How Much Solar Energy Do You REALLY Need?

This post was written while we were in Chad.

How much of a solar energy system do you need to satisfy the needs of your village home?

The answer depends on a lot of variables, the biggest of which are where you live and what you want to do with it. Some of us live near the equator and want to just run a few lights, while others of us live outside the tropics, yet still want to run a hot tub while they microwave a bag of popcorn as they watch satellite on a large screen TV, while they wait for their clothes to dry.

To run a few lights, all you need is one 70 Ah battery and a 50 to 120 Watt solar panel. I read about someone who was in the latter group, and three arrays with 25 120 Watt solar panels each could not satisfy their need.

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Strawberry plant, springs in the desert

This post was written while we were in Chad.

We arrived in Iriba just in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve. We made a big deal of it; we watched the emma plantBBC version of “Emma” while eating popcorn. Debbie barely made it through the movie before falling asleep, so we put her to bed. At midnight, we had Susan drop a beach ball to the ground while standing on a chair. We hugged one another… then went to bed.

Outside, there was silence; it was just another quiet evening in Iriba, like so many others.

Ever since we arrived at our Iriba home, there’s been a leak in an outdoor pipeline near the cistern. With so many leaks in the plumbing in the house, we only turn on the town water at the meter level for the few hours each week to fill up the barrels… but, right under the place I sit as I pray at sunset, water keeps bubbling up from the ground and flowing next to the cistern and in a place just outside our wall!

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One step closer to a solar fridge

This post was written while we were in Chad.

Today, the holiday was solidly lingering in town, so things were harder to get. We needed ice for the cooler we used as a fridge in the morning; we keep the green cooler above the ground, so the melting ice is leaked into a bowl for reuse.

the cooler we use for a fridgeI went on to the meat market. There was one man selling goat meat, and another selling beef, but for a very high price even though the quality was questionable. So I decided against it.

I headed back to the house, then stopped by the ATM to get money for diesel for Twila. A soldier, dressed in desert fatigues and dark mirrored sunglasses, his feet on his submachine gun on a stand, guarded the bank, which was open. Then I took another rickshaw to the house, jumped into Twila, and got diesel at the OilLibya station. I picked up bread at the “Boulangerie la Rotative”, and stopped by at the meat restaurant of my friend Ali. But he wasn’t there; he had put his chairs away, and his metal grill was still smoking.

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N’Djaména to Moundou in a day

This post was written while we were in Chad.

For the first time in his life, Randy got to ride a moto taxi! We took two of them to the Commissariat de Police to register him.Moundou moto taxi They were what was available nearby, and so it saved us a lot of money. While Randy filled out the paperwork, my friend there hassled me about changing my number without notifying him. We went back to the guest house to get ready for our departure by bus for Moundou. There, we had a bit of difficulty finding a taxi that was passing by where we were standing, so we had to drag our baggage to the corner.

From the time we arrived at the station to the time we were on the road was less than one hour! It was the hottest part of the day, meaning it was hotter to keep the window open. It was like sitting in front of the largest electric heater fan you can imagine!

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An Introduction to Village Life

This post was written while we were in Chad.

Some of the most beautiful places in the world can be reached only by following a dirt road, a footpath, or paddling a canoe.

I started off my career overseas as a language survey worker.  This gave me the opportunity to travel to remote villages, and even to live in a small village, to see if the language they speak there was dying out.

Once in Chad, we nearly ripped the bumper off the truck, because the mountain trail we were following was so wild.  We often drove in water that went halfway up the door, and had to “gun it” to keep the water from flowing into the engine.  We became stuck in many wadis (dry river beds), and changed LOTS of flat tires due to the thorny acacia trees!

In fact, that’s why I finally decided to buy a camel.

isolated villageIt always seemed that the more difficult it was to get to a village, the more beautiful it was.

With the rise of adventure travel, people from the technological world have finally got a glimpse of life into some of these places.  I was amazed when I saw a van of German tourists pass by our village home one day.

There is nothing like a landscape lacking in billboards, or the view of a clear night sky, without the glow of a nearby city.

It’s one thing to view these places on a live-stream documentary, or even to stay overnight there.  It’s a completely different thing to call one of these places “home.”

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