But she is saying to me: 

- You are stupid woman,

Your wick is burning

Very little,

While I have

Wonderful light,

Because of sky lightning 

Is my brother! 

S. Marshak

This chapter was co-written by me, Uriy Balashow (“UtthanaEnergetic”, Altai) and Petr Undalov (“Sunny land”, Krasnoyarsk). 


No, don’t be wrong. I’m not going to write here about so popular today human energetic, distant thing moving and so on and so forth. You can read about those a lot in big quantity of different esoteric books. I will write here about energy for house lamp.  This book about rural lifestyle and I will write about so called “alternative energy”.  

Alternative energy sources are sources which doesn’t need fossil resources for energy getting. Something like that. And this is very actual topic in the world today because there are resource wars and especially fossil source wars (“energy wars”) everywhere and we know different names of them. 

Imagine how our world will be changed if all people begin to use renewable energy sources. Have you imagined that? Or imagine our world in which all fossil fuel suddenly disappeared. Is it a serious problem? Let’s study how we get light in a lamp previously to not be amazed after. We will not face peak of oil disaster (read more about that) in our lifetime but alternative energy research is at least interesting. And if you live in some remote place then you need it badly also! 

I’m not going to talk about sources like torsion fields which are indeed alternative sources because I even didn’t see it and have no experience of its usage. And I don’t have friends who recharge their laptop from Tesla generator. When I say alternative sources I mean photovoltaic systems (PV systems) like light generator, wind generator and hydraulic generator (We used wind energy generator but it was spoiled. We still haven’t used hydro power plant but we think about it and we will definitely study it in a future). 

             I think that rational asceticism is the best way of living and I live like that by myself. I want to know how can I get necessity easy even more than about new technologies. But even being very ascetic I faced the problem that I wasn’t satisfied by solar panel near my house. In winter we can’t use lightning in my house and recharge laptop with a comfort.    This is why I began to think about upgrading electricity system in my house, its optimization and taking in order of house electricity in whole (further when I will talk about our system I will use abbreviation “A.I.” which means Aleksandr Ivanovich). 

In this searching I found Uriy Balashov (further “U.B.”) which is my neighbor on Altai and has powerful and effective PV system which satisfies him from lightning to work of all electrical building tools. And I found Piter Undalov. He is very educated electronics and experimentalist. In this way they became to be my co-writers of this part of this article. When we began to talk about electricity Uriy told me “You are ascetic. But I’m not. I need more comfort.” We have very different approaches. This is why I try to unite our approaches and to find only one middle way to “optimal PV system”. Actually I just describe our thinks and life experience in places where there is no central electricity. 

In some places of this book we decided to mention prices of electrics. Of course when you will read this book prices will be absolutely different. All changes. Anyway I think they will be useful for you for preliminary estimation. 


You should understand what electricity is. Intermediary.

Before beginning of conversation about “alternative energy sources” and particularly about PV systems I want to say some words about one of the most beloved issue among those ones who is interested in self-development. I will say some words about “being understanding” and “transformation”. Why am I talking about that? I will try to explain. Because my asceticism was founded on those thoughts.

We (people) learned enough to use for satisfying of our needs energy of warm (burning), light and kinetic energy (movement). I’ve written and thought that word “energy” today means so many different things. Better I will try not to use it at all to avoid ambiguity.   

This is why I will cross out word energy and will write “We learned how to use warm, light and movement for satisfying of our needs”. We use them already for many thousands years. There is nothing new. We still need light, warm and movement. From ancient time we illuminate our covers by sunlight, heat by bonfire and drill hole in some shell by some stick. And all were the same for a long time until electricity appeared in our world. It appeared and began its triumph spreading from dusty scientist’s chambers to everywhere on our planet. It spread absolutely everywhere. We got used to that miracle very fast. Electrification is a symbol of our world and it was performed successfully. How wonderful it is! You only touch button by your finger and immediately there is a light. Time passed and electricity became a routine. It’s just a habit nowadays.  We know very well that the strongest addiction is addiction to habitual things!

And what we have today? Electricity in our life became intermediate using which you can carry out any operation.  We like sunlight and we want to have it at home but we still can’t fill jug with it and bring it in our room. But we can burn fuel outside of our house in generator, it will begin to rotate and we will get electricity in this way which by wires will come into lamp in our house and there will be a light inside of our house. Or we can take a battery inside of which chemical reaction is going and again there will be a light inside of our house. We still don’t know how to store the light but we already know how to store electricity.  If we need a warm then we burn fuel inside of generator engine. We get electricity this way. After we transport it by wires and transform it into warm of heater spirals.  Again we took warm, transformed it into electricity and we got warm again. We took movement, transformed it into electricity and got movement again like for example in rotating drill bit. Or you can do it in some other way.

I think you understood my idea. 

This is very comfortable for us and we got used to that and even stopped to remember way of transformations and what do we need exactly. Electricity was turned from intermediate into purpose and we again didn’t pay attention to that. And when we began to think how to disconnect the plug from the outlet and about more understood electricity usage it will be great if we will understand what exactly we need…

In today’s world it is not very easy to understand what exactly we need because nowadays we don’t solve by ourselves what we need exactly; advertisement makes us think that we need to have every good which they want to sell. 


What do we need energy for?

Or “electric austerity” anatomy

Ok we need the light! We don’t need Watts and Volts. We need the light! We need the light for lighting of our house. We want to read book in the evening, to embroider or not to meet stools or cabinets when we go in the dark. If you are living in multi-storey building then every evening you can see how your neighbors watch TV… and we surely need to know how to locate each lamp in our flat. But if we live in a village and built our house by themselves then we can select windows location by themselves to use natural light more effectively. Second. We should think about our day schedule. If we live synchronously with natural solar rhythm then we think less about lack of electricity which we got during the day.  These two thinks are very easy but on one hand I never could live according to the sun (try it by yourself) while on other hand location of my house to sun is enough well but not perfect. I’m talking about those two things but I understand that it’s very difficult to bring it to life. And you also should have skills. And you should have knowledge. Yes knowledge. Bill Mollison told that before beginning of building of your house you should live on its place some years.  And this is very good idea. In this way you will know how sun shines in your location. You can think about a lot of things before house building but after house is built many thinks will be very surprising for you. Trust me.

And one more thing I want to mention. If you live in village then you spend a lot of time outdoor. This is also your house only under the sky. And God created light outdoor in the best way. No one lamp which was created by human is better. And so we understood we need the light not electricity! But all of those are not very simple.  Let’s don’t think about ideal sun house or our ideal day schedule. And don’t think that in long winter evening you will not want to read book. You will. This is why we think about light in our house. And we need it sometimes so badly.

As we live in energy savings condition. We locate lamps in places where we need it badly.  For example we need it under the dinner table. Or we need it under the place on the oven where I like to lay and read book. We switch on only that lamp which we need now.

That is all about light. (Now there is switched on lamp under the place where I’m laying and working. Lamp’s power is 30 watt and it’s is more than enough.)  

Second thing is a heat. You will understand it good if you are sitting on the warm oven and it’s cold outside. And this is not only for pleasure, it is a necessity. I think this is not a secret that electricity heating is very expensive. Sun heating is the best. This is why we make warm in wood oven. If there is a plenty of wood it’s the best decision. It’s very good if oven is good, effective and it was made from breaks. Heat from small stove is not so pleasant like from break oven. And small stove becomes cold very fast after finishing fuel burning in it

Second thing is house quality. If your house is good then you need less wood to keep it warm. 

Third thing is the sun. It’s very good if you use it for heating of your house. For example if you have a greenhouse near your house. So for heating you don’t need electricity at all. It is not affective there. We can’t use electric kettle, microwave oven, toaster because there is no central electricity in our house. 

Third think which we use  electricity for is movement. I mean our tools like circular saw, jigsaw, drill and so on and so forth. They are very important in the village. We build something all the time. And another very popular think is a pump for lifting of water which is also an engine. And we have some house equipment like a sewing machine, blender and mill for flour. 

By the way fridge which there is in each flat in the city is also engine. Actually we don’t need fridge a lot in a village because there is nothing to store there. We usually don’t have meat, we store dairy in the creek.   We don’t need fridge for anything else. We can use micro fridge in a car if we haven’t eaten all soup. We store meal usually in cellar. Cellar doesn’t need electricity for its work. Perhaps it will be useful only for freezing and storing of fresh berries.  We want it but not so badly to worry about it.

Actually all moving tools use big quantity of electricity. For example a circular saw uses 1.5kW, some simple pump – 0.8kW. It is not so little. Our first little PV system allowed us to use only accumulator screwdriver (A.I.).   It is very useful thing. After we began to use sewing machine. All else like different grinders and circular saws were working from gasoline 3kW generator.  We expanded PV system of our house and stopped to switch on generator. Now our PV system has power more than 650W, there are a 40A controller, old accumulators with capacity 560 A*h and 3kW inverter. Now I use sun as my only one battery. We are planning to expand power of our PV system to 1kW. And this is perfect. We are working on that now. Thanks to God we don’t need often tools which need much electricity. Usage of generator is not very comfortable. It needs gasoline, makes a loud noise and smells. It has a small power. We use most often hand tools (for construction and household).    

Uriy installed big PV system in his house and never switched on generator even during building. But big PV system costs a lot. 

You should use electricity directly, without convention like in hydraulic ram. In hydraulic ram water is lifted by energy of a creek.  It’s brilliant idea. 

Forth thing is very electrical and very important too. I even don’t know how to name it. Perhaps I will say “electrical goods”. They are computers, telephones, music players and so on and so forth. They are very useful things. They help us to do different things like to write books, articles. And good news is that they use very little quantity of energy. Perhaps because we don’t convert energy in them, we use it directly. 


Some automation of our life is other important function of electricity.  And we think about used time and power. Electricity helps us to make our daily labor easier and saves the time… For example you have no need to make splinter from the log, you just turn on switch and in you hut there is a light! You have no need to bring water in bucket. You can just turn on switch and there is water in a tap.  And now you have a question how many thinks you want do in your life by yourself? What to give to electricity? If something was automated what will you do with your free time? Perhaps you want to leave some manual labor? But which of them? How much? This is a question of ideology and preferences… 

Let’s study structure of PV system.




On his journey Czigun had come to [imperia] Chu on the south and then was coming back to Czin. When he was walking to the north from [river] Han, he noticed gardener which was digging grooves for seedbeds and climbing down in the well with big jug to water [his seed beds].    He was working a lot but did very little. Czigun said:

- There is a machine which waters hundred seed beds a day. It needs a little but you will get a lot. Do you want [to try it]? 

- How does it look like? – gardener asked  rising his head. 

- I was made it from wood boards. Rear part is heavier than front one. [It] brings water pumping it [like] boiling soup. We call it pumping machine.

Gardener’s face changed because of anger, after little giggle gardener replied:

- I don’t use it not because I don’t know about it. I’m ashamed to use it. My teacher told me “One who uses machine has mechanical deeds. Heart of that one who has mechanical deeds becomes mechanical. Chest of that who has mechanical heart in him will loss integrity of simplicity.  He who lost integrity of simplicity will not improve himself in life of wisdom.  One who didn’t improve himself in life of wisdom will not go using right way [= hasn’t dao]”.

