Thursday, June 17, 2010

Project updates

I've been helping some friends with their off-grid house. Over the winter, I wired the place. A couple weeks ago, we set up a battery bank. Before that, everything ran on generators. Now the generator runs just long enough to charge up the batteries. When they reach full charge, the generator is shut down and the house runs on batteries through an inverter. Today I learned they just ordered some solar panels and a charge controller. Wire, disconnects, mounting hardware and other odds and ends will be purchased locally. Well, if we can't salvage or barter the items first.

If you shop around, it's possible to pick up solar panels for around $2.50/watt. Twenty one years ago when I did my original system, it cost $6.25/watt, not adjusted for inflation. Adjusted for inflation, it's just silly. Here's the thing, the numbers made sense to me back then. The panels paid for themselves long ago, and they are still in excellent shape.

Yesterday I picked up a hand operated water pump. The price had gone up a bit since I last priced them. It cost me $42 and change at Tractor Supply. Still, not a bad price. Before I buy any more plumbing stuff, I'm going to rummage through my basement and see how much I still have. Inventory isn't one of my strong suits. I know which boxes to look it. For me, that's an efficient system.

Replaced all the rotten boards on my deck. Will change a few more for good measure. Hope to get some dry days to seal them from the weather. The lumber came from my off-grid friends. They had it left over from their house construction. We don't really barter. Barter is what you do with people not in your "tribe," or "clan." Instead, we are in the gift economy. On the other hand, maybe I'm just too lazy to keep track of who owes what to whom.

My lovely wife worked in the garden today. That's pretty much left up to her, unless there's heavy lifting involved.

Feels good to get some projects moving along. Beats the heck out of working for the man.


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