Introduction: Solar Carport, Battery Inverter, EV Charger, Water Catchment, Aquaponic Wall
Sustainability is a holistic term, its much more then solar or framing, you need to provide every thing for human survival in a replenish-able self sustaining way. I live in Hawaii on the island of Maui. In the middle of the ocean where almost every thing we need to live comes on a boat or plane. Although we have amazing land and water we hardly grown any food as the islands have been raped by the sugar industry for many years using all out amazing land, soil and water to grow what I consider a non-food crop, cane sugar. For us if for some reason the boats and planes stooped coming to Hawaii we only have enough food and oil for energy and transportation for a few days. This makes Hawaii an amazing test bed for true Sustainability. What do humans in the year 2016 need for survival? Air is the first thing, next comes water, then food, shelter, electric energy, transportation. That's the basics humans have become accustom to having with little effort and complete disregard were it comes from and how it gets to them and were the waste goes after used up.
The project development is an affordable, easy to assemble, complete solution that meets all of the Sustainable needs in one small footprint, that is portable so even renters could own and take with them as they move to new rentals. The solar carport provides water, food, shelter, electric energy and transportation. It can be installed free standing or as a lean-to off the side of your building. The solar panels form the roofing, and solar racking forms the racking, this eliminates the need for roofing material and roof framing typical ash-fault or metal roofing and plywood sheeting and wood rafters. A gutter collects water from the solar roof panels and stores water in 55 gallon drums. One drum is for drinking water the other is for a few fish. The fish feed the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish, "Aquaponic Farming". The solar panel connect to a battery charge controller, then to a battery inverter to provide electrical power at both 120vac and 2040vac. You can charge your electric car from the solar carport energy with the J1772 charging station,and then use the battery in the car to add back up power when needed with a dc to ac inverter. The carport Aquaponic system has 119 plant holes per shelf and there is 6 shelf for a total of 714 plants. A hanging wall of strings will provide beans and other climbing vines. Fast growing greens picked early, 3 weeks old, will provide much more food then a family of 4 could eat per month. You don't eat the fish they are you sustainable fertilizer, it is not a fish farm, your growing plants.
So we have a low cost easy to assemble true sustainable solution that meets all your needs and it is portable so even a renter could own and take it with them as they move to new rentals. It makes a great carport shelter, dining patio or even close in the sides to form an office or even a us as your home.!
Step 1: Foundation, Post and Beam Framing
Use pre-cast foundation blocks, 4x4 posts and 4x6 beams to form the side walls. You could frame side walls from 2x4 and ply siding if you plan to use it as an enclosed building. You don't need a lot of posts to support the beams but you do need extra posts on the side facing south for the Aquaponic shelf supports. Building every thing with long decking screws so the entire structure could be unscrewed and moved later as needed. Also screws will hold together better then nails over time, harder to wiggle and pull out over time.
Step 2: Solar Strut As Rafters, Solar Panels As Roofing
Use 2 screws to attach each end of the solar strut to the 4x6 beams, spacing is critical as you only have 1/4 inch free play between the panels, you need to measure the panels and account for the particular panels and solar panels clamps you will use. You need to install silicone between each solar panel and then add roofing tape on the top for added water proof for the horizontal between the panel, the vertical space on the solar strut and solar panel clamps actualy forms a gutter allowing water to drain off the roof the solar strut becomes a rafter and a drainage gutter. Use 3 panel clamps for each panel this will improve the strength for the long span solar strut. Use the "deep strut" it is 3 inch tall by 1 11/2 inch wide. I was able to jump on my solar food in the middle at 13 foot span, so a span of 10 feet is no problem. It is not strong until all the 3 panel clamps are install for each panel, so you need to work from a ladder until all the panels and panel clamps are in place. Be careful not to drop panels, need 2 people on laddars to place and clamp the panels as you have very little free play on the solar strut.
