This year’s mild winter has really made me think about the future of the ski industry in New England. Warm temperatures and lack of natural snowfall are threatening to shorten a season already slowed by the poor economy. Most mountains like to stay open as late into April as they can however just making it into early March this year will be a challenge. With snow making to stop at most mountains after next week you might want to get your spring skiing in sooner than later.
Digging for Water
When a company develops a new product the “beta” version is an early version of the product generally used to gather real information about how the product performs, how people use it and what kind of failure modes to expect. My storage system for holding the summer heat to use in the winter is really a beta product, even though it wasn’t called that when I bought it.
The adage that we learn more from our failures than our successes holds true for many endeavors – from classes we take in school to entrepreneurial efforts we might undertake later on in life. The mistakes and failures teach us invaluable lessons which, in the case of a new product introduction, can make that product more reliable, easier to use, more efficient, or better in many ways.
Foaming the storage tank
I can now fully appreciate the benefit and even the necessity of a backup heating system in New England. In 2011 alone there were 3 or 4 storms that caused power outages, but I have been very lucky that they only caused minutes or a few hours of interruptions for me. Many others experienced days without power. On the other hand my solar heating system is in its first year of life and needs some serious debugging, so my back up systems are needed – often!
In this part of the world multiple days without heat in the winter can be life threatening. This, and the potential for frozen pipes, provide ample reason why insurance companies want to know the details of a home’s heating system, and it’s backup, before providing insurance.
A client came into my store a few weeks back to discuss his idea for an inexpensive “batch” water heater that doesn’t require any high tech parts or pumps. The idea behind a batch heater in general is to pre-heat water from the well or from the town source with the sun or a heat source that you already have available. The well or town water is usually between 45-50F… so if you can preheat a couple of gallons of that water to 80 or 100F before it even goes into your water heater, you would save quite a bit of energy.
In his case, the heat source he wanted to use was his attic in the summer. He has a couple hundred feet of hose that he will coil in his attic and add a 3-way valve that lets him divert the well water to the attic hose and then into his tank whenever his attic is over 60 or 70F.
There is a nice water fountain in the middle of a large cemetery in Enfield. There is no good way to run electricity to the fountain to circulate water with a pump, but town water was available near by through a hose. For many years during special events someone would turn on the town water and let it run through the fountain and drain away.
This year a group of residents decided to investigate circulating the water with a pump, and using solar photovoltaics to provide the power — and stop wasting water.
Ok…maybe not my very first garden, but the first one that ever produced anything edible.
My family probably thinks I’ve gone off the deep end because I’ve made everyone of them look at my corn stalks and little green tomatoes. I can’t believe there is actually good food growing in my garden — and I planted almost all of it and weeded it myself.
Well, the rhubarb was already there and grew on its own. And grew and grew. We have had stewed rhubarb, rhubard crumble, and a couple of strawberry rhubarb pies. I have 3 more bags of rhubarb in the freezer. Ideas?
This is the 15th year for SolarFest,
at the Forget-me-not farm in Tinmouth, VT. It was a weekend dedicated to renewable energy, sustainability, and a general celebration for the sun. After 4 weeks of almost continuous rain, it was a great weekend to be out and appreciating the sun!
There were lots of tents with vendors selling solar panels, wind and water turbines, geothermal systems, clothing, jewelry, food, lots of local goods, and there were a few people peddling their perpetual motion machines.
My store is in a multi-use building with apartments overhead. The other day the apartment above my store somehow developed a cracked toilet tank and it flooded my ceiling tiles, which probably held out for all of 5 minutes before many of them came down bringing a lot of water with them.
From what we understand there was no noise involved in this to wake anyone up, so the toilet simply continued to try to fill the tank… which continued pouring water into my store.
I’ve been investigating solar power water pumps for a customer who wants to add a fountain to his small pond. The fountain will be both decorative and provide aeration, but it doesn’t have to be on all the time. He wants the fountain to be self-sustaining using energy from the sun rather than running electricity to it. When the sun it out, the fountain turns on. At night or rainy days, the fountain is off.
If we are using a solar panel to provide the electricity, then we start out with the requirement that the pump should run on DC (direct current), since solar panels provide DC output. You can use a solar panel to power a 110V AC pump, but that would require the added expense of an inverter to do the DC to AC conversion.