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    Dartplayer Dot Net :: View topic - Living off the grid?
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    Living off the grid?
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    Erik
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    Location: Moses Lake WA

    PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Life at the cabin: Well, with the boys here it's pretty easy Wink They've been making dinner so it's ready when I get home and have kept the place pretty clean so I can relax after work Smile They are also working hard to get stuff done and promise to get the walls done on the composter shed today and start on the roof. I hope so! I need it done ASAP as winter is moving in fast!

    I am finding it tough to do much wen I get home because so far I've been making it home around 6pm and it's starting to get dark. However, we do go over things and sort out some issues so they can get back at it the next day. Without them I'd be hurting big time!! So a big THANKS to Josh Miller an Kurtis McVay for stepping up and helping out!!! They will be back next week also and hope to get all the winterizing one or close to done by the weekend.

    One thing I can tell is that the insulation and interior paneling must be done soon too. t wasn't an issue before because I get up and stoke the fire at least once in the night but if I want to sleep all night and have a fire in the morning I'd have to get up before ZERO DARK THIRTY to start one since this stove doesn't burn longer then about 4 to 5 hours and when it's freezing outside the interior temp can drop to 60 in that period. Clearly getting the insulation done will be a big bonus.

    I've also got to get the toilet installed ASAP and get my propane installed ASAP both for fairly obvious reasons but with the propane it means I can then also install the new generator which iwill auto start any time the power drops to a certain level (one I set) which is key where there isn't much sun to generator power to charge the batteries. Right now one day without sun can be a problem because it's dark using lights, even CFL's takes power) and I use a computer and TV in the evenings (and obviously in the AM like now) and the Fridge and Freezer are big users too. Without the backup generator I couldn't leave for the weekend and would be running the as genny in the evenings for several hours daily if the sun doesn't show which lately it has not).

    Otherwise, cabin life has been pretty god minus the whole missing my beautiful wife! THat part downight sucks but we knew it would be the hard part.

    From the bush.
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    Erik
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    PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    First full week at the cabin and it's going pretty well. The hughesnet does strange things when you type fast (I suppose that's the lag) though this only seems to happen with FB and not other sites...hmmm...


    With the room taking longer then I'd hoped to get done we've had to adjust to having no toilet inside the cabin (outhouse for emergency use) and we've survived with that but it's getting old fast! lol Today being Friday and the boys needing to pack everything up to take home for the weekend (since we still don't have a generator backup in place I don't want to leave the fridge on when I'm gone) it is unlikely they will get much done today except maybe mill the 2x6 boards for the rafters.


    Ferrelgas has really started to piss me off as they continue to not call me back. I've had to call tem a few times and they assure me they are working on it but my guess is they are NOT a good company. Problem is, everyone seems to use them in this area and claims they are cheaper than Amerigas -- I'll find out today when I call Amerigas and se if they can come out ASAP and deliver a 500 gallon propane tank etc.


    If I can get the propane installed next week and we can get the composting toilet re-installed then we're almost there. We'll still have to get a heater and install it in the new room and we'll need a door, an entrance way and roofing but those can be done later once the toilet is installed and the room is at least sealed up and protecting the toilet from the cold and the rain.

    Speaking of cold it's 30 degrees this morning and that seems to be the trend right now. I've had no problem keeping the cabin warm though and only get up once or twice in the night, if I am awake, to stoke the fire. I don't really have to do that but I prefer a warm cabin and know that if I leave it warm it's less likely to be cold when I return Wink Of course, finishing the insulation and interior will help with that.


    Perhaps my biggest issue is the solar power. I have 8 ol cart batteries (220ah each) in a series parallel configuration that gives me a 12 volt bank with 880 amp hours of capacity (at a 20hr draw rate). With the batteries around 70 degrees this is enough power to run the fridge and freezer and some lights for 24 hours no problem and perhaps up to 3 days at 80% drain. However I'm finding that this time of year with the batteries dropping to 39 degrees at night and our using the TV, laptop, hugesnet modem etc the batteries drop to 50% drain overnight! That's a problem.

