Life at the end of the road

December 2, 2021

Inside der Bunker :-)

When your designing a house to be as energy efficient as possible it makes common sense to keep your thermal store within the heated envelope of the house right. So why on earth did I put mine in a wooden shed stuck on the back? Well I gotta admit it’s a question I’ve often asked myself and the truth is I’m glad I did. For a start it weighs almost two tons, containing as it does  1500lts of water and would take up a lot of valuable storage place in the house. Sure it does loose a bit of heat despite being very well insulated but the shed doubles as a store is well insulated and contains a large chest freezer which should be kept somewhere above 10 degrees! Take note of that all you peeps that keep theirs in the garage Smile Sure they’ll work at cold temperatures but modern freezers use a lot less power if kept at higher temperatures. It’s a bit counter intuitive but it’s like leaving a fridge door open, it will actually increase the room temperature rather than reduce it cos the compressor has to work harder to try and maintain the fridge interior cold.

So any heat that does escape is not wasted as it, along with the heat from inverters and now a dehumidifier keep the shed nice and warm. This in turn means my Ecocent https://www.earthsaveproducts.com/products/ecocent/ecocent-energy air source heat pump runs more efficiently too.

Ecocent

As you can see the  manual quotes 810W input produces 3000W of heat a COP (coefficient of performance) of around 3.5. However this is misleading because it is under ideal conditions and whilst it is achievable, the higher the heat required and the lower heat input will drastically alter this COP. I’ve been unable to find a graph for the Ecocent Energy water heating pump I use but as it is only set to heat the UFH (lower part of the store) to 40degrees from a lower temp of 35degrees. Extracting it’s supply air from the bunker at a relatively mild 10 to 20 degrees it should be quite efficient. It certainly keeps my house toasty. But and it’s a big but, my house is exceptionally well insulated and uses Under Floor Heating that only needs 40 degrees of hot water to keep the house at 20. It simply would not work otherwise. Methinks that an awful lot of people are fitting heat pump heating systems into unsuitable draughty poorly insulated properties Sad smile Sure they can work but only with huge radiators, large pumps and in the dreams of silver tongued salesmen Smile 

So it was after the morning jaunt with Bonzo that I found myself in the warmth of my ‘plant room’ der Bunker, named so after the peculiar slit like window on the back wall.

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This window being one of several that I found on the Internet that ‘were a bargain’ well they would be wouldn’t they, who on earth needs a window for a pill box Smile Anyway it actually gives more room inside and helps keep the Bunker warm.

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It was a nice 17 degrees and the dehumidifier had extracted a couple of litres of water overnight. My plan for the day being to swap around the supplies to my immersion heaters in the store, there are five of them at different heights and I wanted to alter their order of priority.

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The top one is for my DHW and is a 3.2kW one used for heating the top of the tank which provides my domestic hot water. This is controlled via a timer in the house if required.

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Pressing the button advances the timer from 15 minutes to two hours https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/253910655223 and it’s very handy ‘off grid’ as I used to leave it switched on all the time and rely on the immersion’s internal thermostat. This was fine until my Son started taking twenty minute showers every day no matter how windy or sunny it was outside Smile

The second immersion is a spare, just in case I come up with a brilliant plan for more free energy and the third in fourth ones are heated by any excess power produced once my batteries are charged. They are also 3.2kW ones acting as dump loads for my system. The final one at the bottom is a 6kW that is ‘hard wired’ into the 12kW generator so it is always kept under at least 50% load when running. Diesel engines being more efficient when under 50 to 70% load and battery charging via a diesel generator being really inefficient in the final ‘absorption phase’ when the generator is only very lightly loaded for several hours.

I could lie to you and tell you all that this was my reason for purchasing a 12kW generator when a 6kW one would do but the truth is very different. Like my Bunker slit windows the generator was a bargain that could not be missed Smile

Anyway the reason why I was swapping immersion elements about was cos I thought one had failed, well it had, the fourth one down didn’t appear to be working. The lowest of the 3.2kw ones being ‘priority 1’ when it came to dumping excess power and at this time of year quite useful for maintaining the UFH part of the store and reducing the amount of time that heat pump runs to warm the house.

