I created IWillTry.org to showcase some of my projects in the hope that others might be inspired to repeat what I’ve done for themselves. The only common theme you’ll find here is a quest for “payback”. In every project, I’m looking for an ongoing benefit after an initial investment of time and/or money. If that appeals to you, I think you’ll enjoy reading about some of my work. – Rob

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10 comments on “Home

  1. I love this site so much. I rarely build anything practical (most of what I build is simply art). It’s inspiring to see practical solutions to everyday energy-problems.

    We need people implementing these types of solutions by the billions. A combination of Iwilltry-style-ingenuity, laws, economic-incentives and sex-appeal will do the trick IMHO. I can’t wait for the day that energy-unawareness is equivilent to racial ignorance in the eyes of the public.

  2. During the summer I built what I like to call the Green-Green House. See all the wood that was used is from a old porch that was removed from a house and thrown in my woods to eventually fall apart. I was able to rip all the 2 x 8’s into 2 x 3.75 and remove all the nails and build the frame. I have a total of $40.00 in this 8′ x 8′ x 9′ greenhouse. After seeing your instructable on the thermal heat I am going to build the pannel and use the hot water that is generated to run through the greenhouse in a continous loop to warm the greenhouse during the winter. I am also working on a small solar cell pannel to mount on one side of the roof of the greenhouse that will charge two gel-cell batteries that will be able to run a 300w voltage inverter that then can be used to power lighting for the greenhouse and back porch. If we had more people willing to try new ideas and put their minds to work we would have a much happier place. I have not used a single ounce of faucet water to water the greenhouse. I have two 5 gallon rain buckets that tie into a central line which is 1″ pvc with several small holes drilled in it, I turn a valve on and the greenhouse gets plenty of water.

  3. I read with interest your solar heat collector plans. I have a sign shop in california and also love to tinker. You used coroplast for your project. I think a more efficient panel would be “alumalite or econolite”. Both products are thin aluminum panels mounted to a coroplast type center and they come in black. They are made for rigid outdoor signs and won’t de-laminate at high heat. They not expensive either. I hope this suggestion is of use to you. I truly enjoyed your website, thanks for sharing.

  4. Hello Rob,

    Well it’s been over a year now since we corespoinded regarding your Coroplast Solar Collector.

    Just wanted to give you an update on my progress. I have a system up and running useing the coroplast. I have built and installed two 2′ X 8′ panels. or roughly 32 sf of collector area. The two panels are heating 165 gallons of water for a DHW use. After ironing out the adhesive problem I have not had an issue with them. They have been up and running now for over a year and I am happy to report no problems what so ever.

    Also as you might expect the panels are extermely efficent. I have calculated efficency’s regularly in the 60-70% range. Anyway wanted to keep you informed on things and thanks again for the great idea!!

    Mike Hughes

  5. Interesting site. Lots of useful ideas regards solar energy. Will have to read over the next few days.

  6. Any lessons learned about 3 items: solar/attic roof, electric water heating and insulation values since 2009

  7. Hi Paul,
    The super insulated electric water heater conversion has been a huge success. It has run flawlessly. I took it apart recently to inspect the element and tank and it looks just like the day I put it together.

    The solar attic project is on hold. The polycarbonate panels have held out fine so far with no sign of mildew/mold or darkening or any wear of any kind. The first couple winters I had to remove a few of the screws and clean up some burrs on the screw holes that were resulting in some water getting past the rubber gaskets (should have been more careful when I put it together) but it’s held tight this past winter with no leaks. I haven’t found the time to add solar collectors, but I have used a fan to blow warm air from the attic down into the top floor of my home. Too many projects on the go.

    Not too sure what you mean about insulation values. Thermodynamics hasn’t changed much in the last 3 years.

  8. Hi Cliff,
    To get any significant amount of heat through such a small opening would require concentrations of 5-10 times. While that is achievable in theory, in practice, at that concentration you will almost certainly melt something (or worse, ignite it). The materials of your existing roof or exterior wall and the sun tunnel are likely not designed for exposure to 5-10 suns. Different materials would likely need to be chosen for safety considerations. You’d also need to be very careful that the heliostat does not drift off target to part of your house (or your neighbours ;-)) that you didn’t intend. Basically, as soon as you start focussing sunlight with a large mirror, unattended use becomes dangerous. I would recommend limiting yourself to a maximum concentration of 2 times which can be achieved by using 2 flat heliostats aimed at the same target.

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