Turquoise Energy News/Report #168
2022 (Posted June 8th 2022)
Lawnhill BC Canada - by Craig Carmichael
(Project Summaries etc.)
- Gardening - Brief Projects Mentions - Panasonic 5.5 amp-hour
Lithium-Ion Batteries: "Compression Case" - Nickel-Zinc Flat Cells with
compression case? -
Solar PV Addition results - Off-Grid Infrastructure: Another 3D printed
case - The Grid: "Smart" meter Readings online - The "Low Rolling
Resistance" Tires - Bitcoin Miner
- "Solar" 24V DC Deep Well Pump
(Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
- The West Versus Itself Versus Russia... with FARMING &
FOOD, FUEL, US 2019 PLAN TO "BREAK" RUSSIA, Zelensky the Kremlin
- Freezer Chicken Coop? - No Smol
Thots - ESD
Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems [no reports]
& Electric Equipment Projects
* Just a bit more on Gardening
* Just a bit more on Plastic Recycling 2.0 - Big Oven -
Flattening curved steel plates from big propane tank.
* My Solar Power System:
- Inverter Test - Rewiring Some Solar Panels - Yet More New Solar
Panels? - Switch Ratings
- Latest Daily/Monthly
Solar Production log et cetera - Monthly/Annual Summaries,
Although I am still having plenty of ideas for improving
projects, products and ideas I've been working on, it looks like I'm
having little time to actually do the work. (or even to finish this
newsletter!) Basicly my highest priority projects for the time being
are working on self-sufficiency and growing food. In a situation
deteriorating year after year and no leaders doing anything about it,
there must come a point when things just grind to a halt. And where the
population is dense and things aren't working, competition displaces
cooperation and a period of violence is almost inevitable. The carrying
capacity of the land in our complex society depends on cooperation
between people of all stripes, and it drops precipitously without that
cooperation. Every civilization in human history has arisen, flourished
for a few hundred years, and then fallen, usually with huge loss of
life. Typicly it has grown until it overshot the carrying capacity of
its environment and "mined" it for food and fuel, leaving the land able
to support only a much lower population. Now we are globally "strip
mining" even the renewable resources, let alone the non-renewables.
Various people have been predicting collapse for a long
time and it hasn't happened yet. But the trend from "flourishing" to
"dictatorial oligarchy" has been proceeding gradually for well over a
century. Some with great foresight could see we were well into
"overshoot" by the 1970s. (eg, see pivotal book by that name: Overshoot
by William R. Catton Jr. - or for the short version watch Collapse
on Youtube by Michael Dowd)
Today society appears to be self destructing with no one
interested in the welfare of civilization: it's broken up into
competing fiefdoms - institutions, departments, corporations,
divisions... And the problems continue to multiply and are never
addressed except to try to quell immediate fires - and now, often not
even those are attended to. With violence and disorder rising, how can
collapse now be "that's for the grandkids to worry about" far off? The
grandkids are grown.
I'm not going to write much about my gardening, but here
are a few pictures. Many gardeners have plenty to offer on youtube.
Perhaps the most interesting things here are that after about 4 years
one of my coffee plants has a flower and some flower buds, and that I
bought and planted an english walnut tree supposedly suitable for
cooler climates, for which I have high hopes. Also that my plastic
garden edge barriers seem to be doing a good job of keeping the grass
out, and a line of piled sawdust along another edge seems to be
Main garden looking East.
Front: 3 rows of potatoes (out of many), Rear off left: mostly
Far (SE) corner: a couple of josta berry bushes being swallowed by a
A 10' long row of peas starting to climb in front of that (expected
yield > 1 Kg)
Sawdust piled along south fence has deterred at least some slugs.
I left the gate open once while working around the yard, and
before I noticed it a deer ate the leaves off a blueberry bush.
Recycled PP plastic grass roots
dug in. (not that I've prepared the spot and planted anything yet.)
I hope to mold 3 foot long pieces and do the entire perimeter.
The slugs haven't got my short
transplanted seedling vegetables... yet. (More slug bait!)
I bought a pipe frame &
from aosom.ca for 265$.
(If I ever leave the door open, the deer will probably devour some
I also made a little pond and put in 3 very costly goldfish.
("It's the air freight express shipping with all the water they're in
that costs so much" said the store.)
I put a black Ikea sofa back frame as a grating over it to (hopefully)
keep out raccoons and otters.
In this greenhouse: my potted
coffee bushes, peppers, tomatoes, witch hazel.
All those brown leaves... did I overwater, or underwater, the coffee?
(Not seen: the strawberry tree/bush.)
The corn is growing nicely in the main greenhouse, and the asparagus,
chard and some squash,
and cabbages, brocolli, and carrots going to seed.
A flower on a coffee plant!
I milled a couple more of the
As the slabs get lower and lower with each board taken, knee
pads on the saw need to be higher and higher up.
(Must add big knee pad to the design!)
I'm presently making the new
oven from a
freezer with a metal inner liner to hold large molds.
(Egads I'm getting so little done in a month!)
and salvaging steel plate for
molds from (old,
free) 85 gallon propane tanks.
One of two propane tank steel
plates for the
17"x36" flat sheets/plates mold.
Not very flat - but very stiff!
Flattening with hydraulic press
Bending past flat because steel
Since the Sprint car doesn't climb hills well with the
torque of the present (36V forklift) motor and just a 5 to 1 speed
reduction (despite the high efficiency drivetrain), it's not very
useful. Not having found time for installing the special centrifugal
clutch or for building the new unipolar Electric Hubcap motor -
projects that might make it work - I thought to order a planetary
gearbox with a higher reduction. I've thought 7 to 1 would surely be
plenty. But I didn't want to further reduce the already slow maximum
speed of the car any more than necessary. (The motor is only 0-2000
RPM.) At the risk of it possibly still being a little too high of a
gear, I've ordered a 6 to 1 planetary for a simple swap with the 5 to
1. Hopefully that will get it up my steep driveway and any hills on the
main roads. And give it just a bit more "pep".
Solar PV Addition
The results of putting three new
solar panels on the carport roof at the end of April were more exciting
than I expected. This 17% of the eighteen total panels continued adding
around 25% to the total daily output to make it 4/3 of what it was
before, and the daily and monthly totals reached new highs. In April
new highs of "19.xx KWH" and "20.xx" per day were reached even without
them and I had to add a two new rows to the table. With the new panels
contributing I had to add more, finally up to "29.xx KWH per day" on
the sunniest day in May.
Where the previous highest monthly collection before April
2022 was 313 KWH, April's equipment and wiring improvements and more
sunny days than usual brought the record up to 404. But May's total
with the three new panels came to 547 KWH. This is starting to be some
I now want to add another 3 panel "A" frame beside that
one (there's just room) - either new panels or move the three from the
lawn up to there. It definitely gets the most sun of anywhere. (Running
fatter wires to the equipment should help for some of the existing
Panasonic 5.5 amp-hour Lithium-Ion
Batteries: "Compression Case"
Looking at some batteries on line on the 30th, I recognized from a
picture some similar (but larger - 24 AH) to some I had removed from a
scrapped hybrid car just before I moved here. It had been involved in
some flood, and the cells were all zero volts and had clay on them. I
had been offered them free for the taking out. They were evidently
Panasonic 5.5 AH, 3.7V lithium ion cells. I had tried charging some but
they swelled up like balloons. I figured they were probably no good,
but somehow I couldn't throw them out after all my effort extracting
them from the wrecked car and bringing them up form Victoria. There
were about 72 of them in the tote box,
on the floor under a bench.
Now I had the thought (from my quadcopter batteries) that all
rectangular lithium-ion batteries with soft bodies
do seem to swell when charging. I looked at some more pictures on line
and found that it
looked like they had to be held pressed together to use them. Then
there was a picture specificly saying "Compression Kit".
I figured I could make one like that, except never mind the circuit
board. (Hmm, that board seems to have the connections for a balance
charger. Nice!) Let's see... 10 in series for 36 volts, count on 60+
good cells so 6 x 10. 6*5.5=33 amp-hours; *36=~1200 watt-hours,
however wired for whatever voltage. Well, 33AH @ 36V could be a small
but not trivial addition to the 120AH set presently on the DC solar
power system. with a lot of balance charger cell interconnections to
wire up. (Somehow 153AH just sounds way bigger than 120.)
