Fresnel Lens – Solar Cooking will be happening at Suburban Stone Age

What do you do when you have a bum shoulder and can’t dig your pond? Why, you buy a death ray on eBay so you can melt glass and cook food, of course!

Let me explain…

A Fresnel lens is a thin plastic lens made of small concentric grooves on one side that focuses light like a magnifying glass. You’ve seen them around – they are those plastic sheets that are used to magnify text, and on a large scale are what’s in a lighthouse to create that beam of light.

When you use a Frenel lens to concentrate sunlight, you take the warm embrace of gentle sunshine and focus it into a face-melting, unholy death-ray. Seriously, if you do it right, that spot of light is strong enough to melt steel. Wow!

So naturally I HAD to have one.

Why? Well, to my mind, this Fresnel lens unlocks a whole wealth of possibilities using only the power of the sun. I can cook, disinfect water, start fires easily, and even go to new places such as metal cutting, welding, and making homemade obsidian. All from the benign power of the sun! Which, by the way, will still be available in the aftermath of a major earthquake.

And so enters a new Era of solar cooking and more at SSA. On the way are two Fresnel lenses, one spot and one linear, plus a parabolic mirror just for funsies. I’ll do my solar cooking and experimenting while my shoulder heals, then go back to finish digging my pond before spring.

(Side note – guess what the pond can also be? An emergency store of water for a disaster. Which I can distill into safe drinking water using the Fresnel lenses and only the sun. A beautiful thing, no?)

I’ll keep you posted!

Go Solar! Our Experience Putting Solar Panels On Our Home, Part 2

In our previous article, we discussed why we chose to go solar, what the advantages and disadvantages were, and how the process was progressing so far.  This article picks up where we left off.  Today we’ll discuss the final steps in the installation process, and what it has been like to have the panels installed and working.

panels on roof

Continue reading “Go Solar! Our Experience Putting Solar Panels On Our Home, Part 2” »

Go Solar! Our Experience Putting Solar Panels On Our Home, Part 1

Our Solar Story

solar power for home

The purpose of this article is to share our personal experience installing solar panels on our home.  Our hope is by sharing the details as our project progresses we can encourage  folks to ask questions and learn more about solar energy.

Clean, Renewable Energy : Why Did We Go Solar?

For us, the decision to go solar by putting solar panels on our home was about making a commitment to live more sustainably. We wanted to utilize as much clean, renewable energy as possible Continue reading “Go Solar! Our Experience Putting Solar Panels On Our Home, Part 1” »

Southern California Springs Fire Looms Near Suburban Stone Age

It has been a hectic few days around here.  The Spring Fire began as a 10 acre brush fire and has grown to consume over 10,000 acres of tinder dry Southern California brush.  Although we are nestled in the center of our community and not adjacent to the brushy hills, the fire could be readily seen from Suburban Stone Age.

We are all safe from harm, but the fire is still raging.  It has presently moved to the Santa Monica Mountains, where it is still a danger to homes.  We’ll be keeping an eye on the situation.

This is a view of the fires yesterday, as seen from SSA and the neighborhood.


Updates on the fires can be found here:

Thanksgiving : Top 5 Countdown

So Much to be Thankful for!

It has been almost two years since we began our adventures living a more sustainable life.  In that time, we’ve harvested $1793.49 in food from our backyard, collected and eaten 1402 eggs, managed to find something to do with 151 pounds of tomatoes, baked and devoured almost 200 loaves of bread, line dried 102 loads of laundry, and canned 57.5 quarts of food.  And boy are we tired!  With the holidays coming, it is time to take a step back, catch our breath, and reflect on what we have to be thankful for. Continue reading “Thanksgiving : Top 5 Countdown” »

Clothes Line: Use Solar Power, Save on CO2

Solar power? It doesn’t always have to come from panels on the roof. My favorite way of harvesting solar power is with my backyard laundry line. Today I line dried my 94th load of laundry for 2012. According to Wikipedia, that means I have avoided putting 413.6 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere, which equates to the same carbon footprint as about 20 gallons of gasoline that didn’t get burned. Plus my clothes smell super fresh. Is this one act alone going to change the world? Nope. But lots of little acts multiplied by lots and lots of people will. So I’ll just keep plugging away and try to do my part to live a more sustainable modern life, one load of laundry at a time.

Leave Us a Comment!

Update 9-13-2013:  Do you line dry your clothes?  What is your favorite thing about it?  Do you have any tips or tricks to share?  Leave us a comment and spread the word on line drying clothes.  Thanks!