Monday, September 29, 2014

Righteous Preparation

Joseph Herrin (09-29-2014)

View Inside My Trailer

I believe the majority opinion regarding people who are making preparation for societal unrest, political upheaval, financial meltdown, or any of a range of calamities (famine, plague, earthquakes, nuclear war, etc.) is that people who do such things are a bit off in the head. This view prevails even in the church where such individuals are frequently considered “fringe” and “deluded.” Unfortunately, there are a significant number of “doomsday preppers” around who give credence to their reputation of being extremists, and mentally unstable. What I would bring to the attention of readers of this blog, however, is that being prepared for a time of calamity has a solid Biblical history from both the Old and New Testaments.

Perhaps because my birth name is Joseph, and the Father told me in 1999 that He had given me this name for a significant reason, I have been more attentive than most believers to the accounts of men in the Bible named Joseph. Most Christians have heard the story of Joseph in Egypt. Joseph was the eleventh of twelve sons of Jacob. Out of jealousy, Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him as a slave into Egypt. In Egypt Joseph knew many trials and sorrows while also experiencing the grace and favor of Yahweh. When Joseph was thirty years old he was summoned before Pharaoh because his ability to rightly interpret dreams had reached the ears of the ruler of this great empire nation.

Pharaoh had dreamed two dreams that he did not understand. His wise men could not interpret the dreams for him. Joseph was given the interpretation by God, along with the wisdom to know what to do in response to the divine message. Yahweh was revealing that there would be seven years of plenty in the land followed by seven years of severe famine. Joseph gave the following counsel to Pharaoh.

Genesis 41:33-36
“And now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance. Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh's authority, and let them guard it. And let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish during the famine.”

Here, in the opening book of the Bible, we find the account of one of the first preppers (Noah was a prepper too). Joseph was set in charge of storing up grain in Egypt. When the famine came just as predicted, Joseph was able to open the storehouses and save the lives of many people. Similarly, the Spirit of Christ directed me to store up grain. In my trailer I have 42 buckets that are filled with grains and legumes. Among the things I have stored are the following:

Hard Red Wheat: 150 pounds
Hard White Wheat: 150 pounds
Corn: 100 pounds
Rye: 50 pounds
Spelt: 50 pounds
Brown Rice: 100 pounds
Oat Groats: 100 pounds

Black Eyed Peas: 100 Pounds
Chick Peas (Garbanzos): 25 pounds
Kidney Beans: 25 pounds
Great Northern Beans: 50 pounds
Pinto Beans: 50 pounds
Green Split Peas: 50 pounds
Lima Beans: 50 pounds
Black Beans: 50 pounds
Red Lentils: 50 pounds

Wheat in Buckets

It is important for me to establish that it was not human reasoning that led me to store up these supplies. It was not due to alarm at the calamities I perceive to be coming upon the nations that I acted to store up grain. Neither did I seek to fulfill some perceived spiritual parallel between my life and that of Joseph in Egypt. The Spirit of Christ guided and enabled me to perform this work which has both a natural and spiritual component (I have been storing up much spiritual grain in recent years as I have now authored 19 books and hundreds of shorter writings).

Bus with New Trailer in 2012

Consider that the Lord directed me to leave my employment as a computer professional in 1999. I had no money in the bank, no church to support me, no material resources to sustain me. When I liquidated my assets fifteen years ago the Lord had me start over with a fresh ledger. All my debts were terminated, but in the process I also relinquished all my worldly possessions (house, vehicles, furnishings, etc.). I have been on a journey of faith ever since, following the Spirit of Christ wherever He leads while looking to Him to supply every need.

The Father did direct me to take employment with an inner city rescue mission for three years, but that employment ended in February of 2008. Since then I have had no employer, no paycheck, looking only to Yahweh to sustain me. It is therefore remarkable that in 2012, having been unemployed in the eyes of the world for more than four years, the Father provided the funds to purchase a new 16 foot trailer to pull behind my bus, and to fully stock it with foodstuffs and a variety of items such as a grain mill, a roller/flaker, and a 12 volt DC freezer/refrigerator. It was also at that time that I purchased my solar panels. All of this was paid for in cash, as I have not had a penny’s worth of debt since 1999.

I sense that a time of transition is at hand in my own experience. At the beginning of the summer I announced that I was led to complete the book titled FOUNDATIONS. It was on my heart to afterwards complete some other projects related to taking the many writings the Father has guided me to produce and prepare them for wider distribution. One of these projects is to expand the Parables Newsletter series that I send out to men in prison. The newsletters contain the books I have written in serial form. I have about half a dozen books yet to be put into this format. I also had it in mind to produce audio books from each of these writings.

As I have prayed for Yahweh’s direction and understanding regarding the present day and how to prepare for things to come, I was led to reflect upon the time since the Father led me to leave the employment of the rescue mission. This upcoming February will mark seven years since I left the mission to return to the full-time ministry of writing and teaching. It came to mind how Joseph’s life was also marked by sevens. He stored up grain for seven years. He then distributed grain to the people for seven years.

Since I left the rescue mission in 2008 I have been storing up both spiritual and physical grain. This has led me to consider whether February will mark a transition of some sort. I cannot say for certain, but there is much evidence to suggest that transitional events are soon to occur in the nations. It is significant that Joseph had no one coming to him asking for grain until the famine began. Only in a time of great distress and worldwide calamity did people find that which Joseph had stored up to be valuable. Similarly, I believe the greatest time of ministry lies ahead and will be found during a time when the world is experiencing great distress.

Before citing some of the signs of disruption coming to the nations, I want to mention the pattern observed in the Bible of men named Joseph being used to deliver a remnant in a time of great distress. Joseph, the son of Jacob, evidently fits this pattern. In the second year of the famine, Joseph’s brothers appeared before him in Egypt, and he spoke the following to them.

Genesis 45:4-8
“I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God...”