I found an alume plate that was just right for the two ends when cut in
half, and some 1/4" threaded rods that weren't long enough to hold 20
cells. So I took a stack of 11 cells already connected together (with
plastic grid spacers between them), removed one, cleaned some of the
clay off the remaining 10 (without taking them all apart) and clamped
them, not very hard, in the "housing". Now there's no space for them to
The next part is trying to charge the cells. Since they're
at 0 volts, I put one on the charger at a time. I limited the current
to 1 amp. The first two charged up gradually to 3.8 volts (several
hours) and then discharged overnight to under 1 volt. On charging the
second one for a few hours for the third time, the current finally
started to drop, down to 1/4 amp by the evening of June 2nd. It dropped
overnight just down to 3.4V. Promising! The next day I put the two
cells in series and found one up to 3.98V, while the other was 3.72 and
the current was 1/2 amp. I reduced the voltage and connected to the
higher cell only. It drew under 10 mA (reading 0 on the power supply)
until I turned it above 4 volts. A couple of other cells charged right
up like new. Maybe with enough coaxing many or most of them really
will work and hold a charge, after over 5 years sitting totally
Underside of stack: two of the
bars support the
cells from beneath
When I get some longer threaded rods, I'll put 2 or 3 sets
cells together. (6 inches length per set.) Putting 6 sets into one
housing (36 inches long) sounds unwieldy. Maybe two racks, 3 and 3 (or
3 and 4), sets, to use up 60 cells, or 70 if they all work, for a
maximum 38.5 amp-hours. At 36 volts that's 1386 watt-hours - not
Nickel-Zinc Flat Cells?
In doing all this, I suddenly thought of my own nickel
manganates-zinc 'everlasting' flat plate gel batteries, which even in a
very small size swelled up and didn't work well unless I leaned heavily
on them to hold them compressed. It seemed they would need absurdly
thick walls or a system of
'pins' inside to hold the faces together at many points, and so I had
around with making cylindrical cells, which can take much pressure but
proved very hard to make at home. An external compression housing is of
course exactly what the flat cells need. That seemed like an absurd
additional complication for one cell, but it's not for say 22 cells end
to end (at
1.6V) to get 36 volts. With pressure plates to hold them I could make
quite large area electrodes!
And I have an idea for 3D printed reverse tapered holes
terminals and the water filler hole, so that if they are filled with
heat glue or wax after assembly, pressure inside the battery will tend
to seal them. That should help with my other main problem of leaks and
the cells drying out.
These ideas inspire me to have another stab at making
practical, working batteries!
Off-Grid Infrastructure: Another 3D printed case
I have been buying
wonderful little LCD DC power monitors off AliExpress.com
. They work from 8 to 100 volts. A blue backlight can be turned on or
off. The 0 to 20 amps model has an internal shunt. Another model comes
with an external shunt: 50, 100 or 500 amp shunts are available. They
show (all at once in the four corners) the voltage, current, watts and
cumulative watt-hours of energy. The watt-hours reading is held even
when disconnected or the power is turned off. A single button (by
holding it down longer and longer) cycles through options. (The only
ones I use are to turn the backlight on or off and to reset the
When dealing with solar and battery systems, I feel
like being able to see exactly what's going on, both going into the
batteries and coming out. The voltage gives some indication of the
state of charge. Seeing how much has gone in and how much has come out
is better. Seeing that current is still flowing in an RV or boat
because some light or fan has been left on can save a costly battery
from being discharged while not in use.
These monitors have a lip around the front edge for panel
but other than that no good mounting system. So I 3D printed up some
little cases for screwing them onto a flat surface such as plywood. On
the first one I put screws holes outside the body. Then I realized that
since they insert in from the front (friction fit), the box can be
screwed onto the plate first and I put the screw holes inside, making
it smaller. They fit in pretty well and are unlikely to fall out
(unless maybe mounted on the ceiling of an RV, or in a boat pounding on
Two fotos of the new power
I left the wire end open as the plastic to cover would
sag into the slit during printing. Also that way the unit can
be wired while loose and then pressed into the housing.
Old power monitor (36 VDC output to loads, 0-100 amps) mounted on face
of breaker/equipment box.
New power monitor (DC charging input, 0-20 amps) mounted on wall in new
3D printed case.
The Grid: "Smart" meter Readings
I once tried to check on my electric readings, but as
there was no microwave link, the meter was being read by a person. But
some time back, Hydro had put in a radio on a nearby pole. When I paid
my latest bill I went on line to BCHydro.ca and sure enough, one can
find one's power meter's logged readings.
The usage bars correspond only
vaguely with the
days of more
sunshine, suggesting that consumption is the larger factor.
Note the increase from the 22nd on when the bitcoin miner started
In the daily graphs, note the deceptively changing scales.
On May first I used relatively little electricity, but it looks like a
lot. Somehow in my random picks of days, I didn't choose any very sunny
one. May 1st was cold (bedroom & other heat on) and stormy with
rain, and very little solar power, and the 22nd was also mostly
overcast. I turned the bitcoin miner on on the afternoon of the 22nd
for the rest of the month and beyond. On the 11th and 28th the drop in
consumption from around 9AM to 3:30PM (PDT) when the sun hits the solar
panels is quite apparent. Occasionally car charging or laundry (dryer)
bumps consumption up by almost 4 KW for an hour or two.
The "Low Rolling Resistance" Tires
Now that spring is here, I'll stand by my earlier
assessment about being quite disappointed with the Bridgestone Ecopia
"low rolling resistance" tires I put on my Nissan Leaf around a year
ago. It's not sticking brakes. Unless something else strange is
happening to the car at a specific temperature (seems unlikely), there
is a temperature range of about 9 to 13°C where the tires magicly
go from being very high rolling resistance to "far lower". They
doubtless work great in warm climates, but here the middle of May was
the first time since last fall that the temperature has hit that range,
so it's the first time in about 8 months that the mileage has gone from
pathetic to decent or (on one trip) great. It's only that warm here on
the northern coast for maybe 3 months of the year (adding up all the
warmer days over 4 or 5 months), so most of the time instead of
conserving batteries and saving power, I'm putting up with poor range
and extra electricity to drive anywhere - and indeed driving way below
the speed limit on the highway to make an 85-90 Km round trip with 20%
reserve. In cooler weather the "Ironman All Season" tires it had before
were substantially better. They still had lots of tread -- I wish I had
hung onto them when I got the new ones.
The trip that had "great" mileage I drove to Port
Clements, and the car's thermometer went from 11° to 18°(!) as
I proceeded inland from the coast.
(I also have the thought that inland where there's more warmth on sunny
days is probably where there might be some wild honey bees thriving on
this island. It's so rare to see a honeybee along the coastline and
highway where most of the people are. I've seen none so far this
I write this in case some may be interested in this big
electricity burning project. If not, just skip to the next heading.
Bitcoin Miner on a board on a chair in the front
making lots of fan noise. Power supply beside.
After being so
pleased with my solar panels' production, in mid month I traded someone
a 305W solar panel for a used Antminer S9 bitcoin miner (with only 2
"chains" out of 3 working well). I had been asking about the miner for
months, but the owner had to retrieve it from somewhere and he wasn't
very motivated. It doesn't make enough bitcoin to pay for the
electricity it uses, but it does make some. The idea was to run it in
the cold months when the travel trailer needed heat to keep it from
getting mouldy inside, instead of running an electric heater that made
no bitcoin at all. Instead the warm months are here. On the 22nd I
turned it on. When it is running, the solar power will definitely NOT
be making as much power as the place is using, probably even on sunny
summer days. My power conserving mind says to turn it off, but I think
I'll leave it running for now. I wish I hadn't sold all my bitcoins in
2017. I had 27 at one point in 2013 or 2014 - now worth a fortune each
but a trivial 67$ when I first bought them. (Up from 50$ the previous
week -- it seemed like a lot to pay at the time!)
The new one runs up to 5 times faster than all five of the
bitcoin miners I was running in 2015-2017, and it was way easier to set
up and get started. (I probably missed out on a dozen whole bitcoins in
2015 by taking several months from the time I bought the miners until I
actually had them set up, running and then and running well. You had to
hook them to a dedicated computer like a Raspberry Pi, which I ended up
buying three of, all very slightly different but only the last one
would run the software. And I had to order the 5 power supplies
separately and got the wrong ones the first time. Then I got someone to
help me set up the Pi and GFC miner program. And once finally running
they were no end of trouble. The mining program kept randomly quitting.
I eventually delved into the source code and (after some days) figured
out how to get the program to reboot and resume if it had quit mining
for "X" seconds, but that cost another 3 months before it was doing
well. The five long USB connections with active hubs were also an
ongoing source of trouble. The five miners together used around 2500
watts, and before I moved two of them had quit working entirely.
Meanwhile the mining was getting harder by the month back then and I
missed the best earlier rewards. The overall hash rate of the pool went
from 20 PH in October 2015 to 40 PH in March 2017 and so my rewards
were halved, and all rewards were halved again after block 400,000(?)
per the bitcoin protocol. (It was probably well under 10 PH when I
first got the miners.) It is now 13 EH -- 30 times faster again than in
early 2017. After I moved I didn't have decent internet access for
almost 3 years and had to stop.)
The new miner was far simpler to use. It came with its own
built in computer, accessed from any browser (well, not Firefox) on any
computer, and connected directly to the ethernet. But my rewards
(several a day in a mining pool) now are measured in x1 micro bitcoins
instead of x1000. They would have been in the x10,000's earlier in
2015. Bitcoin was around 500$ (?) back then and it didn't seem like
such a big thing. I'd still be better off buying them except that now
the primary purpose is using the electric heat from the miner instead
of just an electric heater.
