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Toronto Solar Power Companies, Part One

If someone living in Toronto (or the GTA) wanted to go off the grid with their home, how much electricity would they need to be producing, and how much would that cost to produce that much electricity using solar power?

That is the question today. (July 5th.)

And for simplicity's sake we shall use a 3-bedroom home with 2000 square feet as an example (pretty much the most average home you can buy in Canada) when asking companies for quotes, which typically would be using about 600 kWh per month. Some people obviously use more than that, some a lot less. I found one website where a person said they used to use 700 kWh per month but have since cut their usage down to 180 kWh per month. Clearly there are two ends to the spectrum with the average in the middle.

So I sent the following message to various websites asking for quotes:

"Hello!

I am looking for quotes for what it would cost to install solar panels and a battery system on our property to produce 600 kWh per month.

We would like to be completely off the grid.

We are also interested in learning more about solar thermal too."
The problem with such websites is that they are actually selling leads to other people. I submit to one website, I will probably get 5 or more quotes from different companies - and they are paying for the potential lead. The people contacting me are salespeople... they just want to make a sale.

They don't know I am only researching this to determine what companies are out there, and what prices they are offering for their respective systems.

Thus I submitted the above text to 5 websites. If I only get 25 quotes or less that will be more than enough for my purposes.

July 20th Update - During the last 15 days I got only 1 company to respond. So much for my guess of 25 quotes. I got 1 and they refused to even provide a quote.

THE RESULTS

#1. "Please send us your phone number."

The first company to respond asked for my phone number. I don't give out my phone number online, except to friends and clients. Why? Because then people start phoning me while I am teaching an archery lesson. My clients are typically paying $0.66 to $1 per minute for my archery lessons (because I am really good at teaching and really expensive to hire). So even a short phone call means I have to extend the lesson so the client gets their full monies worth... plus it interrupts the flow of the lesson and the learning process, so I really prefer to keep my phone number private.

eg. I usually only answer calls from my wife or my mother while I am teaching, and only because it might be an emergency.

I strictly only want quotes via email.

The companies to respond so far by asking for my phone number were, in order of responding:

  1. New Dawn Energy Solutions


Update - And that is the only company to have responded thus far. It has been 15 days, 1 response.

#2. Negotiable Prices plus Haggling

I notice that a lot of these companies don't like to list their prices on their websites. Is this because the prices are negotiable? In which case, can a person simply lowball their quotes and offer a different amount for the job to be completed?

Clearly if the prices are negotiable, then it means that the initial price they offer is intended to gouge the customer for their money by overcharging them. So a smart customer should then demand a lower rate for the same products and service, because clearly there is some haggling involved.

And haggling inherently means that if you push them on the issue, they will eventually offer you a better price. Makes me want to just email them with the following line:

"I see you don't list prices on your website, which means prices are negotiable and people are expected to haggle. So lets haggle."
Maybe then they might rethink their business strategy and then list the prices on their website.

#3. "Please provide your address."

Hi Charles,

We would at least need your address to provide a quote. Kindly let us know your address. Thank you.


Sincerely,
Prasanna Yoganathan, E.I.T
Project Coordinator
416-855-9377 Ext:. 216
www.NewDawn-ES.Com

Hello!

What difference would my address make? I live in Leaside. Would it make a difference to the price if I lived in Rosedale or Beaches? Do you quote different prices based on the neighbourhood?

I just want a quote for a solar system that produces 600 kWh per month that includes a battery system. Is that not sufficient enough to give me a quote?

If you cannot provide a quote for such a system I will take my business elsewhere.

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat

And no response after that. Clearly I was not being cooperative, however to be fair I am asking a simple question and my address in Toronto really should not matter at all.

Conclusions

Don't bother contacting solar companies through 3rd party websites that promise to forward your inquiry to multiple solar companies, because frankly only 1 company has thus far responded and I contacted them 15 days ago

Now is this because I refused to provide my phone number and my address in Toronto? I think it is deeply connected. I also think these companies are basically stalkers looking to make a sale, and they have no respect for privacy.

I left negative reviews for "New Dawn Energy Solutions" on both Google and Yelp. Maybe when they notice the reviews they might actually provide a quote, but even if they did I would recommend people to NOT hire that company because any company that refuses to give a quote because they really want your phone number and address is a company so focused on sales that they have forgotten the saying "The customer is always right." and what should be a new saying "Respect the customer's privacy."

Clearly the price of installing solar panels isn't the only hurdle. It is their horrible customer service.

But is that just 1 company?

Well nobody else responded. Say what you want about New Dawn Energy Solutions, at least they responded - and later snubbed me when I refused to provide an address.

Last Saturday I was talking to someone at the Toronto Archery Range and they mentioned how these companies can now use Google to input your address into a map search, they can then calculate the size of your roof and provide an estimate of how many solar panels can be put on your roof, and how much energy that will provide, and how much it will cost.

While that it is handy, the home in my situation hasn't been built or purchased yet. I want to know the cost of installing what I want, BEFORE I go out and buy the house. This way I know how big the roof needs to be.

But the companies are so focused on using their little map gadget they are ignoring a simple enough question.

A roof can always be extended or lengthened to add more room for solar panels. If someone really wants the extra solar power, they can just make the roof wider.

