Tag Archives: solar

Solar Module Placement

Hello again!

I just got some really great questions about the off-grid systems that the COMET will have, and I thought it would be a good time to share some of these infographics and design concepts I’ve been working on.

Where do you put three 185-watt solar modules on a 16 foot trailer with limited surface area?

Here are some of my ideas:

 

And how do you maximize solar collection when you are parked, and minimize drag when you are driving? See below:

 

 

I’ll post some of my rainwater collection system graphics later, which will explain how that whole thing works!

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Simple Solar Showers for Summer

Good Morning!

Last night I perused the web for the best, simplest solar shower devices on the market. I was looking for something affordable and convenient. The COMET doesn’t have room for a shower inside, so she will have a solar shower outside, with some sort of portable, collapsible, privacy shower set up that I can pop up behind the camper (I like the idea of a little teak platform with a circular curtain rod made of metal piping that can break down easily when I’m on the move, and some sort of hook to hang the solar shower on once it is heated up).

Here are my favorite finds from the my solar shower research!

Summer Shower 5, $25 on Amazon.com

This 5 gallon solar shower is a new spin on the traditional black bag camp shower that you hang from a tree. It absorbs tons of radiant heat from the sun, and has a nifty little simple thermometer to let you know how hot the water is. This little added technology makes this the best cheap solar shower. It got great reviews, as well.

Pump-Up Solar Shower, $40 + $15 shipping, Duckworks Boat Builders Supply

I love this idea for a solar shower. Because it pumps up, it has more water pressure than the gravity fed bag shower. I saw DIY instructions for a solar shower like this, using a garden sprayer painted black and a shower nozzle of your choice, but when I priced it out, the individual parts to make my own were more expensive than this one! This one is meant to be more like a real shower than the camp bag shower. It’s a nice option for a solar shower, and perhaps the one I’ll end up with!

DIY Gravity-Fed Hose Coil Solar Shower, price varies, DIY

This solar shower is the most permanent and labor intensive on this list. You can use either black garden hose or flexible black piping, coil it into whatever shape fits your space, and voila! The advantage of this coil solar shower is the increased surface area (as compared to the ones above), which means that the water will heat up much faster (20 minutes as opposed to 2-3 hours for the bag/tank systems). I am hoping to eventually build one of these for The COMET, and either have it be able to break down and be portable, or have it attached to a frame on the back side of the camper, which can flip down when I’m mobile, and flip up into a shower stall when I’m parked!

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Also, I built a vacuum form yesterday! I built the vacuum form so that I can vacuum mold my own custom urine diverter for my small-space composting toilet (which is also turning into a squatting toilet!). The vacuum form is totally portable, so that I can bring it to workshops, do demos, and show people how easy it is to make your own urine diverter for cheap! I’ll post pictures and a full DIY step by step guide later, but for now it’s out to the driveway to work on The COMET. I have lots to do in the next few weeks!

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Great used building materials resource: DiggersList

I came across this really great resource for finding used/extra building materials for sale in your area. It’s basically a Craigslist just for home improvement/building materials/appliances, and it’s called DiggersList. Just type in your area/town and DiggersList will find anything for sale/free in a 50 mile radius. I really like the name, because as someone who loves to find used materials in the dumpster or in piles on the road, or even in piles on the internet, I think people like us really are “Diggers!”

If you check out DiggersList and find something great to use in your tiny house, camper conversion, or other project, let me know in the comments!

(And on the flip side of acquiring great used/unused extra building materials for free or cheap, you can also post your own leftover flooring, old fridge, or salvaged lumber on the site so others can take it off your hands!)

A random tiny cabin that I liked: solar powered, and check out the motorcycles (very fuel efficient).

Also, just a quick reminder about the TINY HOUSE SUMMER CAMP workshop weekend that Derek “DEEK” Diedricksen of Relaxshacks.com is hosting: sign up fast because there are VERY limited spaces available. It’s going to be an amazing weekend of tiny house building, designing, idea swapping. and more. I’ll be there, and The COMET will be coming with me to the workshop. I’m going to be showing it off (mid-construction) and bringing along lots of interesting sustainable building materials and other things. I’ll be showing off my free and recycled finds that will be going into The COMET, explaining why vintage campers make great tiny houses,  talking about how to save $$ in your tiny house by having an entirely DC photovoltaic solar electric system like The COMET, and more!

Other speakers at the workshop include WILLIAM ROCKHILL of Bear Creek Carpentry, who builds Tiny Houses for Tumbleweed, TRISTAN & LIBBY and their WHITTLED DOWN CARAVAN (an amazing vardo/caravan they towed from New Mexico to Massachusetts with a little sedan!), Derek’s own HICKSHAW CABIN, and more!

There will be a bunch of tiny dwellings in one space, and it’s sure to be quite an experience!

Right now there is a special early-bird price of $399 for the 3-4 day weekend, which includes some meals and lots of tiny stuff. If you want to register, email Derek at kidcedar at gmail dot com and head over to relaxshacks.com to find out more about the workshop.

See you there!!

 

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Yestermorrow update + The Greenest House in LA

Hi!

I have just arrived at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in VT for my Solar Electric Design + Installation course! I am very excited, and the class begins tonight, so we are jumping right in. I’ll be here for 5 days learning how to design and install a PV system for The COMET. My experience here will also come in handy when I help Beth Ferguson of Sol Design Lab (check out the pumps!) install a solar powered bus stop installation on campus at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA next month.