(I tried to buy another small fraction of one bitcoin a
few days ago. The price came to within 27$C of my 36001 $/bitcoin bid,
but then it rose and now it's over 38000$.)
The new miner was using 950 watts, then I found a setting
to turn it down to under 800 - but it mines proportionately slower. It
still used 19 KWH a day. (One of the miner's three "chains" (it's
really 3 miners in one box) seemed to be dead, but it didn't seem to
use any power, or it would have been 1200 watts.)
But where in October 2015 0.6 TH ("Terra Hashes per
second") from 5 miners made up to 500 microbitcoins - and once they
were all running right without the BFG miner randomly quitting in early
2016, at 2.5 TH they made around 2000. Now 8.0 TH makes only about 4
microbitcoins. One thing it has done is heat the house so that I don't
have to light a fire in the evening to be comfortable. But the fan
noise is a nuisance that I will soon tire of.
Then I downloaded "Braiins" "ASIC Boost" O/S replacement
firmware for certain Antminers including mine, which is supposed to
improve performance. The third miner board "chain" came to life... but
I soon disconnected it entirely as it seemed to be causing trouble, and
I set the miner on its lowest setting: 600 watts, 6.5 TH and around 3
micro-bitcoins when Slushpool mining pool finds a block. Slushpool
probably finds around 10 blocks a day, and you get whatever your miner
has been making for about the previous 1/2 hour at that time. Much of
the time you could turn it off and do just as well -- if only you knew
just when to turn it on and off.
"Solar" DC Deep Well Pump
Google and Amazon aren't the only ones with ads. Since I
keep buying through it, AliExpress.com keeps sending me advertising
emails. (I tried turning them off in "preferences", but then I also
missed actual communications from sellers I had ordered things from.) I
opened one before deleting it and at the top saw "Solar Deep Well
Pumps" -- lower voltage DC units. They seem to have me disturbingly
well profiled, because I have been wanting some such thing in case of
lengthy power failures. Rainwater is great, but it's not connected to
my sinks, toilets and bath and unless I build a water tower or put in a
pump, it would have little pressure. My regular 230 volts AC well pump
seems to be at least 1000 watts and probably closer to 1500 or more. I
got a 2500W, 230V inverter to run it and tried it out, and it and the
batteries seemed to be just able to run it.
These were modern designs with BLDC motors, which are
usually very efficient and have high torque, good for pumping from a
deep well. I picked the smallest one, 300 watts at 24 volts. It claimed
to be able to lift water about 100 feet, and claimed (IIRC) 50
liters/minute flow rate. Other choices were 48 volts and up and higher
wattages like 600 and up. If you're really dependent on solar, low
watts is better even if the flow rate probably isn't near the stated
max when pumping up from a considerable depth.
Of course my system is 36 volts. That wasn't a choice for
these well pumps. I'm sure I can hook 24V up one way or another if it's
needed. I'm less sure about running the main hot water tank off solar
power, especially in winter, or how best to connect it to the DC
system. With around 300 watts of power - one solar panel in full sun -
it would take maybe 20 hours to heat up from dead cold. With less than
that it's probably not worth trying to run it. (Most hot water tank
heater elements are 230V, around 3000 watts.)
(Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
Versus Itself Versus Russia
While the military fighting proceeds in Ukraine &
Donbass, where the USA has been paying even the wages of the Ukrainian
forces to "fight Russia to the last Ukrainian", the larger and more
significant aspect of the economic war by the West against Russia also
After stealing Russia's foreign reserves held in banks
outside the country, the plan was to cause the collapse of the Russian
currency with "sanctions" including shutting down most Russian banks
outside Russia. Surely the Ruble would lose value rapidly and
hyperinflate? That started to work for a brief period, then Russia
announced it would sell gas and oil only for rubles. Russia is the main
supplier of fossil fuels to Europe, so it holds some good cards and it
is seeing how to play them. In the whole world there are no other
adequate sources of supply, or at least none that can be brought on
line any time soon. We passed "peak oil" many years ago and are on a
pretty steep downhill slope. Gas shortages were being felt in Europe
long before the Russians entered the already ongoing Ukrainian
fighting. Lack of investments in locating and draining the world's
remaining dwindling reserves have accelerated (not caused) growing
With countries forced to trade their currencies for
rubles, the ruble soon rose higher than it had been before the military
operation started, then to a four year high. Next the concern was that
it would rise too much. The program was enforced when gas was cut off
or threatened to be to a couple of European countries that tried to pay
in Euros. Now there is a tricky scheme where companies that want
Russian oil/gas open two accounts at Gazprom bank, one in Euros and one
in Rubles. Somehow they pay using Euros without "violating sanctions"
and then those are exchanged for Rubles in their bank accounts.
So Russia has won economic "round one". Beginning before
the attack, it also offered to buy gold at a fixed Ruble price per
gram. (I don't remember the price.) That puts a minimum value on the
price of gold, which has long been manipulated downward in US and
British paper futures contracts that are never delivered and which far
exceed the actual amount of gold available, to keep the paper currency
looking good. In effect, the ruble has been tied to gold where all
other currencies have been backed with nothing since 1972 when the USA
refused to sell any more of its dwindling gold reserves to other
countries for the agreed price of 35 $/Troy Oz, ending the Breton Woods
agreement created following WWII. (Gold is now around 2000 $US/Ozt. The
amount of silver in 1$ worth of old silver coins is now worth more like
In fact, the West seems to be having almost dire economic
problems, which were clearly emerging before the Russian attack but
accelerated by the backfiring sanctions. A youtuber (Richard Medhurst)
asked people to send him pictures from their local supermarkets. How
serious are the shortages - are the shelves full, half full or bare?
Some people in Russia sent him short videos, which he aired a couple of
in his. Gasoline was something like 46 rubles per liter at the pump,
less than 1$, while it is well over 2$ in BC, Canada. (I understand
Canada doesn't even have an oil refinery any more. We pay substantially
more for gasoline from our own oil than Americans do. Good thing we
have the government in Ottawa looking out for Canadians' interests! By
contrast, I'm sure Putin would never allow such an absurd situation to
arise.) The supermarket shelves were fully stocked and prices haven't
gone up much since the start of the "special military operation" in
Ukraine. Like Canada, Russia is a huge country with a lot of resources
and a sparse population for its size, and also at least partly owing to
its ostracization by others, it relies on itself for the basics more
than on international trade. Reading the comments on under the video
giving prices et cetera was revealing. (And Russia has just discovered
that milk products from Belarus are superior to those they were buying
from Australia and New Zealand before sanctions! Oops!) I do hear
something Russia is short of is "booze". That should be easily
Farming & Food
With fertilizer rising in price and already in short
supply with various mines closing, and cut off from the biggest
exporter Russia, prices have risen 2- up to 5-fold. Corn yields will
drop 40% in the first year without these "fossil fertilizers" which are
mined or manufactured using fossil fuel energy. (This helps point out
how far we are from sustainable agriculture. The world's gigantic
population can only drop sharply and painfully as these non-renewable
supplies run out.) Many farmers are switching from corn to soybeans,
which aren't such heavy feeders. Others aren't going to plant at all
because they don't see how to break even. As usual, there is no "too
big to fail" (or "too important to fail") "bank bailout" type program
to keep farmers in business and producing. On the contrary, many have
been paid to leave their fields idle the last couple of years, and
millions worldwide have been bankrupted in the last two or three years
if not earlier. Worldwide crop yields are expected to drop by 20-40%
this year alone. Wheat is expected to be down by 35%. Arab countries
which import their wheat from Russia and Ukraine seem set to be
devastated. The UN warns that 1.6 billion people face famine. (Just 100
years ago that figure was over 80% of the entire world population!)
Even US president Biden said "There will be food shortages, and they
will be serious."
An additional problem, owing to the war, is that Ukraine
has sown untethered sea mines from Odessa to sink ships in case Russia
tries a seaborne assault on Odessa. These randomly drifting mines have
made the Black Sea too dangerous for cargo vessels and no insurance
companies will insure vessels entering it. Russia has apparenty offered
to send mine sweepers to clear the path for vessels that wish to carry
Ukrainian grain to the Middle East and Africa via Odessa, for
humanitarian reasons. The West and Ukraine have ignored this offer and
want instead to send NATO warships into the Black Sea to prevent Russia
from getting near Odessa. (My own question is: Why would Ukraine want
to export its grain stockpiles at all when it seems likely that little
will be grown this year? Won't they need it for their own people over
the next year or two? But I don't have facts and figures - likely in
spite of everything they still feel they have enough surplus to export
Russian foreign minister Lavrov points out that while
Europe claims to have not sanctioned Russian wheat, it has sanctioned
the Russian ships that carry the wheat, messing up the vessel insurance
system and not allowing them into European ports, so it amounts to the
With the supply chain buckling more with each passing
month, it is more than possible that food deliveries in Western nations
could fail too. That is to say that there may be food but it won't get
from farms, through processing plants, and to the grocery stores. And
our 'leadership' is doing nothing to help any of the problems. Instead
food processing and fertilizer plants seem to be catching fire left and
right this year. Everything taken together seems so bad that some think
it's a deliberate plot to reduce the world's population by killing
billions of people.
