Off Grid electricity is NOT free.

Out with the old… The T-105’s are being retired.

I believe I am guilty of promoting free energy on the off grid homestead, and during the summer months it appears that way.  However, during the winter months cloudy skies make solar energy creation improbable, and it’s the battery bank that keeps the home’s electricity going from day to day.  When the fog and inversion continues throughout the week, a 5 gallon jug of fuel is added to the generator. The generator is fired up to produce the home’s power and to fill the battery bank for a few more days.

Winter is the time of the year when an off grid home realizes they are not living “free”.  Perhaps a nice sunny equatorial home would provide the energy the home needs and less reliance on a large battery bank.  But even then, a home close to the equator has a constant 12 hours day and night. In which the daylight begins at 6 and ends at 6 in the evening.  If only we lived on the equator… but I really like the 4 seasons, so that’s out for now.

If you are thinking about going off grid, depending on where you live and what your winter is like as far as darkness and climate, you will want to size your battery bank accordingly.  Our new bank, if we conserve, can get us about 4 days, without direct sunlight.  We have added so many new systems that require more power and we added to our family another person, so power usage has naturally increased.  More lights are on, our fridge runs more often, and the phantom load of the Internet and the propane tankless water heater begin to add up over a few hours.  If I remember, like I just did, I shut them off.

As seen in the video,  I crunched the numbers and our new battery bank (basic electric bill) is estimated at $25.00 a month over a 10 year period.  That’s not bad, but that doesn’t include the generator maintenance or the fuel for it.  A 5 gallon jug is required to charge the battery bank from 50% back up to 100% and to equalize them.  Without equalizing, it’s about 4 gallons of fuel needed.  I am keeping tabs on our generator usage this year with the new bank and tractor generator; it will be nice to be able to prepare a constant monthly budget by spreading the winter expenditures year round.

Off grid electricity is NOT free!

If my wife and I lived on the grid in this area and had solar panels that covered our electrical usage, the power company would still charge us a $25.00 minimum monthly hook up fee.  That doesn’t seem fair, but with many people trying to save money with increasing electrical bills the power companies do not want people wiggling out from their profit margins, plus someone has to pay for all those linemen who repair the down wires after a devastating storm.  Either way off grid or on, you will have to pay someone for your electricity.  As electricity bills increase, so does the price of batteries. The T-105’s I first bought were $155 each in 2011; this year they are $180 a piece.

If you are thinking about supplementing your on grid home or building an off grid power system, now is the time to start because prices are always going up.

When the Battery Bank Dies…

At the end of this past summer, our battery bank of seven years decided to die.  It was an interesting cascade failure event.  One batter cell went dead and could not be revived, then another battery flagged a similar problem.  Pretty soon I was isolating batteries that would no longer hold a 6 Volt change.  The isolation meant I had to drop from a 3 string battery bank to a 2 string system.  I ordered the batteries at the perfect time.  The sun was shining well into September which carried the system long enough until the replacements arrived.  I was happy to receive them, another few weeks and we would have been in real trouble, running a generator to make due for the lack of electrical storage.

The video published was in a file waiting to be edited and published.  I admit blogging and YouTube videos which have grown intertwined has dwindled, and I discussed that briefly on another post.  Currently, I am enjoying Christmas break and I am gearing up for the return to teaching after the New Year’s holiday. I hope this post and the New Year 2019 greets you well.

My wife and I plan to make a list of this year’s highlights this evening and save them to be read next year.  It will be a bonding time between us as we recognize our successes despite the obstacles around us, including replacing a dying battery bank. I plan to include my son in the event as well, and I am curious to hear his own version of events.

May you enjoy this New Year’s Eve, celebrating with family, friends, and have a chance to reflect on the highlights this year.

God Bless,

Changing a Side-Mount for a Top Post Battery

Here is a quick video I did on changing the vehicle design from a side mount battery to a top post battery.  When I was filming this video, my cistern pump went out a day before, and when I got home from work, our Suburban was dead.  No connection, except a string of bad timing. The Suburban had a no start issue, and I knew it was the battery.  The battery was over 7 years old and needed to be replaced.  However, side mount batteries are not easy to recharge, jump, and keep the contacts clean . I understand why some cars used side mounts and then other cars like the Suburban has no excuse.  Side mount batteries makes it difficult finding a generic replacement, to use a battery charger, and generally costs more.  So, I am done with side-mount batteries.  I finalized the change with this video.


On a side note, I generally try to post once a week, I have a few posts this week, but I will slow down again to not clog up your reader.  As a person who likes to have a well dispersed WordPress Reader, I understand how frustrating it can get to see the same person posting on a daily or even an hourly basis, which clogs up the feed.  My wife and I are still debating if we will continue making YouTube videos.  My passion was always in writing, not cinematography, but I admit I am beginning to like learning how to edit.  That being said, there is no financial gain to creating posts or videos.  I am beginning to include more of our home base business into the posts, name of this blog, and videos.

If you like what you see here, please support our channel by visiting our store.  https://paupers-candles.ecwid.com/ We’re not asking for donations, but only to sell a great candle product. We also understand this is a specialty item in which not everyone enjoys, but if you do, we hope you think of us for your next candle purchase.

Thanks for visiting, we have another post scheduled for tomorrow.

Man vs. Snowplow (Season 3, Episode 2)

For those who have watched the war wage on between me and my used snowplow, this is perhaps the armistice between us.  This year, I did not mess around with the motor and pump assembly.  I purchased a “new” rebuilt Meyer E47 standard assembly.  This has made a world of difference.  The plow system is functioning at the best level I have ever seen it.  The plow truck has already removed quite a bit of snow and has allowed us to be more independent and not rely on our neighbors to be able leave our property.  Even though the truck still has some electrical and mechanical issues, it still runs well enough to remove the snow.


