Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Archive for April, 2013

Automatic Battery Backup System

This paper examines a battery backup circuit and Control Board designed by the author to eliminate hazardous conditions and inconveniences experienced whenever the local power grid fails. Fortunately, power outages in this country are usually cleared on the average within an hour to ninety minutes, although many can last for days.

Everyone who has a system with pumps relies on the grid to keep the pumps running. In certain cases, systems need to be shut down immediately upon loss of power, either to avoid damage to the system or for safety reasons. In the case of oil or gas fed furnaces, fuel is shut off when power fails. In the case of wood or coal burning furnaces there is a need to avoid any buildup of steam. In such cases the fire cannot usually be extinguished and re-ignited quickly upon return of power. A reliable battery backup system can help to avoid such situations and the inconveniences associated with power failures.

Hopefully, this paper offers readers, from the casual reader to the technically competent reader, an opportunity to learn enough to understand generally how a battery backup system works and specifically how a controller functions. The casual reader can get a grasp of the system by reading and understanding only sections 1 and 2, while a more detailed description follows in sections 3 and 4. The material presented in this paper concentrates mainly on the Control Board. Another paper will describe the interface connections, internal and external to the electrical enclosure.

Battery Backup Article_10


Paper Bags and Polyurethane, The New DIY Flooring

One of our group members stumbled across this DIY flooring material. That not only looks cool, but is cheap and durable.

Paper bags or cut up pieces of paper are glued to the floor (concrete or wood) and stained, then polyurethaned for a unique and pleasant looking floor. The Author did a 10′ x 12′ room for about $80.


Read the tutorials:


Red is Green — Tests Show Environmental Qualities of Redwood

Green, green, green. The green building message is everywhere, and it is an important message. Everyone should be building green. But how should “green” really be measured?

The emerging answer appears to be that building with sustainable, environmentally responsible materials is the one, true “green” way to build. And one of the best materials for deck or fence building happens to be redwood, which is not only beautiful and durable, but is a material that can actually reduce the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

The California Redwood Association recently commissioned a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to better understand and compare redwood to other materials, such as plastic composite decking. A Life Cycle Assessment  is a scientific technique commonly used to quantify the environmental footprint of producing and consuming products we use in our everyday life.

The results of the LCA were conclusive, showing that considerable differences exist between redwood and alternative decking products such as plastics and plastic composites. In fact, in terms of global warming potential, plastic-based decking materials are contributors, while growing, harvesting and using redwood for decks do not contribute to global warming.

Indeed, using redwood is a great way to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While plastics and composites rely on chemical resins and fossil fuels that release carbon and increase emissions, redwood trees take carbon out of the air and store it in wood fiber.

As they grow, redwood trees will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Through photosynthesis, that carbon gets stored in wood fibers in the tree’s roots, trunk and branches and the oxygen is released back to the air. The faster a tree grows then, the more photosynthesis occurs and the more carbon is removed from the atmosphere. Since redwood is a fast-growing species, managed redwood forests excel at removing carbon from the atmosphere.

When such redwood trees are harvested, that carbon they captured continues to be stored in the decking, fencing and other wood products they become. In fact, wood is about half carbon by weight and so a redwood deck can actually store a half-ton of carbon. As the managed redwood forests regenerate, more carbon is removed from the air by the newly planted trees, which continues an ongoing cycle of carbon removal and storage.

Moreover, redwood is also recyclable and cleaner to produce than composites or plastics. The trees are grown and harvested in accordance with the highest environmental standards in the world as the they tap the sun for energy while soaking in California’s famed North Coast fog. In fact, roughly 90 percent of all product-producing redwood forests are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

The next time you wonder about what green building products to use in deck or fence building, remember that red is green-redwood, that is.




More residents getting “sick” from wind turbines?

The residents of the town of West Lincoln, Ont.  are reporting a variety of stress related illnesses they attribute to a wind farm nearby.

“‘It’s too late, two years too late,’ said Helen Kzan … ‘I’ve been to the doctor. They told me to move. My stress level has skyrocketed. My physician told me my stress will kill me before the wind turbines.”

Many people attribute these illnesses to the reported sounds, vibrations, and light patterns made by the moving blades. What’s wrong with this picture?

The wind farm hasn’t been built yet.

These people are reacting to the anti-wind advocacy groups reports on what they think will happen. It’s not wind turbines that make you sick, it’s listening to the lies and made up statistics of the anti-wind groups.  It’s their own fears that are making them sick, and the anti’s are creating self fulfilling prophecy.



