"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

Sunday 9 September 2012

Temporary solar power

I feel terrible.  Our solar power system has not generated enough power for me to blog regularly.  And I have only been able to catch a few of all your blog postings.  Sob - I miss my Adsl line...    Parked in front of the business PC I could catch blogs at any time of the day.  Now - if I dial up and you've posted within the past two hours I can read your latest news.  Please forgive me - I'm not being rude - I honestly just haven't had the internet connection nor the spare power.  We still don't - but that's another story...

But, back to where I was - the limited solar power caused our first few weeks on the farm to be extremely "interesting".

You remember that I purchased an Owl electricity monitor for RMan a couple of years ago.  Well, it was actually intended for the farm, so that we could monitor our power consumption.

And that little Owl has been brilliant!  At any time we have been able to see what power we are draining from the batteries.

For instance...
The fridge actually demanded 161 watts of power, but, if you take a gander at the specifications below, you'll see...
... that it's only supposed to draw 100watts!  Oh boy, that little fridge sure had it's work cut out.  I often battled to find space to cram another item into it.
Crammed to capacity
Apart from charging cell phones, and torches, the other appliances we used were the laptop...
The laptop on charge only
On charge only the laptop consumed 64 watts, during use it rose to 97 watts.
As  you can see from the Owl on the 29th July
we had consumed 29 Kw of energy from the
sun - for the entire month.
The 258 watts is what the PC draws.
And the temp, which I've bored you all
to tears with, was 13.2oC - inside - at 10.30a.m.
in the morning.
And the PC.  The biggest drain on our limited power was by far and away the PC.  I have to use the PC (and printer) for the business, as the program I am running is not longer supported, nor licensed, by the manufacturers which means I can't load / re-install it onto the laptop.

We even tried adding 3 X new 135watt panels to the existing 75 watt panels.  They are to be installed on the new garage roof, but until we are able to do that, we tied them to window frames and secured the fronts with tyres so that the North Westerly wind which blows in winter, couldn't take them for a spin without our permission.
Not an aesthetically pleasing picture, but, heck,
whatever works, and is only temporary, is fine
for a limited period of time...
The washing I managed to do by hooking the machine up to the genny.  Sometimes I got too clever, and the weather didn't play ball.  So, before the Dover started smoking badly, RMan rigged up a rail, and between that and the chairs in front of the stove, we managed to dry the clothes.
Laundry in the kitchen LOL  Idiot me -
I only see the kettle now - all
that steam couldn't have helped...!
And, at night, when there is no charge entering our damaged, fragile solar batteries, then the genny and our kerosene (paraffin) lamps did the work for us :)
The past meets the future...
... and it created a wonderfully warm "gemutlich" atmosphere
BUT - we have now got the new panels in situ on top of the new garage roof (pics to follow as soon as I can upload them / create the blog posting), and I finally have my normal fridge - with freezer.  Happy days!!
As we switched over from the 3 x 75 watt
and 3 X 135 watt panels to the garage
mounted 5 X 135 watt panels I took a consumption
reading.  We had used 69 Kw in 2 months (the
pic was taken on the 4th September).
Heck, a couple of years ago, we were using that
in one day during the winter months,
and the in-laws were visiting and we had
oil heaters on all night in their room.)
 The old trusty, meets the older trusty LOL
It didn't take me long to fill the bigger fridge LOL
Leftovers are my worst nightmare...!  As you can
see RMan has an entire shelf for his liquid refreshment,
so now he's happy too :)
The LG double door fridge / freezer states a rated input of 150 watts, but actually consumes / displays on the Owl an amount of 242 watts!  Huh?

But, a freezer means...
...we don't have to drive 60kms every 2 - 3 days in order to purchase perishables.  Because now I have fridge (freezer) space.  And it also means that I can finally have ice in my glass of rosé at the end of the day :)  And not a day too late LOL  Who wants to drink warm rosé in summer?

Things are definitely improving.  "Cheers" :)


  1. Glad your solar is hooked up so that you have more power.

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

    1. FlowerLady - Yup - works really well - when there ain't no clouds...! :)

  2. I have found that when they print the wattage for fridges it is usually for the fridge only. If the model has a freezer, it is a totally different wattage. I even called the factory on a couple appliances for just that reason. They are sneaky. And I just learned that the freezer on the bottom is less efficient than the freezer on the top. The condenser has to work harder when it is on the bottom. Or maybe make sure the condenser is clean, that can effect the efficiency. Is it 12 volt? Alternative energy is a constant learning experience. But glad you finally got your ice :)

    1. Jane - Yeah - there are two values - for fridge and freezer. But they don't add up to the 242 watts showing on the Owl. Nope - it's 220volt, 12 volt fridges in this country are wickedly expensive for their size - which is generally very small. Our condenser is in a sealed compartment, so dunno if it will get dusty...?

      Chilled wine - nothing to beat it after a long day's work :)

  3. Glad things are continuing to work out, albiet with adjustments and learning along the way. Glad you got ice for your wine!

    1. DFW - Does one ever stop learning? And chilled rose tastes better than at room temperature :)

  4. i'm with DFW - happy for you that finally have ice for your rosee! and thank you for sharing the ups and the downs - it is hard to go off-grid and adjust to all of the changes. you guys are doing great and are a real inspiration! keep up the good work and the good fight, Dani - we are all cheering you on!

    your friend,

    1. kymber - Thank you for the encouragement - it does help :)

  5. Aww...Don't worry about us. We know that you're out in the "boonies" with no way to communicate. Pretty soon it'll be 2 tin cans with a wire between @;)

    Up those amps! Mama's gotta keep that wine chilled!

    1. tami - Been there and done that as a child LOL Yup - up those amps! Up those amps! My new mantra LOL

  6. Sounds like your learning curve is straightening out a bit! Here's to dry clothes, no more long drives and a cold wine at the end of the day :)

  7. Yay for you, it's coming along and that's all that matters! You are indeed an inspiration and we're not going anywhere. Now go have another iced Rose' for us. :-)

    1. 1st Man - Thanks - for sticking by :) Yeah - I'll have an extra glass tonight and cheers you all :)

  8. So interesting to know your ACTUAL usage! All good food for thought. Enjoy your refreshments!

    1. Linda - With the full sized fridge and the TV, PC, plus a couple of lights and charging phones / laptop, we are now using 2.8Kw / day. Have read your energy usage, and seriously don't know how you are getting by with 8-odd Kw / day - with your family too!

  9. It is neat to see how you are doing in your new place. Gotta love (and laugh at) those learning curves. Glad your new panels are helping out and making a big difference. That is great.

    1. Emily - LOL The laughs will probably come later, once we have the time and (builders) space to reflect. But we're loving it :)


Thank you for taking the time to comment - it makes my day and removes the "loneliness' of sitting at my screen blogging supposedly to myself ;) I try and reply as quickly as possible so please forgive me if sometimes my response is delayed.