As mentioned there were already
very serious food problems unrelated to the fighting. One is of course
the weather. Weather has been wreaking havoc on food production around
the world especially for the last 3 years or so. The US drought is a
prime example, as is last year's extensive flooding in China. Cutting
down forests causes aridity. (French philosopher Francois-Rene de
Chateaubriand said "Forests precede civilizations and deserts follow
them." The Anasazi well exemplify this. They didn't live in a desert:
they turned a pine and juniper forest into today's arid desert with no
topsoil where any rain just washes away quickly through gullies. ...and
in so doing, their agriculture failed and their civilization
collapsed!) Other weather anomalies such as sudden floods in Soggy
Arabia, hailstorms that flatten crops (sometimes with giant hailstones
that kill livestock), early frosts and snows, powerful hurricanes and
tornadoes, have worked much harm to crops.
The only good report I've heard so far this year has been
a bumper wheat crop in Australia. (But last year they had an
unbelievable infestation of mice that ruined much of a good crop. I saw
in a youtube video, when stored bales were disturbed whole floods of
mice would spill forth from them! Elsewhere locusts have eaten what
should have been bountiful crops from the horn of Africa to Iran, and
in South America.)
problem is a very long term one. It is being ignored but it is
affecting everybody's health. The chart below shows declines in the
nutritive value of our
foods over half a century. It illustrates how unsustainable our whole
"mine the Earth for fertilizer" agriculture system is... and it's 22
years out of date; almost
another 1/4 century has passed and the nutritional value of our foods
is doubtless further depleted.
In passing I note that boron isn't mentioned. It was
discovered 15 or 20 years
ago that the prime cause of both arthritis and osteoporosis is boron
deficiency. Without boron, calcium builds up in the joints (arthritis)
instead of being absorbed into the bones (osteoporosis). (Medical news
that doesn't benefit 'big pharma' seems to spread more slowly today
than before the internet.)
Boron is needed in only trace amounts, but if the drops in
nutrient densities shown applies also to boron (and there's every
reason to think that it would), then I would think arthritis and
osteoporosis must be on the rise most everywhere. (3mg boron citrate
tablets are available at health food stores. Borax in water for
trace boron supplement: TE News #88,
#114, various web sources. I
understand boron glyconate tablets are to be avoided as being harmful
About mid month it developed that as Europe was short of
diesel fuel, USA's illustrious president sent them a bunch from the US
northeast. This left the US northeast with only a couple of weeks
worth, and rationing came into view. And the prices have skyrocketed to
the point that truckers are running at a loss and quitting or at least
shutting off their trucks in droves. I heard they were going to ship
some diesel fuel from the western side of the country to make up for
it, perhaps leaving the whole country short.
OTOH, if we don't reduce and finally end our usage of
fossil fuels, our planet is becoming more and more unlivable. Plastic
is everywhere and (along with overfishing) destroying the life of the
oceans. And UN estimates say air pollution already plays a major role
in one of every ten deaths worldwide. Whatever the role of persisting
jet trail clouds in the stratosphere, the climate is becoming more and
more unstable and planting crops more and more a gamble.
Inasmuch as many basic electrifications have not
been attended to yet, a diesel fuel shortage threatens collapse of
Western civilization. Consider what runs on diesel:
1. Virtually all larger trucks. No freight deliveries including food,
no parcel deliveries, no fuel deliveries to gasoline stations...
2. North American Trains. (In Europe and Russia trains including
freight trains are electric.) With no diesel, no train deliveries of
coal to power plants (among all the other things not delivered) would
cause widespread power grid failures. Yet the railroads, owing to staff
shortages(!), are asking their big cutomers to reduce their loads -
even of diesel fuel and DEF (DEF is required by newer trucks). That
will inhibit any required petroleum redistributions as well as just
plain getting it to the pumps all over.
3. Farm equipment. If there's no diesel or if it costs too much,
present day mass agriculture shuts down. This is in fact happening this
spring. And "no spring plantings" can't be remedied for a whole year
regardless of restoration of supply. The global food shortage seems
serious enough without this problem. The electric CNC farming &
gardening idea would accomplish many things including potentially
ending extreme and immediate dependence on petroleum fuels. But (AFAIK)
you can't even buy an electric tractor. Electric farm equipment seems
like a "no brainer" to me. You haven't driven the tractor miles from
home for when you need to plug it in to recharge, even if that is more
frequent stopping than may be desirable. Diesel fuel and fertilizer are
the two biggest farm planting expenses. Electricity is almost free by
comparison to petroleum fuel. (I have the 24V electric conversion kit
for my lawn tractor. But it's not a farming tractor and I haven't had
time to convert it. Maybe I should be looking for a "dead" one I can
convert at leisure while my gasoline one is still running? Well, I
haven't even got the electric Miles mini cargo van going again, and all
it needs is batteries that I already have!)
Many scream that "renewables" are no answer to our real
energy needs, but now serious energy shortages are starting as
"non-renewables" dwindle. While it is true that Northern regions like
much of Europe (and much of Canada and Russia) don't get a lot of solar
energy in winter, even my own personal half-baked forays into solar PV
here in the north are providing at least a significant portion of my
energy in the better months and annually are now probably making double
what my electric car uses - and I drive much more than is absolutely
necessary - nearly all x10s of kilometers highway trips from my rural
location. If solar energy isn't a big part of the answer, is it not
because we have invested so little in making it and in appropriate
infrastructure? And why wait upon government? at a personal level,
rooftop solar (especially DIY) is a good investment and it can bring a
good level of self-sufficiency in case of infrastructure failures. As a
place to start, there's a great youtube channel "DIY Solar with Will
Proust" where he tries out and compares many things including batteries
and solar equipment.
All According to Plan
On the 22nd youtuber "iEarlGrey" said in a video that
someone had pointed him to a published US 2019 plan to "break" Russia.
(Later I found another video from another source detailing the exact
same document.) Although the document is technicly from "Rand
Corporation" one might as well read "from US Oligarchy". The president
of Rand is a former head of DHS (or was it NSA?) and most of Rand's
business is with the US military and government, so he's certainly an
"establishment insider". It was hundreds of pages, he said, but the
table of contents gave the outline. In the plan were to get Russia to
"extend" itself by provocations including unilaterally backing out of
arms limitation treaties and other agreements, meddling in various
former Soviet states, arming and nazifying the Ukraine, sanctions to
crash the Russian economy and making trouble in Syria and Moldova. They
were all laid out in detail, in 2019!
In short, everything that has been happening today in
Ukraine and Russia was planned in the USA in 2019. Ukraine, Moldova and
Syria are expendable pawns in the US game.
The US plan to "break" Russia REVEALED in 2019 Report - "Inside
However, having succeeded in getting Russia embroiled in
military action in Ukraine, the plan seems to have largely backfired.
Ukraine is starting to crack despite Western involvement and the
sanctions, while not without effect, are doing more harm to the West
than to Russia. And Middle Eastern and African countries face
starvation for want of Ukraine's wheat.
I'll say it again: the longer Ukraine fights, the more it
is bound to lose in every way. US president Biden could broker a
reasonable peace deal and end the fighting any time. Nothing could be
farther from his thoughts and plans. Instead USA has incited Ukraine to
carry on fighting, with big promises of aid and final victory, and to
make no reasonable concessions that would bring peace. (Ukraine still
even demands Crimea back from Russia - Hah! Good luck with that!)
No less a sage than Henry Kissinger has said Ukraine
should negotiate whatever agreement it can with Russia ASAP and end the
conflict. He figured there was about a 2 month window before the
situation is "irretrievable". In addition to collapse of Ukraine, he
was essentially thinking of Russia throwing up its hands with trying to
deal with the West and pivoting to China, India and the East, leaving
the West rather isolated. In USA an article was immediately printed,
"Why Kissinger is Wrong". The present US regime seems to have no
respect for anyone, even USA's own most respected, who isn't towing
On the 27th Alexander Mercouris, who pontificates daily
about the progress of the war on youtube, thought the Ukraine military
was collapsing so fast they had more like a week or ten days before
Russia wouldn't bother trying to negotiate with a government that would
have become pretty much a non-entity in control of nothing, and would
just press on with an occupation as far as it pleased with little to no
organized resistance, and decide how to reorganize Ukraine afterward.
Russia started offering expedited Russian citizenship to
anyone who asked for it not only in the Donbass, but in (or as far as?)
