A $50,000 Portable Recycled House, DIY Solar Electric Car and Instant-On Induction Lighting: Renew Magazine

renew magazine induction lamp photo

Induction Lamp photo: EcoLivingCentre

The Alternative Technology Association has been enlightening readers with Renew magazine on technology for a sustainable future now for 30 years, albeit with a name change from Soft Technology magazine back in 1996.

Their 30th Birthday issue is now out and remains as jammed packed with wonderful information as it did three decades ago. There's the DIY Solar Electric Car, the portable recycled house, The strawbale house with the solar powered lift, features on geothermal power, micro-hydro energy systems, green housing for the tropics, solar cookers, European cycling, and "instant-on" induction light bulbs, to mention but a few of the gems contained within.

renew magazine portable house photo

This photo, and those below, via Renew magazine
Portable Recycled House for $50,000
Technically we mean reused not recycled, but you'll get the drift. in barely 13 weeks Abbie Heathcote had a whole new eco home for the price that many people pay just for a kitchen renovation. It began with a $3,000 AUD second-hand demountable school classroom that was arrived on two truck and was reassembled onsite. After being insulated with recycled plastic bags it was fitted out with secondhand goods salvaged from garage sales (stoves, sinks, fans heaters, lights, doors, tiles, curtains.) The owner, in her late sixties, worked along a local builder to make the structural and aesthetic improvements to the school room.

renew magazine solar electric car photo

The Solar Electric Car
The story of going electric in rural New Zealand. After a long search to find an affordable electric car Ulrich Schmid made his own for $25,000 NZ (~17,300 USD) by converting an old 1973 Citroen 2CV Dyane. Following five weeks worth of work his car, recharged by his home solar system and regenerative braking gets 100 km (62 miles) range with hills included, and can attain a top speed of 104km/h (65 mph), although he stresses driving at less than 60km/h is far more energy efficient.

European Cycling
In Australia, less than 10% of commuter journeys are made by bike, whereas in many European cities it's more like 50%. So renew checks out biking in Europe, and learns that such is the demand that Amsterdam is refurbishing its bike parking to accommodate 10,000 bicycles -- it was originally designed to cater for 2,500, Barcelona's El Bicing bike share has similarly seen a huge uptake of interest from 750 bikes at 50 stations to 6,000 from 400. In Dublin, Ireland a bike swap scheme makes available 400 bikes for free 30 minutes of use (you pay a nominal rate after that). In Frieburg, Germany only about 5% of residents own a car, this may be because 33% of all streets are reserved for bike use and the city sports 400 km of dedicated bike lanes.

Solar Powered Lift for Strawbale Home
A couple wishing to stay out of aged care facilities in their latter years opted to instal a lift into their two storey strawbale house. The catch being that being on a bush block they only had a 2.6kW solar photovoltaic array to power the device. In the end they found a life that the PV could drive that would still give them a soft start/stop with fast running speed between platforms. The big challenge was finding an inverter that could cope with the lift's hefty start-up power needs. the solar lift has proven useful for ferrying about building materials for the partly completed home.

Tropical Green Housing
Built in a hexagonal shape to help deflect cyclonic winds Renew's featured house is also elevated almost a metre off the ground to allowing summer cooling and 'wet season' drying. A central verandah combines with a westerly located pond to cool the air moving through the house. A light coloured roof, with whirly-gig venting and internal ceiling fans assist in in reducing the tropical humidity.

Tips for renovating existing dwellings in the tropics are also given, Tips that could prove very useful as Australia to have all major housing renovations achieve a minimum 6 star energy rating by 2011.

renew magazine micro hydro photo

Micro-Hydro Energy Systems Buyers Guide
As usual Renew has an exhaustive guide of all the mini hydro-electric power units available to Australians. They look at Impulse turbines, Reaction turbines and Waterwheels. Learn about flow rate, water head, dumping, and the pro and cons of AC vs DC. As well as a review of how micro-hydro is powering a freezer/icemaking facility in the Solomon Islands.

Induction Lamps
Swapping a fluorescent light's filaments and electrodes for a magnetic field Induction Lamps can still be giving 80% output after 80,000 hours. This is ten times the rated life of a fluorescent and even above the 70,000 hours often quoted for LEDs. The buy price is higher but their energy saving payback over their long life is too. What's more, induction lamps are instant starting too. (see pic at top of post)

Although not a free web magazine, Renew is celebratinf its 30th birthday with a new dedicated website, where extended introductions to key stories can be read. And the ATA have made the full magazine available, as a $7.95 AUD PDF download. Excellent value.

More Renew Magazine
Renew Magazine: Technology for a Sustainable Future
South Africa's New Joule and a Waste Free Year in New Zealand, Via Renew Magazine
Show Us Your Best DIY Electric Bicycle, Says Renew Magazine
Cool Roofs and Earth Tube Air Conditioning in Renew Magazine

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