Friday, September 27, 2013

Next project - installing insulation in ceiling

Now that the solar project is wrapping up I am moving on to the next important project before it gets too cold, installing insulation in my ceiling.

Currently the inside of the house is unfinished. Insulation needs to be installed and then drywall or whatever I decide to do to the walls. My goal for now is to get the insulation installed so that the house is warmer this winter. Hopefully over the cold months I can work on getting some walls up and getting things finished inside.

I am going to be starting my project in the next couple of weeks as I need to wait to have access to a tall ladder to reach the ceiling. I have decided a long time ago that waiting is better than spending money on either purchasing a ladder or renting something. I really look long and hard at what things are worth spending money on and what things are not. Waiting is free. I also plan on asking for some help from friends and family. I think I can do this on my own but if I have help it will get finished faster. I think once I get started it will go fairly quickly.

So soon I will have another project marked off my list and then I will be on to the next.


Solar installation - getting it wrapped up

Thanks to my friend, Doug, we are getting ready to wrap of the solar upgrade project.

We have connected the new panels and the new charge controller. I need to install the breakers and fuses, once I order and get them, and I can call this project finished. So it will take about a week to get my parts. I hope to finish it up next weekend.

I think this is going to make a huge difference for me. My old system was over 12 years old, batteries are about 5 years old. The old panel was only 75 watts. I would have to use a generator to charge my batteries when it was cloudy or I would have to use my generator when I needed to spend a lot of time on the computer/internet. Now I have upgraded to a total of 470 watts and this should be enough for what I need for now.

I do need to test the batteries to make certain that they are still holding a charge and that I don't have any dead cells in them. I am hoping to upgrade the batteries this Fall/Winter but I have other projects that are ahead of this on my list.

So on to the next project: insulation.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gotta do it...organizing the office.

You know how there always seems to be one project that you always keep putting off either because there are more important or fun ones to work on first. Well that describes me and organizing my office.

I think part of the issue is I work in an office and am always dealing with paper and files and organizing so I just don't want to do it when I get home. Also I really rather be outside or reading a good book instead of shuffling papers. I keep telling myself that when it is done I won't have to do it again but I just cannot seem to convince myself.

Well today is the day to take back my office. To clean and organize so I can finally say it is done and I will be able to locate files, receipts and manuals. I am afraid that when I moved I just kind of dumped everything in the room and left it. When I was on the Board and an officer for Wisteria I had those files/papers organized. It was easy when it was for others such as what I was doing to Wisteria but I could rationalize not working on my files because it was only my files and no one relied on my being able to get my hands on things quickly. But I realized that I relied on being able to get my hands on things and that I was putting others before myself.

So since the beginning of the year I have been focusing on the things I need to do for myself and this is just one more area and an area that I have been putting off for a long time. So the weather is going to help keep me indoors as according to the radar it is going to be raining until after 2:00pm and this will be the perfect time to take on the office. I have started the process by pulling everything out of the file cabinet and other places I have stuck things. I am going to make a fresh pot of coffee and just start with a pile and go from there.

Not as fun as other projects I have done while living off-grid but still a necessary one.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Installation has started.

My friend, Doug, came over Saturday and starting installing the lines to hook up my new solar panels. I am really excited to be increasing my solar power. I have been living with only a 65 watt panel and will be increasing to two 235 panels. This will greatly cut down the amount of time I have to use my generator to change the batteries when the weather is crappy and I hope to be able to add a few extras to my house such as DC ceiling fans.

I was not much help in the digging of the trench but was able to help get the wiring lined up and in the pipes that we buried. One problem that we ran into was wasps had made a nest in the wire box on the solar panel frame. We forgot to plug the hole when we installed it and the wasps moved in. Always good to keep a can of wasp spray handy.

Doug is going to come over this week and finish installing the charge controller and hooking up the batteries so hopefully by next weekend I will be running with more power and less use of my generator.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Always thinking - water

While I was mowing yesterday I was thinking about water. More specifically the hauling, storage and use of water.

I am not connected to a well or the local water company so I haul what water I use. It is not much usually it is enough for cooking and cleaning. I have access to a shower at another location and use that the majority of the time. I also have purchased a battery operated camp shower that I use when I don't need to wash my hair. There are other times I just heat up some water and wash off.

While I can continue to do this I really would like to store a larger amount of water so that I can have a shower at my place and extra water should I need it. I usually haul my water in the blue containers that people use for camping that holds about 6 gallons of water. I have about 4 of them that I use and I can usually make the water last through a week or so. This is without using it for showers.

So I was looking online at various containers and found 55 gallon barrels from that I am thinking about getting. I want to get at least 2 of them and then I would get a tank to put in the back of my truck to haul at least 100 gallons. The issue will be how to get the water from the tank in the truck to the barrels in the house. Gravity won't be much help since everything is fairly level here unlike my friends who can park their truck at the top of a hill and let gravity do the work for them. So the hunt is on for the right type of pump I can use to pump the water from the tank to the barrel.

