lessons learned on the journey toward independence

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b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_6289-new.jpgIt's the middle of March, the sun is rising higher in the sky each day, and that means we can do our bi-annual adjustment of the solar panels to get the maximum amount of power possible.

There are a number of factors that affect the efficiency of a solar panel, and one of those is the angle at which the solar rays hit the panel.  The ideal angle would be perfectly perpendicular (90°).  And while it is impossible to keep a perpendicular angle all day without an expensive tracker, we can set our panels at an average that maximizes their potential.  The problem for those of us who don't live on the equator, is that the sun's position in the sky changes throughout the year.  The further one moves from the equator, the more drastic this variation is.  In the summer, the sun arcs high in the sky, while the winter months see the sun skimming much lower to the horizon, particular in northern latitudes (if you are located in the northern hemisphere).  But don't despair, there are two simple rules to follow when aiming your solar panels.  And for those of you who want to generate the maximum amount of power with the minimal amount of work throughout the year, you need only make one simple adjustment twice per year to achieve that.

b2ap3_thumbnail_PRI-G.jpgPlease note: The following article was written a little while ago by Ralph Lewis, a principle at Power Research Inc.  We have personally used their products for fuel storage with excellent success for over 15 years (in one case successfully storing gasoline for 6 years).  We thought you might be interested in some details about fuel storage he reveals here, reprinted with permission of Power Research Inc.  While we have carried PRI's products at events, we do not currently sell them online.  We just want to share this information with you.

As a principle in Power Research Inc. – a company with extensive international sales to the commercial marine and power generation industries – I have deeply investigated the world economy and our present financial system in an effort to protect my company, my family, and my employees. There is absolutely no question that the present system is unsustainable, and the ramifications of an economic collapse will be severe. I have made my own preparations and have encouraged my employees, little by little, to do the same...
Addressing the issue of long-term fuel storage. Interestingly, more than half of emergency generator failures during a crisis can be directly attributable to degraded fuel. This was found to be the case post-Katrina. The product STA-BIL that you reference in your writing, will, in fact, stabilize gasoline and diesel fuel. But bear in mind this is a “consumer” type product – designed with strength only sufficient to extend fuel life 6-to-12 months. The active ingredient in this product is actually in a very small concentration.

Industrial battery for a renewable energy systemWARNING:  This article is fairly technical and assumes the reader has a good grasp of renewable energy systems and how they function.  If you are not up to speed, you might find portions of this article to be "Greek".  To learn the basics and beyond, there are many good resources such as our book Sustainable Preparedness or the downloadable e-book version.

This last spring, we were away from home for a few months on a seminar trip.  In preparation for the trip, I pondered how best to prepare my battery for such a long period away from my watchful eye.  There were two main concerns I had about leaving it home alone for months and gaining an understanding of these has helped me in fine tuning my charging settings:

  • Self discharge
  • Water usage



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