Dozens of readers have asked about DIY solar projects and until now, I have had very little to offer. That has changed. As you will see below, the latest entry in the Prepper Book Festival is flat out fantastic.
DIY Solar Projects: How to Put the Sun to Work in Your Home by Eric Smith is a full-color DIY book with lots of pictures, lots of diagrams, and lots of information. Interested in building a real, wood-encased solar oven (and not a tin-foil and cardboard mockup)? Eric will show you how using common materials available at most hardware stores. Ditto a solar still for turning bad water into safe drinking water.
That is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other projects, both small and large, that will set you on the path to generating power from the sun, one way or another.
I believe you will find this paragraph from the introduction educational:
The term “solar power” is really a bit misleading. Solar power is not just big arrays of solar panels. There are two essential strategies for harnessing solar power. The first uses photovoltaic cells to convert light to electricity; depending on the size and number of panels, cells can power anything from a pocket calculator to an entire city. However, the basic building block— the cells— have to be manufactured.
The second type of solar power involves concentrating and converting sunlight to heat; the technology to do that is simple enough to be understood by children, relatively inexpensive, and very DIY friendly. If you can glue aluminum foil to cardboard or cover a wooden box with a piece of glass you can make a working solar collector and start saving real money immediately.
In typical Book Festival fashion, I share an interview with Eric (be sure to read about the new book he is currently working on), and have three copies up for grabs in a giveaway. Enjoy the interview then be sure to check in below to learn about the giveaway.
An Interview with Eric Smith, Author of DIY Solar Projects
Tell me about your book. What is it about?
The book is part inspiration for people interested in solar power, with photos and descriptions of buildings, cars and even planes powered by solar energy, and part practical guide, with basic, DIY solar projects that anyone with tools and basic skills can build.
What type of research did you have to do while writing your book?
I spent a lot of time reading through catalogs from solar suppliers to get a better understanding of what’s available for DIYers, and also read a lot of how-to manuals, mostly online because the information tends to be a little more up to date there.
Every book, fiction and non-fiction, includes a message. What message do you hope my readers will take with them after reading your book?
There are really two types of solar: There’s expensive, hi-tech solar like solar panels, which require sophisticated science and manufacturing and usually need professional installation, but there’s also lower-cost, DIY solar like solar water heaters that you can put together in your garage using basic materials from the local home center.
You don’t have to save for years or wait for tax rebates and loan programs to take advantage of solar power – you can get started right now, without spending a lot of money.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I worked as a carpenter and contractor for 20 years in St. Paul, MN, and as a writer and editor for home improvement magazines and publishers for the last 12 years.
I spend most of my free time fixing my house, gardening, making stuff or procrastinating. I also do as much hiking, camping and kayaking as I can.
As an author in the survival, prepping, self-sufficiency or homesteading niche, what are you personally preparing for?
The happy day when my three children are self-sufficient and can survive on their own. After that, I hope to build a small, solar-powered off-the-grid cabin near Lake Superior, where I’ll never have to worry about running out of water.
What would be your first prep-step if you were just getting started?
Learn as much DIY as you can and buy lots of good tools, so you can stop hiring people and start making and fixing on your own. Gradually you’ll gain the confidence and capability to take on any challenge. You may not ever do it, but it’s very empowering to know that if you had to you could build a house with your own hands and make a life for yourself and your family.
What movie do you think gives the best portrayal of what could happen?
Do you have plans for another book?
I’m currently writing “Lost Skills of the 19th Century,” which is a selection of how-to literature from the 19th century with links to the complete books. It covers everything from pioneer skills like tracking, repairing a covered wagon, rounding up cattle and digging a well to balloon framing, old cooking techniques, forgotten crafts and games, gardening – and even dancing and etiquette.
It’s part how-to, part history and part entertainment.
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?
Move north. It’s cooler and there’s more water.
Eric and his publisher have reserved 3 copies of DIY Solar Projects in this newest Book Festival Giveaway.
The deadline is 6:00 PM Pacific Tuesday with the winners notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article. Please note that the winner must claim their book within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.
Note: This giveaway is only open to individuals with a mailing address in the United States.
The Final Word
When it comes to putting the sun to work to save money, I have a wee bit of personal knowledge. I have a small set of solar panels from Harbor Freight, a Sun Oven, and portable solar panels to charge my electronic devices and light sources. My home in Arizona is also solar powered but it is the “tied to the grid” type.
In spite of all of that, I still need to learn more and suspect you do as well. In reviewing this book, I don’t know what is more valuable, the step by step photos or the easy-to-understand instructions and explanations. Either way, if you have any interest at all in solar, you are going to love this book.
For more information about the books in this latest book festival, visit Prepper Book Festival #12: The Best Books to Help You Prepare, Stay Healthy and Be Happy.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Spotlight: .DIY Solar Projects: How to Put the Sun to Work in Your Home
Advances in solar technology have made many DIY-friendly products available to consumers. These include solar water heaters, solar battery charging stations, solar powered lights, photovoltaic shingles that provide supplementary electricity, solar heat pumps, and solar panel kits that generate primary home electrical service.
Among the step-by-step projects in this book is a solar water heating system you can build and install yourself for under $1000; simple thermosyphon solar heat collectors for barns and outbuildings; or “heat grabbers” that you can fabricate for $50 in materials and position below a south-facing window to provide auxiliary winter heat.
Plus: The Preppers Guide to Food Storage
No list of books would be complete without my own book, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage. The eBook print version is available.
A frequent question I get on Backdoor Survival has to do with healthcare matters when there is no doctor around. This is the definite source of survival medical information for all Prepper’s and is my go-to bible for survival medicine.