Friday, 19 October 2018

“Honey I’ve Shrunk!”

Having a pair of overalls seemed like a good idea.  They were very useful when fitting out Waiouru and later whilst doing subsequent boat maintenance.  So I ordered a cheap pair from EBay.  Knowing I’m short and rotund I ordered size 127S.  They were delivered this morning!

overalls

Apparently the ‘S’ stands for “Stout” rather than “Short”. Smile

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Slow Progress

I’ve been making slow progress with the camper trailer modifications.  Partially because I want to get it right and partially because of the temperature in the last few days.  The metal on the trailer has been reaching a temperature that will burn me!

The battery box has been constructed from 12mm plywood.  It’s large enough to hold the 150ah AGM battery with some spare room for air circulation.

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Battery

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The battery box will fit inside the former aluminium water tank shield.  I’ve fitted a battery isolation switch to the exterior of the box and will have to made some type of shield to go around the exterior of the switch to prevent stone damage. 

The red arrow points to the first of two 6mm holes where the pos & neg cables will exit the battery box.  The timber has been sealed and is now waiting on a couple of coats of bituminous paint.  I need to make a hole for the cabling to exit the aluminium shield and I’ll also have to buy some sheet aluminium to cover the top in an effort to ensure the entire compartment is watertight.

I’ve also fitted the larger of our two Engel fridges into the front compartment on the trailer drawbar.  This front compartment has a lid with gas struts and is rather large.

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I’ve recycled some ‘meccano’ style vertical shelving supports and made a couple of anchor brackets that will bolt to the floor of the box.  I’ll then use straps to secure the fridge to the anchor brackets.

It seemed an easy task but with my luck it didn’t turn out that way.  I couldn’t get the bracket I’d made for the front to sit level.  The was something underneath it and the compartment has carpet lining.  Eventually I cut out a piece of carpet exactly the same shape as the anchor bracket.  This revealed two short metal ‘stubs’ protruding from the base.

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Of course each ‘stub’ happened to be exactly beside the holes I’d drilled to secure the anchor bracket.  The Aldi angle grinder removed them.

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A bit of spray primer paint to cover the bare metal and then I could fit the bracket.  Unfortunately it didn’t work like that.  The holes I’d drilled had gone through the base of the box and then through the trailer frame.  I needed long bolts and I didn’t have any!  Eventually I managed to recycle a couple of long masonry anchor bolts.  But not before I had to get out the Tap & Die set to lengthen the threads.

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Fortunately the other anchor went in slightly easier.  However I did have to call for assistance from Jan as my arms weren’t sufficiently long to simultaneously hold the head of the bolt inside the box whilst tightening the nut underneath the trailer.

The fridge was then secured with four cargo straps

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The are air vents and with filters either side of the box [B] and you can see the front anchor straps at [C].  The 12V plug and socket at [A].  This fridge is actually going to be the freezer.  I need to fit some type of sheet insulation to the underside of the lid in an effort to prevent the temperature inside getting too hot.  Whilst I need to ensure there is plenty of room for air to circulate, I think I can also make a small sub-compartment at the rear of the freezer for small items; probably trailer spare parts.






Monday, 15 October 2018

Modifying the Cage

Reader you may recall the camper trailer came with a rooftop cage which I subsequently removed as the trailer only just ‘squeaked’ through the garage.  The cage has been propped against the side of the house whilst I considered whether to return it or do something else.

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The trailer supplier had agreed to exchanging the cage for a batwing awning mounting bracket. But then I had one of those rare eureka moments.  And I wasn’t even in the bath!

My plan was to cut the top off the cage converting it into a roof rack which would fit on top of the trailer.  This would lower the overall height by 180mm thereby enabling us to move it through the garage without the height issue.  Anything to be carried on top of the trailer can be added once it’s out of the garage.

Out came the trusty Aldi electric reciprocating saw and angle grinder.  Five hours later I had the top cut off the cage.

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All the sharp burrs were filed smooth before giving the bare metal a coat of primer.  After the primer had dried I gave it two coats of black Hammertone paint to match the original.

