Dead boring for the majority of peeps reading this I know, but the day wasn’t all about inverters. It’s just that’s the bit that got me excited the most, I know, I know, I’m really sad.
Down to the beach
The day actually started with a trip to the seaside, that’ll be Screapadale beach for pebbles to finish off yesterday’s mini garden and ‘pebble patch. I couldn’t bear the thought of going last night as I went down a month ago and it was so overgrown that I struggled finding the track. Actually had to get out twice to make sure we were going the right way in the Land Rover.
The Bracken was 5’ tall and even getting out of the ‘Old Girl’ was a problem, hence my decision to take the quad.
Well, what a surprise, the Forestry Commission must have been down and cleared it right the way to the shore!
There was even an area cleared for turning,
I was most impressed
Outback GVFX 3048e
Once I’d got the pebbles spread out I turned my attention to clearing and burning some heather at the back of the house. A bit of a longwinded process as I couldn’t really leave the incinerator unattended and it was quite slow to burn.
Still it made a far better smell than the recent barbequed chicken and mink
As this is right outside ‘The Bunker’, that ‘lean too’ that houses the thermal store and spare battery bank, it seemed like the ideal time to connect it all up.
This Outback 3kW inverter has been sat here doing nothing since I bought it off eBay over a year ago. It was one of those ‘bargains’ that you just couldn’t afford to miss, brand new and still in the box with just one bid on it at around £600, they’re double that new and it only had a day or two to run. I think the foreign seller and it’s placement in the boating section may have put folk off or caused people to miss it. Also, the G bit of GVFX indicates ‘grid interactive’ which is a bit of a misnomer cos it’s actually illegal to connect this to the grid! Anyway, I stuck a bid on a little higher and even with the £25 delivery it came in at less than £700. Now bear in mind my current SMA SI6.OH was more than three times that price and you’ll know what I mean about it being cheap.
Of course I didn’t actually need it but I did already have a serviceable 48V 950Ah battery bank sat in the bunker doing nothing. Well, I won the inverter, screwed it to the wall and connected it to the battery bank and there it’s sat for over a year doing nothing.
Well today I rectified that and wired it all up, apart from a ‘transfer switch’ like this,
which I still have to buy. This will in effect give me 100% redundancy should my SMA system fail or need service/repair.
Once the output side was finished I programed the ‘Mate’,
another eBay bargain. This isn’t essential for the inverter to work but it does allow you to alter parameters and connect to a generator. With the inverter ‘inverting’ quite happily I then connected the input side to the generator and ‘hey presto’ it worked a treat.
These Outback ‘off grid’ inverters are very simple and rugged with the huge advantage of replacement boards being readily available along with instruction on YouTube of how to change them. They also have excellent support via http://www.outbackpower.com/forum/ and their network of dealers. The guys behind the company have a proven track record, it was themselves that started ‘Trace Engineering’ the original ‘off grid’ inverter company before selling it to Xantrex when it went down the toilet and then Schneider whereupon it landed in the septic tank Alpha now own Outback and the founders went onto form ‘Midnite Solar’ another ground-breaking RE company that make probably the charge controllers in the world.
The SMA ‘off grid’ inverter I use is ‘all singing, all dancing’ and has a gazillion functions on it I’ll never use but you pay a premium for it. These inverters ‘do exactly what it says on the tin’ all day long and at a third of the cost. Sure you would have to ‘stack’ two and buy a ‘Mate’ to get the same (actually 50% more) output, but it would still be cheaper than an SI6.OH like mine.
For a simple and reliable ‘off grid’ system this is the inverter I’d choose, I think Studer http://www.studer-innotec.com/en/ and Victron https://www.victronenergy.com/inverters-chargers are every bit as good but the Outback has component level spares unlike all the others. Why didn’t I buy one? well I did like all the extra functions of the SMA and it’s emphasis on ‘AC coupling’ but in the end I disabled the ‘frequency shifting’ function anyway.
Checking the mast
With autumn on the doorstep and the equinoctial gales around the corner my son and I decided to go and check out the broadband mast that supplies both ourselves and Applecross with the best and most reliable internet this side of a fibre optic cable. Though when Portree gets it so should we because that’s where the signal is relayed from.
It’s a bit of a trek up to the mast, just shy of a mile but a very steep country one at that so we take the quads as far as the ruins at North Arnish.
This is the halfway mark on the cable and from hereon in it’s hard work. The mast sits atop the highest peak there exposed to the fiercest of weather.
It must however, at one time have been a good enough path for at least part of the way, for half way up lies the remains of a wall/fence whose outline you can see in that heather mound. There’s also an old iron gatepost here and a wooden one further down.
On a good day you get a fine view of ‘Number 3’ with just our slate roof and the hen shed visible behind and ‘Calum’s Road’ in the far distance.
All seemed in order so we just tightened up all the guy wires, greased and checked all the scaffolding clamps and checked the ‘wizardry’ inside.
Not that I know what any of it does
Then it was a quick ‘hoof’ back to North Arnish and home, collecting a few stones on the way for the latest project.