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Power generation,Solar Power Projects

Simple Solar Panel Sun Tracker from an Old Satellite TV Dish

10 Apr , 2015   Video

This was an easy project and final outcome will be functional!

I have wanted to make this type of solar sun tracker for a while. The project took 2 days and there was many opportunities to get creative with some of the modifications.

Once to you can get a hold of an old satellite dish, most of the materials were scavenged. I had to purchase some of the mounting bolts ahead of time. Overall, the cost was around $12.00 for hardware.

The basic setup is an old Satellite TV dish mount, 2 IKEA cabinet metal rails, 8 nuts and bolts and some “Z” clamps. For the mast or tower, I found a piece of pipe slightly bigger and it slid over the satellite shaft. It acted as a collar. This piece then slid over a 10-foot section of long pipe from the top rail of a chain link fence. The satellite dish shaft was machine screwed to the collar. I added bearing grease to the chain link fence pipe and the entire mount could easily rotate.

The pole was then secured to a 4″ x 4″ pressure treated post and screwed to the side of the cabin. At a later date, the post will be lag bolted to the structures joist. The location of the post for the solar panel was chosen where it got the maximum amount of sunlight for the 11:00am – 3pm hours. But as a bonus, the panel on the tower can be rotated to catch some 9:00am sun and a bit in the late afternoon. In my mind, every little bit helps.

I wanted the solar panels close to the new location for the batteries. I make a serious effort to make wires short and not loose any power.

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Appliances,Buildings and Renovations,Food,Heat and Cooling

Make a Propane Refrigerator Run Cooler in the Summer

8 Jul , 2013  

The RV style of propane refrigerator (Dometic-3 way) was not getting cold on the inside. Turned up the thermostat from setting 2 to 4 make it colder, but there was no effect. It was a major concern, since there was a heat wave coming and the frozen vegetables, beverages and steaks would go bad. Also, it was not an option to drive for a 2 hours to get blocks of ice.


Step one- Slide propane fridge into a box

The propane refrigerator was an older model, but was working fine months earlier. So, went over a mental checklist; read manual, check regulator on propane hose, check thermostat, check for cobwebs around cooling fins and check exhaust ports. During the last check on the exhaust port, I noticed the wood siding was really warm to the touch. Thought that was odd, since the manual states the refrigerator must be encased in a metal box, with no combustible materials nearby. The heat must be intense for it to travel through the metal and then to the outside siding.

So, ended up cutting a larger exhaust hole for the heat to escape. Didn’t have much room or a handy saw, so, I had to sketch out a line and use a drill. Drilled holes every 1/8″ with a 1/4″ bit. It took forever, but, didn’t have to worry about striking the cooling fins or pipes on the back of the propane refrigerator. Since it was almost 3 times larger hole, I decided to add a metal heat deflector and a computer fan to help redirect the heat out the hole. Always keep a bunch of computer fans around, they come in handy and work straight off batteries or a solar panel. Fashioned some mounts out of some metal strips and put it just under the refrigerator cooling fins. Wired the computer fan to a simple light switch and 7 amphour AGM battery. The fan could be switched on really hot days and helped the refrigerator cool much quicker.

Soon, I’ll make another video with a few more improvements

Thanks for watching!







Step Two- Slide box, with propane fridge, into IKEA cabinet.

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