There are several men named Joseph in the New Testament, the most well known being the husband of Mary who was given the role of being a father to the Son of God. This Joseph too was given dreams which foreshadowed things to come. These dreams often served as warnings of upcoming events, and divine wisdom was given to him to know what to do.

Matthew 2:13
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”

Matthew 2:19-23
An angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise and take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child's life are dead.” And he arose and took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he departed for the regions of Galilee, and came and resided in a city called Nazareth...

No doubt, Yahweh will warn many of His people in coming days to depart suddenly and relocate to areas where they will be out of the reach of those who seek their lives. Will you be able to drop everything and go? Will your settled manner of living and many possessions prevent you from heeding the warnings of God? Those who are the least attached to this world and its cumbersome possessions will find it the easiest to follow the Spirit’s leading.

There was cost involved in traveling to a foreign nation and dwelling there for years. How was Joseph to pay for it all? Remember the magi who brought with them gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh? Yahweh always makes a provision when He puts it into the heart of a man to perform some task, particularly a task that involves preserving a remnant alive.

The other two Josephs in the New Testament opened their storehouses after their own fashion in order to accomplish a work of God. Joseph of Arimathea donated his freshly hewn tomb for the body of Christ to be buried (Matthew 27:57-60). Joseph, who was also called Barnabas, a disciple from Cyprus, sold a tract of land and brought the money and laid it at the disciples’ feet (Acts 4:36). The money was used for the care of widows and orphans.

Does Yahweh intend to preserve a remnant alive through days of great tribulation that are coming? I believe He does.

Mark 13:19-20
“For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created, until now, and never shall. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect whom He chose, He shortened the days.”

Revelation 12:14
And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

It is interesting that the time of tribulation at the end of the age is to be a seven year period. This finds some correspondence with the seven year famine in Egypt during the days of Joseph. If the Father shows us that such days are near at hand, and He also gives us understanding to know how to prepare for such a time, is it not both wise and righteous to prepare?

Proverbs 6:6-8
Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest.

Proverbs 22:3
The prudent foresees evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.

Understand that I am NOT advocating works of a man’s own initiative. A man or woman, foreseeing evil, should not set about to prepare for it any way their soul determines. Christians are to be led of the Spirit in all they do. What the Father directs you to do, you should do. Many Christians in their naivete and carelessness assume that the days of prosperity will never end. They think something will occur to preserve the status quo. Many believe it to be folly to prepare for TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it).

Proverbs 1:32-33
“The complacency of fools shall destroy them. But he who listens to me shall live securely, and shall be at ease from the dread of evil.”

As I have recently been seeking the Father to know the days we live in I watched a video by Jonathan Cahn, the author of The Harbinger. He was speaking of the seven year pattern of the Shemitah. I found what was shared to be thought provoking. Could it be that we are entering into the last seven year period at the end of the age? Will this Shemitah year of Sept. 24, 2014 to September 13, 2015 be a year of great collapse in America? Jonathan Cahn shares that the word Shemitah means “collapse.” In 2001 America experienced a great collapse as the World Trade Towers fell. This occurred during a week in which the stock market had been falling drastically. After the towers collapsed the Stock Market was shut down for a week in an unprecedented move to stabilize the market. This occurred in the final week of a Shemitah year. In 2008 America’s stock markets experienced another collapse. This too was a Shemitah year. We are now one week into the next Shemitah (collapse). Will this Shemitah year that is fourteen years after 9-11 reveal another collapse of historic proportions for this nation? We won’t have to wait long to find the answer to the question.

At this same time Rick Joyner has posted a message that has gone viral. In the video he shares a recent dream of great terror and distress coming to the nation of America. Rick Joyner states that he was shown a vision of a gang who came across America’s southern border and slaughtered the people on a ranch in Texas. He describes the gang of terrorists as diabolical, demon possessed, committing acts of atrocity that make the ISIS terrorists seem mild by comparison. Rick Joyner foresees martial law coming to the United States due to an overreaction by Americans who begin targeting and striking back at all Hispanic people in the U.S.A.. He is prophesying a form of civil war based upon racial and religious lines. You can view the two parts to this message below.

Although the things Rick Joyner foresees may indeed occur, I am fully convinced that he is an instrument of Satan to deceive the people of God. He may be right about what is coming, but his patriotism, his belief that America’s government can solve these security problems (they are in fact the ones who have intentionally created the security problem), his suggestion that martial law may be in the best interests of Americans, are all demonic deceptions. Rick Joyner long ago fell under the influence of deceiving spirits as his embrace of Bob Jones and Todd Bentley demonstrate.

With the global elite’s creation of ISIS (see my recent post “Have You Been Played Lately?” and the links below), and the hyping of the Ebola outbreak in Africa, it is evident that the world is being prepared to experience calamities with a back story that will lead the masses to respond according to the globalists agenda.

If these possibilities are not enough to give one pause to consider what is coming, I will mention the unsustainability of America’s financial policies, and that of other Western nations. They must soon implode under the weight of their massive debt burdens. One financial analyst has suggested that the U.S. and its NATO allies are fomenting crisis in Ukraine and in the South China Sea at this time to draw these nations into war to hide the truth of the financial bankruptcy of Western nations and their inability to meet their financial obligations to Russia and China.

Whether or not Harvey Organ’s analysis is correct, it is certain that the global financial situation is perilous. Sooner or later the entire global system will collapse so that the New World Order can arise out of the ashes of the old system. The world is standing on the precipice and a great fall (Shemitah) is assured. The global elite want to eradicate more than 90% of the world’s population and rule the remainder as serfs in a new feudal system. The transition from this present world system into the next will be very ugly. The Bible testifies of that which is to come.

I would ask Christians whether they believe God will give them warnings when things are about to collapse so that they might prepare themselves both spiritually and physically? In the book of Acts we have a record of a famine coming to the world which affected the Christians in Jerusalem. Yahweh gave the church a forewarning of this event so they could make preparation and send relief to the saints in this region.

Acts 11:28-30
And one of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea. And this they did, sending it in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders.

