Tag Archives: DIY

The Solar Bottle Bulb

I have been meaning to write about this project for months now, just got around to it today. Back in September of 2011 I read about Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project in Manila powered by pop bottles and bleached water! A bottle with water is enough to light up a small room. In the poor neighborhoods of Manila shacks have dark roofs and hardly any daylight. Many of the homes are not connected to the electric grid and in third world countries continuous power availability is not a given.

This year i.e 2012 is the year they plan to complete lighting 1 million homes using this green technology. The clear water disperses the light in all directions through refraction, which can provide a luminosity that is equivalent to a 55-watt electric light bulb, according to the MyShelter Foundation.

The idea behind the Solar Water Bulb is the brainchild of Alfredo Moser a mechanic from Sao Paulo, Brazil; who came up with it during the 2002 power shortage in Brazil to light up his workshop for working during the day! Like Plato said Necessity is indeed the mother of invention!

MIT students have been instrumental in spreading the usage of this simple and virtually free technology to the third world countries as a remedy to light up dark areas during the day without windows! They disperse light to all the corners of the room unlike skylights which are pretty much unidirectional.

How to Make Your Own Solar Bottle Bulb?

Raw materials Needed
1. 1 liter Pet Bottle
2. Galvanized iron corrugated or flat roofing sheet size 9″ x 10″
3. Chlorine (10ml per liter)
4. Steel Brush or Sand Paper
5. Snipping tools to cut the sheet
6. Pliers to fold the sheet back
7. Rubber Sealant or Epoxy resin – to seal and attach the bottle
8. Screws to attach it to the roof securely
9. Filtered water


On the galvanized roof sheet piece cut a circle 2mm smaller than the diameter of the bottle. Make small cuts perpendicularly along the edge and fold them upwards. Take the bottle and rub the sides to make it rough enough for the glue to adhere. Pass the bottle through the hole and hold in place using the folded edges of the sheet (1/3rd of the bottle above the fold). Apply glue to the bottle and the folded edges to seal and attach them together. Now pour 10ml of Chlorine into the bottle and top it up with filtered water. Close the lid tightly.

Now cut a hole on the roof of the shack where the light is needed. Apply sealant or epoxy resin around the opening to cover an area equivalent to the 10″x9″ sheet. Press it down and secure with screws. The bottle top which will be exposed to the elements needs to be protected (use plastic tubing and sealant to protect it). The Solar Water Bulb is ready and spreading light. The bottle light is believed to have a life of up to 5 years!!

How Does it work?

Simple: water diffracts the light, letting it spread throughout the house instead of focusing on one point. The chlorine keeps the water clear and microbe-free.

Positive Attributes – One can make on ones own Solar Bottle Bulb from waste materials! It can be installed any place world over where there is a roof. It is easily portable and yes, there are a huge number of households world over which do not get enough light during the day.

For e.g 360 million people in India lack access to electricity!!

Negative Attributes – Does not work during night when people do need light. The bottles sticking out of the roof is not very aesthetically pleasing 🙂

I am amazed at the possibilities such a simple idea provides – It is Green, Eco friendly, Cost effective and Practical! Try it out!

Things to watch out for or remember-

Make sure you seal the roof properly to avoid water damage.

Cover the bottle cap to make sure it does not disintegrate.

It only works during the day when there is sunlight.


Isang Litrong Liwanang

A DIY Solar Water Heater From Plastic Bottles

Solar water heaters are probably the most widely used solar product worldwide, especially in Asia and other parts of the developing world it is a constant with any new construction. Out of Brazil comes this plastic water bottle based water heater created by Jose Alano a retired mechanic. He created a simple, cheap, energy saving rooftop solar water heater which is benefiting thousands of people across Brazil. Alano refused to throw away plastic bottles and packaging to end up in the landfills. In his words “Being 59 years old, I have had the opportunity to witness the technological advances of science, which improved food storage. But nowadays, some packaging weighs almost the same than the food itself! Years ago, my wife and I realized that we were not prepared for this new form of consumption.”

Using his basic knowledge of Solar water heaters he and his wife created the green alternative version making use of 100 plastic (PET) bottles and 100 Milk Cartons there by getting rid of their waste responsibly.

Alano’s water heater won the Superecologia prize, offered by the Superinteressante magazine for renewable projects in the not-for-profit sector. He has made his design patented and available to use as a not for profit design. The only restrictions are on industrial production and politicians claiming credit for it!