There always seems to be some type of puzzle to figure out when dealing with basic services. I guess this is part of the fun of being off-grid, the challenge of finding ways to do for yourself and not having to rely upon on-grid systems.

Looking forward to more puzzles and challenges.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Time to get to mowing

I am setting here enjoying the morning and thinking about the things that I want to get done today. One of the main things is to mow the yard/road areas.

I won't be able to get an early start as it is very wet from the dew and so I will need to let it dry a little more before I get started. I do enjoy mowing. It is not something that you need to be in a hurry to get done and you tend to notice things around the property as you are mowing. I see different plants and bugs and such while I mow and in some cases I find bird feathers that I add to the hat I wear when I mow.

So mowing, while it is something that has to be done, is one chore that you don't have to bust your butt to hurry and get it done. Relax and enjoy the time when you are all alone on the mower and can just think your thoughts without others interrupting you.


Saturday, September 7, 2013


I am excited that in the next week or so I will be increasing my solar input with the installation of a new charge controller.

I currently only have a 65 watt solar panel installed and have been functioning with it and my generator for the last few years. I purchased two 235 watt solar panels last year and have been waiting to be able to afford a new charge controller to get it all installed. My friend, Doug, put the panels up for me and I just needed a new controller and wire, none of which is cheap.

So with my local tax refunds, that I did not know until April I could file for, I was able to purchase the missing parts and am ready to get everything installed. I did quite a bit of research and asking questions before I decided which charge controller to purchase. I decided on the Outback Flexmax60 MPPT controller. It will allow me to grow to a certain extent but I don't foresee me needing to add much more to the system as I really don't use a lot of electric and for right now it is just me. The inverter I use right now is only a 750 watt inverter. I purchased a 1500 watt inverter to connect to the new system once everything else is hooked up.

Once this is installed and I am up and soaking up the sun I will move to the next step of purchasing new batteries. I am not certain of the age of my current ones. I hooked them up about 3-4 years ago but I don't know how old they really are and they only last so long.

Again I am really excited to be upgrading and I won't have to run my generator as much as I have been which will be really nice.


Monday, September 2, 2013

One of my major projects - moving the kitchen

One of my major projects is relocating the kitchen closer to the bathroom. The first photo is the old location and the second is the new location. I want to do this to keep the plumbing closer together and not have to worry about lines going from one end of the room to another as the room is about 20 feet long.

This is a project I am definitely going to need help with as I have discovered that plumbing is one area that I fail at. So I need to line up some help or hire it done. Plumbing is an area that I am more than happy to pay someone to do it for me. I have learned that while it costs it saves me in time and frustration which for me I worth paying out the money.

So the plan is to basically flip the area from the way it is currently. The kitchen is in the front near the door and the bathroom is located at the opposite end of the room. I have purchased a metal kitchen cabinet set that I think was popular in the 50s to use in the new kitchen. They need to be either painted or covered in some manner before installing them. I was able to find them at the local Habitat for Humanity Restore location in Athens, OH. This is a great place to get building supplies and other things if you have one in your area. They will also take donations if you have things you want to donate.

The water/drain lines for both the kitchen and bathroom have to be installed as well as moving the propane lines for the hot water heater, the stove and the refrigerator. Installing and moving the lines is the part that will cost money as this will have to be done by someone who knows what they are doing. This is going to be the expensive part of the whole project but hopefully not too costly.

Once the move is made I have decided to make a lounge/reading area in the old kitchen area as the lighting coming in the large windows at the end of the room will be a nice place to sit and read or work on the computer. I already have a vision of sitting in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea reading a book while it snows outside.

So again lots of planning is happening right now. Hoping to get a chunk of the projects done by the end of the end.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Plotting and Planning

While sitting here enjoying my coffee I have started to make a list of all the things I need to get finished on my house. To say that there is a lot is an understatement.

There are the basic house building things like insulation, plumbing, wiring and drywall/paneling and siding. There seems to be so much to do and so little time and money to do everything that needs to be done. I think some folks have a glamourized view of living off-grid but do not really understand the reality especially if you are working by yourself with limited funds and time. Then you have all of the day to day work required when you live off-grid that eats up time and money.

So what to do. Winning the lotto would be nice but not a reality so prioritizing, seeking help and trying to find building material used or cheap is the way to make things happen. Asking for help is another thing that some of us need to get used to doing. I am really bad about asking for help but I am usually right there to give it. So might feel out some folks to see about getting help with some of the bigger projects and see if I can line up some help to get things knocked out.

Plotting and planning to try and get things done. I think this calls for another cup of coffee and more list making.