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So after hours of messing around and finally poking around inside the element with a meter I discovered that the thermostat on the end was faulty. So I bypassed the thermostat and wired the immersion through the timer, figuring that with the the heater being at the bottom of the store and only ever being on for a maximum of two hours it was never going to reach 80degrees Surprised smile I then wired the excess power dump to the spare immersion. Thinking about it afterwards I could have just swapped the thermostats over but that’s not how I arrived at the conclusion at the time Sad smile It took me so long to sort it that I’m gonna leave it well alone for now cos during my quest for a new immersion I found a newer version of my own containing a duel 1kW and 3kW element. Thinking that this would be most advantageous if ever a replacement were needed. I put the idea on the back burner for now and went for another walk with Bonzo.

 

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This being a short perambulation behind the house

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Up to the highest rock behind Sonas, just above the ‘puddle’ that once doubled as an emergency water supply for my old house at Number 3.

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I’d never even considered that this puddle was anything other than natural but small piles of rocks at its western end look like they have been placed there deliberately. Though I cannot imagine why somebody would do this as it is only a few meters from a good well that supplies my own house.

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Wandering back down but still a long way above the township I came across the remnants of an old VHF antennae that once resided on a mast behind my old house. Sure it’s only a light piece of aluminium but even so it  must have been some gale of north westerly wind that took it all the way up the hill Surprised smile Probably Henry back in 2016, he fecked my  smaller Proven too Sad smile https://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com/tag/proven-wt2500-stator/  Henry had far more attitude than Arwen in these parts at least, though I hear there are still thousands without power in parts of Aberdeenshire and Northumberland Sad smile 

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How can I make so much washing up Surprised smile

As evening descended early thanks to the thick grey clouds I tried to feed the pigs who are usually waiting at the back gate to come in. Much to my surprise despite the failing light there was no sign of the wee darlings so I fed the dugz instead.

Bonzo doing his customary bounce Smile which considering his reluctance to go up and down stairs or jump in the back of the Land Rover is quite amazing. Molly is old, lame and rarely walks anywhere these days but will jump up or onto anything.

There was still no sign of the ‘Three Amigo’s’ so I started on dinner a grilled mackerel with roast and steamed veg number which created more washing up than Christmas dinner Surprised smile

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After demolishing my feast I went back outdoors and managed to feed the ‘dirt stopouts’ and called it a day.

December 1, 2021

The Aurora curve :-)

Well, it was a complete surprise to get up this morning and find out it was December Surprised smile So “rabbits, rabbits, rabbits”, apparently your supposed to say that at the beginning of every new month though I’ve no idea why and I feel too vague to ask Mr Google. Must be ‘loosing the plot’ cos I’ve been saying that rhyme “30 days has September, April, June and the other one” for days now. Hmmm, is this what dementia starts of as Surprised smile It wasn’t until I took my BP this morning and updated my Excel spreadsheet that I realised I’d been ambushed by the Christmas month. Feck me, does this mean I’m gonna be subjected to a barrage of festive tunes on Radio 2 from now on. Living where I do I haven’t actually come across much of the usual supermarket’s early festive mince. That’ll be mince as in nonsense not mince as in mince pies in Christmas boxes that have a ‘sell by’ date of early December Smile 

Well at least “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” are out the way, two more American imports that belong in the bin along with the Chinese Halloween crap that arrive by the container load every year. Only to clog up the shopping isles and be deposited in a landfill a week later Smile Probably what half of the containers aboard the MV Ever Given https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ever_Given were full of when it clogged up up the Suez Canal in March. I wonder how long it’ll be before we’re all eating our Thanksgiving turkeys Smile

Now my morning rant is out of the way and my BP has returned to normal I’ll move on

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leaving the other occupants of the house to arise at a sane time Smile

Tuesday

After feeding the herd Bonzo and I let Molly into the Land Rover and went for a short walk to release some of his boundless energy

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As you can see it was pretty grey and uninspiring

