Thursday, February 27, 2014

LED Light

Yesterday, the LED lighting arrived.

I chose the Ecosmart 4" Softwhite Flood by Cree. They also have an integral trim.

It's a 9.5 watt bulb that is equivalent to a 65 watt incandescent.

575 lumens


34 lights total, $1300

It's been CFL's since we installed the cannisters. Finally having the trim and the ability to dim the lights is nice.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Water Filtration System

Beyond a shadow of a doubt this is the best bang for your buck project you can do. With just two buckets and a $22 ceramic filter, you can turn any water into drinking water.

These systems are sold for around two hundred dollars with stainless steel tanks and a better flow rate. However, the heart of the system is gravity, which is still to this point, free. The most expensive item you will need and that you probably won't find at the big box store is the ceramic filter.

However, you can get this filter from Amazon for $22. Here is the link. A spigot is only about $6 and can probably be had for even less.

Interestingly, the story of these devices goes back quite a way. Apparently, in the late eighteen hundreds in England the drinking water was abysmal. The river Thames was polluted to the point that people were dying from drinking it's water.

There was a company there called Doulton that specialized in porcelain dishes. Queen Victoria commissioned them to create a water filter to purify the water from the Thames. And so they did. They built the first ceramic water filters for the crown and the design hasn't really changed since.

One tank sits on top of another. The contaminated water is poured into the top tank. The filter, which is known as a candle filter, because it is shaped roughly like a candle, is fitted into a single hole through both containers. So in order for the water to make it's way into the lower tank it has to seep through the ceramic filter. The ceramic pores are microscopic and it is a slow process but it filters out all of the pathogens.

It is an amazingly simple device but has the most beneficial outcome. You can use two, three, or four filters per container to process more water if needed. The commercial versions start out with at least two filters and go up to four.

So for around $30 you can have a virtually limitless supply of clean drinking water in case of an emergency.

Personally, tap water tastes flat to me. It also has chlorine and it is fluoridated where I live. There are volumes written on the problems of fluoride in the water supplies of the US.  I believe that it is harmful for people since it's source is industrial waste. It is suppose to fight dental decay and if you want to read the official version just read the wikipedia entry on it. I prefer not to have chemicals in my water. There are ceramic filters available that will filter the fluoride and chlorine out of your tap water.

But to me the water out of the tap is just lifeless. I much prefer to drink rain. So I take the water that the rain barrels collect and filter it. The difference is more a subtlety than a taste issue. Rainwater just has more body than tap water. You don't really need to filter rainwater it is safe to drink already, but I run it through the filter anyway.

Most of the world doesn't have water on demand out of taps. And by the same token, the Western world holds the belief that the water that does come from the taps is safe. I don't trust it. It tastes weird, some more than others. During the time I've lived in Atlanta there have been many boil water advisories and not a single year goes by without one. The latest was only this month...

For $20 a ceramic water filter is a great investment. Having a few on hand could really be a game changer in an emergency.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fence Gate

On superbowl sunday I built the fence gate frame out of pressure treated 2 x 4's.

Yesterday I hung it in the opening. I sat it on top of a cooler to lift it off of the ground.
 Before I attempted to mount the gate, since I was working alone, I screwed a piece of 1/2" plywood to the vertical leg of the gate. The width of the gate is one inch less than the opening in the fence. By using the 1/2" plywood as a shim the gate would be centered in the opening.

I used the plywood like a flange to secure against the fence post and hold it while I attached the hinges and the rest of the pickets. I first clamped it in place to adjust the position of the gate. Then I used a few screws to secure the plywood to the post.
I had to bring the gate up flush with the existing fence pickets so that the gate pickets would match up and the hinges would line up correctly. At the top of the opening you can see the string that marks the top of the pickets. The entire fence is on a slight downhill slope.

Once the hinges were bolted on I removed the screws that were holding the plywood to the post. After I checked out the swing of the gate I removed the screws holding the plywood to the gate. It worked like a charm! A perfect half inch space on either side of the gate.

The final result...

About $820 or around $9 per linear foot (not including labor)

And a week later...