Sunday, April 6, 2014

Energy Data

     In my previous post on ceilings I mentioned I would put on some information about my power usage, and consumption etc. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get this info up here. What I have isn't a whole lot but it may help. I do have written info about generator usage and hours etc, but it is getting to be  a lot of work getting stuff from paper to blog. The following info I did have down on a spreadsheet and even that was educational to get it on here. This is what I will use to get an idea of GENERATOR USAGE. It is not a perfect system, but it should help give some perspective. I kept track of how much fuel I used and calculated it all at $1.40 per liter, which is a bit of an over calculation so actual costs will be a bit less. Also, I didn't keep track of every time I started the generator but instead every time I emptied a gas jug into it.
 INCOMING KILOWATT HRS from the PANELS.  (1 KWH=1000 Watt/hrs).
The following chart is the daily readings off my Out Back solar charge controller. This would then be the incoming Kilowatt Hours from my 6 Sharp 240 watt solar panels.  From Jan 1 2012 to Oct 14 2012 there was No Data, because I didn't
have my solar panels in operation yet. Any other No Data areas was
from neglect of keeping track. My Outback charge controller keeps a
record for 128 days then it erases it as new data is being recorded. The
following is my daily incoming Kilowatt Hours From Jan 1 2012 to
April 5 2014.  It was tricky trying to get this on here from the Excel spreadsheet also, but it was a good learning experience. This last winter we had a lot of snow, and not once did I get up on the roof and clean it off. The previous winter we had a lot of snow also, but I did clean it off quite often when it quit snowing and the sun came out. February 14-28 2014 I was away, so once things charged up it seemed to just hold at .70 area each day as the batteries were full. Just thought I would point that one out. There was snow on the panels when I left, but I can see from the incoming wattage that it melted off shortly after. I turned the deep freeze off for this holiday.

    I do have a record of my State of charge every morning for quite some time, but then I kind of got lazy in the later days. It's all in books. I didn't get that info on here yet. Maybe some day I will get a little more organized and find a simple way to push a button and have it all here, but just to give some perspective on the situation, I will say that usually in the winter time with the deep freeze running and in the house(which is going to change next winter), my SOC is usually in about the 90% area. Sometimes 92% and sometimes 87%. So it drops usually around 10% from the previous days full charge. My honda 2000 runs about 3.5 hours each day to charge it back up again. Sometimes I'll go a couple days before charging, but not very often. Very seldom do I let my battery bank drop below 80% SOC. My forced air furnace usually comes on in the mornings but does not run much during the day in the colder weather. I'm usually burning wood when it is colder than -10 celcius outside. The previous winter(2012-2013) I can remember waking up in the mornings to find the SOC at about 95%. I used to go 2 or 3 days before starting the generator then. That was before the deep freeze.

        In other news, I did finally get my ceilings all up except the bathroom and one coat of varnish so far. I'll update on that with pictures soon.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ceilings and USA journey.

Hi.
     I know it's been a very long time since my last post and I do apologize if by any little chance someone has been waiting. I guess one could say I took a break. I can actually remember a fellow blogging friend, John (The Analog Man), requested a certain post about solar power usage and  statistics etc. I hav'nt forgotten about you John, I will get something together sometime soon. I got kind of lazy in the building department there for awhile, but now, I am starting to get a little tired of looking at all the same ceiling joists in the kitchen and insulation up in the loft where I sleep at night. I think I need a change. I started the loft more than a month or two ago.
The above picture is what is done in the loft so far. It is the largest area of ceiling in the house. The total area of loft to do is 504 sq feet. I have 156 sq ft done and that leaves 348 to go. I'm just about 1/3 done the loft. lol. This stuff is pretty slow putting up, especially when doing it by yourself. The store ran out of this stuff after I started and I could'nt seem to find the same stuff in town anywhere. However I did finally find pretty close to the same in a different store now. Totally different packaging and brand etc, but it sure does look like the same product. I bought enough to do the main floor ceiling and I compared the loft with that. I think it will work. I'll have to go buy that store out too I guess.
Above pic shows the kitchen ceiling I just got done today. That is about 100 sq ft. And that leaves the living room (another 100 sq ft), and the bathroom (roughly 36 sq ft), and the rest is open to the loft.