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I also retrieved the hinges and catches from the original cage doors.  My plan is to attach an awning mounting bracket to the rack.  It will be hinged (blue lines in photo below) for storage and also whilst on the move.  When the trailer is static I’ll raise the awning bracket and lock it in place with the original cage door hinges and catches.

rack design

I think I may just have solved the height problem!

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Canal ‘Fix’ and another project

Our Perth blog readers, Ken & Elaine have returned from their European holiday and (of course) we wanted to hear about their three weeks aboard their Black Prince hire boat which they hired at Stoke Upon Trent.  From their account it appears they had a leisurely cruise to Castlefield Basin, Manchester and back with a short diversion to Worsley where it all began with the Duke of Bridgewater.  They also managed to fit in the Anderton Boat Lift and a short cruise to Northwich.  Gosh are we envious!

Three days ago we had thunder and lightning.  One of those summer storms which only brings a little rain.  However, no doubt the farmers in the wheat belt were most grateful.  The other side of the continent is suffering from a severe drought, but there should be a bumper harvest this side.

Before I forget, I should mention a couple of useful tips Jan has discovered.  Bananas can be delayed from going black if they are wrapped in tinfoil and kept in the fridge.  The skin may start to discolour, but the flesh remains fresh.  The second tip is carrots.  You can delay raw and unpeeled carrots going soft and wrinkly if you keep them in a water filled container in the fridge.  That’s my good deed for the day.

Two days ago the TV decided to go on strike.  The power LED was flashing and there was a strong smell of burning plastic.  We promptly turned it off at the wall.  Under Australian Consumer Law nearly all purchases have a 12 month guarantee.  The TV is 15 months old <bugger!>

It appeared I had another new project.  The first task was to have the family chief financial controller assist me move the TV off the wall and lay it face down on the dining table.  There must have been a thousand screws <perhaps an exaggeration> hold the back on the TV.   My guess was the power supply had failed and I was bracing myself for the financial impact of a replacement power board.  The TV does have a 3 year warranty.  But not for electrical spikes!  With the back off the TV I had two surprises.  There’s almost nothing to a TV these days……. Just two printed circuit boards!  The second surprise was the power supply board…. there was nothing wrong with it.

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Power supply board

I plugged the TV into the 240V and turned it on.  Smoke wafted from the ‘other’ circuit board.  <Wow>.  Not a fault caused by an electrical spike.  I think the TV might still be covered by the 3 year warranty.  The back was carefully reattached before phoning the Australian distributor to report a fault.

It wasn’t all good news.  Jan now didn’t have a TV and withdrawal symptoms were starting to manifest themselves.  The long term plan was for this TV to eventually go in the master bedroom and we’d buy a bigger TV for the lounge room.  Actually we’ve done all the renovations to the lounge and kitchen, which means there was nothing preventing us from proceeding with the second TV.

IMG_3064 Jan had a look at all the TV’s on display and selected a Sony Bravia as the one with the most appealing picture quality.  Of course that has created yet another project.  I now have to mount it on the wall.  Fortunately Jan has offered to hold the heavy end!

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Australia

Australia is a very confusing place, taking up a large amount of the bottom half of the planet. It is recognisable from orbit because of many unusual features, including what at first looks like an enormous bite taken out of its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs which plunge deep into the girting sea. Geologists assure us that this is simply an accident of geomorphology and plate tectonics, but they still call it the "Great Australian Bight" proving that not only are they covering up a more frightening theory, but they can't spell either.

The first of the confusing things about Australia is the status of the place. Where other land masses and sovereign lands are classified as either continent, island, or country, Australia is considered all three. Typically, it is unique in this.

The second confusing thing about Australia are the animals. They can be divided into three categories: Poisonous, Odd, and Sheep. It is true that of the 10 most poisonous arachnids on the planet, Australia has 9 of them. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that of the 9 most poisonous arachnids, Australia has all of them. However, there are curiously few snakes, possibly because the spiders have killed them all. But even the spiders won't go near the sea. Just remember that whilst Australia might have few snakes it does have the six most deadliest.  Any visitors should be careful to check inside boots (before putting them on) under toilet seats (before sitting down) and generally everywhere else. A stick is very useful for this task.