    I have a new inverter (24v) and some other items that should reduce usage and improve efficiency once installed and the new room should keep the batteries above 50 degrees which will help also but I'm going to have to watch the power usage this winter or I'll be running the generator a LOT. I figured I can run it 4 hours a day if need be over the coldest part of the winter but if the battery bank were well matched to the usage I have I'd only need the generator on cloudy days after abusing power without much solar ativity -- or like my neighbor on weekends when I'm home all day.

    Not much I can do about that now but next year I'll need to get better batteries with more reserve.

    Also, the AIMS Modified Sine wave inverter (square wave) is NOT adequate for my needs now. It continues to crash on us whenever we try to increase the load on it. Despite being rated at 2500 watts with a 5000 watt surge it doesn't seem to be able to handle running 2 CFL lights, the TV and Satellite box and say the fridge if i kicks on o the freezer....when that happens it dumps the power and we have to get up and reset it. So I can't wait to get the industrial grade 4000 watt pure sine inverter installed!

    Anyway, time to make lunch and pack up for work. It's been a great week at work though and I actually look forward to getting in an starting my day Smile What could be better?
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    Erik
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    PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Another fine day at the cabin It's supposed to be sunny and warm (around 55 degrees) so the boys ought to be able to get the roof on the new room framed and the composting toilet composting drum set back in place. Which means, if I can sneak away early today (not really early unless leaving at 8hrs is early!) then I can get it hooked back up.

    I let the fire go out last night (because I really ...needed some sleep) so had to start it again this morning which wasn't much of an issue other then there wasn't enough small wood in the cabin to get some coals built up so I had to go out in and get some. Was about 30 degrees but the stars filled the sky and it was pretty motivating:)

    Was able to shower again too! Ya, that's a plus! lol I replaced the shower head last night and while I'm still having an issue with flow through the heater it does work and only seems to be a problem in the tub/shower for some reason. I'll have to tear the tub taps apart and see what's clogging them up. Because of the flow being so restricted in the tub the heater shuts off unless you have another tap running so I have to have the bathroom sink hot water cracked a bit. Needless to say I'll have to fix that soon. Good thing I'm on well water!

    Managed to get home early last night from Cheney too I was heading over the pass from Coulee Dam towards Omak when I decided to take Lyman Lake Road over the hump into the valley where our cabin is. It's a 20 mile stretch of forest road that I hadn't driven in 4 years because it ddn't seem to save me much time but boy was I glad I did! I arrived at the cabin just over 45 minutes later! Considering I was a good 90 minutes out if I stayed on the pavement I was pretty stoked Turned a 4 1/2 hour drive into a 3 1/2 hr drive (roughly).

    Now it's time to get cracking! Gotta get heading to work soon but am hopeful the boys will get some work done today (they were relaxing yesterday which is kinda bad since winter is approaching fast (plenty of timie to relax when the work is done!).
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    Michelle
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    PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Congratulations, Erik! Sounds exciting. Keep posting updates!!
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    PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Michelle wrote:
    Congratulations, Erik! Sounds exciting. Keep posting updates!!


    Thanks Michelle! it's been crazy and fun Smile

    Quote:
    Cabin Life: I managed to get home early yesterday because I took a visit to Oroville to help one of my techs at a job and to visit the CO Tech in the Oroville CO. So, I managed to get home by 5PM. When I arrived the roof wasn't framed on the new room because the boys were having issues getting the rafters cut right (I think they have that sorted now or at least how to get it sorted anyway). So they were remounting the hot water heater on the outside of the cabin (they had removed the box it was enclosed in along with it earlier).

    I was a bit worried about the heater being exposed and expecting a cold morning (as in freezing) but there wasn't much we could do so we affixed some plywood around the upper section of the heater and as a roof (temporary) and insulated the opening in the wall in the bathroom and hoped for the best.