Interesting, isn’t it, that Barnabas (whose actual name was Joseph) was a chosen vessel of God to help sustain people alive in a time of famine following the same pattern as Joseph in Egypt? People of God, I would not instruct you to do the same specific things I am doing in preparation for the coming days. Yahweh may not direct you to convert a bus to a motorhome, or store up grains, or outfit a motorhome for off-grid living. He may lead some to do similar things, but He may have another provision for you. He may direct you to other specific actions that you might be prepared. A universal principle for all of God’s people to follow is to surrender your life to go WHEREVER Yahweh directs, and to do WHATEVER He commands you to do. If you are being led of the Spirit, Yahweh will have you in readiness for the coming days.

When Yahweh spoke to me in 1999 and told me to begin using my first name of Joseph, for up until then I had been called by my middle name of Bradley (Brad), I had no idea how many of the events in the life of Joseph recorded in the book of Genesis would find their counterparts in my own life. I had yet to be rejected by my brothers in Christ, who like Joseph’s brothers were employed as shepherds tending their father’s sheep; I had not yet been falsely accused by a woman who wanted something I could not give to her (in my case it was money rather than sex); I had not yet been cast into jail; I was not at the time active in serving those in prison; I had not stored up grain (spiritual or physical). Yet all of these things have since occurred in my life. I do not doubt that I will also be present during a time of great worldwide calamity, one that surely will include famine due to either the breakdown of the just-in-time supermarket food chain, droughts, pestilence, or unavailability of seed to plant.

As I look at the specific things the Father has led me to do, and to continue to do such as completing my solar auxiliary power system, I am led to consider the relationship between these actions and a time when the whole world will be shaken. Should you not be seeking the Father to know what the future days hold and what you should do to prepare as well?

What I would specifically counsel you to do is to cast off complacency, and a tendency to conform yourself to this fallen world system. If your life is following the pattern of this world with its debt fueled consumerism and you have a home with a mortgage, vehicles financed by the banks, credit cards, or other forms of debt; if you are living large (literally) with more space than you need, a heavy dependence upon power consumption to heat and cool your living space, and many wasteful inefficient appliances, you will be a prime candidate to suffer the full effects of the coming collapse.

The end is near. Will you be prepared?

Heart4God Website:    

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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Solar Ruminations - In Defense of Austerity

extreme plainness and simplicity of style or appearance.
"the room was decorated with a restraint bordering on austerity"
conditions characterized by severity, sternness, or asceticism.
"a simple life of prayer and personal austerity"

Austerity has been much in the news in recent months. Various nations have been drowning in debt, their governments facing insolvency, resulting in severe cutbacks in social welfare programs and government services. In some of the more severe cases, such as what occurred in the nation of Cyprus, the banks even confiscated a significant portion of the people’s savings accounts.

The tendency of humanity is to expand one’s standard of living as personal income rises. I lived according to this pattern for many years. As I was receiving annual increases in my pay year over year, I increased personal spending. I bought a larger house with a bigger yard. I purchased more expensive automobiles. As a family we ate out more. Our home was filled with an increasing array of time and labor saving appliances, etc.. Consequently, no matter how much I was earning, I found that I was living paycheck to paycheck.

Living in a materialistic society that is saturated with advertisements and enticements to purchase the latest gadget, inducing us to spend money to acquire whatever thing our mind sees as desirable whether it be some new food item at a favorite restaurant, or the sports car of our dreams, it requires self-discipline to resist the forces all around us. The world is clamoring out “CONSUME! CONSUME! CONSUME!” Yet the example of Christ is that of emptying oneself and setting one’s focus on giving to others. The character of Christ is contentment, not consumerism.

Living at the end of this age, we are observing the greatest surfeit of consumer gluttony the world has ever witnessed.

People accustomed to fat living are not going to know what to do when the days of abundance are peremptorily cut short. The shock of adjusting to an austere lifestyle will be too much for many. People who were used to living in their McMansions funded by easy credit, will despair when they cannot pay the power bill to keep the lights on, much less service the massive debt they have accrued. How much better it would have been if they had chosen to live modestly. Many could have a small home that is paid for, rather than a larger one that is mortgaged. Many could drive a used car debt free rather than being in debt to pay for an automobile they could not purchase outright. Having experienced both a heavy debt load up until 1999, and being completely debt free since, I know it is possible to make the transition. Significant changes are required, however.

There is much wisdom in voluntarily reexamining your lifestyle before things collapse, and reducing your standard of living while you are able. If you have no debt, if your monthly expenses are minimal, if you can survive comfortably on a fraction of the money spent by those around you, the coming collapse of the global financial system and its concomitant effect on all facets of society will impact you far less than those who are living large when the global ship founders.

Costa Concordia Wreck

As Christians, we often are selective about the Biblical admonitions and instructions we choose to obey. We may read the words “Do not commit adultery,” and agree that this is a behavior we should avoid. What do we do, however, when the same Spirit inspired book tells us to reduce our use of this world, and to travel lightly through it?

I Corinthians 7:29-31
But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none... and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.

James 5:1-5
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!... You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

I have been as guilty of living selfishly as any man. Up until 1999 when I answered the Lord’s call to leave behind the life I had been living and to follow wherever He would lead me, I had led the life of the profligate consumer. Since that time I have had less in the way of income, but due to adopting a leaner, far less material lifestyle, I have been able to give away a larger percentage of my income. Both in percentage and total giving, I have given away far more in the past 15 years than I did the previous 38 years combined. When I have extra income, rather than looking for some new thing to buy to sate my soul, it has become my habit to ask Yahweh who He wants me to share with.

I continue to find the Father guiding me to embrace austerity. Austerity is not synonymous with misery, or poverty. It is to live frugally, and simply, having reduced needs (and wants) while manifesting a spirit of contentment. There is a great peace to be possessed when an individual exhibits a spirit of contentment. It is a peace that many who are rich in the world’s goods never know. It is reported that a century ago when John D. Rockefeller was making a million dollars a week, someone asked him how much money was enough. His reply was “Just a little more.”

