Life at the end of the road

August 9, 2015

I can see :-)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:45 pm

A combination of sore eyes and tiredness had me giving up on the posting on Friday night, which was a shame because I’d left you after a seriously exciting day. Not Friday that is, that particular day was spent mainly at the ‘quacks’ with me wonky eye, no Thursday was the ‘interesting’ day. I just never got around to recording it cos I couldn’t really see the keyboard on me puter.

Despite having one good eye it’s actually very difficult to paint and do any sort of finicky stuff around the house, even finding things becomes extremely difficult, well it does for me. Luckily I had a couple of ‘abled bodied’ hands ‘on the case’, James of ‘Shanks Plumbing and Renewables’ was busy working on the MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery) system http://www.totalhome.co.uk/images/GES%20Energy%20Iss%202%20Email.pdf .

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This is the ‘Genvex Energy’ unit in the ‘Bunker’, that’ll be the name of our shed/plant room, on the back of the ‘wee hoose’. This very expensive piece of kit replaces the draughts and or ‘trickle vents’ in a regular house. Sure, at the end of the day it’s probably much cheaper to turn up the thermostat on your central heating or throw another log on the fire than it is to build and air tight house and spend £7k on fitting something like this. However, our aim is to build a house that is totally powered and heated by the sun, wind and rain and I’m sick of cutting wood, hauling diesel, heating oil and gas. So every Watt saved on keeping the house warm and the teenager showered is one less Watt we have to generate.

I was extremely confident that Archie Macdonald’s design and Lachie Gillies’ building would have delivered the air tight dwelling we required but as with most things these days you need a certificate to prove it Sad smile This will be a very expensive one that goes along with the plumbing, electrical, EPC, water, scaffolding and blah, blah, blah  you need when building a house these days. So, on Thursday Ben Weir of ‘Skye Design’ came along with all his ‘hi tech’ kit and did an ‘air tightness’ test on Sonas.

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First though, I had to quickly ‘knock up’ a loft hatch, in my trendy shades and then fit it, making sure first that James wasn’t up there finishing off the MVHR ducting Smile 

Ben arrived off the 13:00 ferry and despite having spoken to him several times on the phone I never ‘clocked’ that it was not his first visit to the ‘North End’. Ben had actually helped Archie survey our site back in 2010!

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As soon as the gear was set up up Ben could tell it was pretty airtight just by how little work the fan was doing. The extractor is set up to maintain –50Pa and with most houses it has to work quite hard to do so. Now, when you bear in mind that all the thermostat wall mounts were open, none of the 13amp sockets were sealed and the MVHR ducts had just been bashed through the exterior wall that was pretty good. In fact it’s the best house he’s ever tested on Skye bar one that was built to ‘Passivehaus’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_house standard. Passive House being a design of house that requires little or no heating for most of the year on account of it being so well insulated. A ‘Passive House’ is basically heated by ‘solar gain’ and the body heat of its occupants. We were of course far short of that, a front door to Passivehause spec will set you back the best part of £4K!!! but our windows are and we have gone for an MVHR system over conventional ventilation.

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A small smoke machine found all the potential sources for improvement but to be quite honest Sonas is well sealed as it is Smile

After the James and Ben had left and before dinner we did a spot of repair work on the neighbours Nissan Patrol.

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By this time I was pretty useless on the visual front but fortunately my son had had a good lesson on Land Rover disc brakes last week.

Blind as a bat

By Friday I’d finally been persuaded to go and visit the doctor, Wifey having made me an appointment in Portree. It came as no surprise that they wanted to rush me off to Inverness to get it checked out by a specialist but being the prick I am I refused Sad smile Seriously though, what was I to do, get an ambulance to Inverness then be stuck there overnight? I said that I could get there by 11:00am on Saturday ‘under my own steam’, which they kindly agreed to. Of course when I awoke on Saturday morning at ‘stupid O clock’ with two eyes feeling like they were were full of gravel and one eye virtually blind I began to panic. Of course I’d only myself to blame but ‘no surprise there then’!!!

Well, at least we got to Lidl Smile I also got some steroids for my eye and orders to return to ‘snecky on Wednesday.

A battery kind of day

Arriving back home around 18:45 with loads of shopping, booze and drugs for the eye we spent the rest of the day around at ‘Number 3’ demolishing vegetarian dishes and red wine with a house full of friends. Having a ‘sensible head on’ I was in bed before midnight and without the makings of a hangover. Sure enough Sunday arrived without a headache and with a little more vision in my left eye. Wanting to take it easy and not make a mess of the skirting board I set about doing a ‘service’ on my 800Ah 48V battery bank.

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All the ‘SG’s’ were checked and recorded and the cells topped up with deionized water, Rolls actually specify distilled water but it’s hard to get up here.  These Rolls batteries seem to have exceptionally high SG readings, off the scale in fact but I’ve noticed that on other Rolls banks. The voltage readings are a bit of a waste of time really and not much of an indication of anything unless the bank is ‘at rest’. However, it’s good exercise in record keeping any dramatic difference in voltage would give early indications to at least keep an eye on a particular cell or battery.

Next stop was the ‘Old Schoolhouse’ where the ‘Dude’ and I replaced some fuses for MCB’s .

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You have to be careful when using MCB’s on DC circuits, not all breakers are rated for DC and some that are have to have there values reduced if they’re used on DC instead of AC. DC produces a much larger arc when the contact is broken than AC so care is needed when choosing the right one, and they’re generally more expensive.

A new bank

Next task was fitting a new battery bank at ‘Number 3’, at 10 years old and having ‘worked hard’ the old one was getting tired. Sure it would ‘do a turn’ as a ‘back up’ at Sonas but not really up to every day cycling.

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Much caution is required when dealing with battery banks, acid, heavy weights and large sparks being just a few of the potential hazards. However, all went smoothly and we were home for a roast lamb dinner before 19:00 Smile

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5 Comments »

  1. Hope your eye has a speedy recovery x

    Comment by SOTW — August 10, 2015 @ 9:52 am

  2. What’s this about your teenager showering? He hasn’t discovered girls has he?

    Comment by Phil Cook — August 10, 2015 @ 3:15 pm

  3. Delighted to see the eye is on the mend.
    Great progress on the house, really enjoying your ‘ journey’
    Do give yourself a bit of time off occasionally.

    Comment by Andrew — August 13, 2015 @ 6:57 am

    • Morning Andrew,

      eye is ‘damn fine splendid’ now thanks, just as well coz I lost my eye drops yesterday!!

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 15, 2015 @ 5:12 am

  4. “Take me with you. I can see. I can see perfectly.” 🙂

    (c) Hugh Dennis

    Comment by San — August 15, 2015 @ 7:10 am


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