Self Reliance

Harness the Creek

The project I would love to accomplish, is to harness the creek to produce hydro electricity.  This my second attempt to generate electricity from water.  The other is my homebrew turgo turbine.

It is very fulfilling to be self sufficient, I am lucky to have the location I have, the water oozes from the hills here in western Virginia.

Read more: Harness the Creek

My Solar Data

I will expand on my solar performance data in the near future, but in the mean time, here is some performance data.

Solar Performance


DateAH String 2AH String 1TotalDaysAH/Day
1/30/2006 1423.1 1967.4 3390.5 17 199.44
2/2/2006 207.9 402.6 610.5 3 203.50
2/3/2006 142.3 215.3 357.6 1 357.60
2/12/2006 950.4 1439.4 2389.8 9 265.53
2/24/2006 1550.7 2357.7 3908.4 12 325.70
3/1/2006 617.1 946.7 1563.8 5 312.76
3/10/2006 669.0 1130.3 1799.3 9 199.92
3/13/2006 321.4 475.0 796.4 3 265.47
3/20/2006 908.9 1331.9 2240.8 7 320.11
3/27/2006 609.0 915.4 1524.4 7 217.77
4/7/2006 1069.8 1853.6 2923.4 11 265.76
4/9/2006 490.5 490.5 2 245.25
5/1/2006 2400.2 17.6 2417.8 22 109.90
5/3/2006 309.4 331.3 640.7 2 320.35
5/10/2006 541.2 551.4 1092.6 7 156.09
5/17/2006 867.3 1196.9 2064.2 7 294.89
5/25/2006 961.5 1354.1 2315.6 8 289.45
6/12/2006 1914.8 2999.4 4914.2 18 273.01
6/23/2006 1386.1 2023.3 3409.4 11 309.95
6/29/2006 893.1 1212.7 2105.8 6 350.97
7/15/2006 2143.5 3060.9 5204.4 16 325.28
8/3/2006 1660.4 2583.0 4243.4 19 223.34
8/7/2006 371.8 583.7 955.5 4 238.88
8/13/2006 567.7 865.5 1433.2 6 238.87
8/26/2006 1834.9 2477.1 4312.0 13 331.69
8/29/2006 519.3 680.7 1200.0 3 400.00
8/31/2006 212.6 290.6 503.2 2 251.60
9/10/2006 862.4 1246.8 2109.2 10 210.92
9/22/2006 1267.7 1849.5 3117.2 12 259.77
9/25/2006 264.9 369.3 634.2 3 211.40

Because the charge controllers are remote from the house.  I keep a calendar next to them.   When I remember (which is not as often as I should), I record the accumulated amp hours on the charge controllers on the calendar, then reset the values to zero.  I then average the reading across the days from the previous reading.

Also, many times we produce more power than we need and  the charge controllers will go to float, effectively wasting energy and making the amp hours low.

I wish I had a meter, so that I know my actual power usage.   Currently, I can only estimate based on the amount of power we generate.

My Solar Components

I will expand on my solar configuration in the near future, but in the mean time, here is a list of my components.  As you see there was quite an evolution.

Solar Panels (Max I have seen is 1200W on String 1 and 830W on String2)
1 Sharp NT-R5E1U 2 175 350
Shell SP-150-P 2 150 300
Sharp NT-S5E1U 2 185 370
Sunwise SW120 2 120 240
BP Solar BP275 4 75 300
2 Sharp NE-165U1 6 165 990
Total 2550

Charge Controller
String 1 - Xantrex (Trace) C60 w/meter
String 2 - Xantrex (Trace) C60 w/meter

Xantrex (Trace) SW4024 Plus
Trace SW4024 (Backup)

12 Rolls S530

Trimetric 2020
Xantrex Link 10

Old fashion Privy


When we first came to our Mountain retreat, we had few of what you would call necessities for living. Thankfully one of these is air, which is still abundant.  The other were sanitation and water.  In this article, I will discuss sanitation.

As most people would agree, there will come a time when nature calls.  We found nature called within the first day.

So what did we do?  We went to the library.  We were surprised to find that the library contained many resources relating to the old fashion Privy.  Most call this an outhouse, some a johnny house. Many discussed the history of the Privy, which in times past, was the only sanitation available.

We also learned alot about the privy.  Such as the meaning of the moon and star that you would see on the door.  The moon and stars were used in days past to designate the sex of the outhouses. Originally the moon was for women and the star was for the men. The men's outhouse was usually in disrepair and not as well built.  As time went by, the women's survived longer because of the better construction and people remember seeing the moon.

We also learned that by putting lime (like you use in the yard) in the pit, any smell would be eliminated.  It didn't take much, just a cup here and there.

Gravity Feed Water

When we first came to our Mountain retreat, we had few of what you would call necessities for living. Thankfully one of these is air, which is still abundant.  The other were sanitation and water.  In this article, I will discuss water.

Living in the right place, for me is in the Mountains of Western Virginia.  Many mountainside springs are available for water.  I my area the mountains emit water all over the place.  This water is also of very high quality and doesn't have the mineral taste would would expect.

I have tried many prototypes of the years.  Most all of them have worked.  I have found that it doesn't really take that much of a spring head to supply the water for your home.

The first one I tapped was no more than a trickle of water, maybe about 1-2 gallons per minute.  For a comparison, the typical kitchen faucet is about 3 gallons per minute.   That much water going into a holding tank is alot of water over the course of a day.

My first holding tank was a 35 gallon plastic trash can.  I installed the inlets with 1 inch plastic pipe fittings, conduit nuts and washers.  At the top was the spring inlet. Just below and on the opposite site was the overflow.  About 4-6 inches from the bottom was the outlet.  This is above the bottom to allow room for any sediment.

The holding tank should be as high on the hill as possible.  For every foot of elevation you get about .4 psi of pressure at the bottom.

I used 1 inch polypropylene pipe to run down the hill to my cabin.  Do your best to keep the pipe going down hill.  Any humps will more than likely get an air lock causing you to loose some pressure.

This system worked well for many years, but because the pipe was on top of the ground, it would freeze in the winter.  This was not much of an issue, because at the time we didn't spend much time at our retreat in the winter.

Since we now live here permanently we upgraded the capacity.  We found a higher volume spring (about 5 gallons per minute) and guided that to a 325 gallon plastic tank.  All parts are now buried and deliver water year around.

  • Electricity

    Generating Power

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  • Sewage
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  • Water

    Various ways to supply yourself with drinkable water.

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