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A small stag being the only thing of note we saw as we just followed the road round to Number 2 and returned back to Sonas the same way. My plan for the day being to try and alter the settings on my smaller wind turbine that was now charging my ‘back up’ system in the bunker. This ‘back up’ system is a bit of a luxury and only came about cos I happened to acquire most of it’s components FOC or very cheaply. The battery bank coming from my old house, the Inverter off eBlag , the solar panels and wind turbine being surplus from other projects of mine. Sure it’s a PITA at times as the batteries need constant topping up but the other day it proved it’s worth when I had a power cut on my main system at 4:30 in the morning. Like many others in the UK it was storm Arwen related, a switch having burned out due to the very high and sustained winds. The switch wasn’t rated for the constant current, burnt out and caused a short that tripped the power. Sure I sorted it out after a few hours tinkering but meanwhile I was using the back up system for the first time in the six or seven years since I fitted it.

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Buoyed up by it’s success I’d decided to make more use of it by utilizing it to run a dehumidifier in the bunker which houses an air source heat pump that runs my Under Floor Heating. As I use the bunker as a drying room, keep a large freezer in there and lots of other junk/stuff I figured that some extra heat generated by having a dehumidifier running would be no bad thing. It being noticeably cooler when the air source heat pump is running as it extracts heat out of the atmosphere.

So when I sorted out the short circuited switch the other day I’d connected my 3.2kW Proven wind turbine up via the AC side of the Outback inverter to keep the batteries charged. They are normally just kept topped up by 500W of solar on the roof. However this provides very little in the way of spare power during the winter. AC coupling the Proven turbine would remedy this, the only problem being that the turbine was too powerful being rated at 3.2kW and producing over 4kW in a gale. Sure the system worked  but as soon as the turbine started producing over 3kW the inverter disconnected it. This in itself was no surprise but after a few seconds it tried reconnecting repeatedly and I figured that this would be undesirable.

Aurora Installer software

My plan was to modify the wind turbine’s inverter to limit it’s output to around 2500W something I have not done in over five years and even then was never that confident in operating the software. Added to that the software and drivers were not installed on my laptop and I would need to relearn it all over again Sad smile

Hence all the links and mince in the text for future reference Smile sorry  https://www.voltsys.com/software/ provide me with both and I eventually managed to install both.

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Retiring to the ‘Power Station’ with the laptop all I had to do then was find the USB/RS485 adaptor that I’d put somewhere ‘safe’ five years ago Sad smile

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Eventually I found it complete with a dollop of bird 5h1t that had corroded the plug somewhat, luckily it did still work.

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All I had to do now was figure out why the feck I’d cut the three wires five years ago without marking which three terminals the went to on the adaptor board Surprised smile Luckily they are marked positive, negative and ground so I reckoned that they’d be red, black and green respectively. Well that worked Smile and I soon had the software communicating and a table up on my laptop.

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The parameters are altered by selecting edit then double clicking on the value you want to alter and highlighting it. Once your happy with it you just save it and upload the new table.

Forgot to mention the ‘Installer Password’ for the Aurora Installer software. You need this to make any adjustments and it’s

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05591. To make adjustments to the grid settings you need a password that is unique to your own inverter. That you will have to get from an ABB Power One dealer, so good luck with that as I think they’ve been taken over by someone else and no longer make dedicated wind inverters. Luckily I got mine from Solacity https://www.solacity.com/ some time ago.

The afternoon was taken up by a long walk with Bonzo to the lochs at Brochel

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disturbing a couple of Hinds on the way there

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and a couple of stags on the way back.

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The smaller of the two Loch Beag  with the island of Fladda in the distance.

Kawasaki Mule SX oil change

Once back home I gave the Mule a good pressure washing, repaired a mud flap and gave it an oil change.

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Which for those who are interested too just over two quarts which to the rest of the world is almost 2lts of a 10W-40 synthetic oil. Gone are the days when I could buy q 200lt barrel of BP Vanellus C3 from the local oil depot and it would be suitable for every machine I owned from lawn mower to Land Rover, Lister, compressor, car and quad. Now I need a different grade, type and allegedly brand of the stuff for every machine I posses or service. I despair Smile

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