This whole ordeal makes me more interested in wind turbines - which dollar for dollar provide more electricity than solar power does. And likewise hydro power - which is trickier to do because you need a stream or river on the property, and you are probably not legally allowed to dam it and would need to use other methods of gaining hydro power from it without a dam, but hydro power provides way more energy than either wind or solar, and thus it is worth investigating.

Solar is still an option, but finding a company that can provide a quote may be a challenge.

I may have to just phone companies and point blank ask them for quotes (and refuse to give details about where I live). "The property hasn't been built yet." Whatever.

I still want answers.

To be continued...?

The Ethical Choice for a Compound Bow Repairman

Back in June someone came to me with an old PSE Nova compound bow (likely circa 1997-98) which according to the customer had been dryfired and needed to be restrung.

Sounds like an easy fix to me, but as usual I ask one rather important question:

"Yes, I can fix it.

Anything else wrong with the bow that I should be aware of?

Would you be able to drop it off tomorrow or Tuesday?"

So you may note the second question I have highlighted in red. It is a rather important question. It lets me know if there is anything else wrong with the bow that might interfere with its ability to be fixed. eg. Broken or twisted cams.

Now sometimes the owner is not aware that there is something else wrong with the bow. It is always possible they didn't know it had a fatal flaw.

In this case the bolt insert for the upper limb had been stripped and pretty messed up. If you adjusted the bolt, it would barely budge unless you exerted some serious pressure.

The customer brought me the bow more or less assembled, with one of the limbs on backwards and the bowstrings and cables haphazardly also on backwards (normally the bowstring is closer to the archer and the cables are closer to the riser, in this case they had been reversed). So whomever re-assembled it that way had basically just did whatever looked right at the time and then stuck in the case for transport. They had probably realized how complicated stringing the bow would be and given up, deciding to leave it for someone who knew what they were doing.

When I examined the bow before attempting to repair it, I determined that is should be an easy fix.

  1. Take everything off since it was incorrect anyway.
  2. Get the limbs in the correct direction
  3. Retighten the bolts to hold the limbs in position.
  4. Put the bow in a press
  5. Restring it.
  6. Re-add the cables.
  7. Done.
 But when I got to step 3 the bolt on the top limb wouldn't budge. I decided to remove it completely and inspect it.

Inside the insert you could see pieces of aluminum that had been stripped off the bolt. I clearly most of the metal, and attempted to put the bolt back in but it would slide into an incorrect angle and become stuck. I tried again, trying to keep it in the correct angle, but it would still become stuck.

Worse, my attempts to get the bolt back into position were just stripping more bits of aluminum out of the insert.

Now here in lies the problem...

Yes, I could use a tap and die set to fix the insert, but that would further compromise an already compromised insert which is part of the riser itself and cannot be removed. A tap and die set can realign the threads on the insert, but it would never be completely perfect ever again, and would always have problems with it.

Worse, an archer using the bow afterwards would always be in danger of the insert, riser or bolt slipping or snapping in some manner, resulting in the limb flying back and striking the archer.

Anything repair I did would only make an unsafe bow even more unsafe to use.

From my past in the bicycle industry I know that bicycle mechanics will sometimes conduct an unethical repair on a bicycle to please a customer, even though they know the part they are repairing has been compromised and is unsafe. They do this because they want to make the sale and get paid, and are putting their own private greed before the safety of the client.

I was faced with a similar dilemma, except I was repairing a weapon/tool used for hunting as opposed to a bicycle.

How unsafe was the insert? Honestly, it is an unknown.

It is possible if I repaired it with a tap and die set that it would function normally and never pose a risk.

Or it is possible if I repaired it that it would break under pressure (as compound bows often are put under a great deal of pressure), and then pose a serious safety hazard to the archer using it.

So because it is an unknown, I give it a base 50/50 chance it is unsafe.

And do I really want it on my conscious if it does break and injure the customer? Not really.

I also believe in karma*.

* My idiot neighbour who assaulted me back on April 30th was in a car accident about a week later and totaled his car. He cut off a bus and got T-boned, and he got a neck injury. So from my perspective, that is karma in action right there. Especially since the accident happened right outside my window and I got a front row seat to the police and ambulance, etc. Other incidents in my past have also resulted in me receiving weeks or months of good luck (good karma), so there are multiple instances where clearly I did the right thing and ended up reaping the lucky rewards.

So what did I do about the PSE Nova compound bow?

I tell the customer what I had discovered about his bow, that it is unsafe, and that it is basically only good for parts - not the riser with the bad bolt insert clearly, but the rest of the bow was in good or decent condition.

I therefore offered to give him $20 for the pieces so I can use the bow for parts. He accepted my offer. He showed up later that evening after 7 PM to pick up his bow case, arrows, etc and my $20.

I got out of it:
  • Two Y cables.
  • One bowstring.
  • Two cams that are in good condition.
  • Two compound limbs.
  • Two limb bolts.
  • A peep sight.
  • An old 3 point sight.
  • A whisker biscuit arrow rest that is in decent condition.
  • An old metal stabilizer with camouflage paint on it.
Oh and an aluminum riser that effectively would make a good paper weight.

I wasn't expecting for him to let me have the sights, arrow rest and stabilizer, but he evidently didn't care about them. So they were basically a bonus.

I think he was mostly just thankful to get rid of a junk "lemon" of a bow and could go get himself something nicer.

Indeed he would be hard pressed to find a buyer for a broken old compound bow, as most compound archers prefer to buy the "newest 2018 model" that is available. The resale value of old compound bows is pretty bad as they depreciate in a hurry.