In other news, I went on a little road trip recently from Feb 14-Feb 28.
 The map above shows all the places we stayed over night. We were in Las Vegas for 3 nights and the rest were one nighters. The furthest north dot is Grande Prairie, Alberta, the starting point. Then we rolled clockwise until we got back to Grande Prairie again. I really liked that trip, and about the only thing that was wrong with it is that I'm not still down there. We've been in 8 US states and 2 Canadian provinces.
This is JoAnn my travelling partner and her car. The gas on this trip costed a little over $600, which I thought was pretty decent. Rooms were not too bad either, as we were splitting the costs. We would usually book rooms one day in advance finding some good deals on expedia.com or booking.com.

 I'm looking at the Pacific ocean in the above pic. It is far away view from here, but it was my first look at any ocean and it was a pretty special moment for me. lol. We eventually did get closer looks and even walked  some beaches. Watched some elephant seals, and even saw signs of whales. Anyway, I went from temps of 22c-28c.   (71-86 F) here in the states.
To this again at home. The morning after I got home, it was -38c (-37f). What a difference. I am planning on spending some more winter time in the south in the future. Not sure if it will be next winter for sure or not, but sometime. 
Before I left on our little journey I had to do some preparations as my house was going to be left all alone for 2 weeks in very cold and snowy weather. The first thing was to empty out the deep freeze that is in the house. And then simply shut the power off. Just a push of a button. The bar-b-que became the freezer for a day or two until I put them into moms deep freeze before we left. Never know if a chinook is going to blow in or not. When I got back from the vacation, I used the bar-b-que to keep my frozen goods frozen again as there was really no point in running the deep freeze until the weather got warmer, and it eventually did. I haven't started the generator since February 12 2014. That's over a month now. I'm pretty much on the free power plan now until about November again, except for maybe the odd bad weather spell.  




Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Double Deck Construction

It all started with the pilings. Four of them. (Top Photo).

Then the landscaping cloth. I also parged the part of the house that will be under the deck and did any other finishing touches that needed done.

Then I dumped a bucket full of tile rock on top of the cloth and raked it out. Just looks  a lot nicer and hopefully a bunch of grass and other fire hazards may not accumulate under the deck this way.


The bottom deck.

              The double deck so far. I had to get kind of technical building the deck so far. Still got lots to do. Gotta finish attaching what I have there so far, put the floor on the top deck, which will consist of 3/4 inch plywood. The top floor will act as a roof for the bottom deck. I have a real gradual slope to it. The front is probably about 3/4 of an inch lower than where it attaches at the house on that 10 foot spread. It isn't much, but at least water should run away from the house hopefully. By the time this whole double deck is done, it will have costed around  $2000 or more. Just the lumber and supplies for the top part was around $900.00. Nails, screws, joist hangers, angle connectors and the pressure treated lumber. She all adds up. The bottom deck is constructed using 2x8 joists and top using 2x10 joists as there will be some snow load up there. Each deck is 10x16 feet.
                 I still have to finish the siding, clean the chimney, complete the electrical and get it inspected. These are the things I'm hoping to get done before the snow flies. I know I have been pretty slack assed on the my house project lately. I hav'nt had the freedom to simply enjoy life like this for years, and I have been taking advantage of that. It seems that all I have done for the last 25 to 30 years was work, and I am just now starting to take time just for me.  I think about my dad a lot lately. I just recently turned 49 years of age, my dad died of cancer when he was 51, and I'm like wow, he was just in the  prime of his life. But that was kind of cut short for him and I sure hope something like that don't happen to me. Not for the next few years anyway. I'm going to try for at least another 49, and if I can't have that, at least I am going to take full advantage of  the years I do have left. A part of that plan does consist of getting more done on the house as well as having a lot of fun.
            I'm still playing around in the markets, and the markets are paying off for me a little more all the time as I gain experience. I will be the first to admit that the markets are not making me wealthy, not yet, but they have been paying a little extra to add to the monthly rent income. Anyway, that's my life for this day.  


               
 



Monday, September 9, 2013

Canoeing.

