Solar Lighting Cube.jpg
FA info icon.svgAngle down icon.svgProject data
Authors William McMeekin
Simone Groves
Abraham Calcano
Osvaldo De Aza Carpio
Location La Yuca, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Completed 2013
OKH Manifest Download

The streets are not the most suitable habitat for animals to live in. Animals are especially vulnerable when they need rehabilitation, recovery, and rest. Ghetto2Garden takes care of cats and dogs with reduced potential for adoption; that are deformed, blind, unwanted, elderly, and/or are terminally ill.

The Ghetto2Garden initiative was developed initially in an attempt to find an appropriate shelter to house 6 cats and 40 dogs. Currently Ghetto2Garden houses 50 dogs and 10 cats who have been rescued from the streets of Santo Domingo and provides these animals with a care facility where they can live the rest of their days in peace and happiness. This student involvement in this project is the result of the collaboration between Colectivo Revark and the Practivistas Dominicana Program in an attempt to bring sustainable construction and renewable energy to the construction of the shelter.

Objective Statement[edit | edit source]

The objective of this Appropriate Technology project was to develop and construct a renewable energy system with Ghetto2Garden dog shelter program. We worked on putting together renewable energy for Ghetto2Garden to not only have a more dependable source of energy but to lessen carbon emissions. The renewable energy system will eventually be used to power a vaccination refrigerator and other miscellaneous units such as cell phone chargers and laptops. Solar energy was the most accessible and appropriate technology for Ghetto2Garden. The project consisted of two parts; Building a "Solar Power Cube", and constructing a "Solar Lighting Cube."

Location[edit | edit source]

Because Ghetto2Garden was in the process of finding a new site for the animal refuge, the project took place in La Yuca.

La Yuca del Naco, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic


Literature Review[edit | edit source]

See the literature review done for the Ghetto2Garden project here.

Criteria[edit | edit source]

The work of this project was done in collaboration with the architectural team RevArk and the father of the project, Tomás. The priorities associated with the criteria for the Recyclable Cubes were determined by discussion with the collaborators.

Criteria Weight (0-10) Constraints
Aesthetics 5 Must be acceptable to the client's vision
Durability 7 Maintenance must be simple with few necessary repairs
Mobility 5 Must be transportable to the location, partial set-up before arrival
Feasibility 9 Must be able to complete it, with easy construction within the time frame
Creativity 8 Must reflect the creativity shown in architectural plans
Energy Produced 10 Must be at least able to steadily produce 200 watts
Cost 7 Must be less than $1000 US
Security 10 Must be unobtrusive and obviously well secured

Proposed Timeline[edit | edit source]

Date Activity Members
June 17 Criteria & Timeline Due Everyone
June 20 All research on Batteries, inverters, and complete construction process (including soldering) must be complete and uploaded to Appropedia. Also research the best angles for light to hit solar panels for max output. Everyone
June 22 Must have a meeting with Tomas by this date Everyone + RevArk
June 23 Make sure all materials and equipment is bought Simone & Will
June 28 Complete first panel and figure out optimal method of attachment. Everyone
July 1 Project completed Everyone
Week of July 1 Presentations Everyone

Final Design[edit | edit source]

Solar Power Cube[edit | edit source]

Solar Power Cube

Colectivo ReVark, an experimental group that investigates applications of sustainable design and construction, designed a animal refuge for Ghetto2Garden. This animal refuge is designed to incorporate liquid shipping cubes as dog kennels which were coincidentally designed to double (or triple) as solar lighting cubes and a solar power cube. Other forms of alternative energy were considered, but solar energy turned out to be the most accessible and appropriate technology in this case.

Design and Construction Process[edit | edit source]

Cutting open liquid shipping container to insert "control board" and batteries


  • Sizing the system
  • Resistance to the elements
  • Mobility
  • Security
  • Technical Issues

See Photovoltaics for more information about sizing a solar system, wire sizing, and the components of a system.


  • Cutting the cube
  • Joining the two panels
  • Mounting the panels
  • Soldering wires
  • Connecting the system together

Materials used:

  • Liquid shipping container
  • Solar panels
  • Inverter
  • Solar Charge Controller
  • Deep Cycle Batteries
  • Switch
  • Wire
  • Metal Bars


Device Specifications Description Picture
Solar Panels Two 140W Panels in parallel Used to charge Two 6V batteries in series with 225AH
Solar Panels.JPG
Fuse 35A Fuse The fuse is used to protect the elements of the circuit
Fuse Housing.JPG
Solar Charge Controller 12/24V


The Solar Charge Controller protects the batteries from being destroyed by the solar panels by opening the circuit when they are fully charged. Furthermore, it regulates the amperage at which the batteries are charged.
Solar Charge Controller.JPG
Switch 30 Amp The Switch is used to disconnect the batteries from the system if needed.
Deep Cycle Batteries Two 6V in series


