Thursday, November 26, 2009

Living Without a Fridge-Life is Good

Well it has been a month since I moved out to my little shack. So far everything has been going great. We had snow and some cooler weather. The coldest night was about -17C or 0 Farenheit so far, but it has been hanging more in about the 0 to -10 celcius range mostly. That is nice. One of the things that I was kinda concerned about when I first started living out here was living without the fridge. So far, my life has'nt really changed much in that sense. Those two green boxes are my fridge. They seem to stay at about 10 C or 50 Farenheit sitting there on the floor under that bunk. I know a fridge is usually alot colder than that, but this is really working good for what I keep there. I leave a 2 liter pop bottle outside on the step that is usually about half full of water, that I can grab from inside the shack. When I mix some orange juice or powder milk(which I am pretty used to now, Yummy), it is nice and cold. If it happens to be frozen, I just add some water to it, and it is ice cold. The red cooler out in the shed is my deep freeze that I keep stocked with a few days worth of different meats. If I have some left over chile or something that I want to freeze, I just set it on top of the cooler over night, then put it inside in the morning, that way it dos'nt disturbe any of the other already frozen goodies inside. I have plastic bottles filled with water(ice) inside, so if the temperatures rise above freezing for a few days, things seem to keep frozen for quite awhile. There are some advantages to living in northern Alberta I guess. When I get into my new house, I do plan on having some kind of refridgerator, I just hav'nt quite decided yet if it will be on propane or 12 volt DC power. I am kinda leaning toward 12 volt though, I can always help it out in the winter with home grown outside ice. I have been kinda busy at work a little bit off and on this month. Although I hav'nt been there for a few days now. A couple days ago I got ambitious again and cleaned a bunch of snow out of the basement area again. The last time I did this I no sooner got it all cleaned up and ready for action then work phoned and I went to work for a few days, and by the time I got done the darned thing was full of fresh snow again. I hope that don't happen this time. So far so good, but I do have some courses pertaining to work that I have to attend all weekend long.
I finally worked on the floor some more. A wood basement floor seems to take a long time to build. If I poured a concrete one, my whole basement might have been built by now, but maybe not. I blame work. lol. I lost alot of good building weather while I was hauling the bales, and it seemed that once the bales were hauled it started to rain and never did quit. I knew that was going to happen, but I gotta make a living too I guess.
The sub floor is'nt permanantly nailed down yet, I still need to be able to get in there for awhile yet.

Just a bit of an update on things. Life is good, and the little old shack is still cozy. I hav'nt started beating my head against the walls yet, so thats gotta be a good thing. The days are getting shorter and I have been running the generator for about an hour in the evening, just to make sure the batteries don't run down too low. I probably don't need to, but it is good to keep them full. Never know what the temperature will be in the morning and weak batteries are more apt to freezing. If I did'nt have a generator, I could survive easily with the solar panels alone, if I were to conserve energy a little, but I have been a bit of an energy pig lately. My inverter charger is equipped with a battery temperature sensor and the solar charge controller is not yet, but one is in the mail. That will help out quite alot, I suspect. The solar panels do usually have my batteries charged right up at the end of the day, but the inverter seems to just dump a little extra voltage at it, because of the temperature correction.

Anyway, this is the life, and I'm lovin it. Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends. Canada's was in October. Catch ya later.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Solar Power, Country Life and Work

