, and saved some head-scratching ... but that alternative method is available as well.

Plenty of stuff to monitor these days, including "particulates" (wildfire smoke in our area) ... better (I think) to know vs not know.

Lots of research to do ...

1 week ago