Kherson in Russian controlled areas. Owing to inflation they also
increased pensions for the elderly and the minimum wage. (I expect the
pension probably also applies to new Russian citizens in Ukraine, who
have been getting nothing lately from the Ukraine government. Offer
money: what a way to "win over hearts and minds"!) Ukraine and the USA
have cried "foul"!
So the Ukraine part of the 2019 plan may be fizzling out
because the Russian military are beating the Ukraine out of the Donbass
and away from the Sea of Azov, and the [largely conscript] Ukrainian
military's will to keep going into the slaughter is weakening. Many
railroad bridges and fuel depots have been destroyed across the
country, making it hard to get Western supplied weapons (which are also
being directly targeted by precision missiles once they enter the
country) to the battle areas in the East of the country. Literally
millions of Ukrainians have fled the country -- refugees not from the
Russian invasion itself, but from being pressed into military service
for an apparently lost cause.
But the heavy fortifications built in the Donbass by
Ukraine - the "Ukrainian Maginot line" as it has been called - which
have been taking Russian and allied DPR and LPR forces so long to
uproot one by one, are evidence that Ukraine was actively preparing for
a Russian attack long before it occurred.
I have been astonished at the way events have in so many
ways been playing into Russia's hands in "corruption is an art form"
Ukraine. It almost seemed as if the Ukrainian leadership were
deliberately trying to get the country wasted and the neonazi
batallions destroyed, and to give Russia not just what provinces it
asked for (Lugansk & Donetsk - the Donbass), but what actually made
a certain geographic sense, including a land route to Crimea along the
Azov coast up to the southern Dneiper River area (large parts of
Zaporizhzhia, Kherson), areas which also have a large percentage of
Russian speaking people. (And obviously this isn't over yet. What
happens next about Odessa and a Russian land passage to Moldova (which
would leave Ukraine landlocked), or to Ukraine as a nation, remain to
Some unnamed Russian ventured the following appraisal,
which was auto-translated and posted onto youtube, again by "iEarlGrey"
at the end of the month:
Zelensky is a Kremlin agent!
So in just two months:
1. Actively bilked the West for dough.
2. Strengthened the ruble.
3. In addition to the Crimea, gave Russia Donbass.
4.. Turned off gas to all of Europe, sending it into the Middle Ages.
5. Drained the pockets of drivers, farmers, entrepreneurs and
manufacturers in the EU and the USA.
6. Since the start of the special operation, almost all major
competitors in Russia have left, making room for Russian entrepreneurs.
7. Begged for so many weapons that even Scholz declared that the
Bundeswehr was running out of weapons "for itself."
8. Gathered all the bottom of the Ukrainian Nazi subculture - tattooed,
marginalized, idiots, maniacs, murderers from Europe and other
countries into one place, where the Russians kill them in packs and
promptly deliver them to Bandera.
9. He united the Russian people around their Leader ! Russia has never
known such strong support for the actions of the President and his
cabinet during his entire presidency.
10. Sent into exile the entire cockamamie beau monde of Russian
entertainment and film, with pockets full of "wishes" from the grateful
Russia has never been as good as it has been under Zelensky!
[Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)] (& the
odd word change to the English by me.)
It occurred to me one day that an old oven might make a good "instant
chicken coop" for one or two hens. Add some extra ventilation and
perhaps a latch on the door, and a wooden nest box and (maybe) a roost
inside. Then I thought, better still, maybe an old large freezer
(refrigerant gas removed). That would accommodate a slightly larger
flock of maybe 3 or 4. Chop out a door and a vent window with a grille
in the sides or ends and a way to close the door and to latch the lid
shut to keep out predators.
...Just thinking of something fast to set up, somewhat weather
resistant and easy to access and to clean! (Tip over freezer and rake
out, add fresh straw/wood shavings/dried grass. Maybe even use it on
Related?: On May 31st a raccoon was climbing over the
fence into my chicken enclosure. I heard the chickens making a ruckus
and got up from my evening nap just in time. Perry saw it on the lawn
again an hour later as it was darkening, but after the chickens had
gone in and I had closed the coop. This was the first time a raccoon
had attacked the chickens in daylight. It made for a whole new hazard.
Not only the coop but the whole chicken yard now had to be made
"bulletproof" against some sneak daylight incursion when no one was
around. I spent the next day (June 1st) replacing the loose net over
the whole chicken yard (for hawks) with stapled-on chicken wire, and
reinforcing a lot of the existing stapling. I added boards around the
bottom to make it hard to dig under.
This enclosure was intended to be easily disassembled and
mobile to put the chickens on fresh ground since chickens turn any
permanent yard into messy dirt with poop and nothing growing, but now
it's all stapled together, and getting heavy and hard to move.
My thoughts this month have been too small to mention.
(Eccentric Silliness Department)
* On May 9th I learned that Russian forces were advancing on New
York. New York is a village in Donetsk.
* A trailer tongue jack's instructions started with: "Warning
- Failure to follow these warnings and instructions may result in
property damage, serious bodily injury, and/or death." Why stop
there? "..., financial loss, ruin or bankruptcy of yourself or your
employer or medical insurer, widespread street or highway
transportation infrastructure failures, cyber attacks, societal
collapse and/or the end of the world as you knew it and reams of
government paperwork someone will have to fill out!"
* The crash of Wall Street wasn't really that bad. If Roof
Street ever crashes, it'll be DUCK AND COVER! (If anything happens
to Floor Street, wear snowshoes.)
* Where do Martians live? -- In marshes (Well,
* Criminate: Perform an action that leads to recriminations.
"in depth reports" for
each project are below. I hope they may be useful to anyone who wants
to get into a similar project, to glean ideas for how something
might be done, as well as things that might have been tried, or just
of and not tried... and even of how not to do something - why
work or proved impractical. Sometimes they set out inventive thoughts
almost as they occur - and are the actual organization and elaboration
in writing of those thoughts. They are thus partly a diary and are not
extensively proof-read for literary perfection, consistency,
completeness and elimination of duplications before
publication. I hope they may add to the body of wisdom for other
researchers and developers to help them find more productive paths and
avoid potential pitfalls and dead ends.
Other "Green" & Electric Equipment Projects
I did a lot of gardening
again, planting and planting, transplanting from the window greenhouse
to the greenhouse or outdoors. First the corn went out to the
greenhouse on the first. By mid month the gardens and greenhouse
were filling up. I still had more potatoes I could plant. Someone had
said they wanted some seed, but they found some other. With no big
rototiller breaking sod was a lot of work, and so was bringing over
more dirt from elsewhere to cover the rows. Should I do a fourth 25
foot row? How much was worth planting? I started on the 24th and found
there were just enough for half a row. That suited me fine. Some of the
first row were just poking up. (I had some pictures of the potato
[15th] I set up the greenhouse kit, and moved my potted plants into it
from my regular greenhouse. That made more room there. And the potted
coffee plants from the house, too.
Well, seems I didn't get around to writing any more. I was too busy
Plastic Recycling 2.0
[13rd] I took a break from gardening for a couple of hours and tried to
straighten out the crumpled lid of the freezer. I took off the hinges
and did a bit of straightening, but it seemed almost hopeless and I
decided to try looking for a better one again. I also took the heating
elements out of the oven I have been using preparatory to changing over
to the new one.
[16th] I cut up one of the 85 gallon propane tanks to get some plates
for a big mold: 16 inches by 36. I cut just above the weld of the
bottom bell. It went terribly slowly and used up 10-1/2 zip disks. When
I had got some distance cut it was pinching the disk and I put a
screwdriver in to hold the crack open. But that wasn't the main
problem. What I didn't know until it was open was that the bell and the
side plate overlapped right there above the weld (à la "socket
and tenon" or very short "telescoping" section), so I was cutting
through 10mm thickness of metal instead of 5mm.
After that I cut out the two plate pieces - using only 6
more zip disks over more length than the first cut. It amazed me that
from that "huge" tank I could only get pieces for one mold of that
size. There was a 16" x 20" piece left of the circumference, but just
12" of leftover side plate before the top bell.
I was concerned about how to flatten the curved plates
without folding them or denting them up with a maul. It finally
occurred to me that I have a 20 ton hydraulic press. There must be some
way I could use that. (I should have taken the other grader blade when
I found two at the refuse station, to use for bracing?)
[21st] I went to the dump, and found another freezer lid. I didn't have
a tape measure, but it looked pretty close. This one had sprayed foam
insulation, about 2 inches. It was slightly narrower than the first
one, maybe 1/2 inch, and a few inches longer. I came up with a new plan.
Being slightly narrower than the first lid, I can also cut
it slightly shorter. Then it will fit just inside if I bend out the
"lips" of the outer one. I would use it upside down, so that the top of
the new lid became the inner face - the "ceiling" of the new double
lid, probably with the fiberglass insulation from the first lid stuffed
in there too. There would be no "rubber" freezer gasket around the
edges, which I assumed was plastic that would melt. The metal "ceiling"
would close directly against the metal inside walls and the foam
insulation of the freezer body. (Don't ask me why I think the spray
foam insulation won't melt. I may find out otherwise.)
