We took a short break and travelled up to the farm for a three day weekend.
When RMan and CGuy were there two weekends ago, they connected the batteries to the solar panel and installed the alarm. However, they noticed that the battery, over a period of 8 hours, was "boiling". Concerned, they disconnected the battery from the solar panels, just leaving the alarm connected to the battery - they figured that the power would last 3 - 4 days at least.
It was still working two weeks later. And still indicated 12 volts of power!
The conclusion is that the three panels were producing far too much power, and the regulator wasn't functioning correctly. The regulator should've controlled the amount of power sent to the battery - to prevent exactly this type of situation from happening.
We have decided that we are going to purchase a new regulator, and a 1kW inverter. This, together with a couple of deep cycle batteries, the three 75 watt solar panels, should be sufficient to provide power for a couple of CFL lights, the car radio and a chest freezer. We aren't going to purchase a solar powered, gas nor a 12 volt freezer.
Gas - we'd consume roughly 800gm / day X 30 days ZAR325.00 (US$44.00) / month and we would need to knock through the wall to install a vent of some sort for the fumes.
A 12 volt freezer - they costa plenty. We got a quote on a 225lt Sundanzer box freezer of ZAR8500.00 (roughly US$1133.00) excluding 14% V.A.T. and transport.
Solar powered freezers - we would have enough power from the three solar panels, but the unit only costs ZAR11 500.00 (US$1530.00)
But, using a 1Kw inverter, a standard 230lt Defy box freezer running on 220volt AC requires 123 watts of power when the motor is running and will only cost us ZAR2200.00 (US$293.00) to purchase. If we still stick with the original idea of freezing large bottles of water and using them to chill a stand alone cooler box - then our perishable food storage problems are sorted. We would also leave the freezer on, even when we're not there - on it's lowest setting it should consume negliable power (which would constantly be generated by the 3 solar panels) as well as be "ready" from the moment we arrive. That should enable RMan's beers to be chilled to perfection.
And talking about chilled drinks - we could've used some on Monday. The temperature rose to 44oC (111.2oF) outside. In the house it was an air-conned 30oC LOL
I felt so sorry for the poor driver of the digger / loader we hired for the day. Working in those conditions must've ben unbearable - and he had to sit above the heat of the digger / loaders' engine too! But to cap it all off, we had no water - we discovered just prior to our departure that a stone had jammed the ball valve which controlled the filling of the water tanks.
But the driver did a sterling job. We used all our building rubble to fill the verandah base, as well as some clay from our dam - the dam needs to be deeper anyway, as whatever water is collecting there is being evapourated by the heat / wind.
A digger / loader certainly makes light work of the hardest ground, and with the holes that it is able to dig, it will certainly give whatever we plant a fighting chance. No point at all in planting something whose roots will become "pot bound" because the ground is too hard.
He also dug 5 holes for trees, ran a shallow channel for irrigation pipe, and loosened the soil where we are planting lemon trees - so next time we can continue planting. My lemon trees are coming long very nicely - reckon the Weedguard works a treat. All water given to the trees is solely for the trees - the weeds and grass below the Weedguard is dead :-)
Isn't it funny how synchronicity enters one's life? We were meant to be there this weekend. I'm convinced of that.
Another neighbour of ours, Franz, popped passed. He hasn't been at his place for about a year - apparently his father-in-law, who lived up-country, passed away last year and Franz had to stay up-country to sort out his affairs. But, he told us, as he was going to be away a while, he sourced a firm that would monitor his alarm, via radio transmitter. He's now back permanently, so that'll be an extra pair of eyes too :-)
Bingo - the light bulb went off! Now that we have an alarm, we can also have a monitoring service! That will ease a lot of mental pressure regarding the safety of our house and it's contents. We were not even aware that we could get a security firm to monitor our area. We had assumed that it was too remote.
As we were leaving (at 8.00pm on Monday evening) we were repaid for the discomfort of the day by these amazing sunset views - the lightning was flickering in the background - high in the mountains. Do so hope that some of the rain made it's way to our area...
"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003