OFF GRID LIVING

LIVING WITHOUT LIGHTS.

‘What can be used and when?’ These are probably the most asked questions to us,,well, I don’t really know how to answer that to be completely honest! All I can do is explain how we made it work for us.Something so simple as having a fridge which we use sparingly. During summer when there are long days and sunshine ( well, occasionally, this is Ireland!), it is on constantly except during the night, but the swap has to be made later in the year when we use a cold locker outside, (we never have food going off thats all I can say).We also have a washing machine but this has to be run off a generater but then 2 half hour washes a week can’t be too bad. The house is wired up for 240v as this side of the house is still the caravan, and this can be one of the problems with solar power, when you need it the most for lighting, the days are short and therefore you will have less charging power, and so we have oil lanterns for our lights.

Of course these have to be regularly filled with oil but we have found that commercial diesel works just fine and is probably the cheapest thing to use. We have five lanterns and 1 gallon of diesel will last us about a month if we are careful, eg not having them all lit at the same time. We find that it costs us about 4 euro a month. Using candles and lanterns is like having a romantic dinner every night!

Other lights we use are 2  mechanic’s lead lamps for an instant bright light and these are plugged into a small secondary battery system that is independant of the main system.

By having an independant system it means that in the mid winter when we have had the main power ‘go down’ because there is just no battery charge, we still have power because our TV and satellite are both 12v. The small black 4 into 1 connecter ( car cigarette lighter) that they plug into gives an 8 hour usage time. When we go out in our jeep we take this battery with us to charge it whilst driving (utilization)

Our radio is also 12v, to run off the same system, but we plug independent speakers into it for a better sound, yes,we use alot of batteries, but they are all rechargeable and we have had the same ones for about 5 years! Even right now we have good music playing but the inverter (main power) is switched off. Of course when there is plenty of power we plug in our ‘big’ speakers ( computer speakers) that give a good bass sound!

We also have a small generater that can be used as a last resort. If this has to go on we have full power and everything gets charged up at the same time.

I check the power everyday using a volt meter.

To help us with the lighting situation we have head torches to walk around in and find things,we look like miners! These are invaluable to us. Summer time is easy but the winter can be very hard and takes thought, not as much now, but believe me, when you are first finding all this out by trial and error it is hard. It all depends on your perspectives.

Your only limitation is your imagination.

Enjoy.

ITS ELECTRIFYING !!

Hi its me again. The wife wanted her last post to be a bit longer than what it was but the computer played up ( computers!!). She will come back at a later date with a fuller version but I’ve been (politely) told to get on with this, so I will. When we decided to start this project, we didn’t have any preconceptions, so looked into connecting to the main grid (ESB Ireland) but found it to be too expensive, and not cost much more for a SMALL alternative system.

We found a local company who were willing to help us and luckily for us happened to be selling their own sytem as they were upgrading themselves. This system consisted of turbine, 40ft pole,wire guy cables and 2 photovoltic panels. We had to buy new batteries, I’ll explain why later. 5 holes were dug by hand- 1 for the turbine pole and 4 for the guy cables. Each hole was 3 cubic feet ( equaling 1 cubic tonne each)   so that the weight of the concrete wouldn’t allow movement in high winds.We recycled 4 broken leafsprings from our Hi-lux to use as anchor points and sunk them into concrete in 4 of the holes. In the fifth hole we sunk the A frame/towbar removed from our caravan,well, it was just a left over bit so we thought we may as well use it! This was to be a pivot point.

All the electrical wires were connected to the turbine and pulled through the hollow pole, and we connected 2 of the side guy cables so as we pulled it upright it couldn’t fall sideways (  Something I didn’t think of the first time,oops,sorry!) Now came the SCARY BIT. The guy cables were attached to the back of our Hi-lux (that now had new leaf-springs!) And I drove forward very slowly, sweat dripping off me in fear of the amount of money’s worth that could crash to the ground!  ‘E’ shouted STOP! and the pole had clicked into place,,phew,IT WAS UP! After connecting the other guy cables, it was now time to get it to produce power.

This is a photo of the main battery supply, that all the cables now come into ( from turbine and panels) All this had to be wired up with care and thought so I’m leaving it for now so I can do a full page about it because it will get technical ( in my eyes anyway!)

Enjoy.