Czigun  being ashamed was repenting. He  lowered his head and was keeping silence. 


Chjan-czi. Mechanical heart. 


Structure of Photovoltaic system (PV system)

I believe that majority of you who reads this book knows little bit what is photovoltaic system and its structure. Nowadays you can find a lot of information.  But I think I should say some words about it to be sure you know why lamp lights. 


Solar panels. You undoubtedly know shape of them.  They are black-blue plates in which sun rays transform into electricity. There are two types of panels. They are monocrystalline panels and polycrystalline panels. There are also amorphous panels. We use it in calculator. And there are some other types but they are rare. Differences between panels are possibility of transforming of different parts of sunlight into electricity and effectiveness. There are panels with different power and different voltage (12V and higher). 

The charge controller. This is a box with electronic which controls  accumulator charge process. There are MPPT(MaximumPowerPointTracking) and PWM on our market.  MPPT is more expensive. 


Accumulator. This is very important part of a system. Namely it gives us autonomy. While there is a sun we accumulate energy in accumulators when there is no sun we use it. There are different types of accumulators. Differences between them are their capacity and technologies from which depends their productivity. We use armored acid traction ones like in electric trolley (forklifts). I will tell you more about accumulator little father.

Invertor. It is a box which makes alternative current from direct current.  We have electricity 24V net at home.  But we want electricity 220V net. First we want use at home different ordinary tools which need alternative current. Second we can transfer 220V current by wires easier because of current power is low and losses are little.   While 12V net and 24V net can be very small. 

Differences between invertors are voltage (12V, 24V, 48V), power and type of alternative current (sinusoid and pseudo sinusoid). Engines and some sensitive tools need sinusoid current. Such inverters are more expansive but they produce sinusoid current of high quality and safe for all tools. They have no voltage surges and voltage drop which are harmful for household appliances.    

According to type of operation principle there are two types of invertors. They are high frequency invertors and transformer invertors. Second type we use more rarely because they are more expensive and heavier but more stabile especially if we use often tools which have starting current twice more higher then nominal current. But high frequency invertors are very common and you can find one of high quality. 

Users. They are all tools which will work from our net like lamps, computers, pumps and so on and so forth. There are two types of users. First one uses 12-24V current (car tools) and second one uses 220V current (all other household tools which are connected via invertors). 


Technical equipment. They are wires, terminal blocks, junction boxes, switches, fuses and so on and so forth. There is ordinary (and extraordinary) electricity equipment in this section. 


That is all which basic PV system includes. 


What is quantity of electricity? What types of kilowatts are there? How to count them?

We use word “kilowatt” very often but we don’t understand it enough well. People wants “kilowatts”, they want a lot of them. If they begin conversation about electricity they surely ask “how many kilowatts?” And after you will hear questions “Is it enough for you?”, “Can you use more?” Let’s take a look closer what is kilowatt. 

When you chose sun power station you should know how many panels you will install, what type of inverter you will use and what type of accumulator you need. And each one of those things has characteristics which are measured in kilowatts… 

            Power of Solar panels is measured in watts for example there are solar panels on 2000 watts. This means that if sun is at its zenith and there are no clouds panel produce current of 200 watts. This means that roughly speaking this panel during 10 hours of working in a summer will give approximately 1.5kW per hour, in winter it gives in 3-4 times less.  

            Invertor also has power which is measured in watts. For example you can use with 600W inverter and 3kW inverter 600W tools and 3kW tools. For example average laptop needs 60-70W, borehole pump needs 500W and more, circular saw, grinder need approximately 1000W, kettle needs 2000W. This is why you need to chose inverter thinking about maximal power of all tools which you will use in same time. According to my experience I can say that for ordinary life you need to have inverter with power at least 1.5kW, better with 3kW, in last case you can use any tool you need for building and living.  

Accumulator has capacity which is measured in kilowatts per hour. Usually accumulator has a notification with something in A per hour and voltage for example 12V – 200A per hour. If you will multiply first one on second you will get 2400W per hour, this means that you can use roughly saying tool with power 100W during 24 hours. Label on all starter accumulator’ says capacity in case of you will discharge it for 20 hours. If you will discharge it faster then it will give you less capacity. This is why we recommend usage of traction accumulators for autonomous supply system. Their capacity which is noticed on the label is for 5-hour discharge and they are able to work longer with bigger load. Ordinary starter accumulator on high current gives half and even less from their capacity and became failing soon. 

Let’s talk simpler. Think that electricity is ordinary a water.

Accumulator is a jug which we fill. Panel is a tap or water jet which fills jug. If we have many panels then jug will be filled faster. If capacity of the jug (accumulator) is big then we can pour in it much water. If we have powerful inverter then we can take more water and it will flow faster and we will use it faster. Something like that. In hole it’s important to have balanced system. Panel power and accumulator capacity should be balanced first of all. 

If there are many panels and little accumulator in your system then you should constantly use electricity or in another case it will heat your equipment and equipment will fail more quickly. But you also should have suitable inverter. It is not bad if it has little power. In this case water from your jug will flow slowly but you can use it anyway. But if you have little accumulator and powerful inverter then you will have lack of capacity to store big energy flow of powerful inverter. 


Photovoltaic system. Details.

We (A.I.) use “alternative” energetic especially photovoltaic system for three years now. We had wind energy generator but one day during strong wind it lost its wings. And we stopped experiments with it. But maybe we will continue it in a future. We got experience, a lot of equipment. There are black-blue plates on each building which we have.  We got not only experience and a lot of equipment but also we understood that alternative energetic has many little things which you should know to have good working system. Now I will try to tell you what I now know about that. 

1. Solar panel gives power which is stated on the label only in case of excellent conditions. Rays strike on the panel at right angles, weather is not hot, there is no anything which can hide panel from rays for example cloud or grass. 


2. First our accumulators were gifted to us. But they didn’t have capacity of 132 A per hour which was stated on a label. Our equipment couldn’t work well with it. In addition they were ordinary starter ones, not traction ones.  Some of them were spoilt soon, but some of them still give the light little bit. New accumulators are very expensive. And they were working with parameters which were noticed on a label only at the beginning but soon became worse.  


3. Controllers and invertors and electronic which we have or we had become spoilt after some time. And cheap Chinese electronic become spoilt very fast. No guaranty. And we couldn’t repair it. And it also works bad. And if you bought cheap Chinese electronic you probably will buy new one soon.  


4.It is electricity. This is only 12V but sparks, short circuits, heating and melting of the insulation and even fire may occur. There is no difference you use alternative current or other one. This is why you should be very careful with all of that. Perhaps better first to ask electric how to do all basic electric works right. For example you should know how to connect and to isolate wires. 


5. To continue previous paragraph I should say that if solar panel appeared in your house then immediately you will have in your house such things like hanging wires.    It happens always. There is no difference you got electric pole or photovoltaic system. We recommend to design house wiring and to prepare places for all equipment.    And do it first of all even before electricity will appear in your house. And don’t forget about hanging wires which wants to be hanged permanently. 


6. Actually in a summer sun stronger then in a winter. This means that you can get less electricity during a winter then during a summer. But we need a lot of electricity in a winter. You want to read (and to write) books in a winter a lot. 

We wanted to solve all of those problems and that is why we began our experiments to optimize the system. I will write about that.  Of course you should from the beginning make your system from normal parts.  But we couldn’t do that so we should rebuild it after.  So this way we got some accumulators of different types, some controllers, some power invertors… We spent a lot of money on all of those and got big experience of using of different components.   

Of course we are not alone who thinks about PV system.  This is field for big quantity of experiments for many people on many years! And when I was talking with some people about that I got a question. Is it possible to have normal working PV system? Yes it is real.  


Optimization of photovoltaic system and could it work well? 

Panels and its location

The most popular panels today are monocrystalline panels and polycrystalline panels. But they are not effective enough.  When they calculate effectiveness of panels they use reference which equal to 1kW of sunlight energy for 1 square meter of Earth surface.    This is like energy maximum you can get from 1 square meter. Monocrystalline panels can process 25% and this is the biggest index among other panel types. 

Panels on solid crystals (monosrystalline and polycrystalline) were designed for aerospace field for wavelength of direct sunlight without refractions (as in an airless space). This is why they work well only in sunny weather. In cloudy weather their productivity can decrease in 10 times. Isomorphic silicon panels were designed for work in cloudy weather and they decrease their productivity in cloudy weather only in 2 times.

And one more think. When panels became overheated they decrease their productivity. This is why the best time for PV system work is early spring. 

We have many sunny days on Altai. This is why we still use monocrystalline panels. They are cheaper then amorphous, have a small size and work longer. If in your place quantity of sunny days is not big then it will be better for you to install amorphous silicon panels. I hope they will work better in your case. I will check it later.  

Situation in the world changes permanently. Scientists find new good thinks all the time. This is why solar panel effectiveness will increase. And they will become cheaper. We can see new types of panels very often. You can find nowadays concentrators. Concentrator is device which allow to photocells to “catch” light more effectively. And nowadays you can find absolutely new types of panels which like film can be slicked even on window glass…  Perhaps soon they create photocells for which sun location will not be so important.  We will wait and will see.

Now sun should shine directly on panel. In another case panel effectiveness is decrease very mach. Take a look at this chart.


             You can see on chart that if angle between rays and panel changes on 20% then efficiency decrease on 5% and if angle is very big then efficiency can decrease to 20%. What can we do? 

There are two ways of optimization. 

1. Tracker. Firstly I fixed the solar panel on the rotatable stand. Before that it was standing leaning against the house wall.  It wasn’t the best direction. And kids several times kicked it. In case of its broke it could be very expensive for us. 

Stand is very simple structure. I made wood frame and fixed panel on it. I fixed frame on dug pole. That is all. It’s very easy to use this structure. You should only turn it to sun manually several times a day. System became more effective. But soon we understood that there are some difficulties. Wind can turn panel to wrong side and we sometimes forgot to turn panel to the sun. Besides if size of panel increase then stand also become larger and it is not very easy to turn it to sun. At the beginning we used that wooden stand. But then we began to use automatic tracker. It became to turn panel to the sun by itself. And structure began to work on 30% more effective. It is working without of our help. It is conveniently but expensive. There is only one panel on our tracker today. Tracers for many panels are expensive because they should be big to withstand strong wind. All other panels just hang on the house wall and are focused to the east.

Using of trackers makes charge of accumulators more stable during the day. And this is good for accumulators.   


2. Increasing of panel quantity. You can hang panels on stand but it shouldn’t be turning stand (especially if there are a lot of panels), you should hang it on stationary stand.  Stationarity (this means that panels not always are turned directly to the sun) is compensated by additional quantity of panels. This is economically more effective than installing of trackers. But installing of trackers is convenient because it allows to decrease panel quantity especially if you use very expensive panels.  

You can often see on some pictures solar panels which are installed on the house roof. We were using them in this way but we denied from it because in winter panels often were covered with a snow and after snowfall we had to clear the snow from their surface.   You will not climb on roof very often! And we have roof which is not very convenient for that. 

