technology

Chat with Kevin Kelly and Lloyd Kahn: Tiny Homes and Mobile Dwelling

A few days ago I had the immense pleasure of being part of a video chat (“Hangout”) with two awesome dudes, Kevin Kelly and Lloyd Kahn, both heroes of mine and very inspirational people. If you’re wondering who they are, Kevin Kelly was the publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, founded Wired magazine, and now does a million other cool things, including the recent publication of the awesome book Cool Tools. Lloyd Kahn worked with Kevin Kelly as the editor of the “Shelter” section of the Whole Earth Catalog, then went on to start his own publishing company Shelter Publications, which has released classic titles such as Shelter, Shelter 2, Home Work, and Tiny Homes (I own and love all of these books, highly recommended!). He lives in a neat owner-built home in California, and is the liveliest, sharpest 79 year old I’ve ever seen!

It was exciting to have a chance to ask Lloyd and Kevin some questions, they both have decades of experience in building, design, technology, and writing/publishing between them. The webcast was broadcast live, and is available on YouTube to watch (and is at the bottom of this blog post!). Lloyd and Kevin started out by talking about domes and Lloyd explained how his book Shelter was a direct response to his years of advocating for and building dome homes. He said that he had realized that perhaps domes weren’t the perfect buildings after all, and decided to showcase a myriad of other awesome homes and building techniques as a sort of resignation about domes. He explained how domes were still viable as some functional spaces, but that they aren’t ideal for residences for many reasons.

 

All-DC Solar Power System in The COMET

Here's a follow up to the last post, where I talked about how to calculate your (kilo)watt usage and shared my own table showing what electricity-using appliances I will have. Here's why that "AC or DC" column is important.

I want to design a PV system for The COMET that is DC-only, and has no AC inverter (which turns the DC power from the panels into the AC power that comes out of your wall sockets). The reason is because of the nature of inverters for PV systems: inverters are the single most expensive component of a PV system. They also are the point at which 20% of efficiency from what the panels are actually producing gets lost. That means it takes 20% of the energy you are producing with your panels to power the inverter. That's a lot of lost energy, especially in a small system! So I am devising a unique system that requires no inverter.