    One thing I was able to do, however, was purge the unit a little by opening the drain valve with the water running. This seemed to improve the water pressure in the tub and gave me hope that I might actually have a good shower in the AM.

    OH THE JOY! By morning it was only 40 degrees out (warm) so I had no worries about the water freezing in the hot water heater (instant on but it has water in it all the time) and ran the shower. I HAD PRESSURE!

    You just don't know how good a HOT shower is first thing in the morning until you are living with a failing one in the middle of the woods and then suddenly you get it fixed and it's 5am and you need to wake up! AWESOME!

    Heck, it ought to be a great day! Very Happy



    Quote:

    Hard Freeze! Or at least a freeze hard enough to stop my hot water THe cold was barely running but I got it going by opening all the taps but the hot is just toast I sure hope the hot water heater piping is ok (which I think it will be since it's not THAT cold out yet).

    SO, this morning I have no hot water at all. Good thing it's Friday and I am the boss! I'll call it 'casual Friday' and ...not worry about not shaving.

    Cabin is nice and warm though I tamped it down last night at 10pm and then added a log at 3am so when I got up at 5:00 it was both warm and still burning with lots of life left in the log I put in a couple hours earlier.

    Good thing the room is almost done! I MUST have insulated hot water or I will not make it through the winter wich can be VERY harsh up here!

    Luckily we are close! THe boys have the roof framed -- it ended up a 3:12 pitch but I think that will be ok as the rafters are on 16" centers and only about 4 feet long.

    It's clear to me, however, that by tonight this room must be sealed and insulated or I won't have hot water as I'll have to shut it off until I get the propane installed (in just under a week) and can provide heat to the room!



    The latest news (those were from last week) is that the propane tank (500 gallons) was installed and the room for the composter etc is enclosed and insulated well enough to not freeze (with the heater running).

    This weekend I'll be hard at it trying to install the permanent heater (just a temp in there now) and the generator as well as finish getting the toilet installed.

    Life should be good soon!
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    PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Smurphy wrote:
    Living "off the grid" means NO internet or phone of any sorts. There's way to much of an information trail left from these 2 devices. Even a land line is no good as phone companies are the biggest threats to sell your info to others.

    A computer is less of a threat if you know what you're doing. But a camp out in the woods with all the modern luxuries is by no means living off the grid. Not even close.

    That being said, it looks like a wonderful place.


    Technically, yes, of course. Though for many it means off the 'power grid' which is where the expression comes from. And I'm definitely off the power grid! lol

    That being said, I work for the phone company Wink and must have both phone and internet so I can be reached etc and in truth my intent is not to pull the plug from society like some doomsday prepper! lol Rather I have a cabin in the woods where I took a job and rather then pay rent in town I'm living at the cabin which uses solar power, a composting toilet, grey water drain system and yes, now has phone, internet and TV.

    It's a pretty good balance of 'off grid' living and 'modern convenience' but make no mistake! The nearest town is 23 miles away and only has around 1000 people in it. This is life on the frontier albeit the modern frontier Wink
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    PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    It is definitely tough sometimes when working alone in a remote location in a building you must also live in. However I am finding that as long as you remember to take the time to sweep the place up and put things away it isn't too bad. Of course you must also except that you cannot do everything at once so you pick your battles, for battles they are some times, and take each challenge on one at a time.

    Today I'd hoped to get the new heater in place along with finishing the composting toilet install, mortaring in the cinder blocks at the entrance to the compost room and to backfill the area around the room as much as possible. However, the best laid plans of mice and men as they say and I found myself heading to Home Depot in Omak to pick up a few things I could not get locally. I did, however, take back $29 worth of valves I didn't need to the local hardware store and while there got a key made for the porch door using a broken key (it works perfectly). So now we have an extra set of keys that I will put on my truck keyring along with one tractor key when they arrive. The other set I'll put on my Jeep keys and in that way I will always have a set of keys regardless of what rig I'm driving!

