The contrast between the last couple of weeks at work and the start of the ‘two weeks off’ couldn’t have been more stark. Sure it got off to a shaky start on Wednesday and Thursday but the last three days and the week ahead look truly awesome by comparison. The sun has been blazing down, the wind dropped, the burns are drying up and the frogspawn is at the mercy of the herons. Progress on the house has been positively ‘interstellar’ and I’ve finally got a haircut.
The hair clippers turned up in the underwear drawer, which is far better than where the electric shaver was found, inside the bread maker!!
Lachie and Donald have been ‘working like Trojan’s’ in the house, insulating and plaster boarding. Working late into the night and starting at ‘stupid O clock’, though I think some of that was due to sleepless nights in a shaking caravan.
The mouse problem
Me, I’ve been trying to deal with our rodent problem at the new house. In over two decades at ‘number 3’ I’ve never had a mouse problem really, on account of our numerous ‘barn cats’. The three or four moggies that prowl the borders of the old house have kept it free of mice for as long as I can remember. However, with the abundance of hen feed in the new barn and the reluctance of the cats to move there yet we’ve been overrun by the wee blighters. Already they’re munching away at sheets of Kingspan stored there and eating into the layers pellets.
Anyway, during my last sojourn to Portree I picked two of these up in Harbro and they’re deadly with four mice trapped in three nights. Not content with that I set about moving the vermin proof steel feed store from outside the old barn and up to the new one.
This huge steel box will take over a ton of feed and can keep just about everything out bar slugs. It had however developed a few holes in the roof and it does weigh rather a lot. Fortunately I had just the right piece of kit on hand and wasted no time in moving it up to Sonas for a complete refurbishment.
I would have like to have taken it right up to the hen shed but decided against it, sure it would have been easier and meant less handling of the feed bags. However, there is not much in the way of shelter up there, so in the end I decided to make a concrete base for it at the end of the barn.
Certainly not up to Lachie, Donald and Norman’s standard but I was quite chuffed with it.
In between the dodgy block work and concrete base I set about preparing the store itself by high pressure washing the rust and lichen off it.
Then I set about making up a ‘pitched roof’ as the original flat steel one was peppered with tiny holes, the result of sitting under a conifer for years and getting covered in pine needles.
A new ‘box profile’ roof made from some leftover sheets from the barn and a few coats of paint had it looking like new.
Today I lifted it into place, gave it a final coat and filled it with feed, sadly I forgot to record this moment for posterity
Meanwhile in the ‘PowerStation’
There may not have been much in the way of ‘wind and sun’ today but last week the combination of high winds and bursts of sunshine started putting my system through its paces. With 4.75kW of PV 800w of hydro and a potential 3.3kW of wind that’s a total of 8.75kW and I only have 7.5kW of dump loads via my 3 PWM controllers. There’s another 2.5kW of dump load capacity in the pipeline but once or twice last week all three were ‘maxed out’. Of course simply switching something on like a few lights or convection heater soon eases the strain on the numerous ‘air dumps’
but 452 degrees is a little too hot. Once the house is up and the ‘in store’ heaters working this isn’t going to be an issue, but for now I’m fitting another controller and dump load to be on the safe side.
I could actually just turn the FSPC (frequency shift power control) on on the SI6.0H inverter but I’m trying to make my system ‘failsafe’ first. The Sunny Island ‘off grid’ series of inverters are quite capable dissipating excess solar energy without using ‘diversion load control’ or dump loads. They simply alter the frequency slightly and signal the solar inverters to ‘back off’, which is all ‘well and good’ with PV but not quite so straight forward with wind or hydro. It also ties you to using all SMA products, not that that is an issue for me as all mine are, however that’s more luck than intention and it’s all still very much ‘work in progress’ Having said that I’m really, really pleased with the results so far.
A bit short of power this last few days for heating but still enough for DHW and electricity. Also the house is so well insulated that I’m hoping we’ll need considerably less energy than predicted.