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If you’ll be in the Tulsa area on Nov. 10 and need something interesting to do with your afternoon, local alt-power guru John Miggins of Harvest Solar and Wind Power is putting together a solar open house.

The event, which will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, will include visits to John’s office on Utica; a sustainable house that Frank Palmieri is building in Brookside; and, of course, the House of the Lifted Lorax.

I’m not sure exactly what John and Frank are planning at their places, but Ron and I intend to provide a guided tour of our house and backyard; a handy-dandy flier explaining all the stuff we’ve done to reduce our environmental footprint; eco-friendly snacks (including homemade salsa made from homegrown organic tomatoes and peppers, a batch of cookies made with honey and eggs produced in our backyard, and — if the weather is cool enough that day — hot tea and cider made right on top of the woodstove); and photo ops with the Lorax himself, who graces the mural on our garage.

We’ll try to answer all your questions about our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint … and if we don’t know the answer, we’ll be happy to make something up. 😉

Hope to see some of you on Nov. 10!


UPDATE: Click here for a PDF of the event flier, which includes directions to all three properties and details about the tour.


… So the amount of power generated by our solar panel array is dropping.

However, in the past 33 days (with a lot of rainy periods), it has generated 173 kilowatt-hours of electricity. That’s a respectable 5.2 per day.

And because we’re using the air conditioner much less, the sun is still generating a big percentage of our total power consumption.

Emily and I are very happy with our solar power array. However, we’re always looking for ways to cut back on our consumption so that solar power provides a bigger percentage of our electricity.

We found one power-sucker that we decided to eliminate. Ever since we bought the house, there was a backyard light that automatically burned from sundown to sunrise. We figured that was a plenty of unnecessary consumption, especially when there was no switch to turn it off.

Second, it didn’t have a motion sensor. So its security value was OK, but not that good, either.  And the constant burning at night made it a party for insects.

So we took down the backyard light and installed a solar security light (above), made by Smart Solar and sold by Gaiam. The light comes from two sets of LEDs. It’s activated for 30 seconds by a motion sensor.

The small solar panel (above) that comes with the light charges the batteries during the daytime.

There’s a lot to like about this security light. The lights can be set at many angles, and the fixture can be mounted on even a corner. It’s bright enough to see about 30 feet in front of you. The batteries need only about five hours of sunlight a day to remain charged.

The setup contains all the hardware you need. The only tools I used were a drill, a Phillips screwdriver, a marking tool and a hammer — all for the installation. It took me less than an hour to set the whole thing up. And Smart Solar provides easy-to-follow illustrations for installation instead of written directions.