 

 

Okay, here’s a cool project!  “On Begley Street”

On Begley Street

For all of you sustainable design/green building fans: I was listening to “ACE On The House” (Adam Carolla’s carptentry/construction podcast) the other day and heard Ed Begley Jr., celebrity/environmentalist who was driving a solar powered car way before it was cool, talking about his new building project. He and his wife Rachelle are building a LEED platinum home (I believe it is net zero energy?) in place of their existing one. They have had their original home completely deconstructed so that each piece can be re-used in some way. Their new home will be “The greenest home in LA” and will be an example of sustainable building practices. They hope that others in the neighborhood will follow suit!

I think this is a great idea. If more celebrities had more gardens and less lawns, people might be inspired to follow their lead.

You can support their green building project via Kickstarter. They are asking for funds to be able to have a webshow that details “How to build a LEED platinum home”. I can’t wait to see the upcoming episodes!

 

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More Refined 3D Models

Good Morning!

Yesterday was another day spent in The COMET, measuring and again, simultaneously modeling, a more refined interior 3d model with SketchUp. I measured all of the ceiling and put the vents and light fixtures into the model. I spent hours measuring and diagramming the intricacies of the main cabinet, which has 3 parts that hold the closet, the fridge and some drawers, and the toilet closet.

Here’s some highlights of what I did:

So above you can see the main cabinet, on the back wall, has been broken up into it’s 3 parts. This is the model with the doors to each of the cabinets/drawers on. The cabinet to the far left is the clothing closet, the middle section used to have a fridge in the top opening and the lower 3 are drawers and cabinets. The cabinet on the right is the toilet! You can also see the vents and light fixture in this image – the vents are grey and the light fixture is that box on the ceiling. Yesterday while I was there I was trying to figure out if I would need to add any more light fixtures or wire up any more wall plugs. There seems to be just enough, but I need to make a serious list of what I have that uses power to figure it out.

 

In these two images I have hidden the cabinet door layers so that you can see inside the cabinets (I’ve also hidden the galley cabinet and galley counter, but you can see the footprint of it on the floor). Like I said, left side is the closet, middle is fridge spot up top and drawers/cabinets below, and the right side is the bathroom. The orange block at the bottom of the closet is the wheel well. You can also see the vents and lights a little better in this one.

Right  now the spot for the fridge (and I don’t have the fridge that actually fits it) is the top section of the middle cabinet. In the next image you can see the fridge vent. Most likely that whole middle part of the main cabinet will be reconfigured so that the top-opening chest-style solar powered fridge that I have my eye on can fit in there, I can comfortably open it form the top, and have some food storage/pantry above it.

As you can see, and as I wish I could convey to you, the bathroom is insanely tiny. I sat in there the other day just for laughs and it is cramped even for me, and I am tiny! But I think I’ll gain some leg room when I install the custom composting toilet, because I’ll move the seat closer to the back wall and make it as small as I can.

 

This is just a preliminary roof sketch based on the vents from the interior (I still want to climb up there and measure everything form the exterior). The purple squares are the existing vents: two air vents, one fridge vent, and the tiny purple circle is the bathroom vent. This diagram gives me a good idea of what I have to work with in terms of configuring the 3 solar panels I’m getting. There’s definitely room for 2 up there, but depending on how I set them up, I can either try to fit a third on the roof or instead fit a third panel on the side that lays down flat when I’m mobile and pops up when I’m parked.

 

As I spend more and more time in The COMET, finding out exactly how much cubic feet I have to work with is really interesting. Paring down to 16 ft. (total is 112 sq ft, but that includes cabinets and benches and everything) will not be super easy for me. I’ve always had multiple bedrooms, and I’ve always been a collector. I’m going to miss my vinyl and my vintage knick knacks! My unicorn collection (that makes me sound like a 70 year old lady – I’m not though)! And I have way too many clothes, again I’m a collector of vintage everything, so that will be tough too. To be fair, most of the stuff I have like furniture and clothing is for my store (I have a little online shop, PlanetQueenVintage.etsy.com: vintage is the most fun way to recycle!!). But it’s really starting to hit hard what I’ll have to do without! Of course I’ll be able to store some of my things with my parents, but not like I do now. Though it makes me sad to think of everything I will have to get rid of, it’s also incredibly freeing and wonderful to think about, because I’ve been overhwhelmed by materials possessions my whole life. Freedom!

 

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On The Green Road

On The Green Road is Cece Reinhardt and Brenda Daugherty. I came across their website when I was researching The COMET project, and since I’ve found them they have been infinitely helpful and supportive of me. They were my first official sponsor! They really are wonderful people and what they have done and are doing to educate people about sustainable, mobile living is amazing.

Cece and Brenda travel the country in their gorgeous Airstream, which has been completely retrofitted with sustainable, green building materials and technologies in alternative energy. They tow their classic Airstream with a truck that runs on Biofuel (waste veggie oil). These visionary ladies give open houses and informational sessions in their off-grid Airstream, spreading the word about sustainable, healthy living. The two of them live in their Airstream full time, they even have a cat!

 

I think their mobile home is absolutely gorgeous and just so well done, it would make any square want to leave their job and hit the road in green style.

 

Their Airstream now features cork flooring, natural linoleum, a Kirei board desk, Paperstone counters, organic textiles, eco-friendly cabinets, a composting toilet, solar panels, and LED lighting. They are in the process of putting on a rainwater harvesting system too!

 

 

“Driving towards sustainability one mile at a time.” Please visit their website and follow their incredible blog: www.greenrvlife.com.

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