My wife and I for the first time since we bought this snowplow truck feel we may make it through an entire season without it breaking down.  However, there are still several issues that need to be resolved before next year.  The main issue is the dramatic oil leak in which to run the truck means adding almost 2 quarts of oil each time.  The other issue is the mythical gremlin that causes the dashboard, roof, and backup lights to pulse on and off without any warning of why or when they will return.  This has made night driving very difficult and a couple times, I had to just park it and begin again in the morning.  The other issue is the mysterious floating gas tank that likes to shift from side to side.  I may drop the tank and start over with a new tank because the neck of it will not accept a gas nozzle without spilling gas when filling at half speed or above.  The other issue is the hubs on the full wheel drive.  The truck is permanently in 4-wheel drive and this will need to be fixed eventually.  Also the truck’s gas gauge doesn’t work and the engine has died so often, I do not know if it is out of gas or if the gremlin is also wreaking havoc in the coil or distributor system.

That is our plow truck’s dirty laundry list of problems that still need to be worked out and hopefully the truck will not implode before the end of this season.  Creating a priority list, I have decided the engine leak, 4-wheel drive, and electrical systems are top priority.  The gas tank though difficult to work with still functions.  I will probably hire out the oil leak and 4-wheel drive system while I chase down the electrical problems and rewire the entire truck if I must.

Flashback: Lighting the Wood Stove for the 1st time didn’t work out so well.

Flashback to six years ago when we lit our Kitchen Queen wood cook stove for the first time.  We had our challenges trying to figure it out, but now it is easy.  We moved into our place for two weeks during December of 2011 to see if we could manage the home with the extreme cold of a North Idaho winter.   We managed quite well and decided to move full-time onto the property in January.


However, that first night was a very cold night.  The home was hovering at 39 degrees Fahrenheit and by the time we went to bed, the home had warmed up to about 50 degrees.   As we laid in bed shivering, with several blankets and a down sleeping bag as a bed spread.  My wife and I huddled together for warmth and the thoughts running through my mind was, “Oh, no, I bought too small of a wood cook stove, we are going to freeze.”

Needless to say, I did not share these thoughts with my wife as she whispered, “Do you think it’s ever going to get warm?”

I said confidently, “Sure it will get warm; give it some time.”

The next morning our heads were sweating as our knees were freezing.  The heat was trapped on the ceiling and hadn’t extended to the floor yet.  By evening, the concrete floor had warmed up and the entire house was warm to a balmy 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  My wife and I opened the windows to let the outside’s single digit weather balance our home’s temperature.  My wife changed into shorts and a tank top.  I just sweated and enjoyed the warmth.

Once we began to figure out the stove, controlling the home’s temperature has become very natural to us.  Now, we know when to open and close the dampers when to stoke the fire, etc.. Living off grid has been a huge learning curve for us.  However, I would say that it has made me a more rounded person.  I have begun to develop a talent for fixing things that I would never have attempted before.  My wife has also changed quite a bit as we have become more self-sufficient in maintaining and operating our systems.

Snow Storm Hits and the Solar Panels Quit

During the winter gray skies and snow defeat our solar panels’ power production.  This is the time of year we rely heavily upon our backup generator once the battery bank is spent. Removing snow from the panels, isn’t too bad, but if left undone it can become a real problem if the snow melts into a thick slush and freezes solid on the panels.  I have the panels tilted to the steepest pitch possible for the winter months, which helps remove the snow when it warns up enough for it to begin to melt.  However, because it takes a lot of effort to adjust them each season, I leave them at the winter pitch all year.  My power production is fine enough during the spring, summer, and fall months even at the winter pitch year round.

The snow storm was severe enough to knock several trees over.  Many people were without power for the next 24 plus hours.  Even though we weren’t producing power from our solar panels, we had enough stored power in our battery bank to ride us through.  We did not realize our area had lost power until our son was excused from school the next day because the school was without power.  It is moments like these that being off the grid is really nice. We don’t have to wait until power crews can find the time in the outage to bring our street’s power back on.  We are no longer a number on someone else’s priority list.

 

Cooking with My Wood Cook Stove- Pioneer Pumpkin Pie from Scratch: 4/4

Welcome to Part 4/4, the final video/blog in my video mini series, Cooking with a Wood Cook Stove – Pioneer Pumpkin Pie from Scratch. My final video will show how I maintained my wood cook stove while cooking my pumpkin pie and will show you my Pumpkin Pie all cooked and ready to eat!

I hope these videos encouraged you that you can cook in your wood cook stove and that it is not that difficult. It is like anything new, you just need to use it and practice.

From talking with others, each wood cook stove is a little different. It is my hope that these videos will give you an idea of how to use a wood cook stove and then you can modify as you need for your specific stove.

One tip: Check the wood in your stove and make sure your fire box has the right amount of wood in it to create the temperatures you need. Typically, I keep the wood in my fire box pretty full with a good wood ember base. This keep the temperatures up and for the Kitchen Queen Wood Cook Stove this works great.

Enjoy and Happy Wood Stove Cooking!!!

Krista and Pie_Background

An up close shot of my Pumpkin Pie.  It tasted awesome!

Behind the Scenes:  While I was filing the last part of this video I was running out of time.  My husband and I were needing to pick up our son.  So While I was off camera, I was cleaning up the kitchen and praying that the pumpkin pie would cook in time.  To my delight the pie cooked in time and we were able to pick up our son.

Thank you readers for your interest and may you have a wonderful day.