Monday, November 9, 2009

Things We're Researching

I've been remiss to mention some of the things that have come along the pike that have piqued our curiosity recently. Jack's passed along some of his links for me to add to mine so we can both be in on the research for down the road. I thought I'd pass them along here.

Before I go further, I'd like to say that I personally lean to the less-is-more concept of simplifying life. In fact, I'm not a technology bandwagon person. I'm also not a spend-more-to-be-green person.

My hubby loves technology and finding ways to innovate. I am a crusty codger about technology, and am more drawn to kerosene lamps and open fires, and very low-tech tools. That said, it would be a big adjustment for me to learn to live with average daytime temps of high 90s F for most of the year, and nights in the 80s F and up. But we keep looking for options and ideas.

Here are some things we've been reading up on, but have come to no particular conclusion about yet...but they continue to interest us in a closer look:

1. The Coolerado Air Conditioner. Here's a pic from their site --

Features of this type of A/C? It needs no refrigerant, and Jack believes that means it would cut out the A/C service costs completely. It supposedly is priced competitively with standard A/Cs, and it uses only ten percent of the normal energy of conventional A/Cs, which means it can be easily connected to solar panels without a huge drain of energy. It also thrives in heat and gets more efficient the hotter the weather. And so on and so is a youtube video where they go into a bit more detail. Needless to say, this is on our curiosity list to follow up on and keep researching. It would mean A/C would be possible even off-grid, for the price of an airconditioner.

This video is about the larger A/C unit that would cool a larger building exceeding 1500 sq ft.

2. Getting Drinking Water from the Air: EcoloBlue 29 Atmospheric Water Generator --- this is something I ran across when googling off-grid living and was wondering about water options. The three downsides I see from the outset for this product are the cost and the fact it has a plug (needs electricity), and needs filters every 3 years or so. The up side being it produces clean drinking water from the air (yeah, that is very cool!) , needs 480 watts while running, cuts off when done....ergo, it could be fueled by solar panels as well. It's completely portable, meaning it's not fixed to plumbing or functions like a water cooler/heater drinking station. It can be used simply as an R/O system with existing water systems, if desired. But it needs no water source other than the air, since it uses the air humidity. It claims to produce 7 or more gallons of water a day, and switches off when full until the next time it's needed. Cost is in the ballpark of $1200. That's a big downside. For folks like us with filthy and very VERY hard to stomach well water due to the high sulfur content (we have to BUY all our cooking and drinking water weekly, ugh) We do have a Berkey filtration set-up, but it does NOT remove the sulfur smell...which is not something you'll find in their literature. So we're definately interested in these claims, especially since we live in a high-humidity area, though the literature states that it will run in any area.

Here's a video about it

Here's the pic from their site:

Reading comments from users seemed to show they were satisfied and also noted that periodic flushing of the unit to keep it clean was the only real maintenance that came up. We'll be checking this out more, but at this point, the price for our situation is too spendy.

3. The Rocket Stove. I first saw this at one of my favorite blog sites, La Ferme de is one of the posts where you can see it in use. This has REALLY impressed me, since its biggest selling points (to me, at least) are its ease of construction from really inexpensive materials, its ability to realllyyyy get hot fast, and the fact (this is HUGE) it needs VERY VERY little fuel...a few corncobs, or small pencil-sized sticks, leaves, things you'd find easily without chopping a lot of trees or paying for fuel. Here are a couple of links I found you might enjoy. This handmade technology is SIMPLE but EFFECTIVE. It really will get our attention as we hammer out alternative ways to cook, especially if we relocate, without being dependent on paying for fuel or chopping wood. I'm not sure if I could adapt it for outdoor canning, but it's certainly worth finding out.

Here is one of my faves...I love the ease of construction. This one's made of adobe bricks.

This one below is constructed of basic metal containers and Parts one and two show the ease of construction from about any metal container (note: the author notes later to use black metal for one of the components)

This one is my favorite of all. This shows several being used in Africa. Each one is made of 6 bricks and is the rocket stove concept, using very very little kindling or wood, mostly just a few twigs.

This one shows the above 6-brick stove's construction. They apparently are later mudded over to customize the exterior shape for the owner.

That's it for now...what's caught your interest lately? I'd love to know what's worked best for you...any a best solution for your homestead :)


Mr. H. said...

I enjoyed the information on rocket stoves. Thank you for sharing.

Wendy said...

Here's what I'm researching ;).

I've also looked into methane digesters, and even though most research states that building a methane digester over my suburban septic tank is "impossible", I'm still pretty convinced that we could generate part of our electricity needs from our own ... er, waste :).

I'm still trying to convince my eletrical engineer hubby to develop an alternative energy generator for use in a suburban setting.

jack-of-all-thumbs said...


Since you need more water than the unit you're considering can provide, I'd recommend looking into rainwater collection and UV sanitation. It is scalable to a variety of needs. We use it for everything. Yeah, everything.

Lisa Jo said...

The Ecoloblue 28 is wonderful. We use one unit at home and one at the office.

Robbyn said...

Mr H , you're welcome...I saw this at Hardworking Hippy's site and was really impressed at how little fuel is needed and how they utilized it in their existing chimney as well as routing it to heat the kettle that's their hot water source, too.

Wendy, just stopped in at your site and saw your thrivalist that term and so agree with so much of what you wrote! My husband read your comment here and here's his response: I'm into self-sufficiency in alternate fuels, and this methane digester idea is in the same category as a book I've been reading called Alcohol Can Be A Gas, by David Blume. I've also been looking into GEET technology, which can be easily Googled and YOutubed...check it out and see if this dovetails right in line with the methane...really great innovations but the ideas have been around for a long time. I'll badger Robbyn into our co-writing a post about these soon :)

Jack OATs, we'll definately need to look into this. Where is a good place to in, is there a standard way of UV sanitation, or something already available out there where we don't have to try to reinvent the wheel? Thanks for the heads up!

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

The guys I worked with (ordered key components and got advice from over the phone) were great, but I think I'd be able to pick and choose from their stuff now and save money.

But for starters: Rainwater Management Solutions in Virginia.

If you get serious, let's talk about tanks, etc.

We could have collected 4500 gallons from Ida, if we'd had a place to store all of it.

hickchick said...

Go for the whole enchilada. An Earthship! I want one but DH thinks it is to crazy, to out there, and I agree -but thats why I want one! :)

Killi said...

The rocket stove looks interesting ~ but he doesn't tell us where I can get the person to put it all together! It's a little reminiscent of my storm kettle which is stuck on my waggon.

Thank you for that link & the 1 to La Ferme de Sourrou