So as you readers probably figure, I'm a DIY kind of person. I would just much rather build something myself, know how it works (and therefore be able to fix it!), and learn a new skill than buy something and forget the value of it in a few days. Yesterday I had an amazing conversation with someone over at AltE (an alternative energy powerhouse located nearby in Hudson, MA - they started out in Worcester!), the company that is helping me out with the solar power aspect of The COMET project. I'm not too well versed in Solar electricity, photovoltaics, or thermal heat (not yet anyways, but my Solar Design and Installation workshop at Yestermorrow Design + Build School is coming up real soon!), and AltE is helping me figure out what I need for my system. The lady I spoke with knew exactly what I wanted to do with The COMET, totally understood where I was coming from, and was enthusiastic and super helpful. We talked about everything from solar water heaters to exactly how many watts I will need in photovoltaic energy in my new set-up. She gave me some really good resources to look into, and I want to share those with you all. I had been looking for a reliable, honest website about DIY solar pr0jects for some time, and she pointed me in the right direction! Check out Build It Solar for what seems to be a million and one DIY solar energy projects. This website is infinitely helpful and full of information. This website has links to tons of solar projects you can do yourself and on a budget. I saw something about a solar shower made from a car inner-tube...pretty neat!
My friend over at AltE also recommended this project to me, a solar air heater made from aluminum cans! I know I've seen this before, but these instructions are really good. Check out http://rimstar.org/renewnrg/can_solar_air_heater_DIY_gs.htm for the full instructions.
Another cool product that she pointed out to me, which is specifically suitable for small camper/tiny house applications, was this solar water heater: http://www.altestore.com/store/Solar-Water-Heaters/Solar-Collectors-and-Mounts/AET-Collectors-Racks-Mounts/AET-2X3-Display-Collector-Kit/p5593/.
It's actually meant to be a display model of how a larger scale solar hot water heater would work, to be used at trade shows and the like. Fortunately for us, it's just the right size for a tiny house or mobile home! I think it's very reasonably priced, as well.
I encourage you all to check out these sites, and if you've done any DIY solar projects yourself, or have plans to build something, let me know in the comments!
More coming later on finding free used building materials + stuff on the side of the road (my favorite!)