Monthly Archives: December 2016

Multicolor Off-Grid Christmas Lights

In previous articles, we have been describing the use of LED Christmas lights as emergency off-grid lighting powered directly from a 24 volt battery array. The first article described using strings of cool white lights. Subsequent articles described building a test fixture for these and warm white lights to overcome problems with untested lights, and […]

Red Off-Grid Christmas Lights

In two previous articles, we discussed using LED Christmas lights as emergency lighting powered straight from an off-grid battery array, as well as a test fixture to sort individual lights for making a reliable DC-powered string from the random sampling of LEDs in a typical 110 volt string. Both of those articles focused on cool […]

Testing Emergency Solar Christmas Lights

In a previous article, we described the adaptation of LED Christmas lights as emergency solar lighting powered directly from an off-grid battery array. This approach provides many advantages versus running them from an inverter, including useful lighting while trying to fix your inverter. In that article we made some recommendations about string lengths, current and […]

Product Review, Bestek 300W Pure Sine 12V Inverter

As part of our off-grid solar series, we’re looking for bare-bones options for the charger and inverter components to meet the minimum requirements of driving a 70 watt freezer, 24/7 if possible. We recently tested a Bestek 300W Pure Sine 12V Inverter, shown to the right. Although this unit failed to drive the freezer, it […]

Extracting Potash

After a sweltering hiatus due to warm weather on and after Thanksgiving, winter is finally back to the old school, so this means that we can continue our winter chemistry experiments over the wood stove. We like extracting chemicals from things around us, so we’ll start with potash, which is derived from wood ashes (1).

Emergency Solar Christmas Lights

It’s Christmas season at the old school, and it is time to do something with those light strands. These days, LED light strands are cheap and ubiquitous. With a bit of judicious modification, we can use them as emergency lights directly off our off-grid battery array, no inverter required.

Freezer False Alarm

Last week, we took our two Duracell 29HM deep cycle marine batteries and the MicroSolar 24v inverter from our hurricane ground solar experiments and added an AC charger, essentially building an oversized UPS for our freezer. We’ll talk about that system more in detail once we’ve run it for a while, but this morning it […]

Ground Solar, Part VI, Wiring, Connectors and Tools

We’re ready to finally wrap up our series on the ground solar installation we used during Hurricane Matthew to keep our freezer and refrigerators cold. We’ll provide links to all the previous articles at the end of this post as a convenient reference. In this post, we talk about the wiring, connectors and tools used […]

Ground Solar, Part V, The Batteries

We’ve been discussing our Hurricane Matthew ground solar installation (overview, combiner, charger and inverter), as well as fundamental solar panel principles and off-grid lead acid battery principles. This time, we will discuss the battery array used for this exercise, as well as the automotive DC safety breaker. Refer again to the photo of our inside […]