[24th] I went back to straightening the first lid. I got more brutal
with heavier tools - hammers, blocks of steel to hit against and big
pliers - and didn't worry about niceties or appearance, and in a while
had it basicly back into shape.
Seems I didn't get any pictures, and anyway it's not done yet. Then I
started impinging on June instead of finishing this news report...
[June 5th] I decided to see if bending the 5mm steel plates from the
propane tank would work. It occurred to me to use a beam for leverage.
I had a short piece of 6"x6". Done this way, it didn't take a lot of
force, but more than I could get jumping on a piece - a ton or two.
Soon I realized I was faintly smelling propane. Was there a leaking
bottle in the shop? Wait... what was I working with, again? Oh yes,
metal from an old propane tank. The "rotten egg" smell is actually not
propane, which is odorless. It's a trace gas they put in with it so you
can detect leaks with your nose rather than by explosion or being
asphyxiated. Apparently it lingers long after the propane is gone.
The cut up propane tank and the
One of the cut out sheets/plates
The beam in the press bending the steel sheet, with a
steel block above the wood to spread the pressing force.
Of course steel springs back, so
it must be
bent past flat to flatten it... but by how much?
and where to bend? I put a heavy steel bar under one end of the beam
for the extra bend.
Mostly I didn't go far enough and will have to work at it for a while
longer to get nicely flat pieces.
My Solar Power System
I ordered a 600 watt, 36 VDC to 120 VAC inverter in case of having to
run my smallest freezer off DC if power was out. (Around 75$ IIRC.) I
wired it up with a T-Plug so I could plug it into the 36 VDC wall
socket in the livingroom. Then I plugged it in, plugged the freezer,
and turned it on. It squealed. Reversing the sequence I turned it on
and then plugged in the freezer. That worked and it ran fine, putting
out 121.7 VAC. On the DC input side there was about 39 volts and it
drew about 1.75 amps. It seemed to run totally cold but a cooling fan
kept coming on. (I doubt it was needed.) I don't know just what the
power or voltages were in the moment the freezer started, but it did
Since this small freezer, once running and warmed up (not
inside!), uses about 55-60 watts, but 70-75 watts was being drawn from
the DC, it would seem the inverter itself used just around 15 watts.
When I unplugged the freezer, the cooling fan kept on running (no
longer cycling) until I finally turned the inverter off and on again.
Without the fan and running nothing it used only 11 watts. But consider
that over a day that's 1/4 KWH of "dead loss" power drain. That's a
reason I like to run DC devices that don't need inverters.
I have a couple of bigger 36 to 120V inverters for other
and heavier loads.
Rewiring Some Solar Panels
I've mentioned before that my solar system grew piecemeal,
a bit at a time. I never originally planned to try and make a majority
my power even in summer, but more to have a "grid down" backup source
of power. In spring 2018 I put four solar panels I had brought from
Victoria when I moved onto the house roof, and I bought a Chinese 1000W
plug-in grid tie inverter. It worked! It was thrilling to make a few
hundred watts, reducing my electricity bill a bit over the summer.
Then in 2019 I looked at a price list and specs emailed
from HES PV, and was inspired to buy a palette or "skid" of thirty two
305W solar panels. I had them shipped up here by barge. I had never
seen so many watts from 60 cell panels before. Since 2011 or so until
before I moved in 2016, they had gone from something like 216W to 260W.
They just kept getting better, and for lower prices. I added two new
solar panels on the house roof to the original four and then for good
measure, four more on the cabin roof, making ten.
I sold the rest of the palette pretty quickly, then bought
another palette of the same type. But they have only sold one or two at
a time, so I started hooking up some more for myself. I put one on the
lawn, at first thinking that was just for a while. It seemed fine, and
I added another and then another, total 13. A couple of the panels were
just connected to the DC system and didn't contribute unless I was
using the DC and drawing down the batteries, so they were at times
counted as only 11 or 12 panels. Last fall I added 2 more that could be
angled for the season on a steel pole (but they seem to be in tree
shadows all winter), and last month (April 2022) I put three at a
45° slope on a wooden frame on the carport roof -- the one place
where there seems to be a bit of sun in winter (as well as summer),
making 18 contributing solar panels. I still have about 10 spare panels.
Since then solar panel specs have only continued to go up,
to 325W-350W or so for this size, so mine seem less impressive to
potential customers. But they're great panels!
[20th] In the afternoon I disconnected the two solar panels on the pole
from the "House" circuit and ran a new skinny extension cord cable,
about 100 feet, to "House East" instead. This brought down the number
of panels connected at "House" to 9 (6 on the house roof and 3 still
just sitting on the lawn. "House East" went up from just the 3 on the
carport roof to 5. This accomplished several things.
First, the maximum potential solar power at "House" was
reduced a little to help ensure it wouldn't blow the AC breaker, whose
15 amp rating it had slightly exceeded at least once at over 1900
watts. At the same time, one 1000W grid tie there had had 5 panels
going to it (1525W rated) when they were all switched to "AC". This
change brought it down to a more reasonable 3, so the power in good
sunshine won't be badly limited by the grid tie.
Second, in the process I took a 1000W grid tie from
"House" (in the garage) to "House East" (in the carport) for the pole
panels. It had been connecting the four 250W solar panels. I replaced
it with one of the new 1400W grid ties, since the 1000W ones really
only put out about 750W even if there's more panel power to be had.
With the increased power of this grid tie plus the reduced load on
another, the 9 solar panels feeding 3 gird tie inverters at "House"
were likely to deliver more on sunny days, and in fact "House"
delivered a record amount on that very day, 13.96KWH. So did "House
East" (with 5 panels & 3 grid ties as of mid afternoon) and also
the cabin (now with 1400W grid tie instead of 1000) with over 8 KWH.
The two pole panels had previously been strung on over 100
feet of #16 extension cord wires to the garage. Now it was again 100
feet of #16 wire, with one side doubled up as it was a 3 wire cord.
(Doubling #16 makes that wire = #13. That's still too skinny, and only
one of the two lengths.) It seemed that the two 305W panels, aimed well
toward the sun, were only delivering 260 watts. I thought they should
be giving around double that. I measured the voltage drop: 34.7V at the
panels and just 29.4V at the grid tie. Probably that considerable drop
accounted for the great loss of power. I really should find some
thicker cables (like, #10 AWG) to connect several of the solar panels.
The better wired ones are connected with #14-3 house wire.
Adding in the bare #14 ground that's 4 wires to double up, making them
equivalent to #11 - a better thickness.
The solar equipment
wall in the garage... after all three switches had burned out.
A new power monitor
showing the DC charging has been mounted in a 3D printed box. (lower,
In the evening
I simplified the wiring at "House". The lawn panels go to one 1000W
grid tie inverter and also to the low side of the DC charge controller
(which need pairs of panels in series for over 50 volts to charge a 36
volt system). The original four (1000W ) house panels go to the high
side of the DC charge controller and also to the new 1400W inverter.
The DC of the panels is isolated from the AC output of the inverter, so
it can sit at potential 30-40V on minus instead of ground, and 60-80V
on plus, for the top half of the charge controller. If the DC is
charging it and the two grid ties will compete for the power from the
panels. They seem to find an equilibrium.
The two 305W panels on the roof could be routed by the one
remaining DPDT switch either to the third grid tie or to the low half
of the DC charge controller. [Then that last switch broke and I had to
simplify some more!] That means that the lower half of the DC charge
controller can have [has] 915W or 1525W [if I change the connection
over], while the upper half just gets the
1000W, which limits it in total, both halfs, to either 1830W or 2000W.
(Still that's a lot of watts and more than it could get before I
rewired.) But the 1525W of lawn and lower row roof panels are more
prone to being in shade so it can be advantageous to have them all on.
About the "competing" equipment: they seem to find an
equilibrium. If the mains power is off the grid ties will be idle. (Or
I can switch them off individually.) Or I can turn off the breaker
connecting the panels to the DC charger and it will be idle.
[22nd] When I tried to flip it, I found that the last of the 3 DPDT
switches had burned out the day before. There was no power to the 1000W
grid tie from those two panels (610W), and I couldn't switch them onto
the DC charging circuit. I wired them straight to the tie. If I really
want them on the DC I'll have to get out a nutdriver and move the
wires. Maybe when my 30 amp switches arrive [June8th] I'll try wiring
one in again.
Yet More New Solar Panels?
The 3 new panels on the carport roof work seem to be
providing almost 1/4 of the total solar power, yet they are only
3/18=17% of the total number of panels. They work so well compared to
the others that I'm tempted to add another set of 3 beside them, with
my second and last new 1400 watt grid tie inverter. If the present set
is in the very best place, beside them would be a pretty close second.
First I'll need to do some wiring - a circuit through the
garage into the carport for the present and potential panels. At the
moment they're just plugged into an outside plug with an extension
cord. With three more panels there would be enough current flowing to
warrant two circuits.
