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Off The Grid

I'm going to live off-grid. Read my blog and learn how to do it yourself!

In august, during the “Do It Yourself 2.0” workshops set up by Cohabitat, I ran a workshop in which I taught how to build a simple and affordable solar thermal collector that is suitable for domestic hot water.

Of course I made a lot of video and photos so that I could edit it all into a short video. Here’s the video. The commentary is in Polish, but below you find a translated transcript. (more…)

5 ways to harness solar thermal energy

Today I wanted to show you in brief 5 good ways to use solar energy to produce useful heat. Most people probably at this moment think about solar thermal collectors for domestic hot water, but there are many other possibilities.

Of course I will write about solar collectors, though it’s not a device I suggest to use or purchase.

I hope this article will be an inspiration for further research and reading for you.

1. Solar thermal collectors for hot water

This is the traditional way many people in modern Europe use solar energy. The solar irradiation heat the fluid circulating in flat plate or evacuated tube collectors. If frost is not a concern, this fluid is simply domestic water, while in colder climates some solution of glycol has to be used. In the latter case an additional heat exchanger must be used. (more…)

History of Solar Energy Usage

We often think that modern societies were the first to use solar energy. Not true! Early cave dwellers preferred caves that had openings facing southeasterly that allowed the morning sun to warm them up without overheating in the warm months.  Native Americans in the Southwest oriented their pueblo dwellings.  So the low winter sun would keep the buildings by direct solar radiation, cliffs and overhangs blocked the sun during the summer months, helping to keep the dwellings cooler when the sun was high in the sky.

The ancient Greeks, with a climate that was sunny almost year-round, built their houses to take advantage of the sun’s rays during the moderately cool winters and to avoid the sun’s heat during the summer.  Modern excavations of many classic Greek cities show that individual homes were oriented towards the South and entire cities were planned to allow equal access to the winter sun.  It is interesting to note that by 500 B.C., when the Greeks had almost completely deforested their whole country and needed to find a reliable alternative fuel source, they chose solar energy. (more…)

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