Strangely, it tends to be the second class of animals (the Odd) that are more dangerous. The creature that kills the most people each year is the common Wombat. It is nearly as ridiculous as its name, and spends its life digging holes in the ground, in which it hides. During the night it comes out to eat worms and grubs. The wombat kills people in two ways:

First, the animal is indestructible. Digging holes in the hard Australian clay builds muscles that outclass Olympic weightlifters. At night, they often wander the roads. Semi-trailers (Road Trains) have hit them at high speed, with all 9 wheels on one side, and this merely makes them very annoyed. They express this by snorting, glaring, and walking away. Alas, to smaller cars, the wombat becomes an asymmetrical launching pad, with results that can be imagined, but not adequately described.

The second way the wombat kills people relates to its burrowing behaviour. If a person happens to put their hand down a Wombat hole, the Wombat will feel the disturbance and think "Ho! My hole is collapsing!" at which it will brace its muscled legs and push up against the roof of its burrow with incredible force, to prevent its collapse. Any unfortunate hand will be crushed, and attempts to withdraw will cause the Wombat to simply bear down harder. The unfortunate will then bleed to death through their crushed hand as the wombat prevents him from seeking assistance. This is considered the third most embarrassing known way to die, and Australians don't talk about it much.

At this point, we would like to mention the Platypus, estranged relative of the mammal, which has a duck-bill, otter's tail, webbed feet, lays eggs, detects its aquatic prey in the same way as the electric eel, and has venomous barbs attached to its hind legs, thus combining all 'typical' Australian attributes into a single improbable creature.

The last confusing thing about Australia is the inhabitants. First, a short history: Sometime around 40,000 years ago, some people arrived in boats from the north. They ate all the available food, and lots of them died. The ones that survived learned respect for the balance of nature, man's proper place in the scheme of things, and spiders. They settled in, and spent a lot of the intervening time making up strange stories.

Then, around 200 years ago, Europeans arrived in boats from the north. More accurately, European convicts were sent, with a few deranged and stupid people in charge. They tried to plant their crops in Autumn (failing to take account of the reversal of the seasons when moving from the top half of the planet to the bottom), ate all their food, and a lot of them died.

About then the sheep arrived, and have been treasured ever since. It is interesting to note here that the Europeans always consider themselves vastly superior to any other race they encounter, since they can lie, cheat, steal, and litigate (marks of a civilized culture they say) - whereas all the Aboriginals can do is happily survive being left in the middle of a vast red-hot desert, equipped with a stick.

Eventually, the new lot of people stopped being Europeans on Extended Holiday and became Australians. The changes are subtle, but deep, caused by the mind-stretching expanses of nothingness and eerie quiet, where a person can sit perfectly still and look deep inside themselves to the core of their essence, their reasons for being, and the necessity of checking inside your boots every morning for fatal surprises. They also picked up the most finely tuned sense of irony in the world, and the Aboriginal gift for making up stories. Be warned.

There is also the matter of the beaches.  Australian beaches are simply the nicest and best in the entire world. Although anyone actually venturing into the sea will have to contend with sharks, stinging jellyfish, stonefish (a fish which sits on the bottom of the sea, pretends to be a rock, and has venomous barbs sticking out of its back that will kill just from the pain) and surfboarders. However, watching a beach sunset is worth the risk.

As a result of all this hardship, dirt, thirst, and wombats, you would expect Australians to be a dour lot. Instead, they are genial, jolly, cheerful, and always willing to share a kind word with a stranger, unless they are an American. Faced with insurmountable odds and impossible problems, they smile disarmingly and look for a stick. Major engineering feats have been performed with sheets of corrugated iron, string, and mud.

Alone of all the races on earth, they seem to be free from the 'Grass is Greener on the other side of the fence' syndrome, and roundly proclaim that Australia is, in fact, the other side of that fence. They call the land "Oz", "Godzone" (a verbal contraction of "God's Own Country") and "Best bloody place on earth, bar none, strewth." The irritating thing about this is they may be right.