    While in Omak I went by Walmart and bought some fruit and salad stuff so I could get back to eating salads and fruit (fruit I started last week thanks to Kurtis McVay). I arrived back at the cabin around 1PM and set to the task of getting ready to mortar the cinder blocks in. This is when I discovered I had to have an additive for cold weather so I shifted gears and did some back-filling (shovel work) to work off frustration.

    Realizing that I'd not yet started the composting toilet work I set down my shovel, having worked out my frustration at not being able to mortar, and set to figuring out what needed to be done with the 4" vent stack. That's when I realized that the boys hadn't testing the sewage pipe for clearance. Can't blame them though as they'd not installed one of these things before. So, after some testing I got out the sawzall and cut off some of the inlet pipe so it would clear the drum when rotated.

    Next was the vent that I wanted to run up next to the cabin so it could be properly secured to the roof and to do so I needed to add some 45 degree elbows and secure the stack to the rafters. Once I had the first part done I drilled a 4" hole through the lower portion of the roof (our roof is 1/2" OSB followed by 2" foam board and another sheet of 1/2" OSB) where the vent would go through it and then went onto the roof and offset drilled the next hole so the stack would rise up vertically without any issue. Once done I was able to work the vent into place and secure it with straps. I was able to wrangle the vent pieces together (I'd already glued most of it on the ground) and though I forgot the rubber seal on the roof side I was able to go back and install it. Finally I used spray foam to fill the gap so I wouldn't lose any heat out that way While on the roof I also sealed the propane hot water heater vent with high temp vent sealer.

    So, with the 4" stack installed and the sewage pipe installed by the boys earlier (and tailored a little by me) I just needed to put in the overflow and the 2" stack.

    The overflow was pretty straight forward and took little time to complete. It was fortuitous that I decided to set the compost bin on top of 2" foam insulation as it made it easier to ensure the overflow would be at the right height for the outlet we'd installed in the floor.

    Next I learned that I would need to find all the parts from the original install of the composter 3 years ago because I would need at least one coupler in order to get the vent going up to the roof at the right spot. As it was getting late I set it in place, covered it and tested everything as is. Nothing leaked (thank you Kurtis and Josh Miller) and after a little silicone I was ready to use Smile (no I didn't but I now have a functional bathroom again!).

    I still need to run some power to the vent fan (easy) and find the parts for the 2" vent (should be in the shed but they aren't really needed anyway so it can't wait).

    I didn’t get to the heater despite putting in 6 good hours (3 hours I was driving/shopping) but that leaves tomorrow and I did get more backfilling done. I also prepped the concrete for mortar work and hauled all the bricks over from the stack in the wheel barrow (no tract means I am the tractor).

    Finally I made dinner, which thanks to my beautiful and awesome wife, Darci, was really just me warming up meatballs and roasted pineapple and habanero sauce over rice (Darci takes care of me). For the rest of the evening I'll relax a bit, have a drink and listen to music on the new car stereo, or perhaps watch some TV. I'll likely be in bed early too -- like last night -- as staying up late burns electricity and I can't afford to do that!
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    PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    So last night I thought the 6 or 7 year old $300 Champion generator was crapping out. It was running very roughly and I didn't think it would last the week. I added oil and hoped for the best since I couldn't install the new backup generator until the weekend now (at the earliest). So I was stuck hoping the old genny would hang in there.

    Then, tonight after my shower I had to go out and set the heater in the composter room and close it up tight for the night and decided to crank up the generator to see if it would run ok after a good warm up. It started fine as usual and ran ok for a few minutes. Then it began to run rough again and for whatever reason I decided to hit the choke and see what happened. The choke lever was loose! As I went to move the choke I noticed it was moving freely and had no stiffness to it. I moved it about and the generator struggled, then I held it open and the generator run great again. Hmmmm......so I wired it open an gee whiz if this old El Cheapo Chinese generator didn't go back to running like a Champion (pun intended) Smile