ABOUT PSE NOVA COMPOUND BOWS

Not all PSE Novas are "old" per se.

The bows and variants of them were made between 1997 to 2011, with various draw lengths, draw weights, brace heights, alternative designs with different let offs and IBO speeds. The model was eventually discontinued, likely due to poor sales.

During its heyday the PSE Nova was considered to be a good starter bow for beginners who wanted to get into compound archery without having to pay an arm and a leg for a decent bow.

You can see specs for different versions of the bow by visiting: http://compoundbowchoice.com/brands/pse/nova/specs/

Old used PSE Novas now typically sell on eBay for about $75 USD, but it is a case of buyer beware, as the bow will likely have problems with it after years of use (or misuse).

The PSE Nova was never considered to be a desirable bow. Rather, they were a cheap "decent quality compound bow" for a reasonable price. They are not something a person would want in their collection for historical reasons. My vintage Jennings and vintage Black Hawk compound bows on the other hand, those are collectors items and definitely desirable.


So what should I do with those spare parts?

Honestly, I have lots of options.

I could:
  1. Build a wooden compound bow riser, with roughly the same dimensions of the original Nova riser.
  2. Make a "Frankenstein compound bow" where I mix and match parts from different bows.
  3. Make a stone compound bow*. 
  4. Make a stone compound crossbow*.
  5. Build a compound crossbow.
  6. Build a reverse compound crossbow.
  7. Or... just keep the parts handy for whenever I might need them.
I am leaning towards options 1, 4 and 7.

Whatever I do with them, this is a project for me to work on during the winter when I have more spare time.

* The stone compound bow is an interesting concept. Essentially the arrow acts like a plunger that goes forward and bumps a pellet that is roughly the size of a marble (or literally a marble), and then the pellet / marble is the projectile that shoots forward through a barrel and is launched towards the target. Sort of like the "arrow gun" shown below.


In the case of the stone compound crossbow, there is no need for the arrow itself. The pellet / marble is loaded into a barrel with slits down the sides. The bowstring then pushes the pellet through the barrel and it is launched towards the target.

The stone crossbow is an ancient design that worked a bit like a slingshot, but modern variants have determined that the bow gets way more accuracy if it uses a barrel design instead.



A reverse compound stone crossbow... would that be a first of its kind? Has anyone but me even thought of making such a thing? Am I the first?

I bet Joerg from the Slingshot Channel on YouTube hasn't even thought of that, and he is a pretty crazy German guy who qualifies as a mad scientist in my opinion.

Like the insane video below in which he builds a trebuchet that shoots saw blades...



Because clearly if you are going to build something that crazy, you need a German mad scientist to do it.

New Email Address + Project Gridless Business Cards

I added a new email address for Project Gridless.

projectgridless {atsymbol} gmail .com

(To prevent spam I often replace @ with {atsymbol} and add a space before the .com. There are bots these days which glean emails from websites and compile them into lists to be sold to companies that deal in spam.)

The new email just forwards to one of my other accounts, but I needed it for new Project Gridless business cards I am making which will promote my Compound Bow Repair service.

I am going to staple up some copies of the business card at the Toronto Archery Range once in awhile to drum up business my repair service. Plus it is handy to have whenever I see someone who is trying to fix their broken compound bow.

The business card I designed is simple and to the point. I don't need to clutter it with extra info.

Note also that I did not include my phone number. Last thing I need is people phoning me while I am changing Richard's diapers, while I am teaching an archery lesson, or while I am having a nap. (When Richard naps, I try to have a nap too.) Email is best in my opinion, especially since people often send me photos of their damaged bow so I have a better idea of what is broken.


Determining the year of a Ben Pearson Renegade Recurve Bow

Okay so to find the year of my "new" recurve bow, a vintage Ben Pearson Renegade, I needed to do some in-depth research.

During my research I came across people mentioning an older website called archeryarchives.com, which unfortunately no longer exists as a website so I had to use the Wayback Machine website to look at old archived versions of the website to find the info I needed. The irony of using an archival website to find copies of a defunct archives website.

ArcheryArchives.com (when it existed) was all about dating Ben Pearson bows and other brands, namely:

  • American
  • Apach
  • Apex
  • Bruno
  • Beauty
  • Birnie
  • Bradshaw
  • Colt
  • Coe
  • Challenger
  • Custom Bows Inc.
  • Eddings
  • Eicholtz
  • Fasco
  • Finny
  • Fleetwood
  • Flight Specialities
  •  Glas Light Bows
  • Dick Green
  • Golden Sovereign
  • Silver Sovereign
  • Herter's Bows
  • Leda
  • Little John
  • Locksley
  • Hoyt
  • Perry
  • Phoenix
  • Redhead
  • Root
  • Shakespeare
  • Star Signel Bows
  • Wing
  • White MGF
  • York Archery

So yeah. A big long list of bow manufacturers and the dates various bows were made, info about the individual bows, etc. All the information was garnered from old archery catalogues and magazines.

So I get into the Ben Pearson section of the - archived version of - the website and I am presented with a list of years that have records, ranging from 1938 to 1998.

If you want to browse the old records go to https://web.archive.org/web/20101130075400/http://www.archeryarchives.com:80/pearson1.html

Having previously guessed that my Ben Pearson Renegade was from the mid 1970s, I clicked on 1975 to get a starting point.

