Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

What can you do with solar power?

Oh but so much. Here, I'm mainly interested of talking about what it can do on a small scale and that can be bought by anybody for a reasonnable price. Maybe 2 years ago I dotted my house with solar powered light. Today, you have them in all manner of color and variety. I have about 8 garden LED lights, all powered by the sun. They eat the sun up in the day and voilà! Light up at dusk until about 10-11 PM at night. The lights are pretty soft and blue for 6 of them (so it doesn't generate light pollution like a patio light would do. The other 2 are just beautiful and my favorite : An electric blue and an orange in masson jars!

But it doesn't stop there : I actually have solar powered LED Christmas Lights. However, they are not very good : It's never sunny enough in winter to make them go for as long as it says it will and it starts really early and finishes too soon. But at least, there's also an electric plug one can use to compensate. I also have a solar powered flashlight, my tool of choice if there's a blackout. It also comes with a small crank, so if it hasn't collected enough sun, I can crank it to life! It sits on my windowsilt, ready to be used at all time. Of course, all these neat gadgets have to be available near you, however. (I have these two in the following pictures).

Views: 21

Comment by Jan Lampe on March 18, 2010 at 10:06pm
i am not sure this is what you are looking for, but back in high school, i helped build a solar stove.

basically, its a big parabol satellite dish, just instead of the receiver (at the focal point) it has a holder for a pot while the sides are made of polished sheet metal so it basically just focuses the sunlight on the pot.

takes a while to boil potatoes, and it is rather large but its definitely a cool gadget if you just want to make tea on a hot day. handle carefully though, or you might seriously get burnt or sunburnt.

i actually dont know whether you can buy those, but its actually rather easy to make if you know how to use a screwdriver correctly.

i hope this is something in the way you were describing.
Comment by Helene Lavertu on March 19, 2010 at 12:02am
I was talking about simple lights, as in table lights, or garden lights :

http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/lights/994a/

and like this :

http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/browse/2/OutdoorLiving/GardenLightin...

But that stove of yours is neat! I never heard of that before! I wouldn't do it right away with a baby of 2 years, I would indeed be afraid of burns, but I'm happy to know it only requires screwdriver 101 ;)
Comment by JohnMichealKane on March 19, 2010 at 12:57am
Jan Lampe that is an awesome idea, but as with solar the sun needs to be consistent. In england we simply do not have that pleasure haha
Comment by Jane A.W. on March 19, 2010 at 1:26am
How low a temperature do solar ovens work at (still add net heat to the pot)? I'm fairly certain it wouldn't work where it stays below freezing outdoors for months - but I'm wondering if anyone did research on just how low the temps outdoors have to be before a decently constructed solar oven just WON'T heat up anymore.
Comment by Helene Lavertu on March 19, 2010 at 2:38am
Michelle, I haven't made them myself, but I know it is fairly easy, an artist on etsy do similar, maybe he would advise us how to do it :
http://www.etsy.com/shop/GeekGear

John : Indeed about the weather of England! I guess, as renewable source of energy, wind would be better, yes? Luckily for me, the only time I visited the UK, it was impossibly sunny... That one week of the year I was told! :)

Jane : Interesting question. I'm curious about the answer too, since yeah, Canada, you know... Freezing temperatures are pretty much a way of life a third of the year :)
Comment by Jan Lampe on March 20, 2010 at 9:26am
well, i would think that it works the same way a magnifiying glass does - if you focus it right and provided theres enough sun, it should work no matter what temperatures around. obviously its going to take longer to heat up.

im no engineer, but since you can get sunburnt on top of a snowy mountain too, i imagine this would work. never tried it below freezing.

i actually found a pic on my schools website, so here is how it looks like:

Comment by Helene Lavertu on March 20, 2010 at 3:45pm
Ooh wow, that's a very interesting picture! Thanks for sharing!
Comment by Ken Eklund on March 21, 2010 at 8:47pm
Here's an idea about the solar oven for you, Helene. I'm no physics expert, but I think the oven works when heat from sunlight goes into the pot faster than the pot can radiate it away. So, what if you built a solar oven that was really well insulated? So to slow down how fast the pot radiates the heat away?

In this one, the pot has no insulation at all, it's just out in the open. What if the pot were in a glass ball or the wh*** thing was inside a small chamber with glass on the sun side and thick insulation on the shady side?

This solar oven is meant to travel, that's why it has no insulation. But when you are living in your little self-sufficient house in 10 years time, you can build an oven that's permanently in place that has plenty of insulation. It could save up what solar heat you get from day to day. Something to think about, maybe! Add it to your house plan...
Comment by Rahul Dewanjee on March 22, 2010 at 12:10am
very impressed to see how you've actually altered your lifestyle to make solar energy a part of your lifestyle. Definitely +1 for courage I was wondering where we can buy some of these online?
Comment by Helene Lavertu on March 22, 2010 at 12:12am
Definitely something to think about, thanks Ken! Plus this way, being insulated and all would probably prevent serious burns. I think to make my dream complete (and to please my husband) I would try to make it a nan oven! :)

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