You should hang panels in two meters from the ground.  This is important because soil absorbs light and if panel stands on the ground it produce 10-20% of electricity less than that which is raised. You should clean panels by broomstick in the morning after snowfall. But you should do it only in a cloudy weather. But if the sun is shining then black plates are warmed and there is no need to clean them, snow slips down by itself cleaning surface from dust.

Optimal panel inclination angle in the vertical plane is latitude angle (on the equator panel can lay horizontally at angle 90° to sun rays but on pole it should stand vertically at the angle 0°). In our area it is approximately 51°. In a winter sun is lower and in a summer it is upper. This is why if panel on stand leans you can change its angle from 36° in a winter (latitude is -15°) to 66° in a summer (latitude is +15°). But if there are a lot of panels it is not very conveniently to move them. Then we keep all panels at average angle. 15° of inclination will change productivity only on 5% (look at chart).


There are three types of traction lead-acid accumulators on the market. They are AGM, GEL and wet accumulator. Let’s take a look little bit closer on each type. 

Accumulators of AGM type. There is fiberglass material which is impregnated with electrolyte between positive and negative electrodes.  Cell of such accumulator is like layered cake.  In accumulator there are 6 cells which were connected successively. Accumulator voltage is 12V. Producers say that accumulators will work 10-12 years. But this is not true! Technical documentation says that they are able to be recharged 300-400 times in the cyclic mode. They should work for 1.5-2 years but they work less because of sulfation and mockery by the user.  

Price of one accumulator of AGM type with capacity 200 A per hour and voltage 12V is 28000 rubles on April of 2016.  

Accumulators of GEL type. They are similar to accumulators of AGM type but their electrolyte is thickened with using of special additives. It is like gel. Users call them “gel accumulators”.  

           In one accumulator there are 6 cells. Accumulator voltage is 12V. They work so long like AGM, only they have other requirements to charge mode. Heating is very harmful for them and reduces wok term considerably.  Sellers promise 10-12 years of work but it is also only marketing! In circle mode they have quantity of circles same like AGM accumulators. Price of 1 accumulator of GEL type with capacity 200 A per hour and voltage 12V is 32000-33000 rubles on April of 2016 year. 

Their good qualities are:

they don’t require good room ventilation (but they extract hydrogen);

you don’t work with liquid electrolyte;

Metal corrosion possibility is less. 

             But those good qualities are not considerable. There is big bad quality. They don’t have a big capacity for autonomous power supply systems.  

          It supposed to be noticed that maximal accumulator capacity is 200-230 A per hours and producers can’t make capacity bigger because accumulator with bigger capacity will have big weight and big size.

Also it supposed to be said that sellers have usually accumulators of AGM and GEL types. Perhaps because of:

а) there are economic benefits (they can only resell it and have a good profit); b) there is no need to work with electrolyte, so everyone is able to install it; c) there is no need to use accumulator complex, this decreases considerably mounting time and additional expenditures of labor for installation of power supply system.  Next type of accumulators is accumulator with liquid electrolyte. Positive and negative electrodes are in liquid electrolyte solution. There are two types of such accumulators depending from electrode (plate) type.  They are: 

а) monotestaceous – they can work no less than 600 cycles; 

б) testaceous- they can work no less than 1500 cycles. Voltage of those accumulators is 2V. For getting 12V accumulator you need 6 ones. Their capacity varies from 160A per hour to 1200 A per hour. 

Price of accumulator with capacity 160 A per hour and voltage 2V is 3000 – 3500 rubles on April 2016.  

Work term in autonomy supply systems in several times higher than AGM and GEL.  

Producers and sellers give guaranty on them on 1 year. After if something wrong it’s user problem. But problems appear after 9-11 months of using when guaranty term is finished. Accumulators begin to work bad but their praise was very high… 


At first we (A.I.) had not very good accumulators which were written off from railway locomotives. They were good at first but they were starter. They couldn’t work in our PV system and became spoilt quickly (even plates were damaged badly). After we found traction accumulator unite with liquid electrolyte on 24V and 560 A per hour. That accumulator consisted to parts on 12V which were connected by wires. Its weight was approximately 450 kg and it was approximately 10 years old. Now our system is working with that accumulator.  We don’t know now for how long it will work. 

Usage of accumulator which consist parts on 2V is better than one on 12V because you can change one or two spoilt parts instead of changing of whole unit in case of fail.  And in unite with 2V parts you can align charge in each part with balancer device (we use tool from company “Sunny land”, Solar124.ru) and it makes it more effective. And your accumulator will work longer and you can do desulfuration separately in each part of unit.

Why we should use balancer device? Many books about alternative energy supply say that you should take parts for one unit from one batch of one year. Why? You should do it to spread charge evenly between parts. But in nature there is nothing absolutely same and even accumulators from one batch will work differently. They accumulate charge differently and give it back also in different way. And if you take a look inside of accumulators then you will see that some of them are boiling (Electrolysis of water is going and this is very harmful for electrodes) but some are not (they are not fully charged). And if you will check a charge in each accumulator then you will see that in different 2V accumulators it is different. If you checked charge in each accumulator and all is well but accumulators are still not in good condition. Balancer device should be connected to each accumulator. It will check charge in each of them and balance them. In this way charges become same and accumulators operate smoothly. Imagine that accumulators are singers then balance devise is choir conductor. 

If you will disassemble 12V accumulator you will see that it consists 2V parts which contain different charges. It is same situation.  

About capacity. Don’t think a lot about capacity. Your accumulator should charge well and discharge also well. There are not strict formulas for calculating of accumulator capacity. In each case you will use special one. There are different types of panels and tools and they work also very differently. So we have to say that it’s important that in sunny weather and without of usage of energy accumulators should be charged completely during one day.  In another case your accumulator will not be recharged fully often and they will be spoilt soon. You should remember the rule “Better little less then little more” because accumulator should be discharged completely also regularly in another case all plate area will not work and capacity will decrease.   

About electrolyte. It’s important to open accumulator lids often to check electrolyte quantity. If there is a lack you should pour distillate water to hide plates. But you should not use water which you bought in a shop because it contains a lot of impurities like iron.  They just sell filtered water from tap. The best water for this is prepared in distillatory by yourself.

You should measure electrolyte density especially if you have bad quality accumulators. You can do it using hydrometer. You should check density at the end of sun day when accumulators are completely recharged. Fully recharged accumulator should have electrolyte density approximately 1.42 g/sm3. You can correct it by acid with density 1.42 g/sm3 (almost each car shop sells it) or by distillate water. 

About winter. Accumulators love warm. They don’t keep charge on negative temperature. In case of electrolyte is outdoor you should increase electrolyte density because high density electrolyte becomes frozen less and accumulator keeps charge better.  In any case accumulator should not be cooled lower than -20 °. Constant keeping them in the house with positive temperature is the best way of usage it.

Now we think to put accumulators inside of warmed corpus and put inside of corpus firm for infrared heating on 24V with thermal relay to heat little bit block when it is - 20°С… and to heat inner porch also.

In a winter we have days sometimes when there is sun lack even in our sun area. We try not to use any powerful tools to not discharge accumulator in such days. We are waiting for days with plenty of sunlight. 

             Now let’s talk about controller. I was talking about it already but now let’s take a look a bit closer. 

Usually we don’t pay much attention to it. We buy it according to current power which can be produced by solar panels. And this is not good. Actually charge controller is very important thing! From its quality depends accumulator life which (if it is good) is very expensive. 

We deal with it in this way. While we had free accumulators which were working bad we didn’t pay attention how controller works. Little lamp was lighting a little and it was OK. We were using tools mostly during time of the sharpest daylight (we didn’t recharge accumulator in that case). To light house little bit with lamps that accumulator was fit. When we began to want more from system we changed accumulator and began to think for how long they will work. 

For understanding why controller is so important I will tell you about accumulator recharging and how to use it! 

             Following chemical formula describes recharge process of lead-acid accumulators. 


PbO2 + Pb + 2H2SO4 = 2PbSO4 +2H2O


If we take a look at this process little bit closer then we will understand that we get water not right away but firstly we get hydrogen and oxygen.  This is why you should ventilate room with accumulators to not allow explosion if process will not be ended by creation of water. If we take a look at the process closer we will see that filler lead-acid accumulator is absolutely reversible system in which expendable material is water.  Electric energy (electric charge) locates in electrolyte. Lead plates only accept current and transmit it.

            Quantity of recharge/discharge cycles in such system is not less than 4500-5000 if charge is “correct”. And what charge is “correct”? One which provides complete plate desulphation because main cause of getting failed accumulator is sulfation (lead sulfate formation PbSО). 

You can see in formula that this is normal process during each accumulator discharge. During accumulator recharging sulfate should dissolve but practically this process doesn’t end and remaining lead collects in accumulator after each usage.  As a result plates are covered with white bloom (PbSO4). It is dielectric and it isolates plates from electrolyte lowering area of touching from electrolyte. It leads to decreasing of given currents i.e. capacity loss. 

All of that lead to accumulator change. And this is a cause why alternative systems are so unstable. Almost each of them depends from accumulator (it is very expensive!) and accumulators (even new) will fail completely in couple of years. And if we think about nature accumulators should be reclaimed and this is very big problem. 

Ok controllers.

There are two types of them on the market. They are PWM and MPPT. 

Controllers of PWM (pulse width modulation) type is the most commonly used controller and it is quite cheap. Mechanism of its work is enough simple. All current from solar panels goes on accumulator recharging. For exceeding of a set threshold pulse-width modulation of the current is performed for maintain of the set charge voltage. 

Controllers of МРРТ (monitoring of the maximum power point) type is the most popular nowadays among users and producers. Its work mechanism is little bit different from work mechanism of PWN-controller. МРРТ controller – is “voltage-current” converter with high efficiency which low current with high voltage from solar panels convert in high current with required voltage.  If accumulator is recharged enough there is not impulses like in PWM.  

          Producers say that controller monitors effectiveness of solar panel work with purpose of getting of maximum power. This means that you can get using MPPT controller from sunlight on 15-20% of energy more than from PWM controller. 

           But this is not true. Expensive MPPT controller and PWM controller work in same way using same algorithm which lead to necessity of changing of accumulator soon. 

The biggest swindle is that producers don’t produce the most effective accumulators. It is not profitable for them! And this delays common usage of PV system. All sun controllers which you can find on the market are not able to fully dissolve sulfate of lead during recharging process in accumulator because of their work algorithm.  Users who once changed in their autonomic system accumulator possibly will think why they bought such MPPT or PWM controller and accumulator of AGM or GEL type. In 1.5-2 years power station is not fit for usage. And what is conclusion from all of that? 

We began to study this issue and to seek other algorithms of recharging which will allow to safe accumulators. And we found works of Americano John Bediny who is nowadays main specialist of accumulator recharging. Controllers of his idea are tinkered by amateurs but you can find them. 

Alexandr Soroka1 is known on territory of former Soviet Union. He is working on prolongation of accumulator usage.  He has own algorithms and chargers on its basis for different types of accumulators. 

We can say that recharging algorithms by Bediny are the most effective between algorithms we could found.  


