Putting a “PV” on the roof doesn’t involve auto insurance…

2 Dec

… or a wrecker!

A few days ago, I was on the city bus, headed for Walmart (where else?) and I was talking to this Air Force guy who was complaining because his power bill was so high.

And, like an idiot, I said; “Well… you could just put a PV on your roof to knock down your power bill.”

And he looked at me real funny, and said (I kid you not!);

“Um… putting my ‘personal vehicle’ thru the roof isn’t going to save me any money on my electric bill.”

I’d forgotten that the Air Force has an acronym for everything…

Okay, so after I about had a hernia trying to keep from laughing, I explained to him that a PV wasn’t a “personal vehicle,” it was a Photovoltaic Panel.


After that, we spent the next 20 minutes or so, plotting and scheming, trying to figure out how to lower his utility bills so that he could save enough money to go home, next Easter. He’s stationed here at Keesler AFB, attending some school or another…

And while we were talking about it, it somehow got the attention of everyone else on the bus, and it turned into one big “alternative energy argument.” I thought for a while there that the bus driver was going to pull over, and order us all off.

It never occurred to me that photovoltaic electricity generation is so wildly misunderstood.

And it made me think…. and as we ALL know… that’s never good. 🙂

As many of you know, my family is trying to build an ISBU (Shipping Container) home in South Mississippi. That’s hardly newsworthy. A hurricane ate the old house, and after months that turned into years battling the insurance company (that claims it’s “too poor to pay the claim”), we’ve been forced to figure out another way to find shelter.

So, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re going to build a house out of industrial shipping containers (ISBU’s) and old aircraft hangar components. I’ve been writing about this for months now, so you’re probably pretty familiar with the “who, what, and why” part of this program.

If not, well… we’ll wait right here, while you lose yourself in the archives, finding out how we came to this decision, and how we thought that we’d solved our problem.

We’ll wait right here…

We’re still waiting… right here.

Still waiting…

Waiting… waiting… er… um… right here.

You know what? I’m sick and tired of waiting. If I wait any longer, I’m gonna forget what I was writing about today, and it will be lost forever. You’ll just have to catch up, later. Got it?

Senility is a terrible disease… LOL!

One of the things we’re striving for is the elimination of every bill possible, so that the actual overhead of the house is reduced. Now, I could start a big ole’ pyramid scam (like that Madoff guy who just got caught bilking $50 Billion dollars out of widows and orphans), but…

… my wife would kill me.

I could find a rich girlfriend… but again…

… my wife would kill me.

I could sell my son Joshua, to the highest bidder on Ebay… but frankly folks, you haven’t got enough money…

… and my wife would kill me.

So, it looks like I’ll have to do it the old fashioned way. I’ll just build a barbed wire fence and install claymores and gun turrets… and shoot any bill collectors that dare step foot on the property.

And then, the State of Mississippi will kill me…

Man, this is getting pretty frustrating…

I suppose, in order to avoid a path that leads to certain death, I’ll just put up solar panels and a PV or two…  At least that way, I’ll have hot water to scald myself with and…

… only the sun will kill me…

… and skin cancer isn’t something that will kill me in a “New York Minute,” so I’ll have a chance to see my son grow up…

… and watch him probably kill me… LOL!

Oy freakin’ Vey! Is it any wonder I’m paranoid? 🙂

I’ve written before about photovoltaic systems. And after I did, I realized that it’s a topic that is harder to explain… than explaining how to build a nuclear reactor out of old grapefruit husks.

“Photo voltaic cells convert solar light photons into electricity. Photovoltaic solar cells fulfill two functions: photogeneration of charge carriers (electrons and holes) in a light-absorbing material, and separation of the charge carriers to a conductive contact that will transmit the electricity.

Solar cells are commonly used in remote locations where cost-effective access to local power grids are not possible… Blah-blah-blah…”

Confused yet? Me too.

Pass the Tylenol, huh? 🙂

So, like anybody (who is patently lazy and basically illiterate) who really wants you to understand my pain… um… er… dilemma, I’ve gone to that universal resting place of all knowledge everywhere…  (I bet you’re gonna say “Google,” right? Nope.) YouTube.

Here, people who actually seem to know what they are talking about, explain photovoltaics in a clear, simple, easy to understand manner, that allows even a simpleton like me to figure out how to duplicate their efforts, and get power from the sun, for just a few bucks.