    So all is well with the genny and I'll be able to leave the internet running while I flick on the TV to see what's on tonight Very Happy Sweet!
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    CraigB
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    PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    A billion Chinese can't all be Wong! Razz Laughing
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    PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    CraigB wrote:
    A billion Chinese can't all be Wong! Razz Laughing

    LOL well frankly they make mostly crap! lol but this generator isn't among the crap stuff! Specially not for $300!
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    PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Ahhh Coffee! Worked hard yesterday so treated my self to some French Vanilla flavoured coffee today Smile See Cabin Life isn't all that rough Wink Heck I even watched TV last night and am listening to classic rock this morning.

    My day will be full though as I need to visit a customer this morning and help them out a little and pick up the stickers I loaned them) then assuming Home Depot has a mortar additive for cold weather I'll make the attempt to lay some bricks. If I can get that done then I can concentrate on prepping the area the new generator will go this week and if I get the new heater installed (today hopefully) then I can get the auto generator switch installed as well as the battery monitor.

    It's going to be a full day!
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    PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    [img width=800 height=450]http://i1275.photobucket.com/albums/y442/emcvay2/Cabin/composterentrance_zps51eb0ea1.jpg[/img]
    The retaining wall entrance to the new room. It aint fancy but I think it will work.

    [img width=800 height=450]http://i1275.photobucket.com/albums/y442/emcvay2/Cabin/cabinadditions_zps925005a2.jpg[/img]
    Here you can see the propane tank (50 gals), the new addition and the now heavily covered and insulated retaining wall structure. With luck it will be ready for backfilling as son as I get my tractor key and am here to do the work (have to go to meetings Wednesday and Thursday).

    My batteries were low in water unfortunately so I topped them off and am hoping they are going to be ok! Otherwise I had a productive weekend at the cabin. This week I hope to get a bit more done before going to meetings Wed-Fri and then this weekend I hope to get the generator hooked up since I was not able to this weekend.

    I'm also going to pick up 4 more batteries to increase my reserves Smile
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    PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    I HATE to see the batteries dropping below 12vdc and only hope they will hang in there until late spring. Meanwhile I did some work today Smile

    First I got out and started the generator so the batteries would be relatively charged up before the sun hit the panels. THen when the sun was hitting the panels hard I set up the charge controller to equalize and let it go. THat was a bit of an adventure becuase you have to set the controller to do so, but tell it to run every 0 days so it won't auto equalize, then you can hit the button for 5 seconds and start the cycle. That took me a bit to figure out and some readin.

    I marked the time when I started and since I'd aleady been out backfilling the propane line trench and around the new room I took a break, sharpened up my chain saw and went and dropped 5 ot 6 trees that were blocking my well pump panel. Then I checked the specific gravity of the batteries to see where they were after 45 minutes:

    1. 1.235/1.225/1.230
    2. 1.250/1.235/1.245
    3. 1.250/1.250/1.250
    4. 1.250/1.250/1.235
    5. 1.250/1.250/1.245
    6. 1.260/1.260/1.250
    7. 1.250/1.250/1.230
    8. 1.235/1.250/1.235

    I went back to backfilling and working the ground around the back room where the generator was going to be installed and checked the batteries again at 58 minutes.

    1. 1.250/1.260/1.250
    2. 1.250/1.250/1.250
    3. 1.250/1.255/1.250
    4. 1.250/1.250/1.250
    5. 1.250/1.250/1.250
    6. 1.250/1.250/1.250
    7. 1.250/1.250/1.250
    8. 1.250/1.250/1.250

    THe equalize stopped at that point so I ran it again for 15-20 minutes but remembering something about overheating the batteries I shut it down. At least my last readings were very good (Fair on the SG meter but good because they were within tollerance of one another) if not 'GOOD' for batteries that have been equlized for over an hour.

    So with the batteries equalized and the sun still out and charging them and having reconfigured the controller to better match the batteries according to Trojan I went back to work on the back room and backfilling the space for the generator.