Scroll down and there it is... stats for a Ben Pearson Renegade, 1975.

Renegade, 1975, No. 7260-0, 60 inches
  • Recurve
  • 40 to 55 lbs
  • Black personite glass, hyper kinetic full working limbs
  • Hand finished Marblewood handle with pistol grip
  • Sight window 5 1/2 inches
  • Brace height 8 3/4 to 9 1/4
  • $ ?
So that sounds like my bow. 60 inches, marblewood, everything.

But how will I know that is the correct year for my bow? What if it was made other years?

So I click on 1974 and 1976 to see if the Renegade is listed for those years too.

1974 says the riser is made of "black marblewood" which is a very different colour from the brown marblewood my bow has. The rest of the stats are identical. So my bow is definitely NOT from 1974 because it is not black marblewood.

Ben Pearson Renegade 7260 with a Black Marblewood riser.


1976 it is again made of black marblewood. Maybe people preferred the black marblewood over the brown?

But that doesn't mean my bow is from 1975. I still need to check more years.

1977, black marblewood.
1978, no Renegade listed. No longer made. Indeed, many of Ben Pearson's bows were discontinued that year and replaced with different designs and names.
1979, Ben Pearson only made 1 bow that year... the Collegian, a bow that had been popular during the 1960s.
1980, various models of older bows brought back. Clearly the changes made in 1978 had some long lasting effects, but the Renegade was not one of the bows brought back.
1981 to 1985, Ben Pearson focuses on various classic models, but no sign of the Renegade.

So I decided maybe I should check the older years.

  • 1973, Renegade is listed, but no mention of whether it is black marblewood or brown marblewood. Just "marblewood" like the 1975 listing.
  • 1972, no Renegade made that year.
  • 1971, no Renegade made that year.
  • 1970, no Renegade made that year.
So clearly the Ben Pearson Renegade was only made during the 1973 to 1977 period, and that black marblewood versions were made in 1974, 1976 and 1977.

So my bow is clearly from either 1973 or 1975, but definitely not from the other years.

So I cannot say the bow is "Circa 1974", because it is definitely not from 1974. I need to write something more complicated like:

Ben Pearson Renegade, Brown Marblewood from either 1973 or 1975.

And if anyone asks hows I know, I will have to explain 1974, '76 and '77 all used black marblewood instead of brown.

There are also some manufacturing numbers on the bow: 87328-427.

So there are two options here...

#1. It is a big number, so maybe that means it was made later - so 1975.

#2. The numbers do actually mean something, so by starting off 873, it means it was made in 1973. The 8 might just be a number representing the bow's position in Ben Pearson's lineup of bows.

Fortunately BenPearson.com (see https://www.benpearsonarchery.com/catalog-history/) now has a list of old catalogues on the following website in PDF format:

https://files.secureserver.net/0fbm9bk3jOBvjC

Unfortunately when I tried to download the PDFs all I get is error messages.

So if I find time later (and the PDF downloads are working) I will browse the PDFs and try to narrow down the year a bit more. Currently I have it down to a 50/50 chance it is one or the other. Close enough for now.



Note - I am never using a webcam to make a video again. The audio is really quiet. :(


Update - Someone on YouTube left a comment on my video asserting their belief that 873 at the front does indeed mean it was made in 1973. They didn't cite any sources, but it is nice to know that other people agree with my assessment.

The Shoot Tech Systems Raptor Advance Compound Bow

Insanity.


That is what the Shoot Tech Systems Raptor Advance Compound Bow represents.

Complete insanity.

Specs
  • FPS 410 - 485 (Depends on different ammo weight.)
  • Adjustable Draw Weight 40 – 80 lbs
  • Adjustable Let Off 60-80%
  • Axle-To-Axle Length 32"
  • Mass weight 4.8 lbs
  • Brace height 7"
  • Doubles as a giant slingshot. What????

 I am not saying I am for or against this style of compound bow. I haven't shot it. I don't know how well it shoots.

But from a design perspective, whoever engineered this clearly wanted to completely change how a compound bow is supposed to work and threw out all the previous designs to make something completely new and different.

If someone brought me this bow and asked me to repair it I would need to be careful about where to even start, depending on what the exact problem was. It would not be your standard "Oh can you fix my compound bow?" situation. Even if it was a minor repair issue I would be very fascinated to get a look at the inner workings of this bow's unusual design.

Would it be fun to repair? Maybe.

Would it be interesting? Definitely.

According to reviews the bow provides a buttery smooth draw cycle, but with blistering speeds that put even high end crossbows to shame. Clearly STS should be taking this tech and building a crossbow version.

...

Except they do make a crossbow apparently, but it doesn't look anything like the compound bow. More insanity. Below, the STS Raptor 32 Tactical.

Of course they had to put the word "Tactical" in the name. You almost wonder if they did that as a joke. Who is going to buy this???


Looking for archery lessons in Toronto? Cardio Trek provides archery lessons in Toronto on weekdays and weekends.

Off Grid Greenhouse Designs, Research Ahead of Time

So when it comes to building your own greenhouse, I firmly believe people should do more research about the type of greenhouse they are building - and pay attention to its architecture, because a lot of people are being lazy and ignoring various fundamentals of architecture and engineering.

And issues surrounding snow.