So, without further adieu, I give you; “Photovoltaics One.”

I personally call this one; “I’m a big ole’ geek, but I’m a GREEN geek, dag-nab-it!”

Happy viewing!

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin

Okay, you all know what’s going on with my family, so I’m not going  to beat you up with that…

If this blog has helped you, educated you, amused you, or even just made you shake your head and wonder why I’m not locked up in some room clad with rubber tiles…

Please know that this site has required a great deal of money, time and effort to develop & maintain. If it’s been useful to you at all, and you can afford to…  you can help my family and support this site by making a small donation by hitting that Paypal button up there on the right. Paypal is the BEST “secure” way to donate to any cause… like ours. This will help keep us alive while we try to remedy our own situation, and empower me to carry on writing, maintaining, providing countless hours of hard work, and including any updates or topics that you might suggest.

And… No anatomical impossibilities, huh? I’m not as young as I used to be…


8 Responses to “Putting a “PV” on the roof doesn’t involve auto insurance…”

  1. NickB. December 2, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    Did the guy in the video ground any of that stuff?

    • renaissanceronin December 2, 2009 at 8:51 pm #

      HI Nick,

      I have on “good authority” that no “grounds” were harmed in the filming of that video…

      And no videos were harmed, or even grounded. 😉

      I’m sure that all the appropriate connections were professionally and competently made..

      After all, we saw it on the Internet… 🙂


  2. Patience December 2, 2009 at 12:06 pm #

    Afternoon Ronin,

    Thanks for the post…excellent timing. I have been searching eBay for discount PV material for a DIY project. Have any info on that?

  3. G December 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm #


    About the bill collector, you don’t need to install all those barbewire and M60’s setup..

    when we were kids, my dad used to do good fun to the bill collector letters.. at every one he sent back a letter which was something like that

    dear bill collector, since we cannot pay all our bills at the same time, we have setted up the following system. we put all the bills in a grocery bag, my 5 year old pick up one, we pay that one.. so if your bill has not been paid so far, it is because you have had no luck so far at our “bill collector lotery”, maybe you will be more successfull next week.
    by the way, if you don’t stop bothering us with your letter, be adviced we might take off all your bills from the bag

    best regards…..

    take care and have fun

    ps: nice vid !!!

    • renaissanceronin December 2, 2009 at 4:42 pm #

      I haven’t stopped laughing!

      This is hilarious! I wish more people were as creative as your dad!

      But, I still like the idea of being “tucked safely behind all that firepower…”

      It just gives a fella a reason to get up in the morning, ya know!

      “Hey Ma! Goin’ out to check the traps! Wonder how many Amway salesmen we got today???” 😉


  4. Dave December 3, 2009 at 1:25 am #

    Hi Ronin… I was having a discussion with a container home samurai a couple of days ago… in which he discussed a 6 container design which had 2 containers on the foundation, and then 3 spanning those 2, perpindicular (sp?)… then one at the top…


    These things have enough horizontal rigidity to traverse the open space created when setting them on top of 2 “load bearing” ground level shipping containers, without any additional support?

    It would be one cool container house, for sure! (Hmmmm, could 1 be put on end and used as a tower/fire support facility? 🙂

    I’m a nube, and I just KNEW you would know.

    BTW… did you know it’s snowing on your blog?


    • renaissanceronin December 6, 2009 at 9:25 pm #

      Hi Dave,

      The wonderful thing about shipping containers is that they are designed to be stacked.

      The frames of the boxes are tough, tough, tough. So, it’s quite possible to stack them like Lego’s or Lincoln Logs, to form the basic design of your shelter.

      Place two on the ground, on a foundation of some sort, and then just stack away.

      Remember that the open wall areas created this way can be closed off using something resembling garage doors. Talk about incredible cross ventilation!

      In fact, Container Homes are built with these incredibly strong steel “boxes” because their use is only limited by your imagination.

      And, I’ve built several homes that stood a container on end to house a staircase, with the top “floor” being an “observation” platform.

      Staircase Towers are quite cool. Quite cool indeed.

      BTW: That’s not snow… I just need to take a shower and wash my hair… Sorry. 🙂

  5. body armor December 23, 2009 at 4:58 pm #

    This is one of my favorite sites. Amazing job moderating. And interesting articles. Rarely does a blog keep me coming back. I hope everyone enjoys the holidays.

Comments are closed.