There are some traps for the unsuspecting traveller, though. Do not under any circumstances suggest that the beer is imperfect, unless you are comparing it to another kind of Australian beer. Do not wear a Hawaiian shirt. Religion and Politics are safe topics of conversation (Australians don't care too much about either) but Sport is a minefield. The only correct answer to "So, howdya' like our country, eh?" is "Best {insert your own regional swear word here} country in the world!".

It is very likely that, on arriving, some cheerful Australians will 'adopt' you, and on your first night, and take you to a pub where Australian Beer is served. Despite the obvious danger, do not refuse. It is a form of initiation rite. You will wake up late the next day with an astonishing hangover, a foul-taste in your mouth, and wearing strange clothes. Your hosts will usually make sure you get home, and waive off any legal difficulties with "It's his first time in Australia, so we took him to the pub.", to which the policeman will sagely nod and close his notebook. Be sure to tell the story of these events to every other Australian you encounter, adding new embellishments at every stage, and noting how strong the beer was. Thus you will be accepted into this unique culture.

Most Australians are now urban dwellers, having discovered the primary use of electricity, which is air-conditioning and refrigerators.

Typical Australian sayings

"G'Day!"

"It's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick."

"She'll be right."

Tips to Surviving Australia

Don't ever put your hand down a hole for any reason whatsoever. We mean it.

The beer is stronger than you think, regardless of how strong you think it is.

Always carry a stick.

Air-conditioning.

Do not attempt to use Australian slang, unless you are a trained linguist and good in a fistfight.

Thick socks.

Take good maps. Stopping to ask directions only works when there are people nearby.

If you leave the urban areas, carry several litres of water with you at all times, or you will die.

Even in the most embellished stories told by Australians, there is always a core of truth that it is unwise to ignore.

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Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Plenty of boring work

I’ve spent three busy days doing what would have taken me one day 30 years ago.  The brain is still willing but the flesh is weak… and my back has been reminding me!

I’ve finally managed to dig all the new garden reticulation system trenches and lay 80% of the pipework.  The ground for the shed concrete pad is almost levelled but I will need to let it settle before pouring any concrete.

West Australian grass has a habit of growing into the pop-up lawn sprinklers choking them and so I decided to make some sprinkler surrounds from a length of old 100mm PVC sewer pipe.  I wanted to cut the pipe with a ‘square’ level end and to achieve this I created a small timber jig using an offcut of a panel and two strips of Jarrah.

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I set the fence on the saw at 180mm which is the height of the pop-up sprinklers.  Next I started the saw and wound the blade up so it just came through the panel.

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The blade was then lowered.  I want the bottom end of the surround to fit like a collar over the buried water pipe and to achieve this I drilled a pilot hole on either side of the pipe before using a 40mm hole saw to enlarge the smaller hole.

The length of pipe was then placed on the jig with one end hard against the saw fence.

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I then started the saw and slowly raised the blade until it cut through the bottom of the PVC pipe.  It was then just a matter of rolling the pipe on the template to cut the circumference of the pipe.

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I went on to make 10 of these sprinkler surrounds and they appear to have worked out rather well.  The blade of the mower should pass over the surround.

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Of course I still have to level the ground around the sprinkler and sow some grass seed.

I’ve also had an idea on how I might modify the original cage on top of the camper trailer converting it into a cargo rack and awning mount.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Shed preparations and the Camper Trailer

More digging today as the main sewer pipe to the house needed repairing.  This is the second time I’ve dug up the pipe in 10 days and I can assure you there won’t be a third time.

Sand is easy digging; except that it has a tendency to collapse back into the hole.  Eventually I cleared the connection between the house sewer and the neighbourhood deep sewer pipe.  The ‘T’ junction fitting had cracked and roots from the neighbours tree had penetrated into the pipe.  They weren’t causing a blockage but that might have come at some future date.  As I’m going to be laying a concrete pad for the shed I wanted to make sure there wasn’t going to be an issue in our lifetime. 