Ecclesiastes 5:10
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.

I have found that as I labor to complete my solar auxiliary power system on my bus that the principle “less is more” continues to assert itself. This is true not only in the amount of material goods we accumulate, and the living space we occupy, but in the amount of power we consume. Living simply and freely is far easier when our electricity and other power demands are small, than when they are large. In revamping my solar design I have found that the greatest benefit is accrued by cutting back to bare necessities.

I had not anticipated making further cuts to my electric usage in order to operate entirely off of a solar power system. Two years ago when I wrote an article on solar power I mentioned that it is far more economical to reduce one’s energy consumption than to build a solar electric system large enough to power all of the wasteful appliances and devices that a nation accustomed to cheap and abundant power have become dependent upon. I had taken steps prior to 2012 to reduce the power consumption of my bus. Following is an excerpt from the article I wrote back then.
Setting up a solar power system can be an expensive proposition, so you need to give much thought to what you will do with it. The more you can pare down your power needs, the better off you will be. As I have mentioned in another post, it is far more cost effective to reduce your electrical current needs by replacing inefficient appliances and electrical devices than it is to purchase enough solar panels, batteries, and other components to run wasteful devices.

I have a thirty foot school bus converted into a motorhome.

Picture of The Dreamer with Trailer

I have been living in my bus for a year and a half as a full-time RVer (This was in June of 2012. I have now been in the bus nearly 4 years). During this time I have been making it more energy efficient. When I painted the outside of the bus I added a space age ceramic additive to the paint that I applied to the roof. This additive greatly reduces the amount of heat absorbed. You can find the product in powder form that I purchased at the following link.

You mix this into your paint prior to rolling it onto your surface to be painted.

Another thing I did was to apply mirror tint to all of the windows on the bus. This further reduces heat absorption. The mirrored tint I used can be purchased at Lowe’s or Home Depot. It acts like a one way mirror. You can see out from the inside, but from the outside it appears as if you are looking into a mirror.

Also, I kept as many windows as possible unblocked so that I could open them up and get air circulation inside the bus during moderate temperatures and if I am ever unplugged from the power grid and need some ventilation. All of these windows are screened to keep insects out. Additionally, my front door has a screen, and it too can be opened to increase air circulation. (I also installed a roof vent.)

Inside my bus all of my lighting is 12 volt DC. The fixtures originally came with standard incandescent bulbs, but I replaced them with LED bulbs. LED bulbs can be purchased to fit practically any 12 volt light fixture. They are just as bright as incandescent lighting if you purchase the appropriate bulbs. LEDs produce less heat, and most significantly, they use only about 1/10th of the power of standard incandescent lighting. Following are two types of LED lights I have purchased, and the vendors I got them from.

The light pictured above is simply amazing. It puts out a remarkable 315 lumens while using only 3 watts of power. 315 lumens is a lot of light... This light costs $19.99. I have 8 lights in my bus that use this LED. The company also sells a brighter 450 lumen LED that costs $24.99 each. I purchased 4 of these to go over my computer work area and in my kitchen where I need more light. As you can see, the cost can add up when purchasing LED lights, but the lights will last many times longer than incandescents... Over time they will pay for themselves, and even save you money. It is also more cost effective to replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs than it is to add more solar panels and batteries to a solar power system.

In other areas where I need less light I have some small round 12 volt dome lights. These use what are called festoon bulbs.

Festoon Bulb

You can purchase LED replacement lights that fit in the exact same fixture without having to do any modifications.

Festoon LEDs

Pictured above are several types of LED replacement lights. You can purchase these on Ebay or from Amazon’s website. A word of caution though, some of these bulbs are very cheap and you get what you pay for. I had some where the LEDs began failing immediately. This sent me back to do more research and I am quite happy with the LEDs I now use. They are much brighter than my previous ones, and they are not burning out. Following is an image of the type of LEDs I purchased.

These have the large single LED. I have found that they put out more light than the ones with multiple small LEDs and they seem more durable as well. This particular LED is sold 2 in a pack for $10 on E-bay...

As I mentioned, there are many appliances in my bus that I do not plan to run on solar power as they draw too much current. My toaster, microwave, Panini grill, bread machine, crock pot, and refrigerator are items I will not run on my solar power system. They are too inefficient and building up enough solar panels and batteries would be cost prohibitive. I do like to cook in a Crock Pot, and I have found a suitable alternative when I am not connected to the power grid. A solar oven acts very much like a slow cooker, and can be used for practically anything you would cook in a Crock Pot. In fact, if your Crock Pot has a removable crockery insert, you can take it out and place it in the solar oven, and so much the better if the inner liner is black as in the case of my Crock Pot. You can also bake bread in the Solar Oven, something my friends the Furmans in Arizona have been doing with theirs.

SOS Solar Oven

I purchased a portable freezer/refrigerator that is in my trailer. It uses only 1 amp of power whereas the refrigerator in my bus uses 2.7 amps. The freezer uses 37% of the power of the RV refrigerator in my bus.

In place of the microwave, toaster, crock pot, and bread machine, I can use the stove and oven in my bus that run on propane. One tank of propane lasts me nearly a year at current usage...

As far as heating my bus during the wintertime, I have a wood stove installed. Overall, I have greatly reduced my electrical energy demand for those times I will be off-grid, or when shore power will be unavailable.
[End Excerpt]

As you can tell by this excerpt from the article I posted two years ago, I had already given considerable thought to reducing my reliance upon the electric grid. I did not expect when I set out to revamp my solar power system that I would be making further reductions, but less is more (more better). I had forgotten that I had previously determined that the Dometic RV refrigerator in my bus is too inefficient to run on solar power and batteries. This one appliance alone consumes more than all of my other electric needs combined (excepting the roof air conditioner which I have no plans to run when off the power grid). The RV refrigerator would drain all of the power out of my batteries in a single day, even with the sun shining brightly on my solar panels. RV refrigerators designed to operate on either propane or electric use far more electricity than a home refrigerator that runs on AC power only. In fact, they can easily consume the same amount of power as 2 or 3 home refrigerators. Consequently, when I am not plugged into shore power (the electric power grid) I will not be using the RV refrigerator. I will unplug it and use it as additional pantry or storage space.

A couple years back I purchased an Edgestar 80 quart freezer that runs on either 110 volts AC power, or 12 volts DC power. I recently made a happy discovery that has had a major impact on the re-design of my solar power system. When I first purchased the freezer I found a plate on the back of it that provided the following information.

One thing I wanted to know is whether the freezer was more energy efficient when running on AC (alternating current) or DC (direct current) power. Being a little slow to catch on to the principles of electric power, I looked at the amp rating on the back of the freezer, and it informed me that when running on 115 volt AC power the freezer draws 1.0 Amps. When running on 12 volt DC power the freezer draws 5.5 Amps. Being electrically ignorant at the time (a condition that is curable), I saw the higher amp draw on DC and concluded that running on DC power would consume much more electricity than running on AC power.

For those who are as ignorant of electric nomenclature as I was (and who have no desire to rectify this situation at the moment) I will not bore you with a bunch of electrical jargon and theory. I will simply mention that comparing AC amperage and DC amperage on a 1:1 ratio is an erroneous approach. The far better way to calculate and compare power usage is in watts. Watts are arrived at by multiplying volts and amps. Following is what I should have done.

(AC) 115 volts x 1.0 amps = 115 watts
(DC) 12 volts x 5.5 amps = 66 watts

Now which one is more efficient? The correct answer is “DC.” This does make sense since the freezer has a DC motor that runs the compressor. If I plug the freezer into AC power, the AC power has to be converted to DC in order to run the motor. There is always power lost when converting from AC to DC, or from DC to AC.

EdgeStar 80 Quart Freezer

Consider how inefficient it would be if I were not hooked up to the power grid and I was running everything off of my solar power system and my 12 volt DC battery bank. In order to run the freezer on AC power I would have to use the Inverter in my bus to change the 12 volt DC power coming from the batteries into 115 volt AC power. In turn, the freezer would change the AC power back to DC to run the compressor motor. That is super wasteful. In contrast, if I run the freezer directly from my 12 volt battery bank no power conversion is needed.

When I came to understand this, it was very plain what I needed to do. I will install a 12 volt DC outlet at the rear of my bus so that I can run a line to the freezer and run it on 12 volt DC power. This led to an epiphany. Since I did not intend to run the refrigerator in my bus when off-grid, and since my freezer was best run on 12 volt DC, there was no reason I would need to keep the power inverter in my bus running at night.

Cotek S1500 Pure Sine Wave Inverter

It is fitting to say something about inverters at this point, though I will be brief and address this subject in more depth in a following post. An inverter takes the 12 volt DC power from the battery bank and changes it to 110/115/120 Volt AC power to run various AC appliances. Something I had not previously considered about inverters is how much power they consume even when they are idling, having no load on them. This is a MAJOR consideration, and I had no clue until recently.

I was a bit hasty in my initial redesign plans. I knew I needed a larger inverter than the 600 watt model I had previously been using. I have a grain mill that draws 900 watts that I want to be able to run on auxiliary power, a laptop computer, a printer, and various small appliances and tools. 600 watts was insufficient. I initially thought to get a 3000 watt inverter that had a large enough output to connect it directly into the 30 amp RV power distribution box, literally replacing the shore power connection with the power coming from my battery bank. For various reasons I will mention later, I found this to be impractical. However, I had already ordered a Go Power! 3000 watt inverter for this purpose.

I eventually decided to discuss the matter with some highly experienced and knowledgeable individuals on a solar power forum, and they informed me that the inverter I had purchased was not a good match for my system. One thing they pointed out is that it draws 2.5 amps of power even when it is idling. This means that 24 hours a day it would be drawing a minimum of 2.5 amps, even more when it was under load. I have not yet figured out whether this is at 110 volts AC, or 12 volts DC. I am assuming that it is at 12 volts DC since its incoming power source is DC. Even at 12 volts, 2.5 amps being consumed continuously adds up.

12 volts x 2.5 amps x 24 hours = 720 watts

If the amp rating on the inverter is at 110 volts the situation is truly dire.

110 volts x 2.5 amps x 24 hours = 6600 watts

6600 watts is greater than the entire capacity of my battery bank. Either way, that is a large power draw down for a device that serves only to convert DC power to AC. Fortunately, I had purchased the inverter through Amazon and was able to return it with no problem. Amazon even paid the return shipping cost.

The Cotek S1500 inverter I have now settled on has a power saving mode where it draws less than 1.5 watts when there is no load on the system. It also consumes a lot less power when under load. That is a remarkable difference.

1.5 watts x 24 hours = 36 watts

This is a much leaner device. Lean is good. Less power usage equates to fewer solar panels, less battery capacity needed, smaller gauge wiring and fuses, etc..

When I consider what I can truly live with (lights, fans, laptop, printer, chest freezer, 12 volt water pump, food blender, grain mill), and what are unnecessary convenience appliances (microwave, panini grill, toaster, RV fridge, crock pot, bread machine, etc.), I am able to design a very useful and adequate solar auxiliary power system that will not be a burden to maintain. Some of these non-essential appliances could be used occasionally as battery power allows. The more likely ones are those that operate for brief time periods such as a toaster, or microwave. These may have a high watt rating, but they usually run for only 2-3 minutes at a time. A crock pot and bread machine may have similar power ratings, but they run much longer which would drain the batteries considerably.


A 1100 watt toaster or microwave running for 3 minutes (1/20th of an hour) consumes a total of 55 watts. (Watt ratings are per hour.)

A 800 watt slow cooker running for three hours would consume 2400 watts of electricity. (Time to break out the solar oven.)

