Sunday, 27 July 2014

A little bit more sunlight

Activities this week focused on the off grid solar electricity systems here. Sometimes, you just need a little bit more energy – especially over winter.

You’d think that a shop selling high technology solar electric equipment would be like walking into a mad scientist’s workshop where there are all sorts of unexplained high technology looking items hanging around, perhaps a few computer displays providing readouts for who knows what. However, the shop that I have been frequenting for a few years now is actually run by a bunch of lovely hippies – who are all very helpful! The hippies look like they’ve spent the weekend blockading forest roads from miners and loggers or possibly they were just in an inner city park fire twirling and playing the bongo drums. However, they really know their solar stuff and are pleasant to deal with.

This week, I’ve installed three new solar panels. 

Solar electricity is great, however, I am not connected to the electricity grid and have no desire to rely on a fossil fuel powered generator. Therefore, I have to be able to reliably produce enough solar electricity from the panels under the very worst weather conditions. These worst conditions are usually found in the depths of winter. If the system itself does not produce enough solar electricity, it simply shuts down. The shutdown occurs to protect the batteries which would otherwise be permanently damaged if they were completely depleted.

Plus, it would be hard to explain to my partner why the hair drier – not to mention the lights - don’t work on a cold winter’s morning!

The first new panel was installed on the shed for the very small 12V (V refers to Volt) off grid solar electric system which powers the shed. A new 200W (W refers to Watts) solar panel replaced the existing much smaller 80W solar panel because the system simply did not produce enough solar energy during winter and the battery was starting to run low. The reason that it was running low was that my usage of electricity had exceeded the generation from the small solar panel. The original 80W solar panel will be re-used on the new shed once it has been constructed.

I’ll include details in this blog about how an off grid solar electric system works when I get around to that project later in the year. It is good to have a small solar power system because one can run: lights; pump; grinder/sharpener; air compressor; and even a radio from it. Good stuff.

The new solar panel for the small off grid system which powers this shed is on the very left hand side. The remaining panels are connected to the much larger household off grid electric system.
The other two new 190W solar panels were a “nice to have thing” for the households existing 24V off grid solar electric system. This much larger off grid system easily sailed through winter, however, it is always nice to have a little bit more generation potential just in case weather conditions deteriorate. As an interesting aside, during really cloudy days, a solar panel will only produce about 10% of its rated output. Also during winter the sun is much lower in the sky which means that the solar panels rarely produce their maximum output.

Reading peoples Internet fantasy proposals for somehow powering future Industrial society to the level of current household expectations using solar power always makes me laugh. Summer, maybe. Autumn and spring, yeah well, not so much. Winter would be very unlikely. Still it would be nice if they tried.

The free standing mount for the two new solar panels were made using scrap steel. All up it took about two full days of construction to construct and install the mount and both new solar panels. Working with steel is hard work as there is a lot of cutting and drilling. Steel is a very unforgiving material if you make an error. Someone once told me: “measure 5 times and cut once” and it was very good advice.

The two new solar panels were installed next to some existing free standing solar panels.
It hasn’t all been about solar this week though. I’ve also commenced construction of the fence for the new blackberry bed. The blackberries are thornless varieties (Chester and Waldo) which taste amazing. The area has to be fenced otherwise the local wallaby strips all of the leaves and fruit whilst possibly also breaking the canes. So far, two posts have been cemented into the ground with hopefully more going into the ground this week – weather permitting.

Two posts for the new fenced blackberry bed. Note Kangaroo above the pallet in the picture.
As an interesting aside in the photo there is a Kangaroo and although it is quite hard to see in the photo, she has a joey in her pouch. It is easy to spot the joeys because when mum leans over to eat some of the herbage, the joey sticks its head out of the pouch and takes a nibble too. Prior to this the joey consumes milk but once you can spot them, they will start to spend more and more time out of the pouch.

On the fruit front, I’m including a close up photo of some of the citrus trees here because winter and spring are the time here for fresh citrus fruit. The trees are prolific producers and if you can grow citrus in your area, I thoroughly recommend it. I have consumed and given away many dozens of these fruit already this year.
Citrus trees during winter July 2014.
Over the past week, I’ve also been thinking about how to describe the rainwater collection systems here. It occurred to me that it is simply too hard to describe in words, so the best way to talk about how the system works is to show a video of a small rainwater collection system which is in the chicken enclosure. The system in the house is very similar in principle only much bigger. The main difference between this system and the household system is the inclusion of a pump so that you can move water uphill, but in most other respects, it is the exact same system. I hope you enjoy the video and please feel free to ask questions. I’ll show the house water system next week and then introduce the farm plan.

The temperature outside here at about 9pm is 7.1 degrees Celsius (44.8 F) and so far this year there has been 505.4mm (19.8 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 495.4mm (19.5 inches).


