Last week we moved a lot of the solar around, moving panels and shifting the batteries inside the house. We made sure the subsoil in the front garden was moist in preparation for Summer. Marlon and I also changed the aquaponics around a little.
Our next door neighbours, Steve and Donna have been having trouble with the heat. We had access to a few extra resources and were sure the community could provide more, so decided to do what we could to retrofit the front of their house to protect it from the Sun. Their place is the same as ours, the longest axis faces almost west and cops the full Sun in the afternoon in Summer with the bedroom and lounge room windows on that side. We really started a month or so back by planting rapid growing, tall, edible plants along the little strip by the bedroom windows. We had Sunflower and Corn seedlings to spare, plus some Jerusalem Artichokes thea needed removing from our garden. Next, we’ll add in some groundcover like cucumbers. The idea is to provide a bed of edible plants that will shade the soil, brickwork and windows and also add moisture to cool the are flowing into
On the weekend I picked up a whole lot of electronics from a garage sale. Amongst them was a 55 Ah battery, this case and cable. 55 Ah is the size I use in the solar system and its usually best to match sizes to eliminate charging troubles. Luckily this battery has a little bit of grunt left and after a long, slow recharge, in it went. We’re up to 275 Amp hours via Instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/Bpl3uQjlbz9/
A couple of days ago we took out the backyard pond. It took lots of space and wasn’t very productive, so that space could be used for other things. While we were doing this, we needed to find a new home for the goldfish. That was easy, they went into the aquaponics (after a time in a bucket while they got used to the new water conditions). We found a Brown Tree Frog during our efforts too. The big question was what to do with our wandering crustacean, Gary the Yabby? Luckily, I’d just fitted a DIY solar fountain to the little pond in the front yard. It seemed most suitable for both Gary and the frog, so in they went. Gary was so happy with this turn of events that he actually refrained from his favourite game of ‘sever the finger’ while I popped him under the duckweed.
We’ve finally filled the 4th bed in our aquaponics system! We can segregate the plants a little more now. Theres one bed for Warrigal Greens, one for River Mint, the third is for Kangkong and the last is Sweet Potato (for the delicious leaves). The next goals are to connect up the NFT table (it didn’t do well over winter) and hook it all up to a stand alone solar system. Then cover it all in shadecloth vefore the real heat gets here.
It’s an ideal day to test the parabolic reflector made from an old Foxtel satellite dish (thanks Rupert!). I wanted to give it a quick test before calibrating it (a post on that is coming). It’s a beautiful 21° in the garden at the moment but on the paper at the end of the support arm, its a hot 67°! Thats 46° of pure, free energy. As you can see from the pic below, its hot enough to start paper burning. Ouch!
It may look like a rat’s nest of wiring, but let me assure you that the greenhouse is now connected to the 12V system, so the pump is running on sunshine! Greenhouses are a great way to experiment with different types of solar energy, however it is captured. The bad news is that the big 185 Ah battery that was loaned to us to get started has stopped holding a charge. That’s why it’s all running off of a car battery for the moment while we source cheap or free batteries.
Had these two beauties given to us the other day. They’re from Steve Zilm from Install-X ( yeah, I know it’s a plug, but I’m grateful). They were going to be dumped because the glass has been badly cracked, but they’re at our place now. As they are, not cleaned they sit in the morning sun producing a little over 40V at 2.5 A. That’s enough for my little cobbled together system. Just need to work out a way to step down from 36 V to 12V.