Heated Vegetable Oil Fuel System Facts

Our buddy Melvin Martin sent us this fact sheet he’s written for his demonstration of his veggie powered truck at the Local Living Festival in Canton NY

Toshiba Exif JPEGToshiba Exif JPEG

Heated Vegetable Oil Fuel System Facts

Heat in tank causes condensation/water. Water in fuel causes bacteria. Heat in tank can cause “waxing” or “drying” which = plugged pipes.

Too much heat on filter isn’t good. Diesel fuel loses its lubricity when hot. Cold vegetable oil is thick. Therefore heat your fuel only when you need to.

Injector pumps have very tight tolerances. Thick oil can seize metal with tight tolerances, especially at high speeds and pressure. Cold diesel in injector pump = cold injector pump even if the engine is hot. Hot vegetable oil pumped into a cold pump = cold oil = thick oil = possible seizing or severe wear of pump.

This truck is equipped with a dual tank vegetable oil fuel system

One tank/fuel system is designed for diesel fuel. The other one is specifically designed for running used vegetable oil.

It starts on pure diesel fuel. When it’s hot enough, it can be switched over to pure vegetable oil. A few minutes before shut-down, switch it back to pure diesel. The basis changes from original is a second tank and fuel system, and a method to switch between the two fuel systems. The vegetable oil fuel system is heated with engine coolant and has larger sized pipes and filters.


Do’s and Don’ts:

Do switch to diesel before shut-down and run on diesel on restart until the engine is fully warm. It gives easier starts, less fuel system wear from cold oil, less gumming of engine, and less gumming, sticking, and corrosion of fuel system parts from prolonged exposure to vegetable oil.

Don’t rev engine right after switching to vegetable oil until the injector pump has warmed up. Extreme pump wear can result even if the engine is hot.

Do use a strong dose of injector cleaner and lubrication fuel conditioner in the diesel system. Also consider using a anti-bacteria fuel conditioner.

Don’t spill vegetable oil without cleaning it up. In time it makes a terrible mess.

Do work the engine hard. Hard working engines run cleaner and have much less trouble with carbon buildup.

Don’t let the engine idle for extended periods of time, especially on vegetable oil.

Do enjoy the ride.

Don’t put dirty oil in your tank


The Down Side To Vegetable Oil

1. you can’t start the car or truck when it’s really cold out on it.

2. It can seize up your injector pump.

3. You have to have a diesel car or truck to make this work.


The Good side To Vegetable Oil

1. It saves you money on gas.

2. It’s fun to find out about how it really work’s.

3. Good for the diner’s to get rid off their old used oil in a good way


Our prayers are with the victims in Boston!

Our prayers are with the victims and their families today. We hope and pray that those injured will pull through with no lasting injuries, and that the perpetrators of this horrific event will be caught and punished.


Homebrew Wind Power

Our favorite (and in our opinion, the best) DIY guide to off grid power systems and DIY wind turbine construction has to be “Homebrew Wind Power” by Dan Bartmann & Dan Fink. It’s a complete guide to low voltage dc power systems and a good electronics tutorial in addition to being a step by step guide to producing free electricity with the power of the wind.

“Have you ever wondered how wind turbines work and why they look like they do? Are you interested in adding wind power to your off-grid electric system, but have been put off by the high cost of equipment and installation? Well, now you can build and install your own wind turbine!

Harnessing the wind can be a tricky business, but in this groundbreaking book the authors provide step-by-step, illustrated instructions for building a wind generator in a home workshop. Even if you don’t plan on building your own turbine, this book is packed with valuable information for anyone considering wind energy. It covers the basic physics of how the energy in moving air is turned into electricity, and most importantly, will give you a realistic idea of what wind energy can do for you–and what it can’t.”

Get the book here

Homebrew Wind Power

and if you email us your Amazon order confirmation, get the DIY ebook package of your choice from

absolutely free.

To learn more about electronics, and how to monitor off grid power systems and control devices, see


Building Your Own Generator and Alternative Fuels

diygenOff grid power systems commonly include a generator for backup when the sun and wind are not enough to keep your batteries charged. We have built our own inexpensive gensets using small engines (lawn mower) and car alternators. Gasoline is expensive, and refilling a generator every few hours can be dangerous and messy, along with high carbon monoxide output, so we show how to convert small engines to run on propane, methane (natural gas which includes biogas), and gasoline. Home made charge controllers and battery maintenance is also covered.

Check out the free resources at:


Prepare Magazine – Free Digital Issue

Just released – the latest DIGITAL publication of PREPARE Magazine. This is a beautiful issue with a theme focused on Planting and Growing food. There is also excellent information on Preparedness Medicine. We believe you will enjoy this publication.

To view, go to:

More info: