The Pot Fridge Without Electricity

Pot fridge without electricityGround breaking ideas can be very simple and this energy free refrigerator is a great example. It is so simple that you can make it yourself!

The fridge consists of two terracotta pots. The smaller one sits inside the larger one and the gap between them is filled with sand. The sand is kept wet and the top is covered by a wet cloth or lid. The cooling effect works by the evaporation of the water through the porous sides of the larger pot, which cools the inner pot and its contents.

This idea was re-invented in 1995 by Mohammed Bah Abba, who recognised what a difference it could make to those living without electricity in his country. By preserving food for longer they could improve their lives, for example allowing children to spend more time in school instead of having to sell the family’s fresh produce in the market every single day.

How can we use this idea to improve our lives? After all most of us, if we are reading this on a computer will have a refrigerator already. There are several ways that this pot fridge could be used to help with green living:

  • Run a smaller fridge, just big enough for your everyday needs, and use the pot fridge to take the extra goods when you are having a party or otherwise need more fridge space. A smaller fridge needs less electricity to run than a large one.
  • Often fresh vegetables and fruits don’t actually need to be refrigerated, but do benefit from a cool storage space. The pot fridge can be used for fresh produce in hot weather, keeping it fresher for longer and allowing you to use a smaller fridge for the rest of your essential groceries.
  • If you keep a second fridge in an occasionally used area, perhaps in a guest room or garage, think of replacing it with a pot fridge. The pot can be used intermittently with no detrimental effects. When it’s not in use it just dries up. To start using it, simply wet the sand again and keep it damp.
  • If you regularly go camping to the same place, consider keeping a pot fridge there, instead of taking a gas camping fridge with you. Just start it up when you arrive by wetting the sand and leave it behind for next time to save space in your vehicle.
  • A pot fridge can be a great insurance against power outages. If you are affected by blackouts keep a pot fridge on the go to minimise the spoilage of your refrigerator contents.
  • The pot fridge is perfect for market stalls, where you are selling fresh produce. On hot days your goods can all be wilting within a couple of hours, but with this, you can keep your supplies fresh and just display one or two items at a time on top of the damp cloth lid.

Remember that a pot fridge does need regular maintenance to run effectively. It relies on the sand being wet to keep it cool. As soon as the sand dries out the cooling effect ceases. In hot weather you may need to re-wet the sand twice a day.

Important note: the pot refrigerator works best in a hot dry climate. The evaporation is what cools the inside. In a very humid climate far less evaporation takes place, so the cooling effect doesn’t work as well.

Consol Solar Jars

Consol solar JarI first saw these fun solar lamps on urban sprout. I thought it was a great idea but then promptly forgot all about them.

A little while later my sister-in-law returned from the Design Indaba in Cape Town with one for us as a present, saying it was the best thing she saw there.

So last night in addition to our usual candle at supper we had the glow of our very own solar jar. It came already charged, so I haven’t had time to assess how long the light lasts for on an average solar charge, but last night at least it shone surprisingly brightly for several hours.

The jar is now charging outside on the grass – it’s a lovely sunny day so hopefully it should reach its maximum charge to shine again tonight. A great idea, only depending for maximum efficiency on us remembering to put it outside to charge.

Solar jar lampEdited to add: Two days later it has been recharged outside and is still shining brightly for as long as we need it every evening. The ‘boys’ took it apart and approved of its construction, sturdy batteries and LED light bulbs, so altogether we think it is great value for money. And pretty cool too!

Buy solar jars online direct from Consol’s Solar Jar website if you want to try them out for yourself. Or they are available from the Consol retail outlets in Stellenbosch and Woodmead, Gauteng.

Off the Grid Looking Good for SA Homes and Businesses

wind turbineWhile South Africa has been rather behind in the development of alternative energy sources, it looks like we are finally catching up in a real way.

At last there are companies producing small wind turbines suitable for domestic use, which could be the solution for families wanting to go off-grid, or at least generate a substantial part of their own energy needs.

With the abundance of wind in our local climates, a wind turbine can produce enough energy to power a home, especially if it has back up from solar power when it comes to water heating.

One company, Psiclone Renewable Energy Solutions has produced two types of domestic wind turbine – one to be used completely off-grid, which has a battery for storing excess power produced; the other version ties into the grid, enabling excess energy to be returned to the grid.

Though much of this is developed with rural areas in mind, some models are compact enough to be mounted on the roof in urban situations. Combine your own clean energy source with other energy saving solutions like LED lighting and energy efficient appliances and you could be well on the way to a carbon neutral way of living.

As with many alternative energy solutions the draw-back is the initial cost of instalment; however if you add up your monthly energy bills and consider that all your future energy will be free, it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to discover that the installation costs will have paid for themselves in about two years or so. Plus you will have a clean, sustainable energy source to weather future power outages, price hikes and all the doom and gloom predictions of power shortages.

Now it’s just a question of whether you can handle all your friends and neighbours descending on you every time there’s a power outage in the future!