Working on the design of my solar power system has afforded me a good opportunity to consider how to reduce my power usage. It is proving to be a profitable exercise as we often take so many things for granted. As we lower our requirements for living - minimizing our space, our material goods, our power needs - we inevitably reduce our risk of experiencing a traumatic adjustment when those things we take for granted are suddenly interrupted. As I observe the signs of the times, and the very real chance of significant societal disruptions in coming days, this seems to be a prudent thing to do.

More to come...

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Monday, September 22, 2014

Solar Ruminations - If At First You Don’t Succeed...

Rube Goldberg Contraption

There is an expression to describe the labors of those who find that their attempts at creation do not work as well as they had hoped. It is “Back to the drawing board.” This expression accurately describes my efforts in recent days to re-design my solar auxiliary power system in my bus. My first implementation of solar power proved to be less than adequate, necessitating an overhaul.

For those unfamiliar with my old solar set-up, I have four solar panels rated at 140 watts each. This is their rating per hour of power generated. Altogether my four panels can produce up to 560 watts of electricity per hour. Here in Georgia I could get as much as ten hours of good sunlight in the summer, which would produce 5600 watts of electricity per day. In the winter I may get only half that amount. On overcast or rainy days the power generated would also be well off the peak.

These are my four solar panels. I had built adjustable angle mounts so they could be positioned to face directly into the sun. The image above is NOT where they were put when in use, as any shade will collapse a solar panel’s output tremendously. When I used them I placed them in direct sunlight where they were not shaded at all.

The following picture shows the rest of my original solar set-up inside the trailer I pull behind my bus. On the wall behind the yellow electrical reel there is the solar charge controller, a 20 amp model made by HQRP. It was adequate to handle two solar panels, which is all I had connected to it. I had a second identical charge controller that I intended to install inside my bus. It would be connected to the other two panels, but I never hooked it up.

You can see a remote display above the charge controller that reported the amount of power coming in from the panels and the state of charge on the large battery that you can see on the floor below the charge controller. On the wall to the right is the inverter that takes the 12 volt DC power from the battery and converts it to 110 volt AC power to run appliances and other electrical devices. The inverter was rated at 600 watts. It was actually underpowered for my needs. I have a grain mill on the counter above the battery that has a 900 watt motor. The 600 watt inverter would not run it.

(For those who are curious, the object mounted to the countertop with the crank handle on it is a roller/flaker. You feed whole grain oats into the top of it, and as you turn the handle it rolls the oats between two metal wheels, flattening them. The end product is rolled oats - just like Quaker Oats that come in the round box. I keep the whole oats in 5 gallon buckets in my trailer. When I run out of rolled oats in my bus, I go out to my trailer and roll some more. They are much better fresh, and store better when they are not rolled. I eat a lot of oatmeal, especially in the cooler months of the year. They are great when cooked with the frozen blueberries or strawberries that I picked and put into my freezer. You can cook oats without rolling them, but they take about 20 minutes to cook when not rolled. They will cook up in about 3 minutes in the microwave when they have been rolled.)

After two years of sporadic use, I found that my solar auxiliary system did not meet my needs very well. It was cumbersome to place the panels on the ground, and store them in my trailer whenever I moved. Also, the panels do best when facing directly into the sun. This required frequent trips outside to reposition the panels so that they tracked with the sun. A solar panel that tracks with the sun will generate approximately 40% more power in a day than one that is stationary. That is a significant difference.

When I began to consider the redesign of my solar power system, one of the first items I gave thought to was the arrangement of my solar panels. I wanted to get the maximum power from the panels I have on hand. This meant setting them up in such a way that they would track with the sun throughout the day. A 40% power increase is the equivalent of adding another 1.6 solar panels. By using automatic solar tracking I could significantly boost my power generating capacity while keeping the same solar panels and not take up any more space in deploying them.

The optimum placement of the panels would be on the roof of my bus. In my brief experience with solar panels, I found that the shadow cast by my bus is a significant problem. It is necessary to keep the electrical cables running from the solar panels to the charge controller as short as possible. Longer cables increase voltage drop in the lines significantly. Longer cables means less power is being delivered to the batteries, for the power is lost in overcoming the resistance in the wiring. However, with short cables, it is difficult to position the panels on the ground where they will not be shaded by the bus at some point during the day.

Many people (including some solar panel installers) do not know that shading even one small spot on a solar panel can result in the power output being cut entirely, or significantly reduced, from the panel. This is due to the way the individual solar cells that make up a complete solar panel are wired. Following are some illustrations of poor positioning of solar panels, and the resultant power loss incurred. They are taken from Handyman Bob’s website.

The small shadow caused by the roof vent falling on the panel pictured above reduced the power output by 2.9 amps, almost 30% of the panel’s rated output.

The shadow on the panel above reduced the output by 50%.

The little shadow on the corner of the panel above caused by the raised roof vent diminished the solar panel’s output by 2.5 amps, 30% of its rated output.

And the shading caused by the satellite dish on the corner of this panel cut the power off completely. It registered as a dead panel. (I am sure there is a spiritual lesson in all of this somewhere. A little darkness will reduce the power and effectiveness of our lives, and the darkness that enters people’s lives by watching satellite television can kill a person’s spiritual life.)

As you can imagine, placing your solar panels under trees, or where the shadow from other objects can fall upon their surface, will seriously degrade, or kill your solar panel output. Last winter I drove my bus to Jekyll Island and spent four months there. I have four small solar panels mounted on the front of my bus to keep my cranking battery charged. Because I rarely crank the bus, sometimes being parked in one location without driving anywhere for 6 months to a year, the battery would die if it was not being constantly charged.

The solar panels at the front of the bus do a good job of keeping the cranking battery charged up and in a ready state - that is, as long as they are in direct sunlight. The entire RV park on Jekyll Island is under ancient Live Oak trees, and large pines. I did not think much about this, for there is light under the trees, and I figured the panels would charge my battery a little bit. I was wrong. About two weeks before my time was up I decided to crank the bus to make sure everything was running okay. I was surprised when it would not crank. The battery was dead. Fortunately, it had not drained so low in the 3-1/2 months I was there to kill the battery. I was able to charge it back up. When it comes to solar panels, shade is bad - real bad.