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Well, for one reason and another, I don't think I'll tackle the solar. But, I found the water catchment video, fascinating.

Unfortunately, my chicken house is at about the lowest point of the property I'm on. But, I think I could put in a small catchment system for my hens. Since my only exterior spigot is up by the road, I run a lot of hose and do a lot of hauling. I've been thinking of closing off one end of my chicken pen to plant a vegetable patch.

You mentioned in passing that you had some apple vinegar brewing in the hen house. To add to their water. Could you expand on that, please? I'll probably have some spoiled apples, this fall. I looked into how to make white vinegar (I use it a lot for cleaning) but the whole process seemed pretty complicated. More complicated than just simple distilling.

Well, I'm out to move some more Cinnabar Moths around. Lew

eldriwolf said...

a small wind generator might help in the winter...or a water wheel,(*) if there is enough flow during the rainy season--

Power from falling water is very reliable/on demand. The problem is getting the water Up there. Mill ponds were a big deal, for a long time,for good reason. Power stored without batteries

You might Pump to an Uphill tank,(using what ever 'free' power was going at that time)gravity feed it to a lower tank (no water wasted) though your water powered generator

(*)'Pelton wheel' was the kind my friends in Mendocino liked...

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis. No stress, solar is good, but it has never been a deal breaker. Now firewood and water on the other hand, that is a deal breaker.

Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the video. It was fun to put together and much easier than trying to explain it…

Is a spigot a water tap? If it is a water tap, I spent the last summer putting them all over the place here.

It is hard in your circumstances to invest the time and money into infrastructure. I wouldn’t. Still hoses are really handy. I did that for a few years here. Once, I had a fire get out of control that climbed up a large tree and I ran out of hose lengths and had to go racing around to the neighbours house to pick up some extra hose lengths before it got too out of control... There was a bit of panic...

Yeah. The apple cider vinegar is the easiest stuff to make. Here goes:

- Food grade plastic container. Wash with really hot water to kill any germs or yeasts in it.

- Wash the apples in cold water.

- Cut out any mouldy bits on the apples.

- Cut up the apples as small as possible (leave the skin, cores everything as the yeasts live on the skin). I cut them small and then blitz them to a pulp in a food processor. But no stress, if you skip that step. This step is to maximise the surface area of the apple pulp, but I haven’t noticed too much difference one way or another.

- Chuck the apple mash (or small bits) into the bucket.

- Add clean room temperature water (if the water is of uncertain parentage - then boil it for a few minutes and then let it cool and then add it to the bucket).

- Make sure all of the apple gunk is covered with water. Some of it may float and that’s cool.

- Add a loose fitting lid (I use plaster buckets as they are really tough and the lids are good). Ensure that it is not too tight because the carbon dioxide will have to escape from the bucket.

- Leave for a couple of months in a cool and dark place.

- Done.

Seriously, it really is that easy. Oh yeah, you have to strain the pulp from the liquid when you want to use it. The resulting mix should be about 3% alcohol/volume.

If you were to add some sugar to the mix, you'd get a stronger cider or what is known as a scrumpy, but it wouldn't get more than about 6% alcohol / volume tops, unless you added a stronger yeast like champagne yeast.

The apple cider vinegar is really quite good for you (it is an excellent hand wash too) even though the mix may turn your nose a bit - well at first anyway. It is a natural anti-biotic. It is a bit like the first person to eat an olive without first salting the fruit!

A couple of hundred years ago, people used to add this stuff to their water, because they didn't understand germ theory and had the unfortunate habit of going to the toilet where other people drank. I've been adding it to the chicken’s water here for years.

Nice work with the moths!

Cheers. Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi eldriwolf. Welcome to the blog and thanks for the comment.

Yeah, Cascadia and here have quite a bit in common in terms of the ecology and environment - although you are in the middle of summer and things are the exact opposite here.

Glad to hear that people use their roof spaces to collect water in your part of the world. I sometimes wonder about the reliance on wells because the amount of energy required to pull water up from the depths is quite a lot. Much easier to catch it where you use it.

Yeah, those eucalyptus trees were originally a present from the Australian government. I've seen those trees in some strange parts of the planet. A 100 year old eucalyptus is an impressive sight, but they can be a bit of a nuisance too. As a fun fact, they will hybridise to your locations climate and soils within 3 generations...

Thanks for the excellent suggestions. I've tried a small 600W wind turbine here only to find that the wind is not constant enough. Because of the location here in the mountain range, the wind comes in gusts/waves so the wind turbine spent a lot of time winding up and then winding down. It produced very little energy before I eventually cut the tower up for scrap and sold off the wind turbine. It looked good though.

The uphill tank with a water turbine is a great idea and I know a guy who lives a long way north of here that is mucking around with just such a system. I'm waiting to see how it all works before throwing any time and resources at it.

