Solar Sun Ovens

I love fall, the colors and the cloudier weather…but I miss my Sun
There is a comfortable simplicity about coming home at the end
of the day to a cooked meal when you never had to plug anything in,
use any power or gas. My favorite recipe is slow roasted veggies. We’d
harvest veggies and fresh herbs from our garden (which in the High
Desert is something to be proud of), rinse them off with the garden
hose, pour on a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and garlic and
chucking them in the sun oven.

I botched it once – everything was mushy and overcooked. It was a
super hot day, not a cloud in the sky. I cut the veggies too small and
faced my oven south. The good thing is, overcooked veggies are still
abundantly edible! Other favorites for the sun oven are quiche and
chili. Quiche, you have to be around for, keep turning the oven
towards the sun to keep the temp consistent but they cook pretty fast
and come out yummy. Chili and other slow cooked meat dishes you can
leave for the day but make sure your pointed south and you’ve got
plenty of heat if you won’t be there to rotate because you want to
make sure your meat is fully cooked. Ground meat is good because it
cooks fast. It’s hard to get the really high temperatures 375F and
above so keep that in mind when choosing your dish.

Using a sun oven

is sort of like living off grid with Solar power. You
adjust your plans to the sun’s and it makes you feel more
connected to the earth.

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Flies in your Composting Toilet?

We installed an Sun Mar Excel NE  composting toilet unit upstairs this spring The first few weeks were great no smells at all and we all felt very smug that we had finally crossed over to the other side. The summer came and with the heat came the flies. Not from our toilet at first but through doors when we walk in and out of the house. It was only about three weeks in that i noticed one or two flies would come out of the composting toilet when lid was lifted. Then the horror came a few days later, trousers down, bottom poised for landing on the seat and woosh out comes a swarm, well probably about 30-40. Even though i was the one to experience the sensation of a swarm of flies flying past my butt, it was my wifes worst nightmare. So here is what we found out and what we did to overcome the fly problem. Firstly its important to note the flies never came from the toilet they came into the house, found the toilet and laid eggs in there which then produced the hatching cycle and therefore the fly problem. So when anyone complains about flies in their composting toilet they have to realise they came from their house first. Okay so first step is to get rid of flies in house so we had to use the nasty Raid stuff one day when the kids would be away all day, it worked, i also sprayed it into the toilet just so i could get working on a solution. Okay now we have got rid of all flies, next step was to kill the larvae in the toilet, you can use the Dunk tablets which are used in ponds and are safe for the compost, break them up and put in a spray bottle full of water let soak and spray toilet every time its used for 10 days. The larvae ingest the solution which then cracks and kills them. Now how to keep the flies from wantng to come in the toilet and lay eggs. I was able to find one of those insect killer plastic sticks which usually hang in unoccupied rooms to kill flies when owners are away. i can easily hang these inside the drum at the rear left side and does not provide any obstruction to use other than remembering to remove when rotating drum. So thats it,. Its been 2 months since the fly issue and we have continued to have hot weather and have never seen a fly come out of the composting toilet since. When i eventually get the walls made for the toilet the flies will have less access to the toilet also. Smug face engaged!

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Earthquake Statistics

Did you know there was double the amount of reported earthquakes in the US last year compared to previous years. The has actually stopped recording data from any earthquake under 4.5 magnitude since 2009. For data see:

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Whisper 200 Wind Generator

I have collected power data on my Whisper 200 wind generator over the past year and have been very impressed at the output. Over the year we have produced a total of 604Kwhs from the turbine. More than half of that figure came between November and February exactly the months when our solar is at its lowest output.

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DisneyLand polluting the earth.

We endured two days of Disney Land last weekend. Yes the kids had a great time although coming from our off grid land and simple living I think our kids became over stimulated quickly and it was hard to find any place you could sit quietly and relax without the noise and crowds. Its ironic that this great American institution has so much over priced junk (all made in China) being sold in the stores. I was even more amazed to find the Autopia Cars are all gas powered. The smell of pollution was intense, presented by Chevron as they proudly display on the sign!. Sorry but i’m not impressed. Disney needs to start using electric vehicles.

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Down to 50% on battery bank- when to turn on the fossil fuel generator in an off grid system

There is nothing better than checking the Trimetric monitor on my system and seeing a nice 100% reading, today at 6am i stumbled into the power room and sighed as i saw the 50% (24.0VDC) reading on the monitor. i knew it would be another two hours before the sun would be up high enough to give me the 300 watts of power that usually matches my usage. What to do? I ended up annoying the family by switching off lights as soon as anyone left the room even for a second. Switched off all power strips connected to entertainment centers, declared in observance of Presidents Day there would be no resistive load toast for breakfast and no microwaving instant oatmeal, we had our cereal listened to music Ghost Bikes and actually enjoyed the quiet: no clicking toaster, no binging microwave and no Today show ( didn’t miss much there!) It makes me think of the Thoreau quote: “Men have become the tools of their tools”. It’s good to stop and appreciate how lucky we are to live off grid and really appreciate when we do have power and to appreciate when we don’t.

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This is a start.

I get nostalgic when I hear of people starting off on a bare piece of land with a trailer and a tiny pv system.

I knew that solar power worked, but when we first turned on my computer in a trailer surrounded by juniper trees in the middle of nowhere, it was totally magic. We used the computer to start our own off-grid business, and we used every spare penny to build our off-grid house and PV system.

The first thing we did was tear down someone’s unwanted shed and used the recycled materials to build a 16X16 cabin. Our first Christmas, it was furnished only with a wood stove and the sofa was the back seat of a 1984 GMC suburban. Ten years later we have a self built house and 1400 watt system.We raise our children, make our own beer, soap, cheese, grow veggies, and raise animals. Whenever the sun shines and wind blows hard we are mindful that the power is coming from natural sources beyond our control.

For me this off-grid isn’t just about renewable power, being kind to the earth, or even the independence. It’s about trying to be present.

off grid at sunset

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Hello world!

This is not going to be pretty!

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