The Invention

The standard solar water heaters cost a couple of 1000$ and have copper as a main element. The Plastic Bottle solar water heater is based on the thermosyphon technology which is used in many solar water heaters. It makes use of the circulation of water based on density; hot water which is less dense moves upwards while the cold water which is denser moves down. Alano estimates that to heat water for a shower of one person, a 1m² panel would be enough.

Materials needed for construction:

The only material required to build a recycled water heater are:

  • 2L plastic bottles (60),
  • Cartons (50)
  • 100mm PVC pipe (70 cm)
  • 20mm PVC pipe (11.7m)
  • 90-degree 20 mm PVC elbows (4)
  • 20mm PVC T-connectors (20)
  • 20 mm PVC end caps (2)
  • PVC glue
  • Black matt paint
  • Paint Roller
  • Sand paper
  • Self-amalgamating tape
  • Tools – Rubber hammer, saw, wood or other material for the support.

Once you get everything ready check out the diagrams in this DIY Leaflet online (PDF format in Portuguese, but the diagrams are easy to follow). use the 100mm PVC pipe as a mold and cut off the bottom of the bottles. Cut the 20mm PVC pipes into 10 x 1m and 20 x 8.5 cm pieces, and assemble with the T-connectors. Cut and paint the cartons (page10-12), as well as the one-meter long pipes. Assemble according to figure B.

The panels must be placed at least 30 cm below the tank and be sited on a south facing wall or roof. To optimize heat absorption, the panels must be mounted at the angle of your latitude, plus 10°. In London, for instance, the panel’s inclination should be 61°. Alano recommends that the plastic bottles in the panels should be swapped for new ones every 5 years: ‘Over time, the plastic becomes opaque, which reduces the heat caption, while the black cartons can be repainted.’ So once the bottles become opaque it is time to replace the bottles and send the used ones to the recycle dump.

Check out a video of a Alano’s bottle solar heaters below:

Such a useful way to utilize plastic bottles: green, clean and energy efficient! Reduce Reuse Recycle the 3 R’s at work! Live Green!

Source for data and Pictures – The Ecologist

Simple DIY Green Projects For The Summer

Summer is here the perfect time for spending time outside the home and also the best time to be creative. I have put together youtube videos of some of my favorite DIY projects using everyday things. Check them out, use your creativity and do something unique and Green this summer!

Lanterns using Chinese takeout containers (the paper variety)
Who doesn’t like Chinese take out? Rice and noodles sometimes come in those white paper cotainers with the metal handles. Shiho Masuda has created these simple cool lanterns out of the takeout containers.
* The paper takeout container
* A punch to cut holes (you can use your scrap book supplies too! stars etc.. would make it fancier)
* Acrylic colors to paint the box
* Small tea light candles for light (I suggest battery operated tealights for safety)
Now Check out the Video and remember with candles always be careful, DO NOT LEAVE BURNING CANDLES UNATTENDED.

How to Make a Friendship Bracelet
These days friendship bracelets are the rage and making one is a breeze and fun to do.
* Knitting yarn or other yarn in colors of the child’s liking.
* A clip board helps to hold the threads in place when weaving.
Check out the video from expert village-

Non-Toxic Home made Sidewalk chalk
All children love drawing on the side walk. These days one has to worry about whether there is lead in the chalk too. I found this recipe to make your own home made chalk on Fun Family Edutcation
Simple to make and Safe n Fun for the kids!
Materials :
* 1 cup plaster of Paris
* 1 cup water
* Powdered tempera paint (I tried food color which works too!)
* Mold for chalk (small paper cups, ice cube trays, tissue rolls, etc.)
* Mixing bowl and spoon
In a Bowl mix together Plaster of Paris and Water, add color mix really well. Pour it into moulds (I like the tubular ice trays as the chalks look like real chalks, you can pretty much use any mould. Kids love animal shaped chalks!) I tend to leave it over night to air dry and take it out next day. If still wet let it dry a little bit more and now you have chalks for all the little artists!

Picture Source Lazy mom’s blog

A cool Green bag from your favorite Tee Shirt

See the bag below? How beautiful is it!! A very creative blogger Barbara Matthiessen has the simple steps to create this adorable bag! Your kids will have fun painting the flowers and personalizing their bags too!

Click on this Link to find out how you too can create a lovely, eco-friendly bag from your fav teeshirt!

