Brenda is moderating this forum and here’s a bit of info about her background…

I’m attaching some info about me that you requested. It’s what I put on my profile on wordpress but i’m not sure the avalonfarm bloggers ever see that anyway:

My educational background in biology, chemistry and environmental engineering, has provided me great opportunities to pursue some very interesting hobbies.

I’ve been interested in all kinds of alternative energy for several years. In 2004, this interest prompted me to take a 10-week internet course on the Design and Installation of Photovoltaics from Solar Energy International of Carbondale, Colorado. This was followed by a one week hands-on workshop at The Farm, a cooperative in Summertown. TN. While this probably gave me just enough information to be dangerous, my mode of operation tends to be more on the side of ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ so that suits me just fine.

This training led to an acute awareness of the need for conservation and the extremely cost-effective world of passive solar techniques. Conservation costs very little or nothing and saves energy on the front end and passive solar hot water is relatively cheap and pays for itself in 3 to 5 years.

Recent rises in gas prices brought home the need for alternative fuels and a new interest in biodiesel, particularly the use of 100% vegetable oil and small batch refined biodiesel.

Finally, my dream of one day having a home at Avalon Farms has led to other interests in wind and hydroelectric energy. I look forward to learning more about alternative energy from participants of this blog and hope to bring some of these projects to fruition with participant help and suggestions.



Filed under Alternative Energy

5 responses to “Brenda is moderating this forum and here’s a bit of info about her background…

  1. rckevlin

    Shouldn’t that be “Jane of all trades”? 🙂

    Sometime when our visits to Avalon co-incide and you don’t have a half-dozen projects already lined up, Terry and I would like to talk to you about how to put a little solar panel in “our” hay field so we can have lights at the campsite. Should be a snap for you, but would require considerable research for me. Maybe I could take notes so we could post info for other newbies here…

  2. I do know the first thing your going to need to know is how far is it from the camper to open sunlight area. Measure that because I know Brenda will need to know that first. DC doesn’t travel well so you have to use a really fat wire. I think ours for the camper was 6 gauge. also find south as that’s the direction the panel has to face. (unobstructed by trees) We sunk a 4×4 and mounted ours on top at an angle facing south. You’ll need a battery (or two) up by the camper. (golfcart type or deep cycle marine) If it’s not too far away and she says you can do it, semi-tractor trailer lights will work well as your light fixtures. The small square ones. For an outlet you could install a cigarette lighter type to plug dc equipment in. (coffeepot,tv etc) You can buy both at an auto supply store and they’ll run off DC. We paid around $500 for the camper solar panel but i think that may have included installation-val

  3. Jane it is!
    Great start on comments Val! I’d love to discuss this with you and Terry and I have some solar tools we can play with too. Maybe with both of us posting we can walk others through a small project also and keep this thread running. FYI, I checked out Val’s PV panel and it is 50 watt, probably more than enough to do what you want and also likely to cost about $500 as she indicated (with installation but without an inverter most likely).

    First, make a list of what you would like to have on electricity and how many hours per day you estimate each will be used. If it truly is just a couple lights, you can get a much smaller panel and expand later when your needs increase. I’ll lead the readers through a calculation of the watt-hours needed which will help you size the battery(ies). Please note that if you maintain the DC current, you won’t have to purchase a rather pricey inverter for your set up.

    Next, I have a Solar Pathfinder which will help you site the panel in an area that will have adequate sunlight. It’s a remarkable piece of equipment and will show the shadows from nearby trees, hills, etc. for each month of the year. Fun and easy to use.

    In the meantime, check out for on-line pricing of all things solar (and other sustainable products and materials). While their prices may not be the cheapest, they do a terrific job catering to the novice and even provide starter kits. They also support the Solar Living Institute in California which provides year round training through workshops covering every aspect of sustainable living. They have a summer festival every year and I’m going to make it one of these days!

    Here’s to conservation and off-grid living!

  4. rckevlin

    Okay. I have my little to-do list. I’ll take measurements and discuss the available options with Terry — semi trailer lights or those fun running-strip-lights that guys use on their pimped-out rides? Can’t you just see the campsite bathed in purple or green? Oh, yeah. Ick.

    Terry will be salivating over your Solar Pathfinder. She thinks you have the coolest gadgets! We’ll have to set a date to try that soon.

    We have a converter/inverter/thing that we use with a marine battery to run a small fan in the summertime. Is that the kind of thing we’d need to change solar to AC?

    Should we start another thread that traces our steps as we learn how to get lights at the camp-site from a solar panel in a hay field?

  5. Fantastic writing. I will come back again soon…

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