We can control condition of our system by voltmeter. Some controllers have ammeter using which you are able to see how strong sun is shining now and if there are too much of snow on panel or something else have happened and interferes to operate for your system well.  There is no big practical sense to control current power. You can use it only for performing of experiments and then you should have ammeter which is fit for current which panels can produce.   Panel should be located to be sufficiently lighted by sun. I wrote about that but I want to write it again. We don’t need to know current power. It is important to know current voltage. 

Controllers which are working on Bediny’s algorithms will raise current voltage to 30,4V (And sulfating will begin. For 12V accumulators this voltage is 15,2V. See chart) but in the evening recharged accumulator voltage should stabilize to 26V (13V). If you see this number on voltmeter it means your accumulator is completely recharged. 



We (A.I.) didn’t buy transformation inverter before prices on all foreign devices were raised. That is why we use domestic one which has high quality. It works well. We are satisfied.  For years of experiments we burnt some Chinese inverters.  And nobody can repair it. That is why you should buy only good electronic with well known brand. It should have good support service also!  

Now we have 24V inverter. But at the beginning we had 12V inverter which was connected to half of accumulator and that is very bad for accumulator because it destabilizes accumulator by irregular discharge (read above about balancers).

It is good if you have two devices: little one (we have for example one on 300 Watts) and big one (for example on 3 kilowatts).  You can keep little inverter which is used for simple tools working constantly even if there is very low sunlight. It uses very little quantity of energy. You need big inverter only for work of powerful tools. But we need it not so often. It is very comfortable if inverter has energy saving mode.

When you will buy inverter you should remember about start current. This mean that when you switched on tool it can use some seconds more powerful current than it is written in instruction.

              You should pay attention on inverter integrated protection. It must allow usage of net with voltage 220V even in case of accumulator is in desulphation mode (approximately 15,2V and 30,4V).  If integrated protection will switch off inverter earlier (for example 15V or 29V) then you will not able to use it during the most active sunlight. Actually it’s easy to configure and if you get in touch to producer that issue will be resolved very quickly. It is good if inverter has protections from overheating, short circuit, reverse polarity, counter-current, and so on.   


System voltage

At first I had system in my house on 12V but I decided to upgrade it to system on 24V. This system is good because amperage decrease while power is constant. You have fewer losses and you can use thinker wires. Panels of big power are produced on 24V. Price of controllers on 12V and on 24V is same but to second one you can connect more panels.  If you have system on 24V then you should have more powerful inverter. For such system there are invertors on 6 kW (peak loads up to 12 kW). This is very powerful system and you can find it in villages very rarely. System on 48V is more complicated in montage. But you can use more powerful inverter in it. But this is more than enough it seems. So… 24V system is optimal.

There is no big difficult in changing of all tools we use. You can find 24V lamps on the market. And they are very efficient. We have on 3W.  

For those ones on 12V (like car tools) you can install a down converter from 24V to 12V. We use voltage converter from “SibContact”. Don’t use it with a half of block!  

There are 3 nets in our house. They are net on 24V (main), net on 220V (using inverter) and net on 12V (little net from voltage converter). 


Place for equipment

Controller and inverter can have big fan for cooling which make a loud noise.  If there is a special technical room with heating for all equipment then noise (and ventilation) is not a problem. We have only one warn room.  That is why we placed all equipment in cold inner porch. I have already written about accumulator cooling. Cold for all other parts of system is not so harmful but don’t cool it so hard (and don’t heat it as well). But you should keep it in dryness. And keep it away from kids (it is electricity!).



During optimization of my system I changed all wires from solar panels to controller and from controller to accumulators. Now there are thinner wires with a cross section of 16 mm2. I covered them by copper brackets, cleaned contacts well, lubricated them with graphite grease and connected them well.   This thickness of wires is enough for 90A current. This is more than enough for our system.   

I connected 24V solar panels by thinner wires with cross section 6 mm2. But this is also more than enough for us. This is enough for 40A current (it is 1 kW for 24V current).   Remember! You should have thick wires because thick wires have fewer losses. 


How to deal with a system in neat way? PV system is ordinary electrical system. And there is no difference you have central electricity in your house or PV system.  You will have electricity mess anyway. You should do everything in your system good when you do it first time. In another case you will have big problem in the future with correction of your system. Don’t think I will do it after better. Do it excellent today.

I will not write about work of an electrician a lot. It seems for me that good thing for wire fixing is tin brackets which you can make from tin cans or cylinders for portable gas cooker. This is also a way to utilize tin garbage. You should cut it into strips (size 1*5 cm) and after do whole in the middle of strips. Fix it to wood wall with 19 mm tapping screws along cable.  And after when you will install cable you should fold those strips keeping cable inside of it.  I made picture of that fastening. This is old Soviet Union way. 

Everything else is ordinary. Wires go to lamps, sockets or switchers in different parts of a house. There are distribution boxes in which wires are connected with each other with help of terminal strips   in key places. Don’t forget about cores of wires, red (or another warm color) ones carry positive current and carry wires have negative current.  You should always follow this rule because it is good for more comfortable work. One in my village made all wires of different colors in his bathhouse. And after it was very difficult for him to understand the system.  

Optimization of tools. Here I want to tell about tools which use direct current and alternative current. We don’t use inverter often because actually we don’t have a lot of tools. Some tools we connect directly to wires on 12V and 24V. For example our satellite router needs 24V current, Wi-Fi needs 12V current, radio extenders of telephone line also needs 12V current. For recharging of telephones and other little tools we use car USB-adapter which works from cigarette lighter socket.   We connected portable radio sets to USB wire which also is connected to cigarette lighter socket.   We have also sewing machine, washing machine, mill and electrical tools which need 220V current.

It is very good if you have energy-saving equipment. For example we have timer on henhouse which switch on and switch off the light automatically at determined time.  It helps to save lamps, accumulator charge and nerves. You can use motion sensors and relay for lamps for lighting of garden, inner porch and lavatory.  

Protection. You must have fuse in positive wire of your PV system between accumulator and inverter. It can be ordinary fuse-link. You can find fuse you need in this way. You should divide peak power of inverter (for example 2000W) on the voltage (24V). And after add to that 25% from result (2000/24 + 25%). So… in our example we need fuse on 100А.

It will be perfect if you will have protection for all tools. There is little amperage in system. That is why you can use car fuses. For example there is fuse on 5A for lightning (24V) in my house.  

It will be perfect if there is also protection on wires between solar panel and controller. Use for direct current special equipment. If you have automatic equipment for alternative current it will not work with direct current tools.  


In how much time it will pay for itself?

Once I told in internet that we don’t have central electricity and how we live with that. One began to discuss that issue with me. He told that PV system is very expensive. Comparing with central electricity it will pay for itself only in 80 years!

Actually good PV system nowadays will pay for itself in 40 years. Considering constantly rising electricity tariff it will be even in 25 years.  But considering that it allows to live in a place where there is no central electricity at all it will pay for itself in no time.

If you will ask some company about a price of electrification of some place and they will say it to you, and it is really huge then you will understand that alternative energetic is really good idea.

Money nowadays became a method of estimation of environment. We think very often by categories “cheap” or “expansive”, “Will it pay off or not”. And we use those criterions for talking of some decision. But we can also think in other way and then you will have absolutely other point of view on a problem. In other case you will think that PV system will not pay off. Someone can say “My neighbor bought PV system, installed solar panels on his roof and now he can’t even watch TV with comfort. He is completely fool!” and it will improve idea “PV system will not pay off”. But we should understand how one spends his money and other sources. If alternative energetic is only fashion then it is possible it will not pay off.

First of all we should understand why we need energy and how we are going to use it. I have written about that. This issue is more important for me then how we can get that energy. And you also should remember what is very important for you. I can tell you only about myself what is important for me in my life without central electricity.

First criterion is very simple. It is autonomic energetic. Autonomy. But of course you will undoubtedly say “How can you talk about that if all parts of system we buy? We don’t produce something by our self. But when I talk about autonomy I mean that I repair, construct, set, adjusts my system by myself. And I use it by myself too. And it is very interesting for me. I know almost all about my wires. I buy my lamps, switchers and accumulators by myself and install them also by myself. I solve by myself what is important for me now and what tools I will use depending from the weather. I depend only from the weather! I also make a decision can I allow to myself now to upgrade my system or not. Or maybe I need money for something else.  

In this case it doesn’t mean that I’m living on an uninhabited island. I just take responsibility for my live by myself (Read more about that in my book “We build a village”). And this make my life more interesting (I can’t even imagine where I could know so much about electricity!). It creates conditions for self education and presents me some tranquility. I have no one to call in case of emergency and no one to blame if light in my lamps suddenly disappeared.   

Recently I saw that electricity in one of houses in neighbor village was switched off.  And they can’t do anything. They didn’t expect that (but disruptions in electricity supplying are very usual here). They called to emergency service but they refuse to arrive (It was weekend). Situation was very nervous. Of course tranquility in whole doesn’t depend only from wires.  But if I was thinking all the time why there is no light in my house and couldn’t do anything with that perhaps I also would began to worry soon. Ok autonomy (self responsibility). There is no responsibility in case of you simply bought equipment on company, employees arrived and installed that equipment while you were sitting and watching TV.  

Second. You should remember how much energy you have. I try use energy economically. There is no central electricity in my house this is why I use energy very economically.  This like spiritual practice for me. 

Third thing is stability. Actually I speak about one thing from different points of view. Good solar system is more stabile than gasoline generator (while gasoline generator is more powerful) because it needs fuel for work which I can’t produce by myself.  In this case you need something from outside! But generator on sunlight (it is the most natural fuel) can work without of oil corporations. This is like asset and liability. Asset is something which brings profit to you while liability is something which needs sources constantly. For example car is liabilities if I’m not a taxi driver. Asset is stabile.

I have not to pay each month for electricity if I installed PV system. Yes I paid when I bought equipment. But that money is enough for very long term.  I want to believe in that. But I don’t worry each month where to take money. It gives me stability. 

Forth thing is connection with nature. Of cause it is very naturally to cut log on sticks for lightning or to sculpt candle from wax but it is inconvenient little bit. Solar system makes me to pay attention after environment. Now I know very good how sun moves, how much it shines, how high it is in different seasons. I have little experience of using wind energy generator but it is really very little or in another case I could write about wind energy generator too. In previous time I thought about it but not too much. Now it became a necessity. 


That is all. As for price it is enough big (I will not write here prices because it changes quickly). The cheapest new car is equal to price of good PV system using which you can live whole year and even build something.  I think it is not too expensive. I can easy live without a car but living without of electricity is very uncomfortable.

You should understand your needs very good and build system with possibility of upgrade. Your needs can become bigger for example if your wife will deliver a baby, you will build a shed or you will begin to produce something. Perhaps before building of your PV system you should talk to someone who already uses it. In another case you can buy something unnecessary and you will have a store of equipment. I didn’t know at the beginning what I should buy and what is not so important. Now I would buy little other equipment and some equipment I would do by myself. But now I already have experience. I performed a lot of experiments. And they were interesting! 