Step 3: Build the Aquaponic Shelf Suports
Use 2x4 framing to support the Aquaponic shelf, you can by fancy trays from Farm Tech, or use low cost plastic gutters, or large PVC pipe for the plant trays. I am not going to detail the Aquaponic system here as therer is plenty of fre information on line and its a very long description. My only recommendation is keep it simple, invest in a good PH tester for plant and fish health. Let the excess water flush through the drinking water tank fist then over flow to the fish tank so the entire system is constantly getting flush and clean new water. Over flow from the fish to a garden bed as that water is good fertilizer. I choose to go with Aquaponics instead of Hydroponics, so you don't need to import or buy fertilizers and chemicals. The fish and plants were designed by nature to work together in a symbiotic relationship.
Step 4: Equipment Room
You can buy a low cost plastic tool shed or build one from wood on the side of the carport. I have details for the complete battery box below and inverter wall above and all the pumps and controllers on the wall of the equipment room. But this is were it gets dangerous working with electricity, so you may consider paying an electrical contractor to help design and wire up your system. Many of the solar supply companies will provide complete battery inverter package systems with every ting you need and they offer advice on wiring diagrams and will walk you through the install over the phone. But you can get hurt if you don't know what your doing so I advise the "do it your self" customers to get some help from a pro for the electrical part of the project. I do have complete plans, photos and detailed instructions but given the danger of electricity i wont provide them here in this presentation. ELECTRICITY CAN KILL YOU, GET PROFESSIONAL HELP.
Step 5: EV Charging Station
There is a great company that provides kits to build your own station, requires a small amount of soldering but the cost is a fraction of a off the shelf EV Charging Station. The trick is you need that special J1772 connector to charge the car with 240vac 32 amps. You can charge the car by day when there is excess solar power and then I use a 1,000 watt 12VDC inverter to feed power from the car back to the solar system. If the car in halfway on so the stereo could play but the climate control is turned off you can pull 1,000 watts off the cars 12 volt utility battery, the drive battery in my leaf is 600vdc and holds around 21kwh, the car has a dc to dc converter it uses to keep the 12vdc utility battery charged, that dc to dc converter can put out 1,000 watts to a low cost dc to ac 1000 wall inverter. Run that power back to your carport inverter generator input and you now have an addition 21kwh of energy on top of your carport battery system. Again electricity is dangerous so do not attempt any electrical work unless you know what your doing. ELECTRICITY CAN KILL YOU, GET PROFESSIONAL HELP.
Step 6: In Conclusion
So there you have my solution for all your Sustainable needs: Water, Food, Shelter, Energy and Transportation! I offer these complete systems installed turn key for $28,000. At that price I am not making very much money but i love working on these kinds of complete solution type projects. I would assume if you were capable of doing all the work your self the complete materials might cost you less then $24,000 and the entire system qualifies for solar tax credits. In Hawaii that's 30% Federal solar tax credit, 35% Hawaii State solar tax credit, and you can take the equipment depreciation on the remaining cost over 5 years, that means the entire system is FREE are the 5 year depreciation is used up, as long as you can use the tax credits. If you never pay taxes and you always get a refund there are solar investors that will pay for the system if you agree to buy low cost power from the system for 20 years. The tax credit investor takes the solar tax credits and you agree to buy low cost power. Its called a Power Purchase Agreements. There are many other ways to finance solar with low interest solar loans, some local banks and states have 0% solar loan programs.
If every one produces more food and energy then they used, there would be no reason to fight wars in the world, we would be trying to find some one to give all that extra food and energy to so it does not go to waste. Looking at this low cost complete solution you could produce more food and energy then your family could use. My question to you is "who would you give your extra food and energy to" ?
I hope you enjoyed my project and please feel free to contact me if you have questions or ideas to improve no the concept.
Aloha from Maui Hawaii
Michael Angelo Leone
Step 7: Nissan Leaf Electric Car to Power My Rototiller.
Nissan Leaf Electric Car to power my rototiller. Now i can use my electric rototiller anywhere in the field. The Leaf has a DC to DC converter that uses the big drive battery to keep the small utility battery charged. The small 12 volt dc utility battery runs the stereo, windows, lights and all the other accessories in the car. The utility battery is super small because the cars drive battery is keeping it charged.