    Luckily I have a tractor and forks for it and I was able to move the generator into place. I hooked up the line provided by the gas company but need to get some BI Pipe and do it right. I'll work on that in the future but for now I managed to get the line ran into the generator and leak free.


    You can see the backfilling. Some of it was done by hand but mostly the tractor did the work.


    Not the best lighting but you get the idea Smile


    Blurry but this is the Iota 55a charger now hooked up to a wall outlet which goes outside.


    I temp ran some romex from the outlet to the genny -- originally this outlet was meant to be run to the portable generator inside a dog house so I could just run it and charge the batteries as needed but living here calls for some changes.


    Again, just a temp set up until I can get a breaker box installed on the outside of the room and then run into the room and to the charger from there. That will take some time though.


    A closer shot of the ground work and genny


    ANd the cabin as it sits tonight

    I'm running the generator now and it's nice to be able to kust go out and flip the switch. WIll be nicer though when I can let the auto start do the work c*
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    PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    I think you need an underground bunker / dart bar. Wink

    (Or is that just me? Razz )
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    PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2013 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    CraigB wrote:
    I think you need an underground bunker / dart bar. Wink

    (Or is that just me? Razz )


    I have a 'Dart Cabin' what more do I need?
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    PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2013 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Cabin Life: I am happy to report that the batteries were at 12.33v this morning! So after about 10 hours of runing the fridge and freezer as well as the HugesNet modem and the wireless router the batteries are still sitting at about 65% of capacity.

    Of course I'd like to see that up around 95% but considering the abuse they have taken and the length of their life (golf cart batteries are only about a 3 to 5 year battery when used like this - so I'm told) I'd say that's pretty good. And considering I'll be adding 4 more to the bank (taking it from 8 to 12) then I'm guessing I should be able to make it more then one long night before the generator needs to run Wink

    Speaking of which, it was nice to just walk out and hit the 'manual' button and hear it come to life and start to power the cabin again (which means charging up the batteries). I'll run it a couple hours this morning to get the batteries back up 85-95% and then let it rest while I work on the auto start.

    Only bad news I have this morning is that it rained last night and is still drizzling a bit. Why bad news? Becuase if the sun doesn't come out today I won't have much luck getting the solar panel charging system running. I do have a backup pan though for today: 4 golf cart batteries that I can wheel over to the well and maybe hook up in series to give me the 24vdc I need to run the pump. Only problem I see at the moment is that I'm not sure I have cables to hook them up with.
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    PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    First up Saturday was the well. I did a fair amount of digging and found the broken wires. Fixed those, rewired the float into the pump and buried the wires as well as the conduit to the solar panels with all the wire running through it.



    WHile doing that a nice 2 point buck and his mate came by to visit. THey hung out for at least an hour!!! Pics to follow.




    Next the generator experience went into overdrive today. First I tried to wire it up so it would charge off the inverter since it needs 120vac for the generator charger on the battery. After much farting around I finally realized that is why they say you MUST have an inverter in order to run the generator...and inverter/charger in fact.

    So realizing time was running out I ripped into the battery bank and converted to 24vdc, reconfigured the charge controller and hooked up the new inverter. Once done I got the generator rewired for the new inverter and finally had both the battery charger on the generator hooked up and the generator hooked up to the inverter to power the cabin.

    I then set to hooking up the Magnum Auto Gen start switch and after many trips back and forth and downloading manuals and diagrams I realized I could not use the autogen start until I got more wires. I need one more to run over to the generator for the gen running sensor in the autostart switch. Once done I should be set.

    Next day....

    Seems my sinuses DID NOT like me climbing around under the cabin nor digging and backfilling lines etc and punished me over time last night. So at around 2am having only slept a few hours so far and fitful at that, I took some afrin actually the Western Family version) and cleared up my sinuses Smile THen it was off to bed and SLEEP! Then my alarm went off and it was 5am and time to get the coffee going, and oh that coffee tasteth the best!!!

