Being independent of the electricity grid, as I have been for eighteen years, is great. Not that, remotely sited as my place is, there was any choice.
And my solar system, designed and installed by Dave Bartley of then-Sunrise Solar back in 1994, has been trouble-free.
Dave tells me that my BP batteries have lasted longer than any other he knows, but I have looked after them and been very careful not to run them lower than recommended.
However, on my return from Mudgee, although the regulator was on ‘Float’, so it reckoned the batteries were fully charged, the inverter kept shutting down. This meant no 240-volt AC power. On checking, one battery is lower in specific gravity than the others.
So the panels are still doing their job, but perhaps my batteries are feeling their age. Doctor Dave (now Somapower) will make the long trip to come and diagnose the problem this week. I fear the remedy will be expensive!
However, I have been saved from having to leave home in the interim by my Gypsy Camper’s two panels and my small travelling inverter.
It’s parked close by the house, so I use the laptop inside (where the mobile phone works) until the battery is nearly flat then put it to sleep and take it into the camper to recharge. Many of my computer accessories run off a USB plug to the laptop.
Fortunately I have a hand-operated juicer and a small transistor radio, and the house fridge and halogen lights are separately wired for 24 volts, and still working — but I could have gone to candles and used Gypsy’s fridge. No TV, iron, vacuum cleaner or music system, though… I think I’ll survive.
The reason I need to be near the mobile is that the satellite broadband appears to have been damaged by an electrical storm about a month ago and I can now only connect to the internet and email using my phone as a modem via my laptop. The phone only works if connected to the verandah or car aerial.
The delay in service is that you need a 4WD to get here and apparently even these remote satellite installations do not often require that. Luckily Dr Dave’s offsider has one.
So at present I am doubly penalised for living as and where I do. But doubly rewarded for having bought my Gypsy camper; in fact I am living here as if on the road!