After cutting out the old junction with a saw and chisel a new junction was glued in place.

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The new pipe.  horizontal line from the house and a vertical pipe down to the deep sewer.  Thre pipe above the connection is for inspection

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This is the point where the old connection had cracked.

It took me almost an hour to backfill the hole (I’m getting old!)

We’ve taken delivery of the new camper trailer.  The first thing we discovered was it only fitted through the garage roller door by a gnats nagger.  Actually we had to disconnect it from the 4x4 to get it low enough.  Jan and I then pushed it back through the garage and carport to a location on the back lawn.

I need to lower the overall height and have achieved this by removing the steel cage from on top of the trailer.

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The trailer company have agreed to exchange the cage for a batwing awning mounting bracket.

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Not quite the vivid yellow I’d anticipated.  However it should stand out in the desert.   Just need to find the time to start the modifications.


Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The pound is down

pound

hahaha….

Well I’ve been busy in the backyard.  The story goes like this.   Harsh and hot West Australian sunlight fades clothes very quickly, therefore Jan wants to use the clothesline under the carport.  However the carport is where I’ve set up the power tools and workbench.  The solution is to build a ‘man cave’, but in order to do this the dilapidated shed in the bottom corner of the garden needed to be removed.  Next the sewer main needs to be dug up and checked as the concrete pad for the new shed will be on top.  In digging up the sewer pipe I discovered a spaghetti junction of water reticulation pipes.  Jan also wanted the gardens around the fence line removed so she could have more room for her fruit trees.  However the verge garden have been built up meaning there is surplus soil.  The end result is I need to remove all this surplus soil, relocate the water reticulation system, install concrete kerbing to create a mowing strip and re-lay lawn in what was the garden strip.  The surplus soil needs to be moved to the site of the new man cave.

All this sounds terribly easy but I’m discovering a combination of age, sunlight and heat is resulting in slow progress.  

There was a rockery in the far corner which I’ve now removed.  The rocks need to go somewhere?  Jan would like a swimming pool.  The rocks could go into a pool sump pit.  I’ll need to dig a hole to create the sump.  Where will I put the soil (sand) from the hole? 

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The water reticulation piping needs to be moved.  It’s too close to the fence and will foul the new concrete mowing strip.  It will also have to go deeper as there will be pop-up sprinklers.

The lawn where the shed will go needs to be lifted and relocated to cover the former garden verge strip.  With the lawn gone I can dump surplus soil (sand) onto the site and raise the level of the concrete pad.  That will ensure the shed doesn’t flood.  But first I need to have the sewer connection inspected.

The rotary clothes line will be surplus to requirements when the shed has been built and my workshop under the carport is relocated.  That will leave a hole needing filling.  But all the surplus sand will be under the concrete pad.  OK.  I have to remember not to place all the surplus sand under the shed.  I’ll need to double handle some of the sand.

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I’m getting exhausted just planning this work! Smile

Oh… did I mention I’ve pressure washed the fences and they now need to be repainted.  But that can’t be done until the gardens have been removed, the reticulation relocated and the lawn laid.  But it has to be done before the shed is built.

The good news is the camper trailer should be ready for collection tomorrow.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Behind the switchboard

But first

A Kiwi is hoping to emigrate to Australia and arrives at Kingsford Smith airport, Sydney on a sunny Wednesday morning full of optimism for the future.

Still, things do not go quite as planned . . .

"What is your business in Australia?" the immigration officer asks him politely.

"I wish to emigrate," the Kiwi replies.

"Do you have a criminal record?" the officer inquires.

Stunned, the crestfallen Kiwi replies, "Geez, bro, I didn’t think you still needed one."

Mr Boo, the Australia Post contract courier knocked on the front door at 7.30am.  In his hands he had the second clamp and transmitter I’d ordered from Efergy.  All excited at the prospect of fitting it, I quickly washed and brushed my teeth before racing out to the electrical switchboard with my trusty screwdriver.

