Life at the end of the road

February 15, 2015

A close shave :-)

And no, this is not about the removal of my beard, which very nearly came off today on account of the wife, who informed me, nay, told me to get rid of it. Having just got used to it I reluctantly agreed, if I could find the hair clippers as it’s way too thick for the shaver I was given. No this is about my very foolish brush with ‘magic smoke’ from an expensive inverter.

The day began just like most Sundays, late, or should I say ‘late for me’, it’s all relative and not even in the same ‘ball park’ as wife and child. Late today was shortly after 7:00 as light crept in around the thick bedroom drapes. I really am not into curtains of any sort, the first thing I did when ‘number 1 wife’ left was remove them all, however in this much larger and draughtier abode they’re something of a necessity. 

It was a fine day despite the gale of south wind battering the rear of the house, and unusually for this direction, it was dry. Even the washing we’d left on the line overnight was dry and fresh, as only windblown sheets can be, cool, crisp and with a hint of the sea.

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The forecast had prophesied a full gale with the impending dampness hot on it’s tail and I was quite excited at the prospect of seeing just what the turbine at ‘Sonas’ was putting out.

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A good 2.6kW and more, with some 10kWh generated overnight, as much as in it’s first four days!!

All may have been ‘peachy’ on the hen and turbine front but there was a good deal of chaos about the site, with polythene sheet and insulation strewn about the place. Nothing serious but it was a bit of an epic cleaning it up with dust and grit getting blown in my eyes and a wheelie bin spilling it’s contents just after I’d filled it. The wind was certainly freshening, miraculously though it stayed dry so I started laying a power cable to one of my sheds at ‘number 3’.

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Seems a little bizarre that I’d be laying a 4mm square cable back towards my old ‘wee house’ when there is a perfectly good 16mm square one there already but there’s a good reason.

I laid the heavy cable from ‘number 3’ to the barn several years ago as the main supply cable as the Trace 4548e inverter would need to be able to run heavy loads up here. However now we are ‘energy independent’ from the old house with the SMA SI6048H it has become grossly oversized for supplying the 200w or so for the chalet and ‘Applenet’ broadband mast. It has also solved the dilemma of what to do about getting the power from my ‘Stream Engine’ hydro turbine up to my new house. The heavy cable will ensure minimum ‘volt drop’ when I move the transformer and battery charger to the ‘power house’ at the back of the barn.

I wish I’d stayed in bed

By now it was around 11:00, I’d had my morning coffee in a caravan that was toasty due the 2kW electric fire having been going since 8:00am and the 750w one on all night. I was feeling pretty smug and started thinking about connecting the cable, or at least working out where it was going to be connected to. So, as any sensible chap would do I cut the power to the relevant distribution box, only problem being that this box also supplied the wind turbine that was now harvesting all the gale could throw at it. No big deal for the turbine itself as the Proven/KW3 will quite happily run off load but the inverter was not all happy and started flashing yellow and red lights with great gusto as the ‘open circuit voltage’ soared over 600v Sad smile Even with the AC quickly restored when I realised my error the turbine would not re connect. I needed to reconnect the turbine to get the DC voltage down but the turbine could not connect until the voltage was under 600v for more than 180 seconds!!! Annoyingly it ‘almost’ connected several times before all three ‘serious’ lights came on and the screen went blank Sad smile I really, really was convinced that I’d fried my WB6000 inverter, I was ‘gutted’ and wished I’d stayed in bed.

It was after much thought that I came up with a ‘plan’, I couldn’t connect because the 180 second wait to connect was too long and I couldn’t shorten that until the inverter was connected to a steady DC power source. So what I did was connect the hydro turbine up to the wind inverter and then alter the parameters via the ‘service tool’ and software on my laptop.



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Once I’d changed the ‘waiting time’ from 180.000 seconds to 30.000 seconds I reconnected the inverter to the wind turbine then got my son to brake the turbine just enough to keep the voltage below 600v. Sure enough after less than a minute the turbine connected and once more started ‘belting it out’.

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I saw it hit 2.9kW on several occasions and breathed several huge sighs of relief, and what have I learned from this lesson? Well, I’d be wise to fit something like this in case I loose power in a gale. The ‘Windy Boy Protection Box’ is just basically a rectifier and resistor that diverts excess energy to heat if the voltage rises over a certain threshold.

Hugh Piggott (as always) has a good explanation of the theory and some links to similar devices and options on his excellent blog

Actually the protection box makes the wind turbine into a heating turbine that can also feed power to the grid.  You really need that heating controller as a backup, since the grid is not a reliable load.

I love that bit since the grid is not a reliable load certainly right about that on Raasay but not at Arnish, grid failure isn’t my problem just incompetence Smile 

Anyway, after almost ‘slashing my wrists’ I ended the day feeling pretty good with what we’d achieved, the Dude did some more trenching for the water supply, I got the hens cleaned out, I’m getting much more confident with using the ‘Sunny Data Control’ software and I managed to get Lachie’s tipping trailer tipping. All I need to do now is test it out on two tons of 20mm stone chips from Sconser quarry tomorrow.

The Sunday roast

Now we usually have something I’ve shot for Sunday dinner, be it Bambi or Pinky and Perky, it’s usually a creature that was running about the hill until it got ‘lead poisoning’. However we ran down the freezer in preparation for the move and I fancied a chicken, ours our ‘layers’ so not really worth more than a ‘pot of soup so we usually get one from Raasay stores. Sadly this week we were a little late in ordering so I picked one up at the Co Op, in a bag you put in the oven!!! Now I really hate this kind of pish but they didn’t have a real one, just ones in bags with an aluminium tray under them. I mean they go on about global warming, waste and recycling and now it’s impossible to get a chicken without a tray and bag because of some imaginary bacteria.


Food stores flock to stock roast-in-the-bag chickens… because they don’t trust us to wash our own hands

  • Aim is to reduce the number of campylobacter food-poisoning cases
  • The bug is linked to 280,000 sickness cases and up to 100 deaths a year
  • But risk can be eliminated by adopting basic hygiene procedures

OK, I know is real but we managed ‘damn fine splendid’ without friggin aluminium trays and bags for decades. When are people going to take some responsibility for what they do, sure if you wash a chicken and splash stuff everywhere you’ll spread stuff about. But why wash it, you’re cooking the thing anyway.

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I listened to something on the radio yesterday that was quite frankly hilarious, it was about daffodils being too near the veg isles in supermarkets and I thought it was a joke until I ‘Googled’ it . Apparently there are 64 cases a year of ‘daffodil poisoning’ and this is ‘Public Health England’s’ answer. The comedian, who’s name I forget suggested ‘we let them die and remove them from the gene pool’ Smile



  1. Scary, and I’m about to do something similar (as per navitron forum) but surely having a resistive dump on the turbine controller is there to prevent this happening? If the turbine were tied to the grid, then sooner or later its bound to go down, and this would be the result. Surely not?

    Comment by Steve Golemboski Byrne — February 19, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

    • Aye Steve, love the farm Quite true Steve but bizarrely not all grid tied installations have them fitted!!!! I have two grid tied Proven’s a 6kW and a 2.5kW, both were fitted professionally yet neither have any protection!!!

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 19, 2015 @ 8:15 pm

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