Plus, I would do another 36V DC circuit and charge
controller there, and charge the Miles truck batteries from it -- once
the Miles is outfitted and running again. (72V truck = 2 sets of 36V.)
Or just some other battery, which would also help run fridge &
freezer through any long power outages.
2 or 3 years ago I ordered a batch of "big" DPDT switches
so I'd have them as needed for higher power applications.
I had arranged a switch bank for my solar panels, switches
them to the AC/grid ties or to the DC charge controller as required.
One of them worked fine. The other switch broke - it stuck in the
middle, it seemed like the first time I switched it. One had previously
done that on my cement mixer (as motor "start-run" switch) after a few
uses. I wired the solar panels to the spare switch. Same thing - it
stuck in the middle the first time I flipped it!
Eventually I took the first one apart and looked. The
plastic around one of the contacts had slightly melted. A plastic piece
on the lever looked melted too - that was why it wouldn't flip properly.
"What crappy switches!", I thought. But really... their
rating was 15A, 250VAC. Two solar panels in the sun is almost 20 amps,
and it's continuous. So the switch contacts had got hot and critical
bits of the plastic had softened and bent. (Doubtless the cement mixer
"start" circuit was over 15 amps, too.) I still don't think much of
them, but it would seem they were a little underrated for the job, so
fair enough. (But I suspect they wouldn't take 15 amps for very long
either.) I've ordered some 30 amp switches on line. [Arrived June 8th]
Higher current switches are far rarer and cost more than the many
models rated up to 15 amps.
Stats from BC Hydro
On the 29th I paid my electric bill and then went to BC
Hydro on line. The "smart" meter collects data and they put up a
wireless repeater on a pole near my house. So I could now view power
consumption on a daily or hourly basis. It showed a few things: that
consumption can vary greatly and that the solar panels reduce it
greatly for about 7 hours a day. (It would probably be closer to 8 or 9
hours if it wasn't for all the trees on the west side of the house.)
One thing that bumps consumption up for a couple of hours is when I
plug in the electric Nissan Leaf after a trip. The charger is 3.8 KW.
Then there's electric heaters: in my bedroom at night, and Perry's
heater in his RV. Intermittently there's the clothes dryer, 3 or 4 KW.
Since I set the hot water heater to 120 volts it only uses 750 watts
instead of 3000, so there are no notable spikes when it's on. I did
that so if it came on during the day, the solar would be sufficient
without drawing extra from the grid. (Unfortunately most showers &
baths are in the evening.) And consumption unsurprisingly seems to be
up a bit since I started the bitcoin miner, using almost 800 watts - 19
KWH per day. In summer (June-August) that might be 2/3 the typical
total daily power.
The Usual Daily/Monthly/Yearly Log of Solar
Power Generated [and grid power consumed]
(All times are in PST: clock 48 minutes ahead of local sun time, not
is an hour and 48 minutes ahead. (DC) battery system power output
readings are reset to zero
daily (often just for LED lights, occasionally used with other loads:
Chevy Sprint electric car, inverters in power outages or other 36V
loads), while the
grid tied readings are cumulative.)
Notes: House Main meter (6 digits) accumulates. DC meter is
reset to 0 daily when DC is connected. House East and Cabin meters (4
digits) are reset to 0 when they get near 99.99 (which goes to "100.0")
- owing to loss of second decimal precision.
Solar: House, Trailer, (.DC@house) => total KWH [grid power
meter reading(s)@time] Sky/weather conditions
Km = Nissan Leaf electric car drove distance, then car was charged.
30th 2922.68, 78.16, .05 => 20.07 [55Km; 95742@20:30] Sunny
(New House East panels reading at end of April 30th: 13.47 KWH)
... 15+3 = now 18 Solar Panels!
New Order of Daily Readings Beginning May 2022:
Date House, House, House, Cabin => Total KWH Solar [Notable
Usages; Grid power meter@time]
01st 2925.80, .79, 14.85, 79.99 => 7.22 [95763@20:00]
Stormy - wind, rain
02d 2935.00, .00, 18.69, 84.79 => 17.84 [95779@19:30]
03rd 2944.65, .00, 23.51, 90.13 => 19.81 [95797@20:30] It wasn't
04th 2953.34, .00, 27.50, 94.81 => 17.36 [55Km; 95834@20:30]
05th 2961.83, .00, 30.90, 4.51 => 16.40 [95861@20:00] What
happened to the nice weather we were having in April?
06th 2969.35, .55, 34.75, 9.20 => 16.71 [95890@20:30]
07th 2976.52, .00, 37.46, 12.88 => 13.64 [95917@20:00]
08th 2986.23, .00, 42.18, 18.30 => 19.85 [95931@20:30]
09th 2997.67, .04, 48.56, 25.25 => 24.81 [95945@20:30] Yay,
a mostly sunny
10th 3001.51, .50, 50.16, 27.50 => 8.19 [55Km; 95982@20:00]
Cloudy. some drizzle.
11st 3009.01, .00, 52.93, 31.22 => 13.99 [65Km; 96008@20:00] Yetsh.
12th 3021.99, .00, 60.20, 38.69 => 27.72 [96030@21:00]
13th 3031.32, .29, 64.43, 44.00 => 19.16 [85Km; 96063@20:30]
14th 3043.35, .09, 70.08, 50.38 => 24.15 [55Km; 96085@20:30] It
rained in QC - looks like it was nicer here!
15th 3048.50, .46, 72.37, 53.25 => 10.77 [96116@20:30] Clouds &
16th 3058.10, .00, 76.87, 58.25 => 18.10 [96138@21:00]
17th 3064.38, .50, 79.58, 61.80 => 13.04 [55Km; 96172@20:30]
18th 3072.25, .00, 83.22, 65.97 => 15.68 [55Km; 96202@20:30] A few
nice days would be nice! (Clear at sundown!)
19th 3086.04, .00, 89.77, 74.00 => 28.37 [60Km; 96222@20:30]
Yay, sunny! (I did ask!)
20th 3100.02, .00, 96.84, 82.17 => 29.22 [96242@20:00] TWO
sunny days! I rewired the 2 pole
"House East" (see above).
21st 3109.67, .29, 08.45, 89.23 => 25.45 [60Km; 96270@21:00; 80Km]
Bright fog in AM, then sunny.
22d 3112.73, .67, 10.89, 91.42 => 8.36
[96306@20:30] Cloudy AM, then rain, dark. Started charging 12V
280AH LiFePO4 battery from DC system.
23rd 3118.30, .70, 15.41, 94.80 => 14.17 [BTC Miner on;
96350@21:00] The bitcoin miner is a pig!
24th 3123.44, .58, 19.08, 02.82 => 12.22 [45Km; 96399@20:30]
25th 3130.39, .24, 23.67, 06.32 => 15.28 [96434@21:00] DC usage has
dropped, so I guess the battery is charged. That meter says 1751WH or
(at 13.35V) 131 amp-hours of charge. 280AH battery. (Presumably then it
was 1/2 charged when I bought it.)
26th 3138.42, .11, 29.29, 11.01 => 18.45 [60Km; 96488@20:30] Broken
clouds AM, then Clouds, drizzle. Turned Bitcoin miner down a bit - 750W
instead of 925W.
27th 3146.98, .05, 35.41, 16.26 => 19.98 [85Km; 96532@21:00] Rain
AM, sunny PM
28th 3154.43, .30, 40.72, 20.69 => 17.49 [55Km; 96573@21:00]
29th 3163.97, .14, 48.12, 26.71 => 23.10 [96606@21:30] Cloudy
earlier AM, Mostly sunny.
30th 3172.24, .08, 53.59, 31.35 => 18.46 [96639@20:30] Clouds, then
fog later PM
31st 3177.69, .08, 57.09, 34.36 => 12.04 [96675@20:30] Another dull
June (I am no longer going to reset the DC charging reading
daily. It will be cumulative.)
1st 3186.97, .04, 63.23, 39.63 => 20.73 [96715@20:30] hazy sun/light
2d 3193.79, .12, 67.65, 43.40 => 14.03 [55Km; 96751@20:30]
3rd 3197.17, .18, 69.72, 45.14 => 7.25 [90Km;
96798@20:00] Fog, overcast, rain.
4th 3206.09, .25, 76.90, 50.98 => 22.19 [60Km; 96826@21:00] A fair
bit of sun.
5th 3210.61, .31, 79.44, 53.14 => 9.28 [96855@20:30]
Overcast. Rain PM.
6th 3219.79, .38, 86.31, 58.48 => 21.46 [96884@21:00] Some good sun
7th 3224.48, .46, 89.33, 61.04 => 10.35 [55Km; 96913@21:00]
Overcast. Rain later PM.
8th 3231.74, .55, 94.31, 65.38 => 16.67 [55Km; 96952@20:30] Mostly
Chart of daily KWH from solar panels.
