Life at the end of the road

October 22, 2020


Filed under: animals, daily doings, life off grid — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:17 am

Golly gosh, I wasn’t expecting that, just back in after a wander outside to the ‘bunker’ for my camera. After wrapping up and donning suitable footwear I stepped outdoors in to the gloom and it was dry underfoot!!!! Well, that came as a bit of a surprise I can tell you as it’s been pretty boodly wet of late. Both my hydro turbines more than compensating for the lack of sunshine and wind. Not that there was any lack of wind yesterday, a steady north easterly having finally arrived after a day or so of threatening. Whilst it has been pretty windless for days, a steady swell has been building up out at sea, a sure sign of a cold northerly airstream heading this way.


This picture of a calm Loch Arnish, autumnal Aird Torran, heaving Grian a Sgeir and fuzzy Brothers point was taken three days ago and shows the swell building around the shallows of the ‘sunny skerry’ Grian a Sgeir, which on Monday was anything but. Building ever since the weekend it was pretty white and fluffy around any shoreline facing north by yesterday.

New Batteries

With the weather so miserable yesterday I donned my one piece ‘Andy Pandy’ waterproofs to start preparing myself for replacing my battery bank.


Topping up the 24 cells with deionized water before abandoning the task in favour of something less taxing. I’m really not looking forward to this job Sad smile Quite apart from the physical side of it (each bank weighs in at over a ton) there are a multitude of electrical connections to make and reconfigure. Not to mention the hazards associated with acid and short circuits. My mate will be arriving today and I thought he could help, not that I’ve actually told him yet Smile Anyway, leaving that and still ‘suited up’ I headed over to Torran to remove a faulty inverter.

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The Voltacon, Conversol 1500W inverter charger I’d fitted back in March was faulty and had been from the start. The normally reliable and excellent value for money inverter had never been able to recognize and thus accept the incoming AC from the generator. As the property is ‘off grid’ and would be fully occupied for the summer I’d spoken to the supplier and said that I’d not be returning it until the generator was needed to charge the batteries. As I had fitted some 2kW of solar panels to the property this was more than enough to see the house fully powered until at least the equinox.


Whilst the loch and it’s shoreline was pretty settled here at the north side, it was a different story at my end. Here is looking towards where I keep and launch my boat.

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And this will be an even ‘fluffier’ Grian a Sgeir and gloomier Brothers Point.

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Speaking of the ‘Sunny Skerry’ here is a sea eagle ‘eagle with the sunlit eye’ Iolaire sùil na grian’ soaring outside my back door yesterday much better pictures there Smile

Of course no day would be complete without a visit to ‘the lumb’, which I did and after a few more fruitless attempts told myself, ‘It’s time to call it a day’ Sad smile

Heading back home I settled myself in the nice warm ‘bunker’ and started to fit the ‘changeover’ switch to allow me to seamlessly change from one power source to another so as not to interrupt the electricity supply to the house. Sure it’s no ‘big deal’ being without power for an hour or two but the longest power cut I’ve had in thirty years is about 10 minutes and nowadays nothing works without electricity, not even the gas cooker Sad smile

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Fitting a ‘changeover’ switch between my SMA SI 6kW inverter and the Outback GVFX 3048 3kW system has been on my ‘to do’ list for years so working in the cosy ‘bunker’ seemed like a good option in the pishing rain Smile

March 8, 2016

The ‘Murphy ASM170’ :-(

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:05 pm

Sorry peeps but this is gonna be ‘dull as dishwater’ and I’m only scribbling it down in case I have to refer back to this in future. Today I spent pretty much the entire day wiring up a ‘generator start module’ for the neighbours they’ve got guests in for Easter and being able to automatically start the generator is kinda essential. The neighbours themselves have managed just fine on wind and solar from the Proven WT2500 and 1kW of solar but extra bodies means extra demands on the system so fitting this was crucial. The old Trace SW4548e inverter that served me well for years has inbuilt relays for generator starting but Trace were unique in that respect. All the other ‘off grid’ inverter chargers on the market require a separate control module (unless the generator has one built in) to operate the starter, fuel solenoid and any shutdowns.

The Trace died last year and whilst I did manage to repair it, it failed again 3 months later Sad smile One of these  was purchased as a replacement, for a fraction of the cost of a quality European/American one. That failed 3 months later too but was repaired (eventually) under warranty. Having said that for the price I was well impressed, I wouldn’t buy one myself as it’s ‘transformerless’ so not capable of ‘AC coupling’, however for anyone ‘off grid’ and ‘on a budget’ it’s worth considering. They’re built in Taiwan and go by several names ‘MPP Solar’, ‘OPTI’ and ‘Voltacon’ are just a few but if you do buy one then I’d at least source it from a dealer in your own country, return shipping to Taipei is not cheap.

Like most ‘off grid’ inverters these days the have in inbuilt ‘volt free’ switch that operates when the batteries get low or demand is high. The Murphy or any other suitable ‘start module’ uses these contacts to ‘auto start’ a suitable generator. The Murphy ASM170 was recommended to me by a friend and it’s what I fitted at Sonas but there are others that are available, some for a fraction of the cost off eBlag. However, beware of cheap ones that rely on ‘timed cranking’ that can leave the starter motor engaged for a short while after starting. The likes of the Murphy and DSE units have frequency sensors that stop the starter motor as soon as the generator produces 50Hz (60Hz in the US).

If you don’t have ‘a memory like a hen’ and are capable of reading instructions I guess you could fit one in two or three hours, it took me all day, despite having done one before.

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Most of these modules are ‘pilot only’ insomuch as they provide a signal for the various functions but need an external relay. The Lister already had two in that silver box that I’d fitted years ago that were controlled by the Trace . They needed a little re configuring but made the job a lot easier than it could have been. The wiring is actually the easy part, the hard bit is setting the ‘DIP switches’ and adjusting the potentiometers to get the right number of cranks for the starter and setting the frequency to disconnect the starter. At least that’s what I find difficult, having the concentration of a gnat and not being able to remember how I’d done mine!


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The wires are clearly labelled but the loom they’re in and the plug to connect it to the controller are an ‘optional extra’!! Quite how you are supposed to fit this unit without them is beyond me but buying it will set you back another £36 even more if you forget to order it with the unit and have to pay double the delivery!!

Anyway, eventually I got it starting in the ‘Manual’ position, running two wires to the NO contact on the Voltacon (one connected to the ASM170 and one to the battery) should then have provided starting in ‘Auto’. Sure enough I went into the kitchen and turned on the grill and oven.

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Drawing 4.23kW from the batteries soon dropped the voltage and after about 5 minutes the generator started just like it should have done. I was ‘well chuffed’ so called it a day, it was well after 17:00, the wife was home and I had to make dinner Smile

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