Will add more soon. Enjoy Green Summer!!

The Generation Missing Out on Hands-On Creativity

Picture source Moving wind Mills Project website

In last Sunday’s newspaper supplement was an article by Mitch Albom titled The Lost Art of Building With Your Hands . It started with the real life story of William Kamkwamba a Malawian teenager (now 22) who build a wind turbine out of things he found around his impoverished village in Africa to harness wind, to light bulbs and pump water. It was the story of a little boy who decided to fight against all odds using things he had and his two hands to make what he dreamt of a reality.

Kamkwamba lived in a small village Masitala in Malawi, where there was no electricity and most people lived off the farm. His family of 20 members did not have enough to keep him in school and he dropped out. He saw pictures of windmills in an ad and thought one thing that was available in plenty in Masitala was wind and Kamkwamba thought a wind mill would help provide his family with energy. He got a book from the library about windmills and started working on his own wind mill. He raided waste dumps to find his raw materials, an old bicycle rim, PVC pipe, a tractor fan etc… He made his first windmill and managed to power a bulb for his room in 3 months time! His success made people around him more interested in it and with more help he built a couple more wind mills to pump water and light lamps in his village. Now with help from other organizations Kamkwamba has an organization which works for as better life for the people of the region. Kamkwamba has a book out written along with his mentor Ryan Mealor titled “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind”. It can be found here Kamkwamba also has his own website and a couple of talks on TED.com (I have added the links at the bottom of the page. What caught my attention was like Mitch Albom says in his article what Kamkwamba did was use his hands, his imagination and creativity to make something possible ny sheer ingenuity.

Mitch Albom makes us ask ourselves “why we stopped building things?” Why our children are stuck in front of TV’s and Gameboys while their creativity fritters away…
Imagination still is one of the most important facets of childhood… children still draw black and brown flowers, with blue or pink leaves! Which child has not had an imaginary friend? Or the shadows which look like monsters lurking in the backyard? Children always keep on asking why? How? What? All we need to do is keep it going.

Growing up the things we did were numerous, we built small boats with paper, from ice-cream sticks and match boxes. Filled up balloons with Hydrogen using nothing but commonly available aluminum cigarette wrappers, Calcium Carbonate and water! Made model airplanes, planted and tended to our own patches of green, went fishing with handmade fishing rods! Made mud patties and sand castles… Flew kites made out of sticks and news paper… made our own costumes, put up our own plays… remember catching your first fire fly… sitting outside during summer nights silently listening to the sounds of nature watching out for the magic of the fire fly! None of these things required special tools, all one needed was our two hands and imagination! We have even given up on building blocks… These days I feel that there are just too many commercial distractions all around which are easier to follow. It is time to turn the clocks back and give our children back the best gift there is “Their Imagination”

Keep creativity alive! And like William Kamkwambe says “Trust yourself and Believe, whatever happens never give up”

Would love to hear ideas on what one can do with children with what one has around the home readily available, using ones hand and imagination.What is greener way to spend summer than doing something green with your kids! Have  Green Summer!!

The website links as promised:
William Kamkwamba’s website – http://movingwindmills.org
His blog – W Kamkwamba’s blog
TED.com talks by Kamkwamba –




Plant A Sunflower Patch – Help The Honeybees

Natures pollinators

Picture courtesy Mommamia

Do you live in the US or Canada? Do you have a green thumb? Care about our environment? A patch to plant some plants this year? Do you love honey? And have some time to spare?

If you answered “yes” to the above questions, keep reading! You might have noticed the price of honey climb a bit. Last couple of years was the poorest honey seasons in North America in many a bee keeper’s recent memory. The bees are an integral part of the environment as they help in pollinating a vast majority of the local plants.

The Great Sunflower Project aims to enlist people all over the US and Canada to observe their bees and be citizen scientists. It was done last year with good results and is on this year too.  All it takes will be less than 15 minutes of your time and it will help in figuring out what is going on with the bees.

All one needs to do is plant Lemon queen sunflower seeds (They are perennial seeds so it will come back the next year as well!), wait for the flowers to bloom and watch for the bees. Count the time taken for first 5 bees to arrive. Record it here and enjoy your sunflower patch and keep fingers crossed for the return of the healthy bees.

I have signed up hope you do too. Happy gardening and Green living!

get your own sunflower patch

Image Courtesy Trey Ratcliff