The Batteries will be used to power a vaccination fridge and other miscellaneous uses.
Deep Cycle Batteries.JPG
Inverter 200W


Used to convert Direct Current to Alternating Current.
Liquid Shipping Container Roughly a cubic meter Solar array is mounted to the top and the cube is used to house batteries, inverter, as well as the charge controller.
Pallet Liquid Containers photo1.jpg
Electrical wires 8 gauge

10 gauge

10 gauge wire was used to connect panels to charge controller. 8 gauge was used to connect everything else.
Electrical Wire.JPG
Terminal Connectors Used to connect the batteries in series.
Terminal Connectors.JPG

Budget[edit | edit source]

Materials Unit Price $(DOP) Quantity Cost $(DOP) Cost $(USD)
140 watt Solar Panel N/A 2 13,941.00 340.02
Solar Charge Controller 3,500.00 1 3,500.00 85.37
Deep Cycle Battery (6V) 4,000.00 2 8,000.00 195.12
Fuse and Housing 15.00 1 15.00 0.37
Switch 50.00 1 50.00 1.33
Inverter Donated 1 0.00 0.00
Electrical Wire 625.00 1 625.00 15.24
Battery terminal connectors 75.00 2 150.00 3.66
Liquid Shipping Container Donated 1 0.00 0.00
Total Cost $26,281.00 $641.00

Important Instructions - Read Before Use[edit | edit source]

  • Give cube more tilt to allow water to properly flow off of panels
  • Absolutely no more than 200 watts plugged into the inverter
  • During times of no sun, cut down on energy consumption
  • When connecting the system
    • 1st - Connect the batteries to the charge controller
    • 2nd - Connect the solar panels to the charge controller
    • 3rd - Connect the inverter to the charge controller
  • The inverter has an on/off button
  • Be very careful around the battery terminals
  • The red wire is positive
  • The striped wire is negative

When Moving the Solar Cube[edit | edit source]

  • Remove the solar panel from the cube
  • Remove the batteries from the cube
  • Do not leave the disconnected panels facing the sun
  • Be careful with panel during transportation, it is fragile

Video[edit | edit source]


Solar Lighting Cube[edit | edit source]

Solar Lighting Cube

The solar lighting cube is planned to be a unit on top of each of the shelter structures that will provide lighting for the dog houses for approximately 3 hours without sun.

Design and Construction Process[edit | edit source]


  • Resistance to Weather
  • Flexibility of lights
  • Amount of light Produced
  • Unobtrusive


  • Cutting the cube
  • Mounting the Bar
  • Installing the batteries
  • Mounting the lights

Materials used:

  • Donated Solar Lighting Units with Batteries
  • Liquid Shipping Container
  • Aluminum Wire
  • Screws
  • Zip Ties


Device Specifications Description Picture
Liquid Shipping Container Roughly a cubic meter Solar array is mounted to the top and the cube is used to house batteries, invertor, as well as the charge controller.
Solar lighting Systems Includes Solar panel and light These units were installed with two batteries and 3 lights per cube. Only one battery is necessary to run the lights.

Budget[edit | edit source]

The individual solar lighting units were donated for our project.

Video[edit | edit source]


Update October 2013[edit | edit source]

As of October 2013 Ghetto2Garden houses 80 dogs and 13 cats. 55 of the dogs and 10 of the cats are sheltered in a large house where Tomas De Santis pays rent monthly. 12 dogs and the remaining 3 cats are sheltered in a different house. The remaining 13 dogs are sheltered in a third house. All three locations are in the city of La Yuca. Co- founders Wilfredo Mena Veras, Tomas De Santis, and their team will start building a new shelter before the end of October 2013. The shelter wil be built in the mountains, 40minutes outside the city of La Yuca. Their goal is to take these dogs from the streets of La Yuca "the ghetto" to the mountains "the garden".

So far 1700 block cylinders were donated by construction companies, almost enough to build the front gate of the shelter. These cylinders will be stacked high enough to provide visual protection for the dogs from the public. On top of the cylinders a wire fence will be installed to keep the animals inside, and for security. The mayor of La Yuca has lent them a tractor. They have also received 6 industrial containers, which will be reused to make living spaces at the new shelter for Tomas, a friend of Tomas, a helper, and a security guard. There is still a need for a foundation for the fence. More cylinders and wire fence are needed to build the rest of the gate. Funds are needed for dog food and contract workers to build the shelter. Above all volunteers are needed for all kinds of tasks.

The solar cubes built during El Practivistas Dominicana have not been installed because the new shelter has not been built. The solar cubes are currently stored in Osvaldo's home, a director of La Yuca community who helped build them. The rest of the materials are also in storage to prevent theft.

Update 2015[edit | edit source]

Ghetto2Garden 2014 team

As of Summer 2014, Ghetto2Garden has moved to a more secure location, is housing even more dogs and cats, and now has a fully functioning photovoltaic system. See Ghetto2Garden renewable energy 2014.

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