    So after shaving I went and cranked up the laptop and waited for the fridge and freezer to stop cycling. Once they quit I checkd power and it was 24.38vdc and rising! Saw it climb to over 24.4v as I went out to hit the start button on the generator to kick it into life and give the batteries a short recharge before heading to work.

    Last night as I was laying in bed I realized that I had about 50 feet of speaker wire and that the wire I needed for the generator didn't need to be big -- a match made in heaven perhaps Wink But I also took bag over $40 of stuff to Home Depot recently that I didn't have receipts for and the girl got confused when I wanted the credit on our account and gave me a gift card with the credit on it instead. So I'll pick up the romex and stuff I need today and fix the recepticle problem for the freezer and wire up the last wire to the auto gen start while I'm at it.

    THen if I could just figure out the stupid lights on the charge controller I'd be set! Very Happy

    So while fighting the 'how to hook up' bug with the new Auto Gen Switch etc I went into a panic when after seeing my inverter quit charging I put my multimeter into the socket the generator feeds and saw voltage readings around 135vac. I was in a panic and thought maybe the inverter stopped excepting the power from the generator because of this. After all, it's designed to cut off shore power that is in the excess of 135vac or below 90vac (that can be adjusted to a tighter range if needed).

    Later out of curiosity I tested the output power again and it was 140vac and climbing! YIKES!

    Still later I checked the inverter power and it showed over 140vac ??? ??? ???

    I began to suspet my 10 year old Greenlee Multimeter. Today I bought it into the shop and tested the jacks on the wall. First read 118vac, uh oh I thought, but dilligent in my testing (I'm known in my field as a good troubleshooter) I tested another outlet and got 121vac, then 125vac, 129, 130, 135....something aint right. One of my techs pulled out his Fluke and it read 120vac on the same outlet my Greenlee was reading 129.9vac.

    My meter went into the trash and I felt a LOT better about my readings!!!! Now time to buy a new meter Wink

    Had a very good chat with Magnum Energy about the auto gen start switch and it's settings. One thing I've often struggled with is the voltage levels shown on my MPPT controller. Often the low voltage is around 11.9vdc (when it was a 12v bank) and while I knew that was likely under a load without specifics one cannot tell. Then this discussion confirmed what I thought and likely what someone smarter then me would say which is 'don't trust the controller!' lol

    So, with Magnum on the phone I discussed what setting to use on my system with my inverter and the consensus was 11.5v (which is really 23v on a 24v bank) so that when the batteries are under a load for more then one minute or when the bank is depleted to 23vdc the switch will kick on the generator and recharge the bank.

    Which confirms my previus belief that my system was not as depleted as I thought it was, it was just running the freezer or fridge and showing lower.

    Now to fix some other issues.

    The answer to my inverter question (why it stopped charging) was to use setting #1 so the inverter would kick to AC power and charge the batteries, once fully charged it would go into float on the batteries until the generator stops and remain on AC from the generator until that time allowing me to run various other things on Generator AC only circuits.

    In the other setting (o) the generator remains in inverter mode and stops charging once the batteries are topped off. which means it detected a fully charged condition each evening and determined that it did not need to keep charging the batteries.

    On a side note the two wire start on the inverter was designed for AGM systems aparently which on a 12v battery their engineer tells me, at 10.9v it is still not fully disharged. In fact he claimed it was at 50% which shocked me. Not sure I agree but I'm not an electrical engineer! lol

    So, I'll switch to setting 1 and let you know what happens Smile I've also got a new voltmeter (multi) and some fuses to complete my Magnum install. With luck I'll get that done this evening and be fully operational! Smile

    So there you have it, a day or two in the life Wink

    Soon I expect my posts will be about cutting wood to stay warm since temps are heading to the teens overnight now.

    I'll keep you posted!
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    CraigB
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    PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    So that's the fast food option out there, eh? Razz
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    PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    CraigB wrote:
    So that's the fast food option out there, eh? Razz


    It can be Wink
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    PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


    Ground road -- bent the last 10 inches down into the ground as I couldn't drive it any deeper. Then attached the ground cable and buried it all.


