Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Finally moving in.....

After many months and a particularly cold winter we finally moved into our little cabin. I was so proud to put in the first light bulb and arrange the furniture in just the right way. The kids were just as excited to have a little more space to play outside.

Now that the cabin was done we were ready to move on to the problem of electricity. We went to the electric company and was told that without a membership we couldn't get an estimate as to how much it would cost to plug in to the grid, so we contacted a friend of ours that worked for the electric company and he did the honors for us.

Being as our nearest neighbor is two miles down the road or a mile as the crown flies, and we would have to get permission from the other land owners to put up posts on their land, it became apparent that we were going to have our hands full. At last he quit adding things together and handed over the little pink slip. The estimate came to a rough $13,000-$18,000. What?????

Not us, we decided... this is where we decided that living off the grid was for us, I mean can you really blame us?
So to ebay we went, $10 and a week later we had the plans in our hands to build our own power system.

John working on our power system
Our power system consisted of a small gas powered motor, a car alternator, a pulley, and a pulley belt. The whole contraption was belted down to a large piece of metal which was then bolted down to a platform. Here is how it worked: the alternator and motor were mounted on opposite ends of the metal, a pulley system was mounted to each piece and then the belt was placed on each side. when the motor ran it turned the pulley which turned the belt, the alternator generated power which was transferred to a battery pack through 12/10 electric wire (grounded). The battery pack consisted of 6 marine batteries, and a 1200 watt inverter. We had run the wires in our cabin just like a normal house, with the exception of an outside plug in for the power source. Using a specially made extension cord we connected the inverter to the main cabin plug in. 

We used this power source with only minor issues for 6 years. At which time the batteries decided that they had been charged one to many times and joined the others in battery heaven.

What we learned about this system:
1) Regular car batteries will NOT work. They are not designed for constant recharging.
2) Inverters do not carry the full amount of power that they say they are going to. (Be prepared to go without a microwave, coffee maker, or other fast drain items).
3) Regular light bulbs really do burn more electricity than the new energy efficient light bulbs.
4) When they tell you to unplug all appliances, they really mean it, because even if they are not running, just being plugged in will drain a battery pack in less time than it takes to sleep a full 8 hours. (If the beeping of the inverter doesn't wake you up, you are probably dead!!!).
5) Shelter from the rain is a MUST, or you will be playing cards in the dark.

***Note, from looking at the pictures, I have gotten some of my dates wrong, but all the information is correct :) 

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