I've managed to avoid using a fossil fuel generator for two winters so far. This year the batteries didn't really get below 70% full, so I reckon that is a good outcome. Before those two years, the generator used to be a necessity.

Mac Dathó's Dog sounds like a worthy canine!

Cheers. Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Yup. A spigot is a water tap. There are several around the place, but none work but the one. When I ask my landlord / friend / neighbor what's wrong with them, I never get much of an answer. I really don't think he remembers all the bits as to how the water system works, or doesn't work. I may have to get a "real" plumber out here to do a little work and may have him tap into a line and run it out the back. If I dig the trench, and fill it in, it shouldn't add much to the cost.

I had quit a bit of hose, picked up some more at a farm sale and there's quit a bit laying about, here. So, I'm covered.

The lay of the land here ... I'm up about 600 feet on a ridge. I call it Wuthering Heights (aka The Old MacIntire Place) as it is pretty windy. I'm on a bit of a ridge, but doesn't seem so with all the trees about. If I face out from the front, the land slopes to the left. If I face out the back, the land slopes to the right. Sometimes, if I'm walking across the yard and catch both slopes out of my peripheral vision, it makes me a bit dizzy. Well, more dizzy than usual :-).

Thanks for the tutorial on vinegar. I'll give it a spin this fall. I checked my book "Chicken Health for Dummies" and there's quit a bit about vinegar. The girls are in for a taste treat!

Glad we didn't have to get into the whole metric conversion thing. Something we here are quit poor at. You seem to do it with great ease.

I'm going to go on a little tangent, now, which does have an interesting bottom line that has to do with metrics. You may have heard about our dust up over logging, over the last 30 years, or so.

Loggers seem to attribute the decline of the industry purely to the protection of the Spotted Owl. I still see bumper stickers in this part of the world that compare the taste of Spotted Owl to chicken. But of course, the whole issue is a lot more complicated than that.

You have a logger who has 8 kids and those kids have 8 kids and everyone wants to work in the woods. At the same time the industry is mechanizing and computerizing. Less people needed. I'm speaking in sweeping generalizations (something my English teacher told me to avoid :-) I know. But, you get the idea.

There was also the problem with shipping raw logs to Japan instead of finished lumber. Less income, that. Why the raw logs? Because at that time, there was one small mill in the State of Washington that cut to metric. And, of course, the Japanese, like most of the rest of the world use lumber in metric measurements. I suppose by now, with the mills being automated and computerized that it's a lot easier to "cut to metric."

The whole situation got pretty ugly for awhile. Things seem to have calmed down, a bit, but there's still a lot of bitter feeling. This is a pretty simplified view of what went on. There were a lot of other complex things going on at the same time. Well, enough of my tangent. it's going to be hot here, today. Pushing 90 F. I want to fill in my asparagus trench a bit more. Time to spray my apple trees, again. Should probably do it as the suns going down to avoid burning the trees. Looks like I'll be chasing the light. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis. Thanks for the clarification. Never heard the term before. Digging the trench from an working line will save you heaps of money.

Wuthering Heights. Unfortunately, I always think of Kate Bush, the 1970's and early 80's singer, rather than classic literature.

Do the trees at your place block much of the wind at ground level? I hear you too, heights make me dizzy...

Glad to help your chooks. The old timers here used to also use the apple cider vinegar to pickle small onions in. I pickle onions but in a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and the apple cider vinegar. The onions are walking onions (or Egyptian tree onions) and they are a good size for pickling.

Did you say that you made white vinegar? Never tried that.

Yeah the metric system was introduced here in the late 1970's. I remember at the time bananas were sold by the pound at the market and then suddenly they were sold by the kilogram. The price doubled, however there are actually about 2.2 pounds to the kilogram and the crafty people at the markets pocketed the extra cash. It must have made an impression on me.

Yeah. The same problem is here. More machines doing the work that people used to do and then the hardwood saw logs are shipped overseas only to be either pulped for paper or sold back to us as dressed timber at a considerable margin.

Softwoods like radiata pine tend to be processed here though into usable timber and there are some considerable stands of the species. Around these parts here there is a large 30 year old stand of pine which is soon to be harvested and local people were outraged. It is not like anything much lives in those plantations as they are a mono culture. I suspect that it was a loss of visual amenity more than actual concern for the trees themselves.

The forest industries just don't employ that many people here.

When I was younger house frames used to be made of hardwood (I think you call the size 2 by 4). In the 1990's that changed to kiln dried pine at 90mm x 45mm. In the last decade, the sizes have reduced even further to 90mm x 35mm. The spacings of the timber always used to 450mm (a foot and a half). Nowadays, I've seen 600mm spacings (two foot) on non load bearing walls (i.e. meaning that the wall has to support a roof).

