Life at the end of the road

August 30, 2019

Better flash up Harry :-)

Filed under: Avon Searider, daily doings, life off grid — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:45 pm

What, with me banging on about how little I use my diesel generator this morning I thought I’d better check. Turns out, the last time the HR2 Lister ran was for 5 hours on 30th of May, a full three months ago!!!

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Since then I’ve generated 3250 kWh by wind/hydro and PV, or around 36kWh per day average, though that table is a little misleading as it has ‘Proven 6kW’ in the header but those figures in that column relate to something else completely and are not included in  the totals. The large Proven isn’t actually producing electricity as such, at the moment it is just heating up the ‘Bunker’ which is my plant, freezer and drying room.


And just now it’s drying out my Northern Diver dry suit which has acquired a hole in the bum. Dunno how that happened right enough, ‘twas fine when I last had it on two days ago. Anyway it’s hanging in the warm bunker with a dehumidifier running so I can plug the leak later tonight.

Water water everywhere

Much to my surprise, Ross was up pretty early and keen to go diving despite the weather and having to go and work later. Oh the joy of youthful enthusiasm, I used to be like that once Smile I mean, it was truly wet, grey and miserable, consequently we headed through the Fladda Narrows as the tide was still high enough to go over the causeway and I figured that Loch a Sgurr would have less fresh water ‘run off’ in it.

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Well, at least it wasn’t as windy as they were saying, in fact it was glassy calm but boy was it wet, the water was just poring off Raasay. The burns where swollen and peaty coloured ribbons of water cascaded off the rock and heather. That’s us departing our slip, heading into the South Fladda anchorage then passing by the shepherds hut by the Fladda causeway.

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Loch a Sgurr though was blissfully calm and without the brown layer of freshwater lying on the surface, pretty clear. Ross and I did around 23 minutes at 30m for a couple of dozen decent clams.

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Before he went down to work he made a chili dip and we’ll be having scallops and black pudding for a snack later. They were gonna be tonight’s dinner but one of our neighbours gave us a fine venison stew just as Ross arrived home. As it was still warm, we just ate that Smile

That took us nicely up until midday when the weather improved a little, Ross went to work and I pottered about the croft filling diving cylinders, weeding the drive,

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painting some steelwork, extending my remote winch lead and chasing pigs. OK, getting chased by pigs Smile


I just could not believe how much water had collected in their dishes since I fed them 8 hours earlier, a good 100mm!!!! OK the dishes are slightly tapered but even so, that is a lot of water.

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Interesting, that’ll be the two cylinders going on at 15:01 when the sky was really overcast. There is a 2.4kW discharge on the inverter and the batteries are at 99% ‘state of charge’. After running for almost an hour and a half with the sky brighter but still 99% cloud cover the batteries are receiving 900W and are at 100% SOC.


And true to form on the West Coast, the evenings are always the best part of a miserable July or August day Smile

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well, apart from the friggin’ midge that is Smile



A day in the shed?

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:36 am

Almost 8:00 am now and just back in to dry out and drink more coffee, it’s pure miserable outside with bedraggled looking chooks and even the pigs showed less enthusiasm than normal to be let out.


Just grey and very, very wet, so after a quick scout around outside to pick up and re place stuff that got blown about outside last night I shot back indoors for a refuel.

The plan had been to go out in the Searider this morning with me boy as it’s his last day off work before returning to uni, or at least the last free day I’ll see before I return to the Hallaig. Methinks I’ll just let him arise of his own accord and leave the decision to him. Sure it makes little difference how wet it is when your diving but it really is pure miserable outside, methinks it’ll be another day fixing things in the shed Smile


Yesterday was at least relatively dry but the good blast of wind that kept the turbines busy also stopped me going out for a dip. No matter I’d planned a vegetarian dish for dinner and didn’t want to sicken myself of seafood just yet Smile I’m also making a supreme effort to not be quite so manic and take life a little slower, so with that in mind I turned my attention to matters ‘off grid’ like water filters and batteries.