What is if system is too expensive? Ok. But it gives you much. We don’t have power poles. And this is well you know? 


Results. How to start?

PV system is expensive. But with it life of your family will become more comfortable. Price for today (2016 year) is from 200000 rubles. But it is price of basic system which you surely will want to upgrade in future. But how you can start even if you don’t have enough money? 

First thing is source of energy. It is a base of your system. If there is no good source of energy powerful inverter and big accumulators are useless. First of all you should buy solar panels. I can say now to you that it should be at least on 600W. It is fit for living and building.  It is optimal to buy panel on 24V and 300W. Couple of such panels now costs 40000 rubles. 3 ones on 200W are little bit more expensive but to use them is more comfortable (for example you can put them in your car). 

System should be on 24V. It is better. 

Now let’s talk about controller. It is very important because from it depends for how long your accumulator will work. Nowadays there are no desulfating controllers which are able to recover accumulator or extend their term of using if they are new on Russian market. This is why the best is to buy it in Chine (on ebay or aliexpres). If you have 600W panels then you should buy 30A controller. But buy better two 20A controllers, in this case if one controller will fail then second panel will still work. In this case you will pay only on 2000 or 3000 rubles more. Don’t pay attention on MMPT, expensive brand equipment and big display because they are useless.  Their effectiveness a bit higher but their price is very high.  MPPT which costs 100000 rubles sulfates accumulator as well as cheap Chinese one which costs 1000 rubles. 

Third thing is accumulator. It is also very important part of your system. Don’t buy gel accumulators, AGM or other Chinese ones. They work only for 3 years. I will repeat. They have only 300-500 discharge/recharge cycles. Being completely discharged is very bad for them. This is why they fail in system very fast. Better buy good accumulators which you can upgrade after. We recommend to use traction accumulators with liquid electrolyte which contains 2V parts. Optimal for today is Tyumen traction accumulators. As for its price it will be worthier than Chinese one. In addition they have 1500 cycles of full discharge. It is easy to work with them and repair them in future. The cheapest 24V accumulator (12 2V unites) with capacity 160 A per hour will cost today approximately 45000 rubles in retail. You can buy accumulator with capacity 200 A per hour which is little bit more expensive. For 50000 rubles you can buy powerful traction 5kW per hour accumulator which you can upgrade very easy in future if you wish.  Nowadays they are the best among lead accumulators. You can make them almost eternal if you will take care after its electrolyte and recharge them by desulfating controller.  


And last one is inverter. The best of all is installing of transformation inverter like “TrippLite”, “Must Power” or “Schnider”.   They are powerful, will work very long time but are very expensive also. You can use cheap high-frequency 1.5kW controller from “SibContact” which costs 15000 rubles or 3W controller which costs 30000 rubles. Perhaps it is the best accumulator. They are not too reliable like transformation ones but they are cheap, not heavy and there is service in Russia which can repair them. We use it and we very satisfied. With this (from 1.5kW) inverter  you can use all tools which are necessary for house building like concrete mixer, a small 1000W circular saw, grinder, drill. Even washing machine with pump will work but without heating.  If you have no electric tools and there is no need to switch on other powerful equipment you can use 300W inverter. They use small quantity of energy and work calm. Such inverter costs approximately 4000 rubles.

In results for 100000 rubles you can build little autonomy electro station using which you are able not only to recharge your laptop or to use lamps but also you can build a house.  In future you can easily upgrade it. You can add panels and accumulator install more powerful 3W inverter. And you will get good autonomy electro station which can provide very comfortable living of a big family.   


What to do next?

In permaculture we should design our system to satisfy all our necessity from several sources.  In this case system is stable. Electricity is not exception. This is why we should do combine systems. We for example think about micro hydro power plant (There is a creek in some meters from our house. And it doesn’t freeze in a winter.) and we want to repair wind energy generator and to continue our experiments with it. We have some more ideas. But now they are only ideas but we will work on them after. When we begin to use it I will write about that but now we use sun.

I will repeat again main idea. We should develop and collect knowledge about work prolongation of accumulators and repairing of them.  This is a key for stability of any alternative energy system!

Now we continue to optimize our system.  We do more comfortable for usage all parts of electric system. And this is interesting. It’s a great study!


Now we have made it to one of the most interesting topics. One may think if you live one with nature, your health only gets better. Fresh air, good food, tasty water, no stress, no hustle. It seems as all of the conditions are just lined up to be healthy and happy. Curiously enough, after moving into an eco-settlement more health questions have arised. Yes, that is true. Are you surprised? My back definitely has not become any healthier. Keeping your mind in order was a lot easier in the city. Why is that? God only knows. Country life certainly exhausts your body more. Just take a look at old men and women in the country and city. Is there a difference? Yes, there is. In the country old age comes a lot sooner. If you look at the people living in even harsher conditions (tundra deerkeepers for example), then we’ll see that they get expended even quicker.

We have a metaphor on this account about a musical instrument that wears out a lot quicker from being played on. The frets rub off, the strings wear out, the body cracks. On the other hand, if you don’t play an instrument, it will look better. The trends will remain intact, the body will not crack, and the strings will not break. But who needs such instrument? The instrument does not live at all if it doesn’t play music. It is not fulfilling its purpose, but simply preserving its shell.

Living in the wilderness, we have to pay more attention to the body, work against entropy: exercise with more quality, pay closer attention to our feelings, more intently solve internal and external quirks and impulses. That’s because this life is more intense and interesting; it helps to create more “music” for which every human-musical-instrument is born.

To keep body in shape, we test and explore a lot. Some people try different types of yoga, some practice tai chi, some dance. For example, one of the more recent discoveries has become a book Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade: it depicts a very detailed system of body strength training and keeping oneself toned. It is very sensible book.

We love steam house - cannot do without it! Thank God, this is our first construction in the settlement that works well and helps with livelihood. It goes without saying, it is a great invention!

When it comes to medical services (and now I’ll reveal you a great secret!), there is not much of a difference as to where you live: in a traditional village or out in the fields or woods. The only difference is that when you live in the wilderness, you know you have no one to rely on, therefore, you are more cognizant of such concerns. Yes, yes. We have acquaintances who live in a traditional village. At some point they’ve developed a health issue (internal bleeding) and had spent a lot of time trying to talk ambulance into coming over to their home. The situation was eventually resolved, however, it caused a lot of stress. One time we’d suspected our child got sick with a tick-borne encephalitis. We went to a district hospital to see if they can help us. It turned out they send all the labs to the regional center 200 kilometers away where they test the samples for two weeks; and if any test come back positive, then you have to go for a treatment to the regional clinic. Thus, instead of having our child going through all this trouble with indefinite purpose, we have chosen a quality home care. Thank God everything worked out well. So, this is the kind of emergency care one can expect.

I personally haven’t had a health insurance policy for almost 10 years as I do not believe this piece of paper can improve my health. However, we do have several good friends who are doctors with various specialties that make up our personal eco-settlement medical network clinic. If you have a concern you can alway get a consolation - thank goodness there are no communications issues even in the most remote and wild areas.

These are the guides for emergency care that we recommend to study (God forbid you need to use them):

V.G. Bubnov and N.V. Bubnova’s Atlas for Volunteer Rescue: First MedicalAaid on Site. - M.: AST: Astel, 2006

A.A. Kostrub’s Medical Dictionary for Tourists. - M.: Profizdat, 1990

I also have specialized books in urgent medical aid, however, I do not recommend it for people without medical background.

It’s always good to have a quality first aid kit you can use… I mean, you should stock it with medication you know how to use. As a bare minimum, you should have a reasonable quantity of bandages, antiseptics, and painkillers. You will need antibiotics regardless of your option of them. You will have to take them for vital needs, not just for every little sneeze like some people do nowadays. You will also need antihistamine medications (from allergies). Just in general, the purpose of the first aid kit is to suppress urgent symptoms! For planned health maintenance it is best to use herbs and natural remedies.

So, this should be all when it comes to the general issues.



This chapter is written co-authoring with Rustam and Ekaterina Paspaulov, Altai.


We decided to build tall hilly garden beds following teachings of Josef “Zepp” Ivanovich Holzer. We became so used to this Austrian man, that to us he became just Ivanovich. Unfortunately, the wise man did not visit us, his consultations are expensive, but we did follow his commandments when building garden beds. There are now even instructors for this skill. We are gaining experience, and grow more and more vegetables every year.

When talking about a “garden,” we usually understand a certain space in which seeds of edible annuals are planted in the spring and are then harvested in the fall. And this method is good in that we receive constant, clear and usual quantity of the products that are most widely spread in our culinary culture. Eating habits die hard! It is understood then, what to plant, is it not? Plant potatoes, cabbage, onions, beets. In the spring, all farmers have bushes of tomatoes and other southern and warm-loving friends under their windows. It is good and fits our habits. One of the important characteristics of our northern gardening is growing products that last in the long run. Without them we cannot survive our favorite six months of the winter weather. Any farmer can tell you how to grow the main Russian crops. It is important to simply train and observe, watch what the locals are doing and adapt it to your own needs. What many of the farmers in our climate do not do is creating communities of edible perennials in their gardens. Only the most invested inhabitants of the village do this, even though it is an important part of permacultural agriculture. When considering southern countries, everything makes more sense: even their tomatoes are perennial. But what are we supposed to do?

We started researching this issue. Can you imagine a part of the garden that does not require to have seeds planted there every year?  It is that permacultural freebie that everyone in the ecocommunity dreams of: “It grows on its own!”

Well, let’s see here, what can we do as northern inhabitants? How do we create such a garden where we do not have to plant seeds every year?

Let’s mention right away, that it is not possible to plant only perennials in the garden. Like I said, we prioritize vegetables of long-term keeping ability. But it is possible to find some kinds of plants that grow “on their own” and require minimal care, so that every year there is enough “automatic” produce.

First of all, this is a garden. It is important to start planting since the very first days of development of the site, since the first harvest may require few years of patience. Gardening is a science in itself, because it requires figuring things out, experimenting, and pondering. It would require planting multiple trees and bushes, before arriving to an understanding which tree and which bush need what and which kinds can survive in certain climate conditions.

The following edible crops do not freeze here: apple tree (we adapt the so-called “semi-cultures, and still not all the varieties we have tried are suited for this region), pear tree, plum tree, cherry tree, aronia, hazel, rowan berry. Manchurian walnut was supposed to grow, but a few trees of mine have already frozen, I guess I am choosing the wrong spots, so I planted them again. Sea buckthorn is also supposed to grow, but I suppose I chose the wrong spot for it as well. Some say, sea buckthorn is picky about the soil, so I planted it again. The same way we have been planting Siberian pine (or cedar), lilacs, different species of willow and linden. As for the bushes, we grow viburnum, raspberry, honeysuckle, barberry, currants, and gooseberries. From lianas: the Amur grapes (and the “Valiant” variety, “Valiant” is based on it) and Chinese Schisandra. On the windowsill we grow our pride – lemon (of the “Irkutsk phenomenon” sort). It is pleasant to have lemon, damn it, even if a windowsill one! We plan to increase the number of under-the-window crops.

The garden would also include strawberries. It happens to grow very well on tall hilly garden beds.

