The sun has been harnessed by many civilisations for millenniums but the industrial revolution made us lazy. We forgot what was possible for free or at least relatively little expenditure, compared with what has become civilised equipment powered by the expensive national grid.
With many people including us feeling the global financial pinch and recognising that it will be with is for some years we review some of the things which are possible without the major investments required in buying solar water heating, photovoltaic systems etc.
Solar Power Projects You Can do at Home
- Construct a simple solar propagator consisting of a wooden box in which seeds trays are placed and place a sheet of glass over the top and place in full sun.
- Solar parabolic barbecues/cookers are now less expensive than buying a gas heated model. One metre models are small and light enough to transport to the allotment to brew up and cook lunch while you dig.
- Stand alone solar lights are unfortunately not yet bright enough to read by but they enable you to create romantic night time effects in the garden and wander around safely at night.
- Installing a battery of solar panels to make ones self sufficient is expensive but it is relatively low cost to power the security alarm system.
- Construct a solar cooker as Dick did in the scouts in the 1940’s. You need no more than a cardboard box, newspapers or straw and a roll of aluminium foil. Get the kids to do so this weekend to be prepared for the first sunny spring weekend.
- Low cost mini water features and pumps for fountains and pond circulation are now available.
- Following on from this solar powered irrigation systems for the allotment are very feasible. No it won’t work on rainy or cloudy days but you don’t need irrigation them . It will only work just when you do need it – the sunniest days of the year when you prefer to be at the beach.
- An interesting idea I picked up the other day was to install a solar fan in the attic conversion that can get hot in the summer. By cooling it you will cool the rest of the house.
- Recently we came across double skinned flower pots. The outside being translucent with a solar powered light between the layers to light up the pot at night. Just the thing for a romantic terrace.
- Construct a simple vegetable and fruit dryer to process some of your summer garden or allotment gluts and stop buying almost out of date chemical additive flavoured, coloured and preserved dried fruit and nuts.
- Construct a DIY water circulating heater for the green house.
With such a list of possibilities we hope you enjoy a record number of sunny days this year.
By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe who remember making solar cookers in the UK in the 1940’s! But much more is possible today. Dick retired to sunny Spain where he runs the Gardening in Spain web site and writes books on gardening over there.
© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe February 2010.