In the video below you will see the owner of the greenhouse explaining what went wrong with his greenhouse. His greenhouse is basically useless during the winter because he made the structure in the shape of a half cylinder, which means the upper part of the roof is almost flat and collects snow. What he should have done is made the roof peaked in a sharp triangular shape, so that the snow is forced to slide down the sides rather than collecting on top of the roof.



In the next video you can see how easy it is to build one of these half-cylinder greenhouses... which is great if you don't mind snow collecting on the roof. The clip is from "This Old House", an American TV show based in Boston, where they don't get as much snow as Northern Ontario does. Boston gets average annual snowfall of 43.5 inches. Sudbury meanwhile gets average annual snowfall of 103.7 inches. And then there is the issue of accumulation. In Boston, the snow is more likely to melt within a few hours or days. In Sudbury, the snow just piles up and rarely melts until Spring. Thus a greenhouse in Boston doesn't really need to worry about snow accumulation, but a greenhouse in Ontario does need to worry about it.



But there is actually a solution. DO MORE RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BUILD!

And if you are living in northern climate, then you need to choose a design that will cause the snow to slide down the sides of the structure.

#1. The Shallow Peak Greenhouse

Take the example on the right. Is it an improvement over the half cylinder design? Yes. Could it be better, also yes. The top and sides of the structure could be a sharper and steeper peak.

The design is very similar to the one shown in the "This Old House" clip, but it can definitely be improved by making the roof taller with a steeper peak so that snow is more likely to slide off with ease.

Would it really cost that much extra to just make it 2 or 3 feet taller? Or take that much extra time to build? No and no. So just make it taller, as a shallow peak really won't be doing its job of keeping the snow off.

Plus the taller the structure is, the more sunlight/heat it captures and traps inside the greenhouse, and you have more room for shelves up higher for a 2nd layer of plants.

#2. The Sharper Peak Greenhouse with Vents

So the builder of this greenhouse went for a more wood design, but they also designed the peak with adjustable vents so they can control the amount of heat being trapped in the greenhouse.

The wood structure with bricks, gravel and cement around the base suggests this is meant to be a more permanent structure, so they decided to be more thorough with their design.

The roof has a nice 45 degree angle peak, which should be excellent for keeping the snow from accumulating.

The extra cost of all the wood in this design means that they likely chose to make the greenhouse smaller for budgetary reasons, but on the plus side this design should last a lot longer.

#3. The Asymmetrical Peak Greenhouse

The peak does not have to be in the middle of the greenhouse. Indeed, if you are building the greenhouse next to an existing structure, you could just make the peak on one side so that all the snow falls down the other side.


 The two sides don't need to be even either. If one side of the structure faces south, it might make more sense to make that side of the structure longer. In the example below they reused an older brick wall from a previous structure.


#4. The Pyramidal Greenhouse

You aren't stuck using a single peak running the length of the greenhouse. There are many other shapes you might consider, such as a pyramid-shaped greenhouse. It will take more effort to design and build a pyramidal greenhouse, but the single sharp pointed peak will definitely keep the snow off of it.



#5. The Geodesic Dome Greenhouse

This particular design works well in warm climates, but it won't be so good in a northern climate because the top of the roof is not steep enough. A way to fix this would be to make the top of the structure a sharper peak rather than a rounded roof.


#6. The Hexagonal Greenhouse

The example below fixes the design problem mentioned above by adding an extra section for a peak at the top, which also functions as a vent. The design is also fairly easy to build, and part of the structure is brick for added permanence.



OFF GRID ISSUES FOR GREENHOUSES

Once your greenhouse is built, you will need to determine what amenities you want for it, such as water and if you think it needs electricity.

Rainwater off the sides of the structure could be collected into rain barrels, and thus used for the plants.

Ideally you should place any such rain barrels inside the greenhouse to prevent it from freezing during the winter, with pipes leading up to troughs. A valve and pipe system could be constructed to prevent water from freezing inside the pipes, but also for distributing water to the plants.

Some people will want electricity for venting the space, but that can be accomplished without using electricity by opening doors, windows and ceiling vents. If heat is still an issue you can also soap up the walls and ceiling of the structure, as the soap residue will block out sunlight.

Some people also talk about using a gas heater, electric heater or even a wood stove to keep their greenhouse warm during the winter, but if you are resorting to such things then you clearly designed a low efficiency greenhouse that is not insulated enough.


If you need more insulation, during the design process you could have simply added an extra layer of plastic with some space in between the two layers of plastic. This barrier acts as an insulator to keep the interior of the greenhouse warmer.

The guy in the video way at the top mentions adding an electric blower to blow air between the two layers of plastic, but this is unnecessary if you simply design the structure to have a few inches of space between the inner and outer layers of plastic.

The pros and cons of a double layer inflation are:
  • Improved insulation.
  • Protects from wind better.
  • Can sometimes push snow off the outer layer.
  • Costs more to build.
  • Costs more for the electricity to inflate the outer layer.
  • Requires you have access to electricity, which may be harder to get during winter months.
Having the 2nd layer of plastic with a space between already improved insulation, and helps protect from wind damage. If the structure has a steep peak then snow really is not an issue anyway. Using electricity to inflate it seems rather unnecessary to me if the structure itself is designed correctly to prevent snow from accumulating in the first place. Inflation seems more of a thing to do if you were lazy during the design and building process and didn't think to add a steeper peak to keep the snow off.