Secondly, it is important to plant self-sowing annual and biennial plants. Self-sowing is not something stable – it could happen or it could not, so it is a good idea to always collect seeds and save them, but save some for the plant to sow.

For example, at different times we grew the following types: lettuce, spinach, rucola, common purslane, medicinal borage (borago), garden quinoa, salad mallow and other kinds of mallow, also for salad), and so on. As you see, a lot of famous “weeds” belong to this category, and can be considered edible plants. I also recommend biennial common evening-primrose (an edible and medicinal plant, it sows itself on the second year).

Thirdly, there are the perennial plants. That’s where the party is at! These plants are not well known to the farmers and are not often considered edible, even if they are grown for decorative purposes. But edible perennials are a huge resource for the creation of the “automatic” garden.

Here is what we have had a chance to research so far.

First of all, perennial onions. They help against spring vitamin deficiency and help us last until the more or less stable summer greens: giant, blue, slug, oblique, multi-tiered, brass, daffodil, victorious (wild garlic).

Then come all the other green weeds that could be added to salads.

Sorrel: the usual sour (broad-leaved), as well as the rare types of hybrid sorrel-spinach “Uteusha” (small sour spinach-sorrel with huge leaves) and beautiful red sorrel (more of a tart taste). There are also other kinds of interesting sorrels but I have not tried them yet.

Lovage is not for picky eaters, but I can eat one leaf at a time with pleasure. It reminds me of celery which we grow in our greenhouse but which does not last over winter.

Rheum – it grows on our mountains and is famous for its sour leaf cuttings.

Rose milkweed – its young sprouts are slightly tart, bet remind of asparagus in taste.

Hyssopus officinalis is a spicy herb which we also add to our salads as greens.

Medicinal wormwood (tarragon) – also a good spice and a delicious green.

Lofant (multi-anise), monarda (didyma and wild bergamot), catnip, mint (several varieties) – these plants are best for tea, but can also be added to a salad.

Thin-leaved diphasiastrum (or wild arugula) is good for those who like arugula.

What do we have as a result? Asparagus is my dream, but so far an unrealized one. We are trying everything else. Unfortunately, not everything that is edible also tastes well and is desirable to eat.

Overall, an interesting activity this is – creating communities… not only people’s but also plants. Interesting.

And fourthly… remember that some wild plants are also good edible plants, and do not need to be planted, but it can be known where they can be found. For example we actively use the following: burning nettle, cowslip primrose, lungwort, Turkish wartycabbage, caragana (flowers), willow herb (young sprouts). These, at least, do not terribly differ from our eating habits…

Acknowledging that we live, in an increasingly fragmented, superficial, corrupt, and openly dangerous society; tired of reality, where there are guns in schoolyards and con-men in high positions, we long for another life-- more whole, understandable, more accessible, that in which there is a place of warmth, goodness, unity in camaraderie. Our unnatural division is part of the cause.  Engrained in society, in the postwar years is the tendency towards small families and correspondingly, one family residences, the blistering growth of cities, professional mobility, tearing us out of the system of human relations that nourished humans in days past…


D.L. Kristen. We build a communal life

All that we already achieved, but you and I are simply doomed to live with others.  Well yes, the majority of us from birth until death are surrounded by people.  And if there are any kind of periods of solitude, they are the result of the conscious choice of the person (hermit monks for example) or the result of some kind of catastrophe.  And so our whole lives we live around people.  The only nuance is that we can knowingly choose a few parameters: with whom, how and in what quantity to live.  Before everything, I’ve long been interested in the question:  how to live together so that it will be good?  Because I already would very much like to live together.  It is convenient and provides many opportunities.  Of course, I do not advertise this lifestyle as the only possible and ultimate way to live.  No! I have many good friends who like solitude. Some like to live in pairs, so say that it’s better with a family, some lived in a kolkhoz, and some grew up -- and changed their preference.  This is also normal.

And this is why I like ‘together.’  In St. Petersburg and Tyumen I experienced life in the city communes.  I have friends who have lived together for a very long time.  Now in the ecovillage, we explore the theme of rural community.  Analyzing my own experience and the experience of others, I can make some kind of observation.

It seems to me that ‘communism’ (like with other indistinct words, like ‘love’) has a bad reputation, and ‘commune’ -- is word-garbage, in which they’ve tried to dump all forms of communal existence, without boundaries or clarification.  Because of this, pronouncing the word ‘commune’ in vain, we risk causing nervous twitching in a large quantity of people, who would make something communal and burn it.  For this reason it would be good to clarify as possible, the major aspects of this question.  And so…

1.Totalitarian power of the leader or totalitarian power of the community

Many think that communities or communes -- they are the kind of place where there is no power and you can do whatever.  And if questions arise, then begins democracy: ‘Let’s vote!.’  Democracy and openness for all very quickly sends a community down a slope.  In successful projects there is no kind of democracy and openness.

Is this surprising? Allow me to explain.  By the principles of the community’s formation there are, to me, two types.  The first variant, more widespread-- is a commune around a totalitarian leader.  In the commune there is a director who can be, for example, a religious teacher.  He becomes the boss, he can accept someone into the society and can expel.  He is a filter who forms the composition of residents instead of people (although very often it is not obvious from the outside)

In secular conditions it is more often than not the landlord of the apartment or the man, who rents the the living space. The boss takes care of all outside links to the commune, answers questions that arise and is more or less the “face” of the cohabiting citizens.  He establishes rules and follows through to their fulfilment. Almost anyone can live, the main thing is to fulfil the established rules and don’t bother others. As an example of the religious communities of the type that can be discussed is the ‘Osho commune’ in India.  A good example of a secular commune is based in Anton Krotov’s home for all (the internet is full of information on this, there is even an eponymous book of Anton’s ‘House for all’)

Here’s what my comrade Vadim Nazarenko (also one of the well known commune members of the Moscow suburbs) wrote on the subject in his diary:

“Regrettably, my basic role --dictator.  As Anton Krotov said, another commune member, ‘under communism there should be a dictator and a lot of food. ‘  This we already have, that the apartment belongs to me , meaning, I perfectly legitimately can expel any man.  Naturally, I don’t do this but periodically there arise such stagnant moments in relationships where, a good kick is not optional… The people rally against a terrible Leader and do everything together and quickly.  I terribly dislike this role but another way I have not thought of.  Luckily, it happens rarely, usually everything organizes itself-- for example, to pay for the light-gas-water, through the internet we gather and deal with the bank ourselves.”

In St. Petersburg once I lived in some hippie commune, in which the leader died.  Without him the collective sunk into the mire of discord, and then virtually everything died out in the span of a few months. That’s communism for you.

A second variant exists, when totalitarian power manifests kind of as the community itself and is spelled out in her constitution.  This power generally is not noticeable.  But it is very important. It becomes a guarantee of unity in the community.  In this variant not everyone falls into the community.   There is a strict established procedure for accepting new members (indispensable!), which includes a trial period, an application with questions, and many other stages.  There also are clearly written values, which unite every member of the community.  And if in the first variant it’s only necessary that the boss of the commune likes you, then in this, in order to stay, the large majority of people must like you + share all the prescribed values and rules.

We have incidentally precedents, where people, having read Kropotkin, come to the village and establish themselves in defence of communism. They say, we have no commune!

· Is it a collective house?

· Collective, but not for everyone.

· Is it a collective bathroom?

· Yes but we decide for whom it is collective.

· Go ahead, let’s decide.

· Yeah we already decided.

Apparently, we don’t understand anything about communities.  Yes, that’s so.  But we have a good understanding of our community, end of story.  And in it there is no democracy...more like so:  In order to vote and make suggestions, you have to work more.  And to go visiting -- it’s possible.  It’s just necessary to discuss intentions ahead of time.


2.   A steady community is a clear community

It matters not, whether there is a leader in a community or not, it’s necessary to write down the rules of the game.  Clearly.  Then there will be less questions and conflicts diminish.

First you have to understand, around what do we gather?  What unifies us?  And to understand it’s necessary to be very detailed and concrete.  And to write it out on paper.  And then, all the participants in the community must sign underneath.  Without this very important matter, the collective can disintegrate very quickly.

There is a noteworthy book by Diana Leafe Christian “Creating a LIfe Together”).  There she delineated three important pieces, which are necessary to spell out: “Vision,” “Mission,” and “Goals.”  This should be done as early as possible.  Vision-- it’s a very high level generalization, which can be sketched out following this format: “In what kind of world do we want to live,” “what world inspires us?” “WHY do we do what we do?.”

Mission -- this is WHAT we do together so that we can work towards that world which impresses us.

And goals -- this is HOW we do that which unites us .  From details-- to Diana.  In her book she has everything well delineated.  I don’t fully agree with her terminology, but I think that is a result of the translation.  


Mission -- in the name of what
Identity -- who
Values, сonvictions -- Why? For what?
Abilities -- how?
Behaviour -- What to do?
Environment --who? where? When?

Working out a mission, vision, and goals is one way of bringing clarity to a community.  But it’s a small step.  It’s necessary to structure and prescribe “rules of the game” to a society.  And this task is quite extensive.  In order to not get one’s wires crossed, I recommend you take advantage of the so-called logical levels of Robert Dilts.

Logical levels (LL)-- these are an internal hierarchy, in which each subsequent level is psychologically broader and offers more activity.
It’s convenient to present LL in a pyramidal form.
The peak -- mission.  In the name of what do we gather?  What inspires us?
The next level -- identity :  Who are we?  What kind of community are we?

Third step in the pyramid -- out values and key convictions. What is important to us? What is valuable to us?

Then comes abilities or strategies: this can be the strategy for accepting a decision, the procedure of accepting new members, the ways to solve conflict, financial strategies, etc.

The fifth level -- behaviors. What do we do in our community.  On holidays, on weekdays?  How do we organize trash, how do we go shopping?  How to decide the question of community service?  And so on.

And lastly, surrounding environment (surroundings) -- the material base.  What do we have?  What kind of land? What kind of house?  What kind of clothes and shampoo?

The idea is simple: we move from general questions to specifics.  Or the opposite.


Dilts’s pyramid of logical levels is a very good instrument for systemic analysis and so on.  As a result, you get a document, in which all is very clearly delineated and from all sides.

We, for example, have rules, written in legal language, and we also have those rules but in a simpler language.  This allows us to make a basic agreement understandable to all. In a few places in the rules they can be expanded, change with the passing of time.  In order to not rewrite the rules every time, we agreed that the generic document can be edited by the protocols of the decision-making committee of the village.  In this way, we get a very dynamic, precedent-setting system.  Nothing before was recorded.  Nothing was foreseen. But as long as the rule of the community is a living process, we can collect advice from the village and decide: Maybe our agreements demand a lookover?

For advanced users and those interested in the system of thought Dilts has another cube.  It consists of the six layers of the logical levels, adding another two measures: time (past present, and future) and position of perception (first position- when we look at the world through our own eyes, second -- when we look around through another’s eyes and the third position of perception is the function of a videocamera: we simply bear witness to everything that happened without judgement).  As such, in place of six levels, we get 54 ways of looking at events.

