Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Archive for July, 2012

Build your Own Solar Water Heater

There are lots of references for building solar water heaters, but one of the best articles we have come across describing the different types and how they are constructed (and what climates they are useful in) is the Rob Harlan / Michael Hackleman interview (free download) at, from the September/October 2000 Backwoods Home Magazine issue.

They discuss the 7 major types of solar water heaters, which are the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to using the power of the sun in a practical manner.

1. Integral collector/storage
2. Thermosiphon
3. Three-season
4. Drain-back
5. Drain-down
6. Re-circulation
7. Active closed-loop


Living on and under the water

One of our interests is ocean habitats. The ocean is the last frontier here on earth, and though it’s not as hospitable as living on dirt at times, it’s the last opportunity for real freedom before looking outwards into space. We have looked into floating islands and underwater habitats, and two friends of mine have been turning these into reality. Lloyd Godson has lived for small periods of time in underwater habitats, and is a true aquanaut. Vince Cate has been experimenting with stable floating structures in small scale off the Island of Anguilla. Both of these guys are doing interesting work, which ties neatly into our work of self sufficient living.

For more info, see:


Building a electric motorcycle

A good way to get started in learning about electric vehicles is converting an existing vehicle. Go carts and motorcycles are easier than car conversions, and can be much less expensive. Here is a project that we have been following. It’s fairly inexpensive as ev conversions go, and the skill level is within the means of most backyard tinkerers. It’s a low speed low range unit, perfect for around town. Higher voltage conversions would allow highway speeds and longer ranges.