Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Solar Panels, Keep Them Clean

Where I live we have thousands of acres of pine forest, it's a crop grown for the paper industry. Every spring they produce a yellow pollen in great amounts, it leaves behind a yellow dusting on your cars, outdoor furniture, virtually everything outside.

Yesterday, I finally got around to installing my new solar system inverter, a 1500/3000 watt pure sine wave inverter. During the installation I remembered that the pollen dust could be layered on the solar panels possibly restricting the output.

After the inverter installation, which went well, I looked at the panels on my roof and sure enough I could see the pollen dust on them. So I got the scrub brush on the extension pole, a step ladder and the garden hose ready. Before the cleaning began I noted the amp output then immediately cleaned the panels and again noted the amp reading after cleaning. To my surprise there was an 11% increase in the amp output! Quite a gain for simply hosing and brushing the panels.

Truth is, solar panels are very sensitive devices, their precise alignment to the sun, free of the slightest shadows such as the hour that my satellite dish casts a small shadow on them and now dust accumulation has a bigger impact on output then many would think.

The panels on the roof that were cleaned.
(I have a very small window of direct sun because of all the trees around me so the panels are mounted in the best position to make the most of the available few hours of sun.)
The Dish above was recently installed. My original Dish receiver which was not HD, went bad and was replaced with an HD System for free. I'm sure this was an error on Dish's part because I did not request HD but the installer installed an HD system. He also installed a new dish so it could receive the HD signal and this was the only place the dish cold be placed to receive the HD signal. In an hour the dish's shadow will be off the panels.

The new 1500/3000 watt inverter installed.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Rusting of Food Storage Cans

Long term storage of food that is in cans such as the typical supermarket variety to the dehydrated foods in #10 cans all have a serious fault, they rust!

Metal can lids and many bottoms are sealed by simply crimping the lid rim onto the can body. This metal on metal crimp that seals the can safely closed for many years. The only  enemy of long term food stored in cans is RUST. Rust to steel is similar to cancer in humans, once it starts it continues to creep or spread molecule by molecule until it consumes all the steel. This creeping will eventually migrate its way through the crimp seal causing it to fail. It is this reason you should if possible keep your long term foods that are stored in cans in a dry, low humidity environment.

I store dry longer term foods in my garage because I simply have no room inside the house and I have no basement. (Supermarket can foods are kept in the house). I do have a/c in the garage for the few days when it becomes excessively hot outside I turn it on but other than that the garage stays at an average acceptable temperature by itself also it never freezes where I live.

This week I have been experimenting with many different Cornbread recipes which call for baking powder. The can of baking powder I use in the pantry was nearly empty so I went to garage storage and pulled out the last can which has been in storage for 7 years. Was I afraid to use it? No, because it's not food but all powdered chemicals so I doubt it would ever go bad if kept dry.

In the following photo's you can see the rust on the rim and bottom of can along with rust on the top rim under the plastic lid. Keep an eye out for rust on all your long term stored foods in cans because you never know if the food inside has been compromised and could make you ill when you least need to be.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tea Cookies

Very easy and quick to make. Less than 15 minutes to prepare and 22 minutes to bake. Survival cookie baking doesn't get much better than these!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, plus additional for coating
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup of hazelnuts or walnuts or almonds or pecans or what ever you have and finely chopped them.

Pre-Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place all the ingredients at the same time in a bowl and thoroughly blend, about 3 minutes using a stand mixer.

Shape dough into about 1 tablespoon sized balls (I use a small ball scoop for easy portion control) and place on cooking sprayed baking sheets spaced about 1 inch between.

Using a fork dipped in water slightly flatten each dough ball to make the all a uniform thickness. This helps them to bake evenly.

Bake for about 22 minutes.
I use a convection oven, if without your time may be 2-3 minutes more.

Remove from oven and let cool on the sheets for about 10 minutes to firm up as they are soft when hot.

Remove from baking sheets and let cool on wire racks.

Optional; you can dust with powdered sugar. I prefer not to as they are sweet enough.

The baked cookie size is about 1 3/4 diameter x 3/8 thick after baking.
Just the right size :-)

Recipe adapted from:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Garden 2015, 3-21 Update

The potato plants have all been hilled to the top of the buckets which are 10 inches tall. They're growing fast and look real happy, so now all I have to do is sit back and let then work their magic below ground. When the plant tops die off it will be time to harvest. I'm hoping for 2.0 lbs per plant this year.

Here's what the plants looked like last week:

Monday, March 16, 2015

California Is Turning Back Into A Desert And There Are No Contingency Plans

If there ever was a reason to have a serious garden and grow veggies this article should be all you need for motivation. Food (meat and veggies) are expensive and now with California who is a major supplier of veggies in a serious water crisis growing your own may be necessary. I'm going to assume the numbers cited in this article are reasonably correct and if so next year could be the wakeup call.