Five minutes later I had the front panel off the switchboard and the second clamp fitted around the wire from the solar inverter to the circuit breaker.  If you ever decide to have something fitted behind the switchboard I recommend you use a qualified electrician as you can obviously kill yourself if you do something wrong.

It only took a couple of minutes to refit both clamps and reassemble the switchboard.

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Red arrows point at the clamps

I do hate messy switchboard wiring and this one looks like a bird’s nest.  One day I might do something about it!

The other end of the clamp cable fits into a battery powered transmitter which wirelessly sends the data to a ‘hub’ beside my router.  This means the ‘hub’ is connected to our home network.

The last step was to reconfigure the software so that the hub is receiving and recording data from the solar system and the consumers in the house.  I can now measure house consumption vs production.

Once I have a calendar month of data I’ll modify my existing Excel spreadsheet to get an accurate picture of our ongoing electrical costs.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Camper Trailer Soon

We drove past the rear fence of the camper trailer compound yesterday and couldn’t see our trailer in the rack awaiting assembly so I telephoned them for an update on when we might expect delivery of the camper trailer.  Middle of next week (hopefully).  My assumption is it will be one of the last to be assembled from the current batch.  Probably not surprising as it will be the cheapest one they sell from this order.  From a commercial perspective it makes sense to assemble and sell the trailers that have the greatest profit first. 

Ours is very basic, with no kitchen, tent or electrics.  Actually it doesn’t even have wheels and rims.  I purchased those second hand and delivered them to the distributor when I returned the hire trailer.

No doubt Jan will be pleased to see the trailer delivered as the front room is overflowing with trailer components and camping equipment. 

During the recent trip I happened to notice both Carlin and Monique had stainless steel thermo flasks which they were using as drinking water containers.  I was rather surprised at the price they had paid and when we were at the local KMart Jan and I went looking for them.  Jan found the flasks in the kitchen area at $8 each, so I bought three.

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The two white flasks hold 750ml and I’ll use then as UHT milk containers.  During the outback trip two of the cardboard UHT milk containers started to leak after their bases got caught on a loose steel bolt and hopefully these flasks will avoid that problem reoccurring .  The colourful container will travel in the vehicle with me as a chilled water drinking container.  We also have an older 1.25 litre stainless steel flask which I bought in Dubai back in 1990 which I will use to carry hot water.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Harnessing the Sun

Readers if you can remember back to 2017 you may recall I fitted an electrical usage monitor to the house switchboard and started to collect data on our electrical consumption.  After a year of collecting data we have had a solar array fitted to the roof.  However before this could be done I needed to remove the old solar hot water system off the north facing side of the roof.  This was accomplished several months ago and I then started researching specific solar panels, inverters and installers.

Things started to accelerate when the current Federal government started making noises about removing the government rebate on residential solar installations.  At the time the government was subsidising almost 50% of the cost of a solar system with a rebate.  These “rebate credits” then have to be purchased by dirty polluters (ie, industries with harmful emissions).  Initially this was a good idea as solar systems were expensive and the subsidy (rebate) was a way of encouraging home owners to invest in “green energy”.  Of course there were other benefits to the nation such as it deferred the need for more major investment in power stations because surplus residential solar electricity was fed back into the network.

However the cost of solar systems has dropped rather dramatically during the last decade which has resulted in a rapid acceleration of residential solar system installations.  We have almost reached the situation where residential solar power generation will be a major contributor to the national demand. 

One problem is the cost of energy (eg, electricity) has risen.  Mostly caused by the failure to construct new power stations in the last two decades.  Moreover numerous old power stations have been decommissioned because they are heavy polluters which requires their commercial owners to pay an emissions tax.  Then you have the elderly, renters, and those with insufficient funds to pay for the installation of a solar system on their house.  Consequentially the government has been considering removing the rebate for residential solar installations and transferring the money as a discount/rebate to the “needy” who have to purchase expensive power from the large electrical utility companies (ie, those who don’t have solar). 

We decided to take advantage of the solar rebate before it disappeared.  We also decided to fit the largest possible array to the roof.  In Australia, by law the maximum size array you can fit to a grid linked house is 6.5kW.  So we had a 6.5kW array installed.