For example, values, present time, first position: “Now our values are hardiness, harmony with the environment, and harmony in relationships with people.”   

If you look at the values of our village from the point of view of locals, you get a different sector (values, present time, second position) and here is the formula: “We want a quieter way of life than in the city: we will grow food ourselves, we depend on no one, we will breathe the clean air, yes and in order to be in good company”

Try to play the game, play around with the cube, you can learn a lot of new information about yourself and your “kolkhoz.”

[past, present, future,] [mission, identity, values, strategies, behavior, environment] [1,2,3, position of perception]

3. Community of families or individuals

Communities exist in different varieties.  Family (this is like the majority of modern ecovillages) and a community of individuals (for example, diverse eco companies or hippie activists).  There’s a suspicion that these two types function under different principles.  And attempts to combine the two lead to the rise of different working classes and ideological discord.  Precisely because of this, in the rules of some family villages there are rules written forbidding admission of single citizens into the village.  There is something to be said for this although we, for example, do not have such a rule.  So the matter is individual, but the differences should be remembered.  And maybe, you should immediately decide, what kind of community you are creating.

4. Balance between community and self

A community is a group of people who have something in common: maybe ideological, maybe material.  When we say ‘commune,’ a theatrical image emerges in many people’s minds, of Swedish hippie-families, where everything is communal: wives, children, houses, food… It’s probably like this somewhere, but it is determined by everyone individually.  And deciding is very important.  People in a community (commune) might live together (communal home) or they might build their own homes, they can own communal land (like in ecovillages), or they can split it in parts.  They can eat together, or each can cook for themselves, they can conduct general finances, or they can not, they can take on a single religion, or believe whatever they choose.

To decide what is permissible to you, it’s good to think through these moments, confirm and write out in the laws -- it’s very important. So that all people have an about equal understanding of the position of things: here we have the collective, here is our own.

It’s important, to have balance between a personal and collective. If everything were personal it wouldn’t be a community, if everything was collective then it wouldn’t realize the demand of humanity for personal space.

Knowledge of how to live in communities is based in the knowledge of how to save your own space, ‘to be alone’ and spend your time doing what you please in the presence of different people and in good relationships with them.  On the other hand, knowledge of how to live in a community is a preparedness to do communal tasks work on community space assuming that there is more than your personal matters.  And both these parts of the process are accurate.

5. Variety in place of monotony

Community is always varied.  Even if we unite in the name of some kind of collective goal.  One goal, varied people.  An allegedly understandable thing, but at times we forget. Especially at the start of a collective path, in the romantic-dreaming stage many inspired commune members can appear very similar to each other or even, that we’re a single unit! But then it will begin to unfold that, besides us being ‘united’ we’re all different.  Everyone has their own peculiarities.  Everyone has their own oddities and idiosyncrasies.  And they may show up unexpectedly.  And you think: well if everyone were to be like me-- great!  But no.  Here it’s necessary to learn how to compromise, it’s necessary to learn how to accept and love, it’s necessary to work together.  And if we succeed,  the community becomes even stronger, and at the same time, diverse, as would be unexpected for it to seem -- this is very good, it adds stability.  This helps to develop and grow.  Polyculture is more reliable than a monoculture, although trickier, although it demands more conscientiousness.  A community is always a polyculture, and it’s important to remember this.

6. Adequate amount of information about each other

In the collective lifestyle there arises the illusion, that we know everything about each other.  That we hardly need to speak, everything is that understood.  But at the same time, this is a huge mistake.  Discussion is necessary.  Because in one moment it may seem that our perceptions of each other already don’t match reality.  You know, it’s like syncing watches: suddenly someone’s watch has already run ahead and someone’s is behind.  Sincere discussion-clarification-syncing watches should take place in every community ( of any size from 2-x people), if it’s desirable for all to be happy and lively.

Long ago, when I still studied at the Gestalt Institute,  we had a lecture on conflictology: “Strategy of Gestalt therapy on resolving conflict.’  My whole life I will remember this lecture.  It was the shortest and the most concise:

-And so, in conflict conditions it’s necessary to return people to awareness! That’s it, - said the professor - End of lesson.

-And how do you return them?- students began to fret…

-A very simple question:  ‘And what happens now’

This question helps to create pause, to dissociate from emotions (especially destructive ones) and to acknowledge actual information on the events.

In actuality, the majority of conflicts (maybe even 100%) occur as a result of a lack of information about each other, when we start to live in an engineered world, contrary to the information that we get from our senses.  Without real living society we invent things about our neighbor; this fabrication we develop, read into, add details.  At the same time our neighbor also invents and imagines.  Ta da!  A recipe for conflict.   To avoid conflict it is necessary to ask the questions: ‘And what happens now?  Is it true of the person, or did I make it up?  Does he really think this way or did I imagine it? Am I really angry at him or am I just having a bad day?’ This practice of clarification is to me, is one of the most important in any communal life.

In our village this process is called ‘co-adjustment’.  I also encountered the format under the title ‘Circle of hearts’-- which seemed to me something from hippie-history…The titles may be different.  The formats also.  You can experiment infinitely, the main point is that the idea of clarification remains: correct the malfunctions in relationships so that people in the community have more information about each other.

7. Unconditionally good relationships with each other

Petra Mamonova has a good song, although, you know, the title of it is difficult...there is too much idiosyncratic creativity in Petra Nikolayevna.  I will call it thus: ‘Composition.’  It’s titled ‘All are bastards.’  The lyrics are roughly such, ‘All are bastards, no one does me, tender and wonderful, love.   Only I am good, I know how to use practically everyone,’ and so on.  In the same spirit.  The song is good because it reveals our internal dialogue which arises before some kind of insult, before depression if we have some kind of difficulty in society...It shows...yes it exaggerates it to the extent where it becomes funny and meaningless.

In order to live together (you probably won’t achieve good relations between everyone, for this reason I look over the situation, when we already went through the selection procedure and have become members of the community) it’s necessary to unconditionally be good to one another.  And supposing that doesn’t happen it’s better together than just not living.  I repeat again the timeless ‘Love thy neighbor.’ It’s simpler to love those far away. But your neighbor is a challenge.  But it’s vital.  The idea that people are fundamentally good is very helpful.  Although their actions may be flawed.  Actions can be judged.  People can’t be especially when we knowingly choose to live with them.

8. Balance between internal and external

An important part in ‘life in a commune’ is finding a balance in relations with the outside world.  It’s our feeling that constructing a successful community in isolation is very difficult.  Creating a community is also setting up relationships with people who are outside of the commune.  

There exist communities in which the border of ‘Us’---- ‘Them’ is very strong.  This happens for example in all kinds of religious organizations. I tell everyone the tale, that I once visited a Mormon church with a friend on some kind of holiday.  There the preacher during his sermons always accentuated our division.  ‘My dear brothers and sisters and (here he paused and looked at us) guests.’  In the synagogue, during the days of the Holocaust, I’ve heard that rabbis offer to pray for any relative who suffered during the genocide, but clearly emphasizing that they be Jewish.  There is a very strong divide between ‘Jewish’---- ‘not-Jewish’.  In Old-Believer churches the grandfather who comes to leave a candle for his dead and departed spouse, strict grandmothers inquire, how many fingers the deceased used to cross herself.  There, after more than 350 years there is a clear strengthening of the divide between ‘old father’s beliefs’ --- ‘Nikonian heresy’.

I know that in secular societies they usually believe in their own exclusiveness, intelligence and knowledge of the true path.  Whereby no one, save the few members of the group, can be exclusive, intelligent, and know that path to truth.  Naturally, they have larger challenges in society with all around on every level.  But that is their choice and path.

And so in every community it is important to define the strategy for interacting with everyone who is not entering the group.  To what extent is it open to society?  How to interact with representatives of power, with locals, how to create chemistry with similar projects if they exist and so on.

9.  Community --- it’s a process

I already wrote about this in the second point, but because the topic is important let’s bring it up in it’s own right.  The construction of a community is very lengthy, with many stages and forever.  Meaning it’s a never-ending process.  Any kind of relationship: with yourself, between spouses and children in a family, people in a community and also between members of a microcommunity and everyone outside (macrocommunity) -- it’s a process.  And this means that you can never say that something is certain.

Relationship-- it’s not a noun, it’s a verb.  And you cannot once and for all decide that a relationship is complete.  Completed relationships are dead relationships.  And living relationships are those in which you save communication.  What does this mean?  Before everything, however much we bargain, however much we try to fix something in a group of people, all the same there will constantly be something to renew, redo, clarify.  However much we try to make from a group of people an ‘item’, all the same we won’t succeed.  A community is always ‘active.’  And if today we all in a medley have a good discussion, it’s very likely that tomorrow we’ll discuss it anew…. Or maybe separate.  Yes, it’s necessary to remember this too.  A community, like any other process, has a start, it’s developmental stage, and then, at it’s time it comes to an end.  And how else?

Community activity can go somewhere we didn’t want it to, as a system it can break, as a living organism it can become sick ( for example catch the viruses of dissociation), and then it’s necessary to correct, repair and heal - with the help of those who are clearheaded and non-delusional.  Again we bring in the self-awareness: ‘Now what happens with us?’

The signs of a healthy community to me personally are simplicity and a feeling of safety.  When you can go up to any person in the commune and tell them everything that you want to say.  Without danger of stepping into a long investigation of relationships and infighting.  And when you can visit any person in your environment and drink tea with them. And you know that they’re not looking at you askance.  And if they don’t want to speak with you they can talk to you about it calmly speak without ornate rituals, lies and euphemisms.  Because in healthy communication you can say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’

10. Maturation of a community

Once at the institute we all campaigned to join a trade union.  Well we applied the first time without even asking the question: ‘And for what?’.  Because the organizing community got paid, because they’d take payments from us, that was clear, and what else?  When I understood this I personally left the trade union.  After that I had one other attempt to apply for something similar, but there the question arose: ‘What does it get me?’  An inspired aunt, manager of that society was indignant and said that if I thought better I’d be able to give something to society.  A single fee, obviously, was not much.  We also disintegrated .  A familiar occurrence?  An interesting matter:  In many charter documents, in the rules and agreements we try to spell out what we have to give to the community and what it does. What must we do for our community.  What we don’t have to do for our community.  And even if the mission level has a clearly written goal, even if we pretty much understand what we’re about, it is all up to the moment where the community starts to give something valuable (in all senses) to its participants, and not just take from those who live far from the collective. Because a community for that ought to be mature, formed and flourishing, where it not only demands it can give.  It must allow itself.  In this exists the deepest human function of cohabitant existence of a group of people .  Give people what they cannot get separately.  But in this occurrence there is another side: to any ‘communism’ will freeloaders start to gravitate--people who want to live on other’s tabs, so remember them...