The four small panels that keep my cranking battery charged
(Yes, they are in the shade - but only part of the day at that location.)

At my present location, my bus is parked in a nice open spot without any overhanging trees. I have been here for most of the past two years, other than my trip to Jekyll Island. I have good sunlight access, but if the panels are placed on the ground they must contend with the shade caused by the bus. Consequently, one of my first considerations was to come up with a design to place my solar panels on the roof of the bus, and set them up to track with the sun.

For those unfamiliar with solar tracking, there are a considerable number of devices being marketed that detect the sun’s location in the sky and send a signal to a control box to power a motor to turn the solar panels. These devices are not all that expensive (compared to other components of a solar power system). A single axis solar tracker can be purchased for about $90 with sensor, control box and wiring (motors are extra). Dual axis solar trackers can be obtained for about $150. Some also come with inputs to attach an anemometer (wind gauge) that will tell the panels to lay horizontal if the wind rises above a preset limit. This is a considerable concern as solar panels are like big sails. They catch a lot of wind.

Dual Axis Solar Tracking

A dual axis solar tracker allows movement along the horizontal and vertical axes. This is optimum to generate the most power from a panel. If you can keep the panel facing directly at the sun, the maximum power will be produced.

I read a lot of Internet websites on this subject, and watched a lot of videos of various solar tracking installations. I had to consider what I was capable of doing myself with the tools and material available to me. One thing I do not have, and am not trained for, is welding. Ideally, mounting something on the roof of my bus would be best done by welding it there. I can hire someone to do the welding, but I also wanted to consider if there was anything I could bolt up to the roof. My bus is now 42 years old (manufactured in 1972), and it has a steel roof. It is actually a double layer steel roof with a 2" space between layers, and the space is insulated. It is much more solid than most new motorhomes or travel trailers. I do not have any concern at all about damaging the roof by walking on it.

After considerable consideration, I decided to try mounting the panels using a small 2' tripod, the kind used to position satellite dishes on the ridge of a roof. My design also included using a satellite dish motor to turn the solar panel to keep it aligned with the sun. Below is a video of an implementation of a similar design.

Following is an image of one of the tripod mounts on the roof of my bus.

You can see on the back of the bus roof there is a platform covered by a tarp. The previous owners had used the bus to go to NASCAR races in Atlanta. They would park in the field in the center area of the track and climb up on the roof with their folding chairs and watch the cars go around. I use the area for storage, and cover it with a tarp. My plan was to set four tripod mounts on the roof between the cargo area and the panels at the front of the bus, and have the solar panels rotate on the mounts.

The image above shows a close-up of how the mounts would attach to the roof. I also purchased a pole mount to provide a fourth mounting point at the very center. This would add much more rigidity to the mounting system.

Before putting any holes in the roof of my bus, or welding anything to it, I decided it would be best to assemble one of the panels to the tripod and satellite dish motor and see how sturdy it would be. I was concerned that wind load on the panels might be a problem. If this set-up did not appear to be rock solid, I did not want to risk using it for my panels. One drawback to this design is that the panels could not easily be flatted (placed in a horizontal position) to minimize wind effect. Also, the panels would have to be dismounted and placed in my trailer whenever I drove the bus. Despite these drawbacks, because this design seemed “doable,” being within my capabilities and something I could accomplish with the tools I had on hand, I wanted to give it a try.

First, I removed the framing I had been using on one of the panels when I set it on the ground, and I fabricated a new frame incorporating a pole mount I purchased on Ebay. The pole mount is adjustable, made specifically for solar panels. It allows the panel to be positioned at an angle with the sun.

I then assembled the tripod base using a 1-3/8" fence pole. The pole was not as thick as I would have liked it to be. It tended to deform when I clamped it down tightly to the tripod and to the satellite motor mounts. To keep the pole from bending inward, I ran a piece of wood doweling of the same diameter down into the pole.

Tripod with Satellite Dish Motor and Solar Panel Mount Installed

I then screwed the base down to the 3/4" sheet of marine plywood you can see it resting upon. Champ apologizes for the dirt. This is inside his kennel and I have not yet been able to train him to sweep his floor when he gets it dirty. The final step was to mount the solar panel to the base.

I was very happy with the way it looked. As far as Rube Goldberg contraptions go, it was pretty exotic looking. The mount itself was very sturdy. Nevertheless, when I applied pressure to either side of the solar panel, there was significant movement from side to side. The weak point in the set-up was the satellite dish motor. The neck of the satellite dish motor is not held taut enough by the motor. This was the largest satellite dish motor I could find at a reasonable price, and it failed the strength test. It is designed to hold 3' diameter satellite dishes, but the solar panel is considerably larger.

For those wondering how this design would have been used to track with the sun, the satellite dish motor connects to a control box that is operated with a remote. By purchasing a universal remote with a timing feature, the control box could be activated at specified time intervals to move the panel to a preset position. Since it was all set to a timer, by inputting the correct times and positions, the panel would automatically track with the sun. No sun position sensor is needed with this design.

Any mounting design that utilizes only a single attachment point in the center of the panel is going to be inherently weaker than a design that uses two or more attachment points. The entire weight and wind load on the panel is borne by the single attachment point. This necessitates that all materials must be very strong and rigid. The materials I was using, particularly the satellite motor, proved to be inadequate.

Observing some of the shortcomings of this design before I had even assembled it, I thought it a good idea to reach out to a brother in Christ who has far more experience in fabrication and design of mechanical things than I do. This brother lives in Idaho, so unfortunately I could not drive my bus over to his house and ask for his assistance. We are separated by about 3,000 miles and the tallest mountain range in America, the Rocky Mountains. My bus does not have a strong enough motor to climb mountains, and it gets only 4-5 mpg which makes the cost of long cross country travel prohibitive. Yahweh evidently did not foresee any need for me to drive the bus out of state when He directed me to purchase it. It remains a Georgia vehicle, having traveled only within the state.