The installers completed the work over two days.  On the first day they fitted the panel mounting rails to the north and west sides of the house along with all the cabling

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You can see the original red roof tiles in the next photo.  These were underneath the solar hot water system and didn’t get painted when the roof was repainted in 2016.

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On the second day the panels were installed along with the inverter.

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13 panels on the west facing side and 11 on the north.  Each panel has a maximum output of 275 Watts.  The north side gets sunlight all day and the west from 11am to dusk.

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The inverter has two MPPT controllers and a maximum output of 5kWh

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There isn’t a display on the inverter.  Instead you have to use a smartphone or Windows app.  Neither of which is particularly good.  More on that later.

The solar inverter works like any other converting the DC electricity produced by the panels to AC.  It also produces the electricity at a slightly higher voltage than the grid.  This is what forces the surplus electricity we produce back into the grid (against the flow) where it gets used by others.

As mentioned earlier, the inverter data monitoring system isn’t very good.  I’ve ordered a second Efergy clamp and transmitter which will enable me to have an independent and more detailed monitoring system for the solar array.  This will enable me to accurately measure consumption and production.

Currently it appears we consume an average of 10kWh daily and we are producing an average of 25kWh’s daily.  So we are selling 15kWh’s of surplus electricity back to our electrical utility company.  However some of our electrical consumption occurs when there is no sunlight.  When this occurs we have to purchase electricity at 30 cents per kWh from the utility company.  Our surplus is sold to the utility company at 7 cents per kWh.  Additionally the electrical utility company charges us a daily connection fee of 97 cents irrespective whether or not we use their electricity.

Two things have quickly become apparent.

  1. Our 6.5kW solar system isn’t producing 6.5kW.  Actually the 5kW inverter has never reached 5kW.  Occasionally we get a spike in production of 4.2kW.  I’m discussing this with the supplier.
  2. With a 6.5kW system we will never produce sufficient surplus electricity to be cost neutral or get a credit back from the utility company.

The obvious solution is to store our surplus electricity using it when there is no sunlight.  That means installing a battery and at the moment the cost of purchasing a battery system isn’t cost effective.  However I have this idea (project) of building a suitably sized lithium battery. 

But even this won’t solve our problem.   Regulations require residential homes to be connected to the “grid”.  So if we were to fit a battery and be self sufficient we would still have to pay the daily 97 cent connection charge to the utility company and I can only see that figure increasing.  At 7 cents per kWh it would take all our surplus electricity to pay the daily connection fee, leaving us with no surplus electricity to recharge the battery.

There will be a solution…. I just have to find it!

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Visitors Last Day

Carlin & Monique had their last day in Perth before flying back to New Zealand.  The flight was in the evening and we decided to take a tour in the 4x4 before heading for the airport.  The was no planned route or destination but eventually we ended in York some 100km from Perth.

york

Founded in 1831, York was the first European inland settlement in Western Australia.  It was named after Yorkshire, England because of the similarity in terrain.  Early settlers farmed sheep, but today it’s mostly grain. 

By 1885 the railway had arrived and for some time York was the starting point for prospectors making the long hot and dry walk to the goldfields at Kalgoorlie some 500km further east.

Today the town has more than 200 historically listed buildings.

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Town Hall

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Federation style Castle Hotel 1840

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Main street with Federation and Victorian style buildings

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Post Office (1893)

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York Motor Museum

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You know you’re getting old when things you remember are now in a museum!

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I like these verandas found on many of the old hotels

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And York seems to have a large number of hotels.  Thirsty gold prospectors?

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I am so old I can remember when your local Shell garage had this type of signage

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Holy Trinity Church (Anglican) was built in 1840.  It was made of mud brick and started to rapidly deteriorate.  Eventually it had to be demolished.  The existing church was built on the same site in 1861.

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This guy isn’t all that old.

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It’s a Bilby (more in this link) and native to Australia.

Carlin and Monique did make their return flight to NZ and their aircraft must have had a very strong tailwind as the flight only took 5.5 hours compared to the 8.5 hours on the way to Australia.