How to Fix a Half Cylinder Greenhouse and make it a Double Layer with a Peak

Basically all you need to do is build the 2nd layer and make the outer layer have a steep peak to keep the snow off. It doesn't matter if the inner greenhouse has a round roof because it is the outer layer that gets snowed on, and that is the layer that needs to be a steep peak to prevent snow.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Some people are just making things harder than they need to be.

So what design would I choose?

Honestly, it depends on the size of the space and the budget I have allocated for the greenhouse, but I would probably go for the Asymmetrical Peak Greenhouse design and have it facing south. I would make the roof very steep with lots of room for shelves above. By making the structure taller, it adds more room for square feet of shelves for "growing space".

To feed a family of 4* during the winter a greenhouse would need to be fairly big, roughly 80 sq feet of "growing space" per person. So a family of 4 would need 320 sq feet of "growing space", which does not include where you walk/etc. The more space you have to grow the better, so 360 sq feet would be even nicer.

* So that estimate for feeding a family of 4 during the winter is based on the idea of each person consuming an average of 4 ounces of veggies per day. 16 ounces is 1 lb, so you need to be growing an average of 1 lb of edible food per day during the length of the winter. Different foods grow at different speeds and yield different amounts of food, so you really need to be smart/wise about which foods you choose to grow in order to get a greater yield per square foot of greenhouse garden.

If you have 3 shelves on each side of greenhouse (6 shelves total) and the shelves are an average of 4 feet wide by 15 feet long, that is 60 sq feet per shelf, x 6 = 360 sq feet.

Giving myself 4 feet between the shelves to walk and carry tools, this greenhouse would need to be a minimum of 12 feet wide and 15 feet long, plus the dimensions of the structure itself. So lets make it a bit bigger and go for 15 feet by 20 feet, just so there is even more space.

And if we make it slightly taller, maybe fit in another set of 4 feet wide shelves to grow 33% more food, since 8 shelves is clearly better than 6 shelves.

Another way to improve the structure would be to make it square, say with an interior space of 20 by 20 feet. With that shape you could have 2 aisles for walking (4 feet wide each) with 3 rows of shelves. So instead of 6 shelves, 9 shelves... and if tall enough for 4 shelves per row, then 12 shelves.

By then you are looking at...

4 feet wide, 20 feet long shelves = 80 sq feet per shelf. X 12 shelves = 960 sq feet of growing space.

That would be more than enough space to grow all the veggies a family of 4 eats all year round, even if some of the plants have terrible yields. You could be growing it and giving away excess food to friends and family members and guests.

20 x 20 feet of space isn't unreasonable either. Many backyards in cities have 400 sq feet of space available. In the USA it is true that backyards are shrinking, but many people would not have too much difficulty fitting in a small or medium size greenhouse into their backyard if they wanted to - especially anyone who lives in the countryside and has ample space.

So yes, for my purposes an Asymmetrical design facing south, 20 x 20 feet, and I could have 3 shelves in the south row, 4 shelves in the middle row, and 5 shelves on the north row. That would provide all the veggies my family and I would need, with lots left over.

Anything left over I could turn into jams/pickles/etc and give away or sell.

How do you fit the Plants in?

There are many ways to organize your shelves and space inside the greenhouse, so you will want to consider your options here too. The design below use PVC tubes and works well with any greenhouse that has slanted walls.


You might decide to use normal shelves, you might want your shelves to be tiered like steps, or inverted tiers...

Or you might even want the shelves to rotate with a crank so you can get easier access to shelves that are otherwise harder to reach.

Replacing Compound and Crossbow Bowstrings? Go to the source!

Q #1


Good Evening,

I recently dug my old compound bow out of my parents house. I won’t lie, it’s probably 18yrs old, has been laying dormant for 17yrs, and has never been re-srung. I don’t want to part with it, but I would really like to have it safetied and restrung, so that I can start using it again. I also have a crossbow that is in the same condition that I would like to have looked at. Hopefully, you are able to help me out. Thanks

Best,
Brandon



Reply #1

Hello Brandon!

What make and model is the compound bow?

Do you still have the compound bowstring and cables? Doesn't matter what their status is in terms of broken or damaged, it is more handy to know how long they are/etc in term of measurements by having the originals.

Is anything else wrong with the compound bow that I should be aware of? Eg. Damaged cams, missing pieces?

I don't normally deal with crossbows, but I might be able to help with that too. Same questions as above for the crossbow. I cannot guarantee I can help with that, but it won't hurt to discuss and see.

Photos are also potentially helpful if there are specific issues you are worried about.

Have a good weekend!

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
ProjectGridless.ca



Q #2


Hey Charles,

Sorry for the delayed reply. The compound bow is a Nova, and is still strung, so I have the original string. I don’t believe there are any missing or damaged parts.

As for the crossbow, no worries if you can’t fix it. I more just looking to have it restrung. It needs a new sight, but I think that’s it. More pics attached.

Best,
Brandon






Reply #2

Hey Brandon!

So you just need to have both of them restrung? Nothing else wrong with them?

I am going to save you some money then. You don't need to be talking to me at all. Instead I recommend you making a visit to Ballistic Bowstrings in Angus.

Their place is about 50 minutes north of Vaughan. They used to be in Bradford which was closer, but they moved back in March. I recommend making an appointment.