    You can see where the ground goes here. Runs into the Midnight solar box and ground bus bar. Then I run a ground from there into the main breaker panels bus and tie my inverter and charge controller grounds to that bus. Imagine, I never had a ground for the last three years! I KNOW this isn't good but I just never got it installed as the last rod never made it down more then 5 feet (I need to pull it out with my tractor).


    Buried. I still need to extend the conduit from the solar panels up into the box but that will wait for another day. Hopefully not year though!


    New batteries installed and charged up. This gives me 660AH at 24v (compared to my old 12v system of 880AH this would be 1320AH with the 4 additional batteries)


    New Inverter/Charger. It's an 24v AIMS 4000watt Pure Sine Inverter with a 1000watt charger and the option to run it in Battery Mode which will always inverter from the batteries or 'Shore Power' mode which will switch to the Generator supplied power while charging the batteries and then remain on generator power with the battery charger in float until the generator shuts down. I prefer this mode as it means I can run the generator for longer periods for various reasons without drawing off the batteries. Then when I shut down the generator it kicks over to Inverter mode. It also has a 'sleep' mode which sends out a pulse of power every so many seconds and continues until something kicks on and needs power, then it runs until the item kicks off. This is helpful when I am away as it will just sleep until the freezer or refrigerator comes on then powers them and goes back to sleep conserving power.


    Started charging off the inverter with the generator running and dialed in the inverter to about 85% charging capacity. It' s interesting how sensative the charger settings are but I was able to dial it in to roughly what I think would be good for this bank based on the solar calculator's suggestion on how many panels I'd need using my 205watt panels. It tells me 4 so I dialed in the inverter to run about that much power. What was also interesting was watching the inverter/charging dial up the charge from start and then back off in steps as it went through bulk to absorption and then float.


    TriMetric monitor showing 101% of charge after running the generator and charging from the Inverter for a couple hours.
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    PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    I can relate. Been living on my sailboat for 3 yrs.
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    PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    vintageray wrote:
    I can relate. Been living on my sailboat for 3 yrs.


    What kind of power?
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    PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


    Lots has happened in the last 2+ months for those interested. For the most part I've been surviving with no working drains, no running hot water (and for a while no running water) but have managed to get by anyway. The winter was VERY cold this year getting down to the negatives (-12 to -15 at it's coldest) which for our area isn't quite normal.

    On the other hand I haven't had much snow which means things like my grey water drains have frozen and it also means I've used a LOT more propane than I expected to. So I'm down to 50% in my 500 gallon tank and still 2+ months of cold weather to go (actually it won't be above freezing at night until May or June but I won't need much propane since day time temps will go above 50.

    Anyway, I've mostly been plowing the little snow and ice I have on my road in and keeping warm while planning trips back to our main home in the city (which is when I go from sponge baths to showers and do laundry). My hope is that I don't have much longer before the grey water drains finally thaw but we'll see.


    Meanwhile I plan to do some milling soon (maybe this weekend) and hope to get back to finishing the interior also.

    And of course, I spend a lot more time on the dart board since there isn't much else to do at night Wink
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    PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Hi Eric

    That is very cool I would Love to live off the grid. I have been watching all the shows about Alaska and the one about the Mountain men.

    You are a man after my on Heart i wish you all the Best of Luck & Happiness.

    Also let use know when you have your 1st Bigfoot Encounter:)

    Mugs Away
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    PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    bret23 wrote:
    Hi Eric

    That is very cool I would Love to live off the grid. I have been watching all the shows about Alaska and the one about the Mountain men.

    You are a man after my on Heart i wish you all the Best of Luck & Happiness.

    Also let use know when you have your 1st Bigfoot Encounter:)

    Mugs Away
    Bret


    Thanks Smile No bigfoot yet but lots of snow so maybe Yeti will stop by!
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