Project Goals

The Ravina Project is 10 years old on November 1st, 2016 and has in its databases over 3650 sequential days of data. It started originally as a project to reduce the carbon footprint of a 1925 era house in an old Toronto neighborhood. Today, the house is an ongoing experimental test bed providing data for science inquiry. To best communicate our varied interests we constructed, below, a list of questions, the answers to which we are actively pursuing. As well, we encourage our readers to peruse our Project Papers page for formal papers we have written exploring possible answers to these questions.

Solar energy production 

  • What are the best array angles for year round maximum energy collection?
  • How much energy can reasonably be collected with a one axis solar tracker and how do these totals compare to various standardized collection databases?
  • Is there a sun tracking support structure that works well on flat roofs?
  • What are the reasonable solar PV values for: capacity factor, Energy Returned on Energy Invested (ERoEI) and energy density?
  • How much electricity can reasonably be generated by solar PV in an off-grid configuration? How much curtailment would be involved in such a set-up?

Household heating and cooling 

  • What is the reasonable efficiency increase when insulation upgrades are applied to a 1925 era house?
  • Can a house be cooled without using air conditioning?
  • Are we affected more by heat or humidity?
  • Between solar PV panels and insulation, which gives a better energy return?
  • What would the total energy drain on the grid be if we were to convert to all electrical heating?
  • How well does a boiler that replaces both the furnace and hot water tank, work? Is it easy to use? How much maintenance is required and at what cost?

Household resilience 

  • What are the probable threats a household can face?
  • What are the electrical components required to make a house grid resilient?
  • How well do those components integrate with all other electrical appliances?
  • What are the useful lifetimes of the storage battery, inverter, solar charge controller and solar panels in a grid resilient house?
  • What modifications are required to make the house water resilient?
  • Is it possible to go days or weeks without grid power even in the wintertime?
  • Can a house be modified to be an appliance capable of being ‘plugged into’ a neighbour’s house during a grid outage?
  • What is the essential household infrastructure that needs uninterruptible power?

Data collection 

  • What data needs to be collected on a daily basis to fully describe the household’s energy usage and production?
  • When and how is that data to be collected?
  • What extra data from Environment Canada are required to build a complete picture of our household energy usage?

Formal paper production 

  • Is it possible to present our findings in a written format compatible with most people yet not completely boring to scientists and other technical people?
  • Is it possible to write papers on all aspects of our project that would be possible candidates for publication in science journals?
  • Can we find PhDs willing to take the time to provide our papers with peer review?

Low carbon lifestyle 

  • What sacrifices does a low carbon lifestyle place upon its adherents?
  • How does a low carbon lifestyle affect food quality and consumption, personal hygiene, car usage, consumption of things, water, natural gas and food wastage?
  • Is a carbon accounting philosophy possible? If so, what would be the axioms of the resulting system?

Data distribution 

  • What is the best format to place all our data on our WEB site?
  • Is it possible to construct PowerPoint presentations that allow the public to understand some of the insights we have into solar power harvesting and renewable energy production?

E-Waste production 

  • What is a software defined rather than a hardware defined device? How do they work?
  • How does a software defined device’s performance compare with its hardware defined twin?
  • What would be a reasonable estimate of the e-waste reduction by adopting and using a non-trivial software defined device rather than its hardware defined counterpart?

Both Susan and I are now in our 70s and most probably we are the last generation to enjoy this World in its fullness. Those who follow us will not have that privilege. They will witness upheavals unheard of in their scale and scope brought about by forces unleashed in the last 25 years of the 20th Century and the first quarter of the 21st Century. We hope that our data and ideas help in a small way to counteract those forces.

To all those young people out there under 20 years old ... Good Luck!