Address: 8954 MCKINNON RD, ANGUS ON L0M 1B4
Phone: (905) 775-4416


They can set you up with new custom strings for both your compound and your crossbow.

I get all of my strings from them, so even if it was me installing the strings for you, it is really them who is making the strings. So you might as well cut out the middle man (me, in this case).

You can check out their website at: http://www.ballisticbowstrings.com/

It is possible to just order online and have delivered, but the last person I recommended to them went there in person and they strung his crossbow for him, and being there in person means they can double-check to make sure it fits properly. So going there in person has its advantages. You can read about his experience at: http://www.projectgridless.ca/2018/04/crossbow-bowstrings-and-how-to-replace.html

I do know two people local here in Toronto who also makes strings, but they only make bowstrings for longbows and recurves. They don't make any for compounds or crossbows.

Please let me know how it goes. It is handy to get feedback from people.

Have a nice day!

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
ProjectGridless.ca

Get ready for higher electricity prices as Doug Ford prepares to sell Ontario Hydro

I don't usually talk about politics, but this bit really effects people who want to off grid and use solar power.

Hey Ontario, are you upset about your hydro bill?

Just wait.

Doug Ford is going to sell Ontario Hydro (and Ontario's stake in Toronto Hydro, Hydro One and other companies).

15 years ago Mike Harris left Ontario with a fiscal mess and had sold off major chunks of Ontario's electricity grid, namely by privatizing the sale and distribution of electricity - which only led to higher electricity rates.

That sell off combined with the murder of Dudley George and the Walkerton E-coli Massacre, led to Mike Harris's unpopularity and 15 years of the Liberal Party trying to fix his mess.

Unfortunately, they couldn't backpedal on the sale of parts of the electricity grid. That mess is here to stay.

So along comes Doug Ford and guess what he wants to do? Sell off and privatize Ontario Hydro - sell everything. Let the people of Ontario fend for themselves when higher electricity rates become the norm as electricity companies (mostly foreign investors) swoop in and buy the companies, and then resell the electricity to the people of Ontario at a higher rate.

So when is this coming?

Doug Ford has on numerous ocassions talked about how "great" it would be if Ontario sold off Ontario Hydro. He thinks it would result in cheaper rates for customers. Ha, what a lie that is.

He has not set a timeline however for when he intends to sell off Ontario Hydro and its related components.

What he is doing however is:

  1. Ending the cap and trade policy for companies, putting a lot of companies in legal limbo after purchasing billions of dollars of cap and trade from other sources. Their cap and trades are now basically worthless.
  2. Scrapping the GreenON rebates program for solar panels, which gave people a rebate if they bought solar panels, installed energy efficient windows, and other renovations for improving energy efficiency of their homes.
  3. Scrapping parts of the Climate Change Action Plan which targeted greenhouse gas emissions, and by scrapping we mean completely gone with no plan to replace them. Basically it gives big corporations free reign to pollute the air as much as they want.
So this is things he has already done in the first weeks of being in power. And for the off grid community (and people who want to go off grid) the 2nd one which I highlighted in red is actually really important, because that is the one which effects people who want to go off grid. Those rebates for installing solar panels made them more affordable and allowed homeowners a degree of flexibility when it comes to choosing a larger solar panel system for their home.

The rebates were so important that they lowered the cost of solar power in Ontario, such that manufacturers could focus more on mass production - which created jobs in Ontario's solar industry for both manufacturing, for sales, and for installation.

With the rebates gone, that is going to hurt jobs in Ontario's solar industry and it is going to raise prices.

Coupled with selling off Ontario Hydro and rising electricity prices, the people of Ontario are going to be looking for alternatives.

The obvious alternative is to go off grid and produce your own electricity. But without the rebates, that option just got more expensive.

Thus people wanting to go off grid in Ontario now have to weigh more affordable options like:

  • Wind turbines
  • Hydro power
  • Wave power
  • Gasoline / Propane Generators

And those options don't work for many homes.

  • Some locations are not windy enough - or are in a town or city which has bylaws prohibiting wind turbines in residential neighbourhoods.
  • Hydro power requires the property to have access to moving water, such as a river or stream on their property.
  • Wave power requires their property to be on the shore of a lake.
  • Gasoline and propane generators can be noisy, which disturbs neighbours, and thus are likewise not allowed in urban or suburban areas.

Thus solar, quiet and nigh invisible solar, becomes the one option that homeowners can put almost anywhere that they have access to peak sunlight.

So cutting the rebates for solar ahead of a strategy for selling off Ontario Hydro, well that is just going to put Ontario in a position to be taken advantage of by whomever ends up buying the electricity grid.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charles Moffat was, at one point, a door to door salesman for Direct Energy, a company which sold electricity and gas to homeowners. A job he loathed and later quit. He has since set himself a goal of someday going off the grid completely. Eventually.

Tesla Solar Roof Tiles

DISCLAIMER - Tesla has not paid me any money to mention or discuss (or criticize) their products. I just happen to like what they are making, although I do not like everything as you will notice if you continue reading.


So one of the innovations coming out of Tesla (not just an electric car automaker) is their new solar panels which feature textures and different colours, so that they look like regular roof tiles.

This way the whole roof of a house can be one giant interconnected solar panel (or solar roof as Tesla likes to call it). So for example the image below shows a home with a Tesla Solar Roof, not just on the main structure, but also over the garage on the right side and the solarium on the left side too.