Jeff proved to be very eager to help me out. After some exchanges of information, he quickly came up with some ideas that are far better than my attempts. I had told Jeff that another option I had considered was to use the four tripods and pole mounts to form a large rectangle frame that would be positioned just forward of the cargo area and go above the air conditioner on the roof. Using the same fence poles I could construct a rectangular frame approximately 8'-10" x 4'-10" (the dimensions of the four solar panels laid side by side), and create some type of giant lazy susan affair that they could rotate on. Following is an image showing how the panels might be mounted in this arrangement.

Imagine this sitting on a rotating base, and you have an idea of what I had in mind. My main concern again was the strength of the frame and the sturdiness of the rotating assembly under a wind load. My plan was to use some wood in the construction, as I am better able to work with wood, and have the tools for it, but Jeff rightly stated that steel construction is much stronger.

Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to see possibilities that we overlook. Jeff asked me what the dimensions of the cargo area at the rear of the bus were. When I measured I found that it was slightly larger than the solar panels and would serve very well as a position to locate them.

When I first began living in the bus I had a small 8' x 5' trailer I was pulling behind it. It was a short trailer than you had to stoop to enter. I could not carry much in the trailer, so it was very handy having the cargo area atop the bus to put things I did not need frequent access to. Back on 2012 I purchased a much larger trailer, and the cargo area atop the bus was not needed as much. Half of the storage containers on the bus roof were empty. When I took everything down off the bus roof and discarded what was not essential, I found I could move what remained to the trailer. Since I had moved the solar panels out of the trailer, and would not be needing to put them back as they would be permanently mounted on the roof, I had plenty of space in the trailer.

The platform at the back of the bus roof is steel construction, and very solid. It is far better than anything I could have come up with for a mounting base. Jeff had his daughter Kristine draw an illustration of his solar mount design to show me what he had in mind. It uses a trailer axle stub as the central piece upon which a steel frame will be bolted to hold the panels. Following is a picture of my cargo platform on the bus roof.

It needs a good wash. The small cultivator laying there had not yet been removed. The platform is welded to the bus roof along all the edges. The corrugated steel decking is welded to the edges of the platform frame. Consequently, the decking does have a little springiness in the center. Some additional steel may need to be welded atop the corrugated deck to make it a little firmer. Following is an image of Jeff’s design. It reminds me a bit of one of those hand sketched Leonardo DaVinci designs.

Pictured is a 12" x 12" steel plate at the base. At the center of the plate is a pipe standing on end with a screw jack inside. You can see a handle for the screw jack extending out to the rear of the bus. This will be used to raise and lower the solar panels. In the lowered position the solar panels can be covered with the tarp that I have been using over the cargo area, protecting them when traveling, or in the event of inclement weather. Another pipe would fit over the first pipe, with the axle shaft welded to it. This allows for the axle to rotate. Pieces of angle iron would be bolted to the studs on the axle. Jeff suggested using a scissor jack to raise and lower the panels, inclining them to face the sun, but I may opt to use a linear actuator for this instead.

I know this isn’t the normal type of thing I write about, so some of my readers will be wondering what a linear actuator is. Following is a picture of one.

The linear actuator is the unit with the electric cord running into it. It is pictured attached to a base at the bottom. The actuator has a shaft that goes in and out. In the installation pictured above, as the shaft extends the pole it is attached to is pushed over at an angle. As the shaft is retracted the pole is pulled back into an upright position. Linear actuators are used in most professional solar panel trackers.

Eco-Worthy is one company that sells solar trackers. You can purchase the electronics separately from the linear actuators, or purchase them together in a package. A dual axis solar tracker with actuators is under $300. It will handle all the motion in a solar array. After the sun has set in the evening, the electronics of the solar tracking system directs the panels to lay flat in the horizontal position. This protects them from winds that may arise at night. In the morning when the sun rises, the light hitting the sensor initiates tracking once more and the panels will raise themselves into the correct position.

In the design Jeff came up with, one linear actuator would attach to the pipe near the base and would control the horizontal rotation of the panels. The other actuator would go where the scissor jack is pictured in the drawing.

Because I will inevitably park the bus facing different directions, multiple mounting points indexed around the base of the apparatus will need to be fitted so that the range of motion provided by the linear actuator will always be adequate to track from east to west. This is the plan at the moment. I will provide an update once it is fabricated and installed.

Coming up with a functional design that adequately meets the needs of my solar auxiliary power system has required some perseverance and patience. It has required that I research the subject, and educate myself in it. As Christians our lives are always a mixture of spiritual and natural experiences. Yet, even in those terrestrial tasks that appear to have little relationship to spirituality, there is a need to manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our lives in order to succeed.

It would be easy to murmur and complain at every obstacle, or to bemoan every failure or setback. Tragically, this was what the Israelites did when Yahweh led them through the wilderness on their journey from Egypt to the land of Canaan. Rather than bearing up patiently when difficulties arose, they gave into despair and yielded their tongues to speak words of complaint against Yahweh and His appointed leaders. As we follow the Lord through this life we will inevitably encounter difficulties, trials, and seemingly insurmountable problems. Yet, if we will crucify the unruly flesh with its impatience, unbelief, and impetuosity, we will find that God will help us. If we implore His help in a humble and respectful manner, He is pleased to help us.

Remember, this is the same God who expanded the mind of Solomon to have wisdom and understanding surpassing all other men. It is the same God who provided water from the rock and bread from the heavens when His people had a need. It seems a small thing to ask Yahweh to help us in carrying out the tasks that we encounter in this life. James sagely wrote, “You have not because you ask not.” One thing I have done in approaching this project is to routinely ask Yahweh to guide me and to give me understanding to know how to proceed.

Don’t fall into the error of separating your life into spiritual and natural compartments. All of life is spiritual, for we are spiritual beings created in the image and likeness of our heavenly Father. The fruits and gifts of the Spirit have application in all realms of life.

To be continued...

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063