I finally broke down and purchased a canoe on Aug 16 2013. I do believe I have canoed every weekend since. It's something I've been talking and thinking about for quite some time now. It's nothing special, just a cheap old starter unit. A Coleman explorer 166. Sounds like an important canoe, but probably almost bottom of the line. Someday, when I finally learn what I really want, I will shovel out a little more money to the cause. I do like this one so far though. The first place my canoeing partner and I went with it was Swan Lake, Alberta, just to kind of get the feel of things a bit, and do a little fishing. There are actually a lot of Swan lakes, but this one is situated a little south west of Debolt, Aberta. We had a pretty good time, but it did take a little getting used to it. Seems pretty tippy. lol. But we stayed afloat.
    The next weekend, we loaded up and went for a drive out the other direction. Thought we'd try Spring Lake, but at the last minute, we decided to drive right by that one and try a creek that I knew about up past Spring lake about 10 Kilometers. We have tried a lake and wanted something different. The above photo is Boone Creek. Just a narrow little creek, but very peaceful and scenic.
  All was going very well, until we came across our first beaver dam to portage. Then the second one, and the third. It wound up being 5 or 6 beaver dams in total, although most was just a matter of sliding the canoe over them. Two needed to actually be portaged a bit. The above picture shows the longest portage as we actually skipped a pretty good chunk of the creek before putting back in again.
It was a fair bit of work at times, but the end result was quite rewarding. We made it into Jackfish Lake. (There are more than one Jackfish lakes in Alberta, this one is north of Hythe, Alberta).  I'm not sure, but I really think that canoe or airplane just might be the only way into the lake. One day I would like to get rigged for camping and spend a day or two on this lake and in this area. I almost forgot to mention that I did just about dump Jo-Anne and myself into the creek just before the mouth of the lake. We had just finished skidding the canoe over the last small beaver dam, and I was pushing off and jumping in. I guess I got a little over confident. The side of the canoe dipped pretty far in, and we took on a lot of water. I was actually quite amazed that we managed to recover it before going right over. lol. Jo-Anne had and instant new look and words that I have never seen or heard from her before. It was actually quite funny after the thought.
Ok, so now we are getting tired of lakes and creeks and we decide that it is time to check out our first river together. Apparently Jo-Anne has done a little river run once. We came up with the idea to try the  Smoky River and do some camping on the weekend. So we got everything all ready to roll finally. We needed two vehicles for this one. We dropped the Dodge off at the riverstone golf course which is north east of TeePee Creek, Alberta.   http://www.riverstonegolfcourse.com/  Then proceeded to the Hiway 43 crossing of the Smoky river, just East of Bezanson, with the canoe and camper. It was already getting dark by the time we pulled onto the shore of the Smoky to set up camp for the night. We didn't know how long it would take to complete our journey, so we wanted to get an early start. I didn't sleep a wink all night. lol. Had just a little too much on my mind.  
The morning came, we made a lunch and breakfast and started getting the canoe all ready to roll. I was pretty excited. This was all new for me. The Smoky is pretty good sized river, and for the most part was moving along pretty good,and even better where it narrowed up. There were river boats we had to try to stay out of the way of etc, but it all did go well. It was a very nice trip. We loaded the canoe up at the golf course once we arrived and headed back to the camper at hiway 43. This run was about 34 kilometers according to my GPS trip odometer. At times the river would take us along at 4 km/hr and other times through some of the narrow areas we would be moving along 14-15 km/hr. In the photos the water looks pretty still, but usually when the rougher water does come along we are busy putting the cameras etc away in a safe spot just incase. We seem to have more important things to do other than taking pictures at times. lol. We did good for the first time.  
We cooked supper on the fire that night. It don't take a real large fire to cook a steak, as long as the coals are nice and hot.
The next day a long time friend of mine brought his canoe out to join us on a run from the Simonette River Campground to the Hiway 43 Smoky bridge where we are camped. The Simonette river eventually runs into the Smoky. It was one of my favorite runs so far. The river is quite a lot smaller than the Smoky, but does have a few challenging and fun drops and minor rapids and shallow rocky bottoms in places. In the above pic, it is very calm as we let the canoes slowly drift toward havoc. lol. We survived, but if you look closely you can see interesting stuff coming up on us slowly. There were quite a few spots where we had to be on the ball.
A little later on, we decided to do a little fishing before coming into the Smoky. I caught one. I have never caught this kind of fish before, but later on we decided it must have been a mountain whitefish. I let it go. If it were a walleye of the keeper size, I would have cooked it up that night for supper.
Once we got back to the camper, and recovered the trucks at our put in on the Simonette, Jo-Anne had other things going on and had to leave. She took the Dodge home and left me with the camper and canoe.  So Wade and I cooked some supper up and visited for awhile until he went home also. They deserted me. lol. Oh well. It's free camping, so I wasn't in a hurry to leave. I do still have a lot of hermit in me and can enjoy my time alone.  
The next day I went over to Swan Lake over by Debolt again. This was the first place I ever tried the old canoe out.  It was such a nice day. I took my time and eventually paddled around the whole lake. With lots of just sitting and relaxing going on.
I should say WE paddled around the lake. I guess I wasn't so alone after all. Traction really seems to like this kind of life.
 Anyway, so this last weekend Jo-Anne and I went on a new journey. I had my mom drop us off at Pipestone creek campground on the Wapiti River. http://www.discoverthepeacecountry.com/htmlpages/pipestone.html , and we paddled to Magoos landing which is about 7 Kilometers down from the Hiway 40 bridge to the Weyhauser road crossing. I'm guessing this one was a total of 34 kms also, but I forgot to set the gps trip odometer to zero at first, so I don't know for sure, but that should be close.  This river here seemed to be our biggest challenge yet. There was a lot of calm and then rough and windy, a lot of river boats to contend with. There was one point where we could have dumped it in the some fairly fast water, but we managed to keep it afloat.
We did manage to slow down and take time to rest and roast some wieners on this run. I love the canoeing, but may be due for a bit of a break and maybe work on the house a bit more. But maybe not too. I am having way too much fun lately.
The end of that journey. If we had kept on going down the Wapiti, we would need a pretty good day and the river would take us to the Smoky where we camped the previous weekend. The Wapiti runs into the Smoky a little bit before where the Simonette runs into the Smoky. For that matter, if I were to just keep on going on the Smoky, it would eventually run into the Peace River, which would run into the Slave river, then into the Mackenzie River through Great Slave Lake, right out into the Arctic Ocean. Of course there would be some major portages along the way, such as the Vermillion Chutes south of John Dor Prairie for one. I find rivers and streams to be very fascinating and do someday want to venture along on a multi day jouney of some type. Not sure if I really need to go to the Arctic ocean or not, but you just never know.
   
