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Archive for May, 2009

Kids Wellness – Swine Flu

Influenza, also called the “flu”, is a viral infection similar to, but more severe than a common cold. Occasional epidemics occur, which may at times be very severe and even life-threatening. During these epidemics many physicians and the media often recommend “flu shots” and certain prescription medicines for the flu. Dr. Rydland, many of his patients and his family use a natural approach to flu prevention. He uses and recommends the following for the children in his practice.

Dr. Rydland recommends that children take these supplements regularly until the influenza season ends: The Influcoccinum may be repeated, if necessary, five to six weeks after the initial doses are taken (see below).


The Solar Job Guide

Are you looking to break into or advance in the solar job market? We have found a resource that explains what the technologies are, how they are used, the terms found in the industry, how to prepare for the job interview and more. It explains the different positions, and the education and experiential background needed for each position, and the average salaries one can expect. A list of the major players and their contact info is also provided. This is the resource needed if you want to work and advance in the solar industry.


Energy Efficient Lighting

We used to be big fans of skylights, primarily for the light brought into interior rooms during daylight hours, negating the need for electric lights. Leaking, UV fading, and difficulty in installation were drawbacks. A few years back we had the opportunity to play with the descendent of skylights, the Solatube. A much superior way to keep the deep dark recesses of a building lit without UV degradation and heat buildup.

* It provides exceptional lighting. The light output is incredible, providing as much light as you would expect from a skylight many times its size.
* It is cost-effective. Tubular Daylighting Devices cost considerably less than other daylighting options, such as windows and skylights, including both product and installation costs.
* Installing it is fast, clean and easy. They require no structural reframing, tunneling, drywalling or painting. A professional can install the product in less than two hours and most Do-It-Yourselfers can finish the project in one day.
* It can go almost anywhere. The compact and flexible design of TDDs allow them to be installed in just about any room, including rooms without direct roof access and smaller spaces where daylighting would usually not be an option.
* It is “Green.” TDDs allow you to switch off electric lights during the day, which provides savings on energy bills and also reduces environmental pollution.
* It is actually good for you. It has been shown in several prominent studies that increasing daily exposure to natural light can enhance mental and physical well-being, boost concentration and energy levels and a variety of other unexpected perks.

Find out more at


Battery Care Package

We have bundled our favorite temperature based battery hydrometer (no floating balls) with a bulb type refiller and our “Battery Care and Feeding” eBook as a special for our readers. With the hydrometer, you take specific gravity readings of each cell (temperature compensated) and compare them with your other cells. Not only will it tell you the state of charge, but if there is significant variation, you will be able to tell if you have a weak or bad battery. Log your results over time and you can track the health of your pack. The included bulb refiller allows you to refill your cells with distilled water without overflowing. Overflow of electrolyte (water and acid) corrodes wires and terminals, and discharges the battery by creating a circuit across the top of the battery.

Our eBook covers keeping the battery clean, proper charging techniques, watering, testing, and enhanced techniques for extending the life of your pack and it’s capacity. Basic tools are discussed as well as safety methods. $30


Recycled Glassware, made in the USA, at Walmart?

anchorWe recently picked up two sets of drinking glasses at Walmart. Called the ECOGLASS, it’s made by Anchor Hocking, in Ohio. Made of 35% recycled materials, it’s 100% recyclable, and comes in 100% recyclable packaging made from 25% post consumer waste, and sustainable ink. It’s a good solid drinking glass, not easily broken. Qty 6 glasses for under $8. Did I mention it’s lead free?


Energy Efficient Water Pumps

Piston PumpA few years ago we invested in a high quality dc pump for our offgrid
water system. It was recommended we go with a solar force piston pump
with a 12v motor. Although it is a fine pump, and is much more efficient
than our old jet pump, it was well over $1000. Piston pumps were well
known 50 years ago, and can last a century if taken care of. We have
replaced the rubbers and packing in a few of the old ones, but parts are
getting hard to find. We now have the same pump available that the solar
force is built on, brand new, and can easily get replacement gaskets and
packing, for less than half the price that Conergy (formerly Dankoff) is
selling the Solar Force. You can hand crank, pedal, or install a ac or
dc motor to this pump. 300-400 rpm is recommended.

Jim Juczak of has finished his book, The High Art of Scrounging, and his DIY Hand Powered Deep Well Pump. See for details.


Lightning Fried Inverter

Murphy says if anything can go wrong, it will. We were off to our daughter’s college graduation today (Champlain College, Burlington VT), and came home to no power. Batteries are fully charged, but the inverter is totally out. Thunder and lightning storm today apparently found a way in past the protectors. Being a Saturday, can’t get tech support working on a replacement till Monday. We can run from generator, but that would take a lot of fuel. We are moving food from the electric fridge to the two propane fridges, and changing our sleep cycles to match the sun. The well pump runs from battery, so we have water, but the propane tankless water heater uses electric ignition. We have moved out to the camper, which is self contained, and solar charged. Can’t wait to find out what the repair bill will be.

5-11-09 Update – Just got off the phone with Outback. $275 for overnight replacement of the three logic boards. This is an out of warranty replacement. Will update after installation.

5-13-09 Update – Replaced the boards, inverter ran for 30 seconds and died. Sending Inverter back to Outback. It should be back in a few weeks, and another $250, plus $120 for shipping. We are on DC now, and put the propane fridge back into play.

6-2-09 Update – Received the repaired unit back from Outback. Screwed it to the wall, connected the battery, generator, and ac panel connection. Threw the switch, and we are back up and running. Almost one month on DC was an education.


The / DIY Wind Turbine

The documentation for our DIY Axial Flux Wind Turbine is finally together, and ready for dissemination. Step by step instructions on alternator and blade construction, and additional files and pictures to help you build your own small wind turbine. This design has been tested at 500+ watts, and is ideal for battery charging. Detailed construction pictures are being uploaded. This is the turbine seen in our Science Channel “Invention Nation” episode. $25 (Electronic Download)

wind speed uk Information


Open-pollinated, heirloom, organic, non-gmo seeds

Southern Exposure Seed ExchangeLooking for seeds that you can trust to reproduce year after year, with no gmo sneakiness? Want the old time varieties bred for flavor and nutrition, not for marketing and shipping convenience. You should check out the folks at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, for open pollinated organic heirloom seeds. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is a worker owned cooperative, and has a downloadable catalog full of great information and advice.


John Canivan, DIY Solar Expert, Mother Earth News

John and I are old friends, and go back a few years. He sent me an email the other day about writing for Mother Earth News, of which i have been a long time subscriber. Imagine my surprise when I find him listed on their Experts page. Way to go, John!

“John cut his first 2-by-4 at age three. He learned the construction trade from his father, a general contractor and hardware store owner. John single-handedly built several houses and was involved with hundreds of home improvement projects with and without crews. He built and installed solar hot water systems, sun spaces and solar greenhouses, and his latest project, Modified Trickle Down solar heating, is made from commonly available materials and is designed for DIYers. Getting John to start talking about solar is easy, but you may have a problem getting him to stop.”