Water Heater Rescue: Know-How, Solutions, Parts graphic
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Hummingbird: Giving the Sun a Hand

At left, the House on Hummingbird Hill under construction, at right, a power room with a glass roof

Mostly it's Our Mr. Sun who warms and powers the House on Hummingbird Hill. Solar panels generate electricity that is stored in batteries and used directly or converted to alternating current (AC) by an inverter.

Other solar panels heat the water that courses through the copper veins of the house like blood, bringing warmth and comfort.

But there are a few times when the sun is elsewhere, and there are a few tasks that are more efficiently left to other kinds of power.

Outside the house, a propane tank sits on a concrete pad. It powers the water heater, stove, clothes dryer and refrigerator. A few feet away sits the Power Shed, which has a unique roof: four sliding-glass doors that Larry got for a few bucks each at a Monterey institution known as the Last Chance Mercantile. It's located at the local dump, er, landfill.

Anyway, they keep the rain out, but let the light in, and should never need replacing. The doors happen to be double-glazed, which reduces the amount of machine noise heard outside of the shed.

Inside the Power Shed are batteries, a gasoline generator and an inverter, shown below in sequence, followed by the propane tank on its pad.

From left, battery backup, gas generator, inverter, propane tank
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