            I have worked on the main deck of my house a little lately, and do plan to put up a new post on that one soon. Sorry I have been so quiet lately, just been enjoying life a lot lately. Even before the canoe came in to play, I have spent a lot of time camping at various different places. I do feel the need to start getting a little production on the house before winter, I hope. Awwwww what's the hurry though, it's quite liveable I think. Others seem to have a different opinion though.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Just About Time For a New Deck.

The deck on the front of the house was built early last winter. Kind of a quick slap together job. Eventually this deck is going to end up on the other side of the house.
But for  now, I'll just put it right here.
Then I'll take the steps that came off that deck and put them here. For now. Sure seems that I am going backwards, but sometimes one has to go backwards in order to move ahead. Depending on the weather, I may start digging some post holes tomorrow. If the weather is not nice, then I'll probably run into town and get me some supplies. I had pretty busy day today. Prepping from the deck, mowing grass, had to fix the overhead garage door, cleaning up a bunch of stuff. etc etc.
 
Today was a beautiful sunny day, all day long. The first nice day we had in a long time. The gloomy spell was a real good test for the power system. All system passed with flying colors. State of Charge was at 76% this morning, as it has been dropping a bit every day for quite some time. Time I came into the house for supper she was at 96%. Never did get up to 100%, but close. Any little bit of sunshine tomorrow should have me fully charged again. Power is totally free here in the summer time. Lovin it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Freezer, Rain, and a Dog Rant.

