Sunday, 6 October 2013

Blog post brought to you by a brisk south-easterly

Untitled by nicgee

All the while we have tenants renting out our house we have a small amount of money per month which we re-invest back in to something to make our life easier up here on the croft. That has been spent on things like our solar panels and invertors, the pipe and plumbing bits to take water out of the burn and hook the static up, the costs involved in getting our compost loo here (helped along lots by the crowd funders and donators of the loo itself). This month we spent it on a wee wind turbine. It's just 500w max but plenty for our modest requirements living a life as we do with no washing machine, fridge, freezer, toaster, kettle or microwave. 

Our current power set up is pretty straightforward but not very intuitive. We have a small solar panel which charges up a battery from which the water pump and the main lights work in the static. A second larger solar panel is connected to another battery which runs the internet for a few hours each night and during sunny days charges up various things including torches, mobile phones, tablet / netbook / kids games consoles. A petrol generator fills in the gap and is run most evenings for an hour to so to charge everything up and give us some light to eat dinner by. 

So we've invested in this little wind turbine which will hopefully lessen the need for the genny and therefore save us money on buying in petrol and the planet on us burning a little less petrol. It should also mean that rather than rely on a set time every evening we can charge stuff up as and when and maybe even have the internet on all the time - something which will please Davies and Scarlett no end and make replying to emails, researching things and uploading a quick photo to the blog a much easier affair. Long term it may mean we can look at appliances like a dehumidifier to reduce the condensation and damp in the static, maybe run the little fridge in the static (currently run off bottled gas). It's another of our small steps meaning only small mistakes experiments. If it doesn't work for us or goes wrong we have not invested too much money and will have learnt some more about wind turbines and alternative technology into the bargain.

So the turbine and charge controller arrived. We already had a pole to mount it on - purchased to the spec given to us by the turbine supplier. We forced ourselves to work slow and steady on it rather than race ahead in excitement and after two days we finally raised the pole late this afternoon. With a wind turbine you work backwards, doing all the wiring and electrics first before finally putting the rotor blades on the turbine and lifting up the pole last. It was quite a momentous feeling standing that pole up and seeing, hearing and actually feeling the blades start to turn and lights come on in the static to show it was working, generating power and making this work.

It's not been without teething problems, swear words and experimental bodging and we still want to further secure the pole with some more guy lines but for once we are sitting here listening to the wind with glee and delight as it feeds power into our battery bank and charges up things for us rather than threatening to take the roof from our heads and keep us awake.

6 comments:

  1. I'll be interested to see how this works for you as we are thinking of installing one :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. so far, so good. It is nowhere near the promised 500w but we are doing pretty well so far. We want to try and level it up a little more as we think we are losing some power by a wonky pole and we only have low grade cables which may mean we lose some power too but overall we're impressed so far.

      Delete
  2. That's another step forward in terms of independence!

    I'm still thinking you can take this a lot further, for instance your own mini hydro scheme to provide just that more coverage (Its almost always wet in the winter months when you need the power the most!)

    Also perhaps using burn water to help the fridge stay cool (Bit of ingenuity needed there!)

    And.. cold burn water to act as a cold "sink" to have water condense on as a dehumidifier!

    Ach, its fun having a fantasy, I'm surprised you've lasted as long as you have in that static halfway up a hill with no real services!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You and us both at times! We were saying today how as tough as this still feels it remains a testimony to madness that we are still here and it is incrementally getting better!

      Delete
  3. Just found your blog. Will be following your epic journey! Greetings from up North. Ludwig (permaculture teacher at Earth Ways)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ludwig, nice to have you reading :)

      Delete