Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Studying Solar Energy

I'm pretty much a doofus when it comes to electricity.  I just don't get it, and take most of it on faith.  I don't understand why electrons don't leak out of the outlets and pile up on the floor.  Lack of expertise hasn't stopped me, of course.  I've tackled all kinds of electrical projects over the decades, both at my homes and now on our boat, Drift Away (

I want our Bleecker home to be completely off the grid.  First of all, I think it seems illogical to pay the power company to run power lines from the road to my house in order for me to buy electricity from them, at the lofty prices they charge for it, only to be at their mercy when power lines come down in storms.

Secondly, I don't want to have to rely on some big mega-corporation to power my home.  If there's a large power outage in the area, you can bet the little town of Bleecker will be the last to get it restored, and I'd be the last one since I'd be the last user on the line from Northville.

Third, this will probably be my last house, until I die.  That might be a few months, a few years, or a few couple a decade or two.  Why worry about power bills if my retirement funds run out and those punk ass congress people decide they can't afford to redeem the treasury bills that Social Security bought?

Fourth... it would be cool.

So solar it will be, perhaps augmented by a D400 wind generator like sailors here at the marina use.  I ordered a copy of the Solar Electricity Handbook, 2012 Edition by Michael Boxwell .  I cracked it open yesterday and arriving at the second chapter, I panicked.  It was full of formulas, like

I X R = V

Current is amps, and amps is represented by the letter "I"?  Why is that?  Why not "A"?

In high school, I learned that 

W = A X V, in my mind.

In this book, it's

V X I = P

I think that, once I figure this all out and get my solar array installed, I'm going to write a simple five page book about solar electricity intended for guys like me that don't give a hoot about the science behind it and just want it to work.  The chapters will go something like this...

1. Buy a bunch of solar panels.
2. Build a frame to mount them on, angling them more or less at the sun.
3. Connect the wires to the panels.
4. Connect the other end of the wires to a bunch of batteries.
5. Pop open a victory beer.
6. If you run out of electricity, add more solar panels and more batteries.
7. Pop open a victory beer.

If you're new to this blog and you haven't read my Drift Away blog, you will soon learn all about victory beers.

And now, back to this stupid book full of formulas where amps is represented by the letter "I" and watts by the letter "P".

- Dave


  1. What a hoot! The only change I would make would be to have a victory beer or two before the first chapter in anticipation of being successful!

    1. Oh no Mel, no beer before or during a project. It tends to lead to unexpected results. And knowing there's a beer at the end makes me work faster.

  2. LMAO--- You're on a roll with your new Blog Dave.....

    1. Same stuff, different setting. And I can use some of my lame jokes on a new audience.