Posts tagged green

How to make a small solar generator

solar generator

Here’s my set up for a small solar generator.

Another green projects for all you DIY folks. Harness the power of the sun and live off the grid. Okay, so this particular unit won’t let you off the grid, but it can charge all of your rechargeables, cell phones, mp3 players, some CFL lights and much more. All using solar energy.

What you need:

  • 5 watt or greater Solar Panel (I used 2 of these solar panels) But keep in mind any more than 10 watts total would require a solar regulator
  • Fuse and fuse holder (I have used a 5 amp fuse allowing me to use up to 60 watts (5 amps x 12 volts) before it blows, which is consistent with the wiring gauges I used to construct my set up. Please ensure you use a proper fuse for your application and design)
  • Volt meter (optional) (I used one from radioshack which I put in a simple plastic case. This helps to monitor state of charge but isn’t necessary.You can also test with a multimeter.)
  • 18 amp hour 12v sealed lead acid (SLA) battery or similar deep cycle battery
  • 12v cigarette adapter outlet (this lets you plug in all your car adapters directly to your solar generator)
  • Power inverter (optional) (This will allow you to convert your 12v DC battery juice into 120v AC for lamps or other applications)

Construction can be as simple or complex as you want. Basic wiring would have the fuse placed as close as possible to the positive battery terminal. You would then connect the solar panel: solar positive to fuse to battery positive, solar negative to battery negative. And connect your cigarette outlet negative to negative, positive to fuse to battery positive. An optional power inverter can also be connected to battery. Particularly, if you opt to plug into your cigarette adapter, please ensure all wire gauges are appropriate for the power you are drawing. Your specific set up and application will dictate the proper fuse and wire gauges to use. You typically want to the lowest fuse rating that allows you to operate what you want to operate, within the safe range for your wiring.

How to use:

Place the solar panel in a sunny spot ( I have mine propped up against a window) and it charges pretty well., Direct sunlight will recharge the battery more quickly.

If you have attached a cigarette outlet, plug in any car adapters you have to charge cell phones, mp3 players, and much more.

If you have attached a power inverter, flip the switch on your inverter, and plug in as you would a wall socket. (Be aware that some devices are not compatible with non-sinusoidal power inverters – Consult the manual for your specific power inverter for details)

For an added bonus, you can also pick up a Duracell NIMH Mobile Charger and harness free solar power to recharge all your NiMH batteries for your digital camera, remote control, etc.

Lower Your Energy Consumption, Reduce Your Carbon Footprint


Do you want to know how to easily reduce your energy bill, cut electricity costs, save money and the environment. There’s a simple way to find ways to reduce your carbon footprint that you can do yourself at home.

Using the P3 Kill A Watt EZ, you can quickly find the energy hog devices and “vampire electronics” in your home. Many electronics and appliances today constantly burn energy while in “standby” mode. A simple example of this is your remote control television… while it waits for the signal from the remote to turn “on” it is constantly using electricity to check for and interpret the signal.

The Kill A Watt EZ, and its predecessor, the slightly less expensive original Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor both let you plug the Kill A Watt device into the wall and the suspect electronic or appliance into the Kill A Watt device.

The device then reports on a number of stats on energy usage. Voltage (usually 120 in the US, give or take); Amperage (how much power the device is currently drawing); Watts used (the product of volts and amps); and Time since you plugged it in. The EZ model will also calculate the wattage per hour and allow you to input your electricity costs to calculate cost per time. On the original, you have to grab a calculator and do the math.

To easily cut your electric bill and save energy, just go around your house and try out the Kill a Watt on everything that plugs in. One shocking item I found: An old CD player that draws 16 watts while in standby!!! That’s almost as much as a CFL left on constantly.
I was also surprised to discover that my various chargers for cell phones, mp3 players etc, together drew another 12 watts. The quick fix for these was adding a power strip which I can now switch off when I’m not charging.

Do it yourself and see how much you can reduce your carbon footprint and lower your energy consumption and save with the P3 Kill A Watt!

Make your own Compost Bin


For those concerned with the environment, this is a easy DIY project that can yield a beneficial and fast return and can put recycled materials to use. You stop throwing away food and other items that will quickly break down and you gain free, natural fertilizer for plants.

Here’s how to make your own compost bin:

1) Find a plastic storage bin (at least 18 gallons – this could be a recycled garbage can, or other container you already have)

2) To ensure thorough air flow to your compost so that it can properly break down, drill or punch holes throughout the container – 1/4 inch holes every 1-2 inches would be fine, but there are no hard rules here

3) Throw in your compost materials– kitchen scraps, weeds, trimmings, etc. Smaller pieces will breakdown more quickly, so chopping up the compost is recommended.

4) Be sure to adjust the wet/dry ratio so that the compost isn’t too wet or too dry. If you notice your compost seems too moist, adjust the consistency by adding shredded newspaper or saw dust.

5) Place the bin out of the way on a couple of bricks to ensure proper ventilation.

6) Continue to add compost to fill the bin and adjust dampness, turning or shaking the bin daily.

7) After about one month, you can run the compost through a sifter or chicken wire and harvest the final compost.

There you have it–your own free, natural fertilizer, ready to use on your garden.

How to Build a DIY 1000 Watt Wind Turbine


How to Make a Wind TurbineToday’s projects comes from Instructables — they’ve got a great article on building your very own wind turbine. This DIY project can help you get off the grid and reduce your carbon impact! The article leads you through the steps of:

  1. building the magnet discs
  2. building the coil discs
  3. building the hub assembly
  4. constructing the blades
  5. final assembly

Read more at:

What to do with an old computer?


A recent book from Randy Sarafan has the answer: 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer And Other Discarded Electronics

Broken laptop? Broken Mouse? Broken flat-screen tv? This book addresses it all. why throw all the broken stuff in the trash when you can put it to use. Make something useful and fun with that old junk.

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