(Compare MAY 2022
with April 2022 & with May 2021 but note number of solar panels
(18 solar panels)
(15 sol. panels)
|May 2021 (11,
12 solar panels)
|<= chart ended here until April 2022!
|<= In April the solar 2 panels mounted
on the pole last fall & improved...
|<= connections & more grid tie
microinverters started to pay off.
|<= This month (May 2022) the 3 new...
|<= panels on the carport brought solar...
|<= collection to whole new levels.
|547.74 (18 panels
Things Noted - May 2022
* On the 9th, the first sunny day of May, almost 25KWH of solar
electricity was generated while the grid power meter only moved by 14
KWH. (I note again that the "intelligent" grid power meter never moves
backward, and I haven't got an "approved", "official" installation, so
any amount going back to the grid versus that consumed in the house
is not known. Probably no grid power is being consumed now when the sun
shines brightly unless the car is charging (it's 3.8KW) or the oven or
dryer is on. [I reduced the hot water tank to 120V so it's only 750W
instead of 3000.])
* 3 more solar panels in the sunniest place plus 3 more grid tie
microinverters sure makes for lots more solar collection! On the
sunniest day, 160% over any figure before from March 2019 to March 2022.
* After being so pleased with production, in mid month I traded someone
a solar panel for a used Antminer S9 bitcoin miner. I had been
trying to get the miner for months, but the owner had to retrieve it
from somewhere and he wasn't very motivated. The idea was to run it in
the cold months when the travel trailer needed heat to keep it from
getting mouldy inside, instead of running an electric heater that
heated but made no bitcoins in doing so. Instead the warm months are
here. On the 22nd I turned it on. With that running and using
19KWH/day, I will definitely NOT be making as much power as the place
is using, even on sunny days. My power conserving mind says to turn it
off, but I think I'll leave it running for now. It's heating the house
so I don't need to light a fire in the evening. (Now if only its fans
weren't so darn noisy!)
Monthly Summaries: Solar Generated KWH [& Power used from
Month: House system (+ DC system at house) + Cabin system = KWH made
[used from grid]
March 1-31: 116.19 + ------ + 105.93 = 222.12 KWH - solar [786 KWH
grid] (10 solar panels
April - 1-30: 136.87 + ------ + 121.97 = 258.84 KWH [608 KWH]
May - 1-31: 156.23 + ------ + 147.47 = 303.70 KWH [543 KWH] (11th
solar panel connected on lawn on 26th)
June - 1-30: 146.63 + 15.65 + 115.26 = 277.54 KWH [374 KWH] (36V, 250W
Hot Water Heater installed on 7th)
July - 1-31: 134.06 + 19.06 + 120.86 = 273.98 KWH [342 KWH]
August 1-31:127.47 + 11.44+91.82+(8/10)*96.29 = 307.76 KWH [334 KWH]
(12th solar panel connected
on lawn Aug.
Sept.- 1-30: 110.72 + 15.30 + 84.91 = 210.93 KWH [408 KWH]
(solar includes 2/10 of 96.29)
Oct. - 1-31: 55.67 + 13.03 + 51.82 = 120.52 KWH, solar
[635 KWH used from grid]
Nov. - 1-30: 36.51 + 6.31 + 26.29 = 69.11
KWH, solar [653 KWH used from grid]
Dec. - 1-23: 18.98 + .84* + 11.70 =
KWH, solar + wind [711 KWH + 414 (while away) = 1125 from grid]
Jan. - 6-31: 17.52 + ------* + 10.61 = 28.13 KWH,
wind [1111 KWH from grid]
Feb. - 1-29: 56.83 + ------* + 35.17 = 92.00 KWH,
solar + wind [963 KWH from grid]
* The solar DC system was running the kitchen hot water
tank. Now it's only running a couple of
lights - not (usually) worth reporting. So there's just the 2 grid tie
house and "roof over travel trailer" (AKA "Cabin").
One year of solar!
March - 1-31: 111.31 + 87.05 = 198.37 KWH solar total
[934 KWH from grid]
April - 1-30: 156.09 + 115.12 = 271.21 [784 KWH
May - 1-31: 181.97 + 131.21 = 313.18 KWH
Solar [723 KWH from grid]
June - 1-30: 164.04 + 119.81 = 283.82 KWH Solar [455 KWH
July - 1-31: 190.13 + 110.05 = 300.18 KWH Solar [340
KWH from grid]
August- 1-31: 121.81 + 83.62 = 205.43 KWH Solar [385KWH
Sept. - 1-30: 110.68 + 65.09 = 175.77 KWH Solar [564
KWH used from grid]
Oct. - 1-31: 67.28 + 42.55 = 109.83
KWH Solar [1360 KWH from grid -- Renters!]
Nov. - 1-30: 35.70 + 20.79 = 56.49
KWH of Solar [1301 KWH from grid]
Dec. - 1-31: 19.78 + 11.31 = 31.09
KWH Solar [1078 KWH used from grid]
Jan. - 1-31: 25.47 + 18.58 = 44.05
KWH Solar [1185 KWH used from grid] (1
solar panel moved to DC system only -- 11 panels)
Feb. - 1-28: 47.18 + 33.22 = 80.40
KWH Solar [1121 KWH used from grid]
Two years of solar!
March - 1-31: 81.73 + 55.22 + 2.2 (DC) = 139.15 KWH
[1039 KWH grid]
April - 1-30: 161.83 + 112.35 + .44(DC) = 274.62 KWH
[680 KWH from grid]
May - 1-31: 156.25 + 97.22 + 1.29(DC) = 254.76
Solar [678 KWH from grid]
June - 1-30: 197.84 + 112.07 + 2.21(DC) = 312.12 KWH Solar
[& 448 KWH from grid] (Connected
solar panel -- 13 panels total but one goes to DC system only.)
July - 1-31: 204.35 + 121.21 + 4.06(DC) = 329.62 KWH
Solar [426 KWH from grid; 150(?) KWH used by Nissan Leaf]
August- 1-31: 176.19 + 102.91 + 5.37(DC) = 284.47 KWH Solar [477 KWH
from grid; 165 KWH (est) used by car]
Sept. - 1-30: 94.35 + 51.34 + 3.30(DC) =
152.29 KWH Solar [590 KWH from grid; 155 KWH (est) used by car]
Oct. - 1-31: 77.52 + 41.85 +
4.10(DC) = 123.47 KWH Solar [1066 KWH from grid; 150 KWH (est) used by
car] (2 new panels on pole
making 14 --
but they are mostly in shadows all winter.)
Nov. - 1-31: 34.69 + 18.92 + 3.82 = 57.43
KWH Solar [1474 KWH from grid (ouch!); 140 (est) used by car]
Dec. - 1-31: 24.00 + 5.22 + 3.76 = 32.98 [1589 KWH from grid (ouch
again! Must be the -10°'s); 120 KWH used by car] (New switches allow switching
between AC and DC as needed, so all 15 are productively employed.)
Jan. - 1-31: 32.83 + 20.54 + 4.57 = 57.94 KWH Solar [2556 from
grid] Double ouch! Trailer 400W heater, Perry's RV 500W heater, bedroom
heat, car using extra power (100 KWH with less driving)... and so
Feb. - 1-28: 66.63 + 32.09 + 3.42(DC) = 102.14 KWH Solar [1118
KWH from grid; 130 (est) used by car]
Three years of solar!
March - 1-31: 128.53 + 82.29 + 3.66(DC) = 214.48 [1124 KWH from grid;
160 KWH (est) used by car]
April - 1-30: 251.29 + 149.87 + 3.01(DC) = 404.17 KWH [911
KWH; est. 170 KWH used by car]
May - 1-31: 255.01(house) + 6.46(DC) +
140.46(carport) + 145.91(cabin) = 547.74 KWH Solar [933 KWH from grid;
140 KWH (est) used by car; Bitcoin miner using extra power from 22nd
on.] (3 new solar panels
on carport roof
-- sunniest location around -- total 18)
1. March 2019-Feb. 2020: 2196.15 KWH Solar [used 7927 KWH
2. March 2020-Feb. 2021: 2069.82 KWH Solar [used 11294 KWH from grid]
(More electric heat - BR, Trailer & Perry's RV)
3. March 2021-Feb. 2022: 2063.05 KWH Solar [used 10977 KWH from grid]
Money Saved or Earned - @ 12¢ [All BC residential elec. rate] ; @
50¢ [2018 cost of diesel fuel to BC Hydro] ; @ 1$ per KWH [total
cost to BC Hydro
in 2022 according to an employee]:
1. 263.42$ ; 1097.58$ ; 2196.15$
2. 248.38$ ; 1034.91$ ; 2069.82$
3. 247.57$ ; 1031.53$ ; 2063.05$
It can be seen that the benefit to the society as a whole
on Haida Gwaii from solar power installations is much greater than the
cost savings to the individual user of electricity, thanks to the heavy
subsidization of our power
owing to the BC government policy of having the same power rate across
the entire province regardless of the cost of production. With a little
extra equipment and a battery, solar can deliver essential power in
Haida Gwaii, BC Canada