11. Commune (community) -- it’s the highest degree of self-sufficiency

By my observations, all words with the root ‘soc’ and ‘commun’ become magnets for all kinds of infantile citizens, dreaming of gleaning resources without work and investment.  It’s like it’s in some kind of voluntary-compulsory school choir: you, the boss, stand with your mouth open.  And neighbors sing.  The next thing you know: to any community sooner or later non-self-sufficient people will come.  But as long as the community more often than ever builds itself and  develops people who are conscientious and self-sufficient enough, sooner or later these leaders, activists, and organizers start to, step by step, isolate themselves from the remaining useless collective, because nobody wants to always be the donor, mover and source.  There arise resentments, ‘communism’ ends, and the spectacle under the name of ‘internal warfare in a country village’ begins.  From this, in total, all participants in the process begin to suffer.

 It reminds me of a romantic relationship: the happiest pairs are those where all partners are mature, independent, and able to live happily and without a partner. And not those in neurotic relationships, who construct their dreams to have their inadequacies fulfilled by the strong side of another person.  These sick relationships end scandalously, in divorce and dividing property, lengthy court-cases and intrigue.  

If the number of infantile citizens in a community start to grow and reach some kind of critical limit, then in the end it becomes a very large problem.  Such a commune, instead of one that could be thriving and mature, becomes a burden for the full-fledged and working members.

Again, this process is governed by distinct and fastidious procedures for accepting new members, clearly written charters and periodic clarifications and corrections.  And also those, that beginning communists always remember, that their community wants their time, work, resources, attention and care.  And general involvement.  From each according to his abilities.  Then it can develop, grow, flourish, and in total start to give to each according to their needs.

I think that for this book this is enough.  The theme of cohabitation is very extensive, however much I write is not enough.  But I still attempt to establish, about what is the most important to tell…I very much hope that these words help some kind of community.  Even if it’s just a little.

About the economic side of our lifestyle I already wrote in the book “We are building a village.” You can read it, nothing has changed much since, maybe the prices have changed with the years. I keep writing books. I also sometimes work at construction of the domed houses and teach from time to time. Natasha teaches weaving and other female handicrafts. More and more of the aspects of our daily life are becoming moneyless: we have enough experience growing in our own garden, have saved up a variety of resources with multiple uses, which allow us to easily overcome any financial instabilities… I will not mention all of it here in detail, let us just talk about the “economy” in more detail and order…

A commune is not a fairytale-princess,

To dream of at night

Calculate, contemplate, take aim --

And go, though over trifles.

Communism isn’t only,

Of the land, of the factory in sweat.

He is at home behind the table

In relationships, in family, in existence.


Drag out the future! V. Mayakovsky

Old folks tell that once Potyemkin lived in Moscow during winter; then came Grigoriy Bogoslov – on his nameday; then by the end of lunch Potoshov’s courier galloped in with such fruits that nobody has even seen before in neither Moscow nor Petersburg. With him came a handwritten note from Andrey: “These pineapples are harvested in a place where the wood is plentiful; and I have much of forest, thus there is more than enough of this rubbish.”

-Respect! – yelled Potyemkin across the table. – Thanks!... If Potashov wanted to make a belt out of the skin on my back, I would right away. 









Our settlement is located in Siberia, in the foothills of Altai. It is easy to guess, then, that we are living in places that are not warm: not only is the climate abruptly continental, but we also climbed 600-700 meters up the mountains and that affects the weather a lot.  In 20 kilometers from us, people on the plains grow grapes and watermelons without a cover, but it is not that easy with us. The weather is unstable: it is hailing, or snowing, or windy, or cold, or raining, or it is hot and dry. But mostly cold. For this reason, growing vegetables here is officially called “risky agriculture.” Let me tell you about what we do to reduce the risks to our agriculture and to make it more effective. We do not have much experience, but already have some knowledge to share.

Basically, for me greenhouses are a subject of constant research and experiments. Even though, maybe in my old age, I will stop experimenting.

1. Domed Greenhouse

I made the greenhouse a year ago, reasoning that it would give me an opportunity to have more of my own tomatoes than on an open ground. Half-tunnels, popular among summer residents, are greenhouses that look like half-shells from polycarbonate, and I did not like the look of those. Plus in our village the Fuller’s geodesic dome is the traditional choice. So I decided to follow the traditions and to build a greenhouse in form of a half-sphere.

Diameter – 6 meters. Breakdown – V2 (this is the so-called “frequency of the dome”: the smaller the number, the more angular the dome). Since my goal is not to write a book about domes, I will not focus on the details; if you are interested, you can search and find plenty of information on Buckminster Fuller’s legacy. Next step, then, is to visit acidome.ru, which is the website with the specific calculator for domes, and enter the data. Connection type – piped.

What I did: I cut the necessary number of sticks from a larch bar.

1. cupol


A = 35 sticks = 1749 millimeters

B = 30 sticks = 1536 millimeters

I then bought 130 metal mounting plates 4x10 centimeters, and twisted them onto both sides of each stick. Because the bars were 5x5 centimeters, and with such thickness they did not converge on the nodes, I slightly sharpened their ends. Then the ready bars with metal plates were assembled into a frame with help of 26 bolts with nuts, following the blueprint.

Then I made one more similar frame and added some changes to it: a stronger bar, 4x10 centimeters. It allowed me to avoid sharpening 65 bars and made the frame more robust.

We also made frameworks of the “Joint” type, the one without a frame. It is not much more difficult to saw, but possible to save money on metal mounting plates. Same calculator of domes from acidome.ru can be used to develop the blueprint.

After mounting the frame, the following question becomes important: which kind of greenhouse cover will you use. For my first greenhouse, I experimented with polycarbonate. I do not remember exactly, but it may have taken about 6 sheets (size 2x6meters). There is an undesirable consequence of using such material: to cover a greenhouse, polycarbonate needs to be cut into triangles, and each triangle has sides with gaps, into which water constantly leaks. Because of that, polycarbonate sheets become cloudy. What do normal people do? They cover the perimeter of each triangle with something like “anti-dust tape”, to cover the gaps from water and to protect polycarbonate. And then, on top of that, all joints are pasted with some roofing butimen tape. It is rather expensive, but necessary. If the gaps are not covered, polycarbonate will become cloudy, and there will be no way of fully clearing the water from the roof, and that is an additional expense. Also, gaps that are not covered lead to loss of warmth.

Because of that, our next greenhouse was covered with a different material – thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film. We are now researching the results, to see how long it lasts. It looks very durable, can be stretched and may last a long while. Two years have passed since we put it on; it has aged visibly, but looks strong enough.

Another important concern for a domed greenhouse is where and how to place the plants. We are still researching this aspect. It is possible that the classical idea will work well: a round box in the center, and also boxes with plants along the walls.


2. flowerbed

This would be considered the classical set-up. We decided to make do without boxes, and just planted straight into the ground during the first year, after thoroughly mulching all the space in the greenhouse. It looked similar to spacing in the picture above: plants in the middle and plants circling around the middle.

Then we decided to try a slightly different form. On the second picture, it is visible that the greenhouse slowly became not just a place for plants, but could also fulfill other functions. Right there in the greenhouse we saved some space for compost piles. And sometimes the greenhouse also played the role of a shed: at times we stored in it garden tools, oats for the horse, and empty plastic bottles. Then we placed the plants in a spiral. But with such placing it is important to remember another issue: because the greenhouse stands on an incline and is not leveled, water and nutrients inevitably leak down. Because of that, the plants in the upper part of the greenhouse were small and withered, and those by the entrance were big and strong. They obviously received more nutrition and water. Same could be noticed in simple gardens, if they are located on an incline, and plants larger in the lower part of the garden. Because of this, permacultural activities created the so-called “Valokanavas” – shafts along the sides, and a ditch along the slope above them. This is a good way to keep moisture and nutrients from the incline and not allow them to escape our plants. I drew an incline to illustrate this point.
3. place
We also made boxes without leveling out, same as on the picture and the plants grew well at the bottom, and small at the top of the garden.

Thus, next year I decided to place the gardens in the greenhouse horizontally, like so:


In this version more of the garden beds are located horizontally.

The next step was connecting the greenhouse with the garden. This idea was realized in form of a system of tall hilly ridges: ditches were entered into the greenhouse and used for spreading water across the territory.

This method solves several issues: it keeps the water in the garden, spreads the nutritional substances from the stables, which are located a little higher up the incline, and keeps the water away from the house, which is lower than the garden on the incline.

Next step was to lay down a line of irrigation along the ridges.

Following permacultural ideas, it is a good thing if each building and each object fulfills at least three functions and good if each is connected to at least three other objects. For example, our greenhouse not only grows food but also serves as a place to dry laundry and serves as a barn, and protects the garden beds from the wind. It also collects water and keeps the compost. It is also a good place to drink tea in cold weather, we even have chairs there for that purpose. Starting this year, my chickens are kept in the greenhouse. The next idea – attaching a chicken coop to the greenhouse has already been realized, and now chickens walk around the greenhouse and fertilize the garden beds during winter.

As for the crops, the greenhouse is now mainly used for growing tomatoes, greens, and beans. This year we also plated lagenariya, eggplant, celery, and peppers.

1 Greenhouse by the house

It is very smart to build the greenhouse attached to the house. It provides additional heat for both the house and the greenhouse, and makes it easier to care for the plants: you go outside in the morning, and there you are in the greenhouse, not a far walk. Additionally the attached greenhouse allows to arrange automatic watering of the garden beds with the help of a pipe attached to one of the sinks. I will not talk about a variety of greenhouses that allow to grow vegetables all year: our structure does not allow things like that. But it allows to extend summer a little and is comfortable for seedlings. For this greenhouse we used the TPU film that I mentioned and described before.

In terms of garden beds, we had tall and filled with organics boxes which reached the level of one’s belt, to avoid reaching down to the plants. The only negative side of having a greenhouse attached to the house is the constant temptation to clutter it, especially when it is not been used; and that in hot weather it powerfully heats the porch (which is an obvious plus in the winter and in between the seasons). At this time I am experimenting with installing a dehydrator (dryer) in the greenhouse, as well as all sorts of automation.

Oh yes! An important things about the greenhouse: without an automatic (or at least an easy way) of providing watering and automatic ventilation, any greenhouse can easily become a burden! To install ventilation, a simple hydraulic vent can be used (it is a thing that when heated pushes the rod and opens the window). A basic machine, should not cause any issues, but for some reason we already had two that stopped working. It could be, perhaps, because we have heavy windows and strong winds… I think about using an electric opener from the actuator for a satellite dish. Automatic watering for both the greenhouse and the outside garden is a subject of my long-term experiments, as is everything that is related to water… Now, there is a watering lane laid from the pump of the “stream” type and from the hydro tunnel pump, and the sprinklers are installed to manage all watering efforts from the house. It works well, but I think that I will keep adding things to this infrastructure.

Natalia Ivanova


Living in a big city I never thought of making bread. Why would you when the shelves are stacked with bread? “It’s probably really difficult and must take a long time to make.”I thought. Living the rush and caught up in the big city-work, stuff to do, hobbies, friends- I thought that making bread needed a completely different pace. Though I loved to do a lot of stuff with my own hands, I kept with the idea that bread was something more difficult. My culinary achievements were limited to baking little cakes on public holidays- strictly follow the recipes. And that was what I used to think until I met my future husband who asked me to move to Altai with him and build our own house. It was then that I came across an advert about an upcoming master class on bread-baking. So I thought, “It’s time!”