In podcast 295 Paul, Rick, Jason, Steve Heckeroth, and Stuart Davis continue talking about the projects they experimented with at the solar workshop. They began by discussing their time spent with fresnel lens. They did indeed manage to get some stuff set on fire but for the most part it was pretty cloudy, making it ineffective. Paul describes how his main points regarding the fresnel lenses involved safety. He talks about how there are few practical uses for them besides setting shit on fire. He goes on to explain that they can work fine when you use them for small indoor things like reading but when you get the sun involved, they get freakishly dangerous.
The guys briefly jump back into discussing Tim’s truck and mull over the type of inverter he used. The inverter Tim wanted needed to have 3000 watt capabilities for running big power tools. So he ended up getting one with a hybrid sine wave. However, the guys talk about how the modified sine wave makes motorized things, anything with induction in fact, sad. If monitored, this can work but Paul says it’s better not to depend on human discipline.
Moving right along, Paul brings up his preference of tractors over horses. The guys consider how horses take up a lot of space and rarely get used enough to justify their presence on a homestead. They talk a little bit about other animals and the pains that goats often cause.
The next topic that gets covered is the voltswagon. They discuss its original design failures and talk about how the new trailer Tim is making is much better. The new one has a much stronger frame to hold the heavy batteries but is still small enough for electric vehicles to pull. They then consider the problem of the actual solar panels being sufficient to run the saw mill,which was the voltswagon’s original purpose. It seems close to impossible to switch the voltages but one of the guys does mention possible optimization.
The crew then dives into deliberating the whole idea of biodiesel and biogas. They sort of come to the conclusion that these processes are fine if they are using waste products, but when it turns into a whole new excuse for tons of land to be used in a unproductive monocrop way, it becomes a bad idea.
The last topic they get to in this portion of the podcast is different types of batteries. Steve spends some time advocating for lithium batteries for various reasons. For his tractors, lead acid work fine because they need the heavy weight but the lighter lithium batteries work way better for electric cars. They also last 3 times as long.
This leads them into a consideration of nickel iron batteries. They have a way longer lifespan than lead acid or lithium batteries, but they are not as readily available or even known about. In addition the nickel iron isn’t as toxic as lead. However, these nickel iron batteries cost way more and discharge themselves quite a lot more than the alternatives. So, the guys conclude this topic by noting that there is definitely room for optimization with the nickel iron batteries but they could potentially end up being awesome.
Credits: Cassie Langstraat
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294 – Solar Powered Homestead Part 2
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