Check out this interview from our lovely guests at YogiTriathlete:
You can listen to it here.
There are a lot of changes in landscape going on at the Dacha Project. A new pond has been dug at the bottom of the property. The area that was cleared away used to be farmland that was overrun by shrubs and a few trees. There is a small stream trickling through the area and there were many boggy spots where water was right beneath the surface of the soil. The Dacha project residents felt that using this source of water for a pond would be beneficial for both the land and the people living on it. It can provide a place to swim during the hot summer months and create a more diverse ecosystem for fish, frogs and birds.
Another big change at the Dacha was the decision to connect to the public electrical grid. A large trench was dug from the house to the road to allow for the cables needed for the operation. The decision was a difficult one but ultimately has more benefits than drawbacks in the long term. Joe provided a short explanation.
It is no secret that here at the Dacha Project, do-it-yourself (diy), is often our preferred method of getting the things we need. Our latest homemade adventure is building our own solar panel mounts. Why would we do such a thing? It’s three to five times cheaper, which is significant given that often the mounts nearly equal the costs of the panels. In all honesty it can be a bit complicated to securely attach the mounts, but our effort has been worth it in cost-savings alone.
Building our own also allows us to add any amount of panels at a time. Our latest addition includes two new solar panels that we named Lapland and Lucy. I just made those names up, but feel free to refer to our solar panels by those names anytime. This will result in a total sum of five solar panels. With our new battery bank, and the addition of Lucy and Lapland, we will run the Jenny (our beloved generator- real name) way less. Read the rest of the post for some more specifics on the materials used. More specifics are included below, but please note that this is not meant to be a comprehensive guide on how to do this, but a general description to inform of this very real possibility.
Specifics: We are building the mounts out of 1/8 inch (beefy) slotted struts, otherwise known as unistrut, and simple hardware that can be bought at the hardware store. This is easy to assemble, once you know the dimensions of your mount. The unistrut can be cut with a cut-off saw, and you’ll want to make sure to smooth out any jagged edges.
When mounting the mount to the roof make sure to include cross-braces (not pictured below), these can be made out of thinner gage struts. You have to make sure that you brace it enough that the wind doesn’t catch it and blow it off into the yard.
One day our roof will be covered in solar panels nestled into homemade mounts, put up two to three at a time!
Yes, yes, we love all our sustainable systems, but a lot of us here at the Dacha are also really into the arts. It is our hope to integrate the systems side of things with our love for music/art/writing..etc. Luckily for us, the arts have been coming to us.
Recently Lisa Marie Patzer from Philly came with her film crew to use the Dacha in her movie a.k.a. Profile Glitch. Check it out.
Part of the film takes place at an intentional community – and hey,we’ve got one of those (although I think the one in the film is a bit different). We got to watch the crew set up for scenes and re-arrange the place to fit their vision.
They also had to deal with things like lighting with our giant windows, or sound with the generator/inverter making their respective noises. There was also the issue of energy – the lights used in the film needed a lot of power and we had to be careful to make sure the batteries were charged. We are proud to say that this part of the film was shot all off grid using solar and veggie converted energy sources. Helping out the sustainable movie biz – that’s right.
So here at the Dacha we have a septic system. As we were planning to have a number of guests for the weekend we decided to check it out. The person who installed our septic predicted that we would need to pump it out after all this time (about 3 years) but we weren’t so sure, so we uncovered the tank…
There are two parts of the septic tank. The first section is where everything including solid waste goes. The idea is that it breaks down into a liquid and then enters the second section. If the tank it full of solids to the very bottom then you may need to pump it out. This is what we saw (please prepare yourself):
The Dacha is the happy to announce two new solar panels to the family! A larger write-up will follow. They are 240 watt polycrystalline PV panels that will boost our maximum power production over 2x what it is now. This brings us to roughly 700 watts of solar power!
(For benefits of it as a religion scroll to the bottom)
–what a sunny day in mid-November means for the main dacha house, a passive-solar, earth-bermed structure, and its inhabitants.
The sun is out after vacationing elsewhere for almost a week, and its brightening things up over here in many ways. Let’s review.
1. It’s heating up the floor and the room. For the first time in days we have not had the wood stove on and those of us at home wore t-shirts. We might not have to heat tonight either, b/c of residual warmth emanating from the floor and walls.
LeaLSF buildings, DIY, energy system, garden, heating, winter alternative building, berm, community, construction, DIY, diy house building, duckweed, earth-berm, evacuated, farm, garlic, homestead, intentional community, photos, solar, solar evacuated tubes, sun room, winterizing 1 Comment
Every extra hour that the weather holds out, is very possibly an extra hour of serious outdoor business getting done at the homestead-in-progress. Check out this photo essay of vital last minute projects, and some less vital – but still very nice projects, we’ve been up to.
We put windows in the sun room, goodbye wind-torn plastic, hello warmth and being able to see. Also, notice the sweet mortar job at the bottom;)
LeaLSF DIY, energy system bio-diesel, dacha project, DIY, energy, finger lakes, homestead, intentional community, lister engine, mini grant, off grid systems, southern tier, Sustainable Tompkins, waste vegetable oil 0 Comments
Many thanks to Sustainable Tompkins for awarding us a Neighborhood Mini-Grant for the second year in a row! This year the $750 award will fund the conversion of our Lister generator from running on diesel to running on waste cooking oil and bio-diesel. Currently, the Lister provides us with electricity and hot water. It also provides the air pressure to pump water from the well into our cold water storage. In the the near future… More
Thanks to our new friend Clover from North Carolina we now have these 3 videos where Joe attempts to explain our Tri-Gen System. Check out what we’re doing with the power of our Lister Engine, which is essentially a small scale power plant. Joe explains how it provides us with electricity, domestic hot water, as well as compressed air.