There’s something uniquely satisfying about the independence of living ‘off grid’, filtering your own water, making your own electricity and not even having a phone line to the house. Sure there is a little more work in it and you do have to be to some degree selective in your use of electricity but that’s all part of the fun. Just don’t turn up at my house with a hair drier or iron Smile Or at the very least be prepared to only use them when it’s windy or sunny Smile

Having said that the house is ‘all electric’ bar the cooker and I have no stove or chimney. It is heated, cooled and ventilated completely by renewable energy and of that I’m very proud. The price I have to pay for this is some regular maintenance of batteries and filters along with annual servicing of the wind, diesel and hydro generators. OK, I did say 100% renewable but my 12kW Lister HR2 generator is my ‘lifeboat’ and like one of those gets little use but needs well looked after. Truth is, since I put up the extra 3kW of PV on ‘Callum’s shed’ roof he gets even less use Smile He’d been relegated to being run purely to charge diving cylinders, now I fill my air tanks with sunshine not diesel Smile  

The first thing I did was check and top up the batteries in the bunker.


This is another ‘lifeboat’, a complete spare battery/inverter system comprising of an Outback GVFX 3048 inverter/charger and an 800Ah 48V battery bank. To be honest it’s an extravagance and has never been ‘used in anger’. Made up completely of stuff that I had spare or was acquired ridiculously cheaply. I think the only thing that I actually paid for was the inverter which was brand new and came from Spain, delivered for £700. A lot of money I admit but it should have been double that and it does give me complete redundancy.

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Next it was the water filters, three of them at 20, 5 and 1 micron, you can see the first one on the left (the 20) is much dirtier. You can also see a UV filter above the sediment filters, I only fitted that to satisfy ‘Building Standards’ it has never actually been switched on. Call me eccentric but I’m of the opinion a few bugs do you no harm and build up your immune system, is that not after all how vaccines work.

Once I’d finished in the bunker I went and did the main house battery bank,

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the one that is in constant use and keeps the lights (and everything else) burning at Sonas. Another 800Ah 48V bank this is made up of Rolls Surette batteries and gets much more attention than the one in the bunker. I keep an accurate record of the SG (specific gravity) of each of the 48 cells, recording how much deionized water I put in them as well as the bank temperature and voltage.

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I also do a manual ‘EQ’ (equalization) every couple of months to balance the cells. Lead acid battery banks gradually become unbalanced due to slight differences in cell age/chemistry so every month or two, depending on usage they benefit from being overcharged for a couple of hours. My SMA Sunny Island ‘off grid’ inverter and the Morningstar controllers both have the facility for doing it automatically but I prefer to do it manually as to do it properly on the Rolls batteries you need to remove the ‘Hydrocaps’ .

These are special battery tops that convert the hydrogen sulphide gas given off by the batteries during charging back to water. My equipment may be clever but it can’t remove the tops yet Smile To be honest if I were doing the system again I wouldn’t bother with them, they’re expensive and deionized water is cheap Smile So with the cells topped up and caps removed the batteries got a couple of hours at 61V and had a good fizzing which also help de-stratify the electrolyte.

After lunch

That took me nicely up to the remains of a nicely matured chicken curry I’d made a couple of days earlier, after which I did a few repairs on me Mate’s quad then went to collect me Benford 3t dumper from the shore. The trusty machine needed a new starter button, the Chinese one fitted last year having died. It’s been like this for a couple of months now and I’ve been starting it with a fencing staple to bridge the terminals. It suddenly occurred to me one day when I dropped the staple before having started the dumper that this was probably not a good idea, especially had I not been able to find the staple on the slipway with the tide rising Smile

As with many of the tasks I undertake, the simple switch change turned into an epic Sad smile

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The dashboard disintegrated as I was tracing the wires to the switch,

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even though the switch is actually no where near the dashboard I ended up making a new one out of a waterproof electrical enclosure.


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I gotta say, I was pretty chuffed with the result, just need it to stop raining now and I’ll paint it Smile

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