Welcome though it’s been, the last month of rain has brought work on the roof behind the main building to a standstill. Jonny was able to construct all the wooden boxes for the slightly unconventional lighting system, but without a rain-free day to fit them, he never got to oversee the completion of his roof before he had to return to the UK. So this one’s for you, mate! (And by the way, I still have your fleece, your gloves – 2 pairs, your …)
Today, the sun returned, and with a rain-free forecast in prospect, we stripped the temporary plastic covering off the roof and got to it.
When originally thinking about a lighting system for this area, I’d considered solar light tubes. But all the manufactured ones I found were ridiculously expensive and massively over-engineered for our very simple application. Making our own was easily within Wayne’s metalworking capabilities but was going to mean sourcing something to use as lenses. Nothing suitable (or suitably priced) was forthcoming after several internet searches. It remained a puzzle until I saw this video on the recycling of PET soft drink bottles as light tubes. Problem sorted!
The next task was to figure out how to fit them into the roof. In the Philippines and Brazil, where this lighting system seems to have been mostly pioneered, bottles are sealed into metal collars which are then dropped into holes cut in what are generally thin metal roofs. But this roof is to have a covering of soil and vegetation, so the bottles would need to be raised above the roof surface to catch enough light. Also, with the intensity of the sun here degrading most plastics within a short time, I wanted to have a system where it would be relatively easy to remove and replace the PET bottles once they started to show signs of becoming brittle. So I had the idea of creating lidded wooden boxes which would be set into cut-outs in the roof, with the lids easily removable for bottle replacement.
The lights make a huge difference beneath the roof. I’m planning on fixing collars of 12V LED lights around each bottle, turning them into ‘lightbulbs’ at night-time as well.