To me this is a big innovation, because it means that solar panels don't have to be ugly things you stick on the roof of your home. They can simply BE the roof. The whole roof, and neighbours will never know you have solar panels unless they recognize your roof as being a Tesla product.

I especially like the textured and slate versions. Those do look pretty nice.

Tesla also has video on their site at https://www.tesla.com/en_CA/solarroof which shows the durability of the roof tiles, showing traditional roof tiles breaking under a 5 cm hailstone is traveling 160 km/h on impact, whereas the Tesla roof tile doesn't break. So that is a nice bonus.

What is Tesla's Goal?

Tesla got into the whole solar panel market because of their electric cars needing to be recharged. They realized that if they were going to be selling electric cars that had to be recharged, they needed to devise a battery system at people's homes where they could fill up the battery with solar power and then transfer that electricity to the electric car's battery system.

Thus the end goal is to make homes that are off grid, but also fuel the electric car at the same time.

So how expensive is the Tesla Solar Roof?

Well that is a very good question.

On Tesla's website you can pay $1330 CDN (refundable) to reserve your position to buy and install a solar roof on your home. Basically you are in a line of waiting customers, and you have to pay just to be in the lineup. They don't actually mention how much it costs, likely because it varies on the size of your roof.

But it would be nice if they listed the price of a 1 meter by 1 meter tile. Or a cost per square foot. Something like that.

So for example if the cost per square foot was $100, and your roof was 30 by 80 feet (2400 square feet) then you would know the cost was going to be $240,000.

It probably is not that super expensive however. $100 per square foot seems like a rather large amount to be paying.

Still it would be nice to know if the cost was in the $30,000 to $60,000 range, or if it was more in the $80,000 to $120,000 range. Or more.

Conclusions

I like the look of the product, but if they want to win customers over they really should be mentioning the price so that people can compare to other solar manufacturers and to wind turbines, hydro-power, etc.

But this is something I have noticed about solar companies. A lot of them don't like to list their prices online, which in my opinion deters people from wanting to buy from them in the first place.

If they want to eventually start selling their products to a mass market audience, they really need to start listing their prices in a manner so that customers can compare prices and consider their options.

Tesla is not the only company selling solar roof tiles or "solar shingles" or photovoltaic shingles. Whatever you want to call them, they have been on the market for years. Five of the biggest companies that make them are:
  • Atlantis Energy Systems
  • CertainTeed
  • RGS Energy
  • SolarCity
  • SunTegra Solar Roof Systems
Tesla is basically the car and solar equivalent of an iPhone. They make things which are desirable, but overpriced when you consider that other companies make equivalent products for less cost but without the sexy name on the product.

Do I like what Tesla is doing by making solar power sexy? Yes.

But I also think they need to be more honest and open about their prices. The lack of transparency scares away skittish customers.

Will the future be an Utopia or Distopia?


So I was watching a video and near the end of the video the guy who made it started talking about whether the future of the world is going to be an utopia or a distopia.

And he further explained his position by stating that some people are optimists and other people are pessimists, but that there are also optimistic pessimists and pessimistic optimists. And of course there is also the realists, who are actually quite rare.

So lets break down what the 5 ideas.

The True Optimist believes the future of the world will be an Utopia and it is going to be Awesome.

The Pessimistic Optimist believes the future of the world will be an Utopia and it is going to be Horrible.

The Realist believes the future of the world will be more or less like it is now and it will be neither better or worse. The argument here is that Realists takes the world as it is, not as they would like it to be, because they have realized that nothing really changes. It is always two steps forward, two steps back.


The Optimistic Pessimist believes the future of the world will be a Distopia and it is going to be Awesome.

The True Pessimist believes the future of the world will be a Distopia and it is going to be Horrible.

So for the people who believe that an Apocalypse is approaching, they have to be a Pessimist. If they also think that the Apocalypse is going to be fun/interesting/provide new opportunities, then clearly they are an Optimistic Pessimist.

The True Pessimist however would believe that the Apocalypse will happen and that there is nothing we can do to prepare for it. We are all screwed, so don't bother being a prepper.

Myself, I don't consider myself to be a prepper. But I do have a bugout bag just in case.

And I admit, I do kind of fantasize what the Apocalypse could be like... Hunting, farming, living off the land, rebuilding society. Sounds nice.

So I guess that makes me an Optimistic Pessimist.

On the flip side, if there is no Apocalypse, I would still argue that we are heading towards a Distopian future where robotics and technology displaces large numbers of out-of-work poor people, and how various countries solve that problem in the future will be problematic.

1. Capitalist Countries will say corporations have the right to use robots as much as they want, and reap all the benefits. The poor are just lazy. Combine this with a police state, and you basically have a plot similar to RoboCop where police-robots kill the poor people whenever they rebel.

2. Communist Countries will say corporations have a duty to pay taxes, supporting a communist / welfare state wherein people no longer need to work, and the biggest problem is people finding something to do with all their spare time.

Both of these options have their pros and cons, clearly.

But since the USA/Canada are currently heading in the direction of a capitalist distopian police state, I am afraid that makes me a True Pessimist. Because it will be a distopia and it is going to be horrible.

One could argue we are already living in a distopia. How else do you explain Donald Trump in the White House?

It is really just a matter of time before the coal industry realizes it can replace all of its workers with robots. All those coal miners that voted for Trump are going to be out of work completely sometime in the next 20 years.

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