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19 December 2006 @ 06:27 am
I'm ready to develop passive solar heat expertise now too  

The Harbor Freight tools store near my job also had this item that I decided to buy on Thursday:

It is a 6' x 8' greenhouse that only cost $300. I had no trouble putting the kit in my Geo Metro, and I assembled it on Saturday. It weighs less than 75 pounds, so it is possible to reach up while inside it to get it a few inches off the ground and move it. And, it can easily be disassembled again and loaded in a car so it can go from property to property.

Sunrooms are a popular new fad now, but they can be very practical.
In a spot with full sun in a yard with a privacy fence, this little greenhouse can serve as a sunroom, with patio furniture inside used just like it would be used in the open air in the summertime.

I'll experiment with this way of relaxing on weekends this winter, and I'll observe how much supplemental energy, if any, it takes to stay comfortable. For me, this is a fantastic idea, because the more daylight I get in winter, the better my moods are.

Then, the little greenhouse can also be my "lab" to learn techniques to store solar heat for nighttime warmth. The simplest systems are just greenhouses with black barrels filled with water exposed to daytime sun rays that give off the absorbed heat at night. More advanced designs use solutions of various salts or other things added to the water. These store additional energy as "latent heat" as the solution changes state (solid to liquid).

Meanwhile, I am still learning quickly now how to use solar panels for my laptop and other electrical devices. I will probably be ready to expand from experimental scale to full scale soon. I think I will try to buy panels and voltage/amperage controllers from a person or people as close locally as possible, to support local alternative energy business even though this may not be as ideal as getting exactly what I want as cheap as possible via the internet.

Light foldable or rollable solar panels that carry easily in a backpack for laptop use anywhere I can hike to cost about 2-1/2 times what rigid panels of the same wattage do. So, I am struggling with whether to buy these or the less portable cheaper rigid panels.