Can a city boy build his dream homestead on a mountain, by himself and with no mortgage?

Posts tagged “solar lamps

Look out SoCal Edison, PG&E and DWP!

It was a cold blustery Thanksgiving weekend up on the mountain. Temps have dropped into the low-mid 50’s day and 20’s at night. The cabin was ccccold. It was time to try out ny new “Lil Buddy” propane heater!

I bought the heater at Camping World for about $80 last spring but never needed it until now. You screw a 1 gallon propane cylinder into the side valve and simply push the button and…instant heat.

It took about an hour to get the cabin from 24 degrees up to 60 degrees. Since it’s a combustion based heater, I need to crack the window open about 1/4 of an inch to vent the carbon monoxide (and NEVER run the thing while you’re asleep, NEVER!). A full cylinder should last 3-6 hours depending on how high you turn the thermostat. I heated up the cabin, shut of the heater, closed the window and slept like a baby. It was back down to about 48 in the morning but it was 28 outside. By the time I got back from making coffee in the trailer, the room was toasty warm.

In the pics above and below, you can see the Ikea $20 solar powered LED desk lamps. Sit it in the window in the sun for several hours and you’ll get 4 hours of reading light, they work like a charm for $20!

My other favorite toy is my new Makita 18v radio. It runs on 18 volt cordless power tool batteries. It has a terrific sound, big bass, and a surprisingly powerful antennae, all for $99 at the Home Depot. I also fell in love with the little LED flashlights you get at the cash register at the AutoZone, 2 for $5 and they work great.I have several and leave them spread around the car, truck, trailer and cabin so there’s always one handy.

Before I came up to the mountain, I found this Sunforce Solar Kit online at Amazon.com, it was highly recommended on one of the Solar Homesteading Yahoo groups I like.

It has 4 – 15 watt solar panels, a mounting frame, 120v inverter, charge controller, wiring and all the mounting hardware. It goes for $700 but Amazon was having a Black Friday Cyber-Sale and it was only $289! I was so excited, I told my best buddy Garzo. He had a bunch of American Express “points” that were expiring so for my Christmas present, Garzo cashed in his $100 in points and bought me the solar kit for only $189 AND they threw in free shipping (it’s a 62 lb box!).  I was gonna get Garzo a 12-pack of local micro-brewed beer (but I’m rethinking that now).

I’m so excited I could scream. Now I’ll have solar AND wind power!

I think that instead of the 30′ pole tower for the wind turbine, I’ll build a tall, narrow battery shed for the deep cycle batteries, orient the roof so that I can mount the solar panels on the roof AND put the windmill on a roof bracket attached to the shed. It’ll be my own little power generating station.  Elroy’s Power Company! This will allow me to store the gas generator in the tool shed and keep the charging batteries in their own hut, away from gasoline fumes and spark-generating metal tools.

I’m gonna take the time over the Christmas break to build the power shed, I should have enough scrap lumber to get it all framed up. Garzo will help and if I can guarantee a BBQ-d steak dinner and get the place decorated for the holidays, I may be able to coax some of my local homesteading friends over to help…before the snow comes!


just like Gramma’s house!

It’s been 2 weeks since I was up at the cabin so I grabbed my best friend Garzo and we high-tailed it up to the mountains for a ceiling-raisin’!

I was unable to install the t&g boards on my last visit (the stain was not dry yet) so to placate my deep sadness (and my aching back) I ran to Ikea and bought a new bed for the cabin.

Garzo and I installed the rest of the t&g in just about 3 hours, you can see that the orange-y stain has mellowed into a gorgeous knotty pine color, just like in Gramma’s old vacation cabin!

The bed went together quickly and it is VERY comfortable…in case y’all want to get one, it’s the Sultan Hagavik (full $279) and that smart faux walnut frame is the Engan ($119). I highly recommend both as the bed is extremely comfy!

I also bought 2 of Ikea’s solar-powered desk lamps ($20 ea). You can see one on the nightstand. They come in lots of fun colors and after a day charging in a sunny window I got enough light from the 2 of them to light the cabin and read for several hours. Another fan-TASTIC buy from Ikea!

Other than crown moulding, window trim and door casement…the cabin is finished! It is livable, comfortable and insulated to maximum comfort. I’m curious to see how my Little Buddy propane heater will keep the place warm when the snow falls since candles already keep the chill out of the air when the temps drop at night.

Next on the agenda is… the installation of the wind turbine, battery hut construction, shade canopy for the trailer, shower building, and outdoor fireplace.

so much to do, all the time in the world!

peace out

e.