I got brave and posted a couple pictures of my messy living quarters. I have been so busy at work this last week and kinda got behind in the cleaning department. It happens to me like that all the time. But it is quite liveable, I think anyway. I know there are people out there that could'nt even imagine living like this, but I am pretty flexible. So far, things are going great. I still love my country way of life, even though I hav'nt spent a whole lot of time here lately. Last month when worked asked me what my plans where, I was pretty busy moving and all that, so I told them that I would really like to have no work until November. Well I guess they must have thought that what I meant was I wanted to be full bore in November, because that sure seems to be what happend so far. Ever since November 2 I have worked stupid hours. Get up early one morning to go to work, then work about an 8 hour shift, shut down for 8 hours then go back to work at about 10 at night and work all night. I've played around in the mud way out in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night. Had bad directions and ended up going a kilometer down a road that dead ended with no turn around with a 330 cat hoe on. Then just as I start to back out of there for a km a wild snow storm has to hit. Well I'm not whinning, it's just one example of what goes on in my world at times. I sure do wish they would see just what a guy does for them. I don't even really care if am even working or not really. But then when the week is over and the hours are all added up, including the overtime and all, then I'm kinda glad it all happend, but at the time, I'm sure that all the wolves and other wildlife out in the wilderness probably learned some fancy new words. I was'nt a very happy camper at times, being tired and all.
I got all my solar panels up before work called. I am glad for that. At night I run one or two lights through the inverter, my laptop, and whatever needs to be charged (cell phone, drill, camera, etc), I occasionally use the microwave to heat up some food or water and I use a toaster in the morning. So far I have not run my battery bank down to any less than 70%. Roughly about 12.4 volts. I usually don't even get it down that low. I have had an evening where I was on the computer for a few hours and still had 70% battery left. I have not had to start my generator this month yet. Every night that I came home, my batteries were completely charged except for one night. That day it rained practically all day and my batteries still did charge some, but not fully. I still had enough power for the night without the generator. My six panels so far are a bit of overkill for my power demands, although I do see some days in the future where the generator will probably need to be utilized.

I have been around town alot lately with work, so a shower was always available at the truck stops. As an experiment one night I had a sponge bath in the shack, just to see how well that works. I was actually impressed. I would much rather take a shower at a truck stop, but if I don't happen to be near one, then to get cleaned up in my little shack is totally do-able, which is really nice to know.

Sometimes the temperatures fluctuate inside the shack. The floor is a bit cooler and the top bunk is alot hotter. I like the top bunk, but I need to rig up a fan with some kind of reverse thermostat that will kick the fan in at a certain hottness to circulate some of that heat around. I just hav'nt had the time for things like that yet.
This is my basement at the moment. All these pictures were taken this morning. Now if I new, that I had a few days without work bugging me, I would maybe take a chance and try to get some basement walls up and a main floor. I would really like to have the basement built and backfilled before the major cold hits. Keeping in mind that I did'nt skirt the shack in yet and I hav'nt really checked into the weather forcast yet either. If I start cleaning this basement up so I can start to build, I would hope that rain and snow would stay away for a few days(weeks). It seems like a big chore to get things started and then have to cover them all up again at the end of the day.
I just checked out the solar charging system. As I sit here and use the computer, my batteries are showing 13.3 volts. When I got the computer they were at 12.5 volts. It all makes me want to waste some power somewhere. I guess I should have more batteries for days like these.
Usually when I use my laptop, it is using about 29 watts. Right now, and the sun is still kinda hidden behind tree tops and light cloud etc, my charge controller is showing 185 watts. At that rate 185 divide by 29 =6.38, that means that one hour of charging at 185 watts should give me 6.38 hours of computer use. One of my lights run about 13 watts and the light it emitts is equivilant to a 60 watt light bulb. I have plenty light. I have four 80 watt panels and two 75 watt panel. If things were right on, my panels should be capable of bringing in 470 watts, although I hav'nt seen that yet. Since writting this part I posted two new pics of the brains of the system(the top two photos). The sun is still far from its peak performance as it is still rising and not yet in the south.

Sorry about having to let you all witness my mess inside the shack. I kinda wanted to have it all nice a clean before posting the pics but maybe next time. It'll be like the before and after. I realize I have been a little sloppy on leaving comments on other blogs too. I have glanced at quite a few of my regular bloggers, but just did'tn have the time or energy to spend a whole lot of time on it. This morning I am more relaxing than doing things outside so far.

Things are going really well here at the shack. There are some days when I wonder why I am living like this right now, but when I think of the new income(rent income) and the lack of bills going out, it is like they are actually paying me to live like this. Thats what I like. Time will show the difference. My little house that I am in the process of building, is going to feel like a mansion when I finally get into it compared to the shack.