Life at the end of the road

August 30, 2019

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


  1. Never a dull day at Sonas Paul, no matter what the weather may be doing 🙂

    Comment by 63ian — August 30, 2019 @ 12:44 pm

  2. Nice dash… need to build one for my 110… interested? It’s only a tad bigger… 😜

    Comment by Matt — August 30, 2019 @ 3:40 pm

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