Wind and Solar Power and general musings on power and building

Currently we have a tiny gas powered two stroke ultra pollutant generator to power the tools we’re using to build the structure. We will probably continue to use this for the rest of the construction process and in emergencies, but ideally we’d like to be using the sun or the wind to power our cabin. The wind map for our area doesn’t look too great (the MNR has one for all Ontario, check out the links), but there might be enough to power a few light bulbs at night and a refrigerator when we’re up there. There’s always the option of propane powered lamps and refrigerator, but those appliances cost more money.

I watched a video I got off bittorrent on how to build your own windmill for about 500 bucks using an alternator from a car. I had never thought of this before but that’s exactly what an alternator is – a dynamo that recharges batteries with the power of spinning, except in a car it’s the crankshaft that spins it through a belt and not the blades of a windmill. If I wasn’t so focused on saving for things like walls, I’d be all over this.

As for solar, it’s very attractive, but we really don’t want to cut down many trees, so unless it was much higher than the roof, it probably wouldn’t get enough sun during the day. And the cost is high, and it’s not something I’ve seen that you can build yourself. There’s a few companies that seem to be developing out of the box solutions, (which IKEA seems to be working on, how neat is that?) but we’re still a few years away, and the other ones…well, let’s just say that, as the carpenter’s motto is “measure twice, cut once” my motto is “buy twice as much wood.” Just kidding. But I think it’s a little outside my skill set at the moment. Maybe when I’m rich and can have hobbies like saving the planet.

As a side note, my pops had said that he really wants to get to a place of enjoying the land, and not being in construction mode, and for me, this is the part that I’ve really been craving – designing something and building it the best way possible with the resources we have available. I wonder if I’ll just be one of those guys who is constantly building and improving while everyone else is just lounging around enjoying the fruits of my labours. Not that I mind! But the draw to build this windmill, something that I know will take time away from just enjoying, made me think about this. A friend from the Montreal days, Lori Braun, once equated humans and their constant need to build to the beaver. She was renovating her newly purchased house…rather, I was renovating her newly purchased house, but the sentiment said something to me.

Aside from the fact that the land is really to craggy to put a tent on, literally anywhere, without a platform, why the need to build this shack? I mean, shouldn’t we be satisfied with sitting in the muck on a cold day with the rain drizzling all around us and the bugs eating us alive? Isn’t this the natural conclusion of all our back to nature, ultra green, prime-directive “don’t disturb nature” higgledy-piggledy? What is the appropriate middle ground? Should we only be using wood from the land to build the structure even though that would take forever and end up being more expensive and prevent us from just enjoying the land? What makes us any better than the guy down the lake who razes three acres and puts up his McMansion cottage. I don’t think I have a good answer for any of this, but hope that we’re being humble enough not to push the earth, which I plan on enjoying as soon as I’ve built a cabin, windmill, deck, dock and cedar strip dinghy, into a vengeful tailspin of acid rain, global warming and endless Wal-Mart expansions.

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~ by cabineer on May 14, 2009.

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