The DC to DC converter can put out a steady 72 amps and that is equal 864 watts. This small electric tiller was able to run for 4 hours non stop and i was pushing it as hard as possible cutting through roots and big rocks. It did not over heat and it did not over load the cars power or the small inverter I got from the local auto parts store. The inverter I got is 750 watts power and it can put out a surge of power of 1,000 watts for about 30 seconds. It has small fans so it does not over heat even if I abuse it for 4 hours non stop full load. I was forcing the tiller to go down through roots and rocks a good 12 inch deep. I did the side of my long drive way and another large area that was all cane grass so I was tilling through all the cane grass roots as well. I did get a few big rocks stuck in the tiller a few times and had to use a hammer to get the rocks out of the tiler blades but after the first time I figured how to the rocks out of the tiller in a few seconds. Wish the tiller had a reverse would be good for getting long roots unwound from the tiller shaft. But a small yard sickle was able to remove the roots in a few seconds. So lets look at just how much power is in the Nissan Leaf Drive Battery. The drive battery is 600 volts DC and if full to 100% it has around 21 kwh of usable energy. My small inverter is 750 watts at 120 volts ac. So I could run this small tiller 12 inch deep through roots and pushing as hard as possible for 28 hours !!! So lets put that into real life, I leave home with 100% charge and that is around 100 mile range. I drive to the Maca fields and use up 20% of the drive battery to get there. I run the till non stop for 8 hours (not that I could pull that off physically) this would use up 6 kwh of the car battery, and then i would have 11 kwh of drive battery left. Roughly 50% charge and 50 mile range even after a full days work running the tiller and blasting my ipod though my loud Bose sound system in the Nissan Leaf.
Step 8: The Power of the Nissan Leaf
If I was at home and the power went out I could use that inverter to run my house off the car. 21 kwh of car battery decided by 750 watts for the inverter at full power would give me 28 hours of power for my home. But the home load is not 100% all the time so would be many more hours depending on what I ran as emergency loads. At least keep the refrigerator running and some entertainment, computer, music, lights, charge my phone. Basic in the storm comforts.
When i play music on the streets live or jam under the banyan tree in Lahaina I can run all my lights and a 3,000 watt super loud sound system, like way louder then i would even need to play even for 300 people, and i use the car to power all my live performance, and after playing for 4 to 6 hours i stil have 60% to 70% Battery in the car, and i only need 35% battery to get home to Makawo from Kahului. There are fast charging stations all over the island and if I went to use the fast charger and i have only 20% on the car battery it would only take like 15 min to get to 80% charge, way more then I need to get home. It takes a lot longer to get from 80% to 100% because as the battery gets full you have to back off on the charging power, and the last 95% to 100% is painful slow, and its not that good to charge the car all the way to 100% anyways. There is a setting that limits the charge to only 80% this charge limit help the battery life and as i said on Maui I only need like 35% to get home. As you can see in the photo the car is parked under my solar roof carport. That means I charge my car and run my home and office 100% from solar. My carport is a package system I developed that has solar panels as the roof, solar racking as the rafters, water catchment of the solar roof, aquaponic food wall system provides food. This way i have shelter, energy, food, water and transportation all from this low cost solar carport. And today i verified that the car can run a electric roto tiller non stop for 28 hours. There is a way to use the power direct from the cars drive battery but you need a lot of special equipment to talk to the cars controller to allow you to pull that 600 volt dc power off the drive battery. Nissan already has and package system but you cant buy them in the USA yet. But soon every one will be able to run their entire home off the car battery. Another cool thing is I have a trailer hitch and I tested the max towing load with my friends 1,200lb yard equipment. I was able to drive up Haleakala Highway from Kahului to Pukalani 80 mph with no problem, the car actually had plenty of extra power I could have driven faster but it was too fast already. You can buy a used Nissan Leaf for around $9,000 or less, and if the battery is not doing so good Nissan will replace the battery for free !!!