Author Archives: tornpocket

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 […]

Ground Solar, Part IV, The Inverter

In previous articles here, here, and here, we’ve been discussing our off-grid solar power system we used during Hurricane Matthew. We also gave an overview of solar panel and lead-acid battery principles. While there is much more to discuss regarding batteries, including alternative battery technologies, let’s skip ahead to the inverter, which is the tip […]

Introducing Caveman Chemistry

It’s the holiday season at the Old School, and this means it is finally cool enough for those chemistry projects we’ve been looking forward to all year long, including those best done over a nice fire in the wood stove. Our favorite book to guide these experiments is Caveman Chemistry, by Dr. Kevin Dunn. Dr. […]

Off-Grid Lead Acid Battery Principles

We’ve been dedicating several posts to building an off-grid energy system with solar panels. Any off-grid energy system, especially solar, is best operated with batteries to store energy, unless you plan on making a generator available 24/7 to fill in the gaps. There are many available battery technologies, and eventually we’ll review many of these. […]

Offers 7 Nov 2016

Saturday’s post about chargers mentioned that our sponsor SoftBaugh might be able to get pricing that would beat Amazon pricing for some items. Here are the latest quotes SoftBaugh is able to provide (in all cases, ground shipping to US locations is included): Midnite Solar Classic Lite 150 MPPT Charge Controller: SoftBaugh can offer this […]