Well hello strangers. I know, it's been awhile. I've sure been busy for an unemployed bum it seems, yet don't really see a heck of a lot getting accomplished. There are all kinds of things going on in my life. I got a little more siding on. Periodically the weather is nice enough that I can throw a few pieces up without wallering around in the mud. It's been raining a lot for the last few days or more. Not much in the way of sunshine, but I hav'nt had to fire up  the generator yet. The batteries are running a small deep freeze and the furnace kicking in once in awhile and at this moment the State of Charge is at 81%. I think that is pretty good, considering the lack of sunshine lately. One of these days I expect to see the sun starting to shine and I'll be just counting those amps coming in.
Quite some time ago a purchased a smaller deep freeze. The picture above is showing my complete summertime refrigeration system. I freeze 4 liter water jugs in the freezer, and usually every morning, I swap a frozen 4 liter water jug out of the freezer and put it in the cooler. It's been working pretty good for me. The cooler keeps the drinks and eggs and bacon etc nice and cool and the freezer keeps more than enough frozen goodies for me so I don' have to be running to town all the time for meat etc. I keep a few jugs of water in the freezer, mainly just to take up some air space and to make sure I got a little extra if need be. I have not changed my cooking habits much in this rainy spell and the system is doing pretty good with all this running. I'm pretty proud of the whole power thing that I have going on. The winter will be a little different though. I think the freezer will go outside and only be powered when the weather warms up, and the water jugs will usually be frozen naturally just like last winter. I know the freezer would cause me a lot more charging time if I didn't do something like that in the winter. I usually shut the power right off in the winter when I leave the house, but the summer it's on all the time.  The freezer is 3.6 cubic feet.
Getting a little bit of siding up. I had a little bit of help occasionally. Thanks Jo-Anne and thanks Mom. Pretty soon I want to start on the main deck and the balcony above that. Then I can concentrate on my loft door and the siding on this side.
I sure don't have much of a garden, but I do have onions.
The odd time if I ever get bored (and I usually don't), I like to come out to the wood pile and buck some wood up or do a little splitting or sometimes even a bit of both. It's a great way to get some exercise and time to just think about things. I'm getting a pretty good stash of fire wood built up for this coming winter. Soon I will be trying to find the odd bit of wood for the winter after that one too.
This is my rental unit I have in town. My renter is moving out at the end of June. She had a pretty good run in there, but it is now time for her to move on I guess. I am not a very experienced guy when it comes to this landlording stuff, but recently I have been getting a pretty good education on things. And I have a real funny feeling the the educating has only just begun. lol. What I have just discovered about myself is that I am simply just too nice of a guy sometimes. But I think when it comes to renting something like this out, one has to be a little more firm and less nice. I don't mean mean or anything, just gotta look after me more. So that's what Im going to do. This is a nice little income for a guy like me. For the most part, this trailer has been paying my monthly bills, and gas in my pickup, until taxes or insurance or something like that comes along, then I need to dip a little deeper to get things paid. I recently put an add on kijiji to find a renter for this. About two minutes after it was on, the emails started coming in. I do have a new renter lined up for July, hope it all goes good. My new renter had nothing to do with the add I placed, which was good, because I was being to nice with the add and did'tn price it nearly high enough anyway. It still isn't as far as I am concerned. One thing I noticed while searching for a new renter is that probably more than 90% of the potential tenants had dogs. Usually more than one dog, and a lot of time the dogs these potential renters had were pitbulls or bull mastiffs or something like that. I am not running any one down, but I tell ya, I sure can't understand why anyone would want to complicate their life like that. The price of renting, plus feeding a dog or two like that, and then actually trying to find a place to rent. What about the mess in a small town yard? Someone please tell me why. lol. What ever, different strokes for different folks. All I'm going to say, you are the last on my list of tenants. I guess if you were all I could find, then ya. Hopefully that helps you out sometime. I sure don't mean to offend anyone, just take it as friendly advice from a simple and frugal guy. I like dogs, I really do. In the first picture way up top you will see my registered bull mastiff, pit bull, Irish wolf hound, snt Bernard  cross bred dog. I got nothing against the big dogs, I just think they should be outta town for your sake, mine , theirs and all the neighbors.That's just my opinion though.   
I think I just did a rant. lol.  
 
In other news, things are going good. Still playing around in the markets, but in all honesty, not getting real wealthy just yet. But it's coming. Not going broke either.  It's one of those things that's going to take some time to get real good at, just like anything else I have ever had to learn to do. I have no desire or plan to go and find me a job yet either.  Well hopefully the weather clears up and I can get started on the deck situation. I would really love to have my morning coffee way up on the balcony looking down on the world soon.