You're witnessing decline in action through your forest industries.

Cheers. Chris

Rich Brereton said...

Hey Chris,
Fellow JMG reader here (that's how I found your blog). Love what you're doing, writing, photographing and filming there at the farm. Keep it up!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Rich. Thanks and welcome!

Hi Lewis. The wind is feral here today - the roads look like a war zone - and a big storm is about to rip through the area over the next half hour, followed by another one tomorrow. Yikes!

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Hope you and yours ride the storm out, ok.

The trees and brush here do cut the wind, a bit. But there's a big pasture in back (southern exposure) and a small pasture across the road. So, it can ripe a bit.

No, I never tried to make white vinegar. I looked into it and it seems to be a fairly complicated industrial process.

A bit of our local water history to take you mind off the storm raging outside. 10 or 15 years ago, I was looking into cisterns. A friend of mine who's always worked for one government agency or another told me I couldn't do it in Washington State. When I really pinned him down (the short version, please) he said there were some strange water use laws passed back in the 1880s. Basically, every drop of water that falls out of the sky belongs to the State.

There was quit a bit of hoop-la a few years back over the legality of rain catchment. There was enough push back from the people that regulations were loosened up, quit a bit. Rain catchment isn't something unusual, these days. I think a lot of it had to do with ... older government regulators retiring out of "the system" and younger, hipper more flexible more environmentally aware people taking their place.

I was looking at the "New Non-Fiction" section of our local library catalog, this morning and noticed a rain garden manual published by a State agency. How times have changed!

There has also been an attempt, from time to time, for the State to meter private wells. The outcry is such that they back off immediately. It kind of half heartedly comes up from time to time.

We had a storm here, back in 1962, referred to as The Columbus Day Storm. It was a regular hurricane that caused a lot of damage from Northern California to British Columbia. The wind gusted from 120 to 160 miles an hour, depending on where you were. Wikipedia has a pretty good entry. I lived in Portland, then. I was walking my paper route in the late afternoon when the first gusts hit. Knocked me right on my can! :-) .

I often wonder if I'll ever experience another storm like that. Since I'm getting up there, the odds are pretty good. Glad this place has a basement. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

PS: Just spotted an interesting article on the Web.

"Climate change signals the end of Australian Shiraz as we know it." It should pop up if you Google it. About the Australian wine industry.

I've seen a few articles about the wine industry returning to England. For the first time since Rome ruled the island.

The comments are kind of interesting. The kind of stuff the ArchDruid protects us from by his judicious oversight. :-) Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis. Thanks. The wind was slamming into the windows on the exposed southern (your northern) side which caused them to make unusual sounds. Putting up the steel bushfire shutters seemed to stop all of that. The storm ripped up from Antarctica and brought with it a big dump of snow:

Snow at Mount Macedon 1st August 2014

If you get a chance, stop the video at about 1:50 minutes and you'll see a kangaroo with a small joey next to it. They're just below the acacia trees which are in full flower (bright yellow). Above the acacia trees you can see the dark green line of the pine plantations which will be harvested at some point in the future which we recently discussed.

The pasture at the back of your place with the southern exposure must get a bit more sun than other parts of your place? How does it go over the summer months? Does it die back or stay green? You can't really escape the wind though without large windbreaks but they take such a long time to grow.

It just started snowing again outside. The weather here today is hitting the house in waves of snow and sleet. Your 90F degrees is starting to sound really nice just about now. It is 0.4C (32.7F) outside right now which is as cold as it gets here, ever.

I've also read that white vinegar is difficult too and you need a starter. Oh well, you can only do what you can. The cider is fool proof which is why I produce it, plus apples grow really easily and wild around here.

Yeah. Strange government regulations are a bit of a nuisance. They did the same thing here and actually removed water tanks from houses to encourage usage of the centralised water supply. People still ask me: Is your water safe to drink?

It wasn't until a really serious drought hit here during the early 1990's that water tanks started being manufactured in quantity and started popping up everywhere. It is a really strange concept that a government can own the rain falling from the sky, but the exact same argument was used here.

I wouldn't even want to think about the difficulties involved with metering a private well. You know, I have to pay an annual water bill for apparently water catchment management services and yet the authorities supply no assistance at all or any infrastructure here. It has turned quite a few locals into angry people. It was even challenged in the courts and failed. Oh well.

Thanks for the heads up on the Columbus Day Storm. You're lucky that you weren't killed or seriously injured. I didn't know that typhoons could occasionally work their way north to your location. Honestly, even the direct hit here by the tornado on Christmas day a few years back didn't produce wind speeds that high or air pressure that low. Oh my, the photos of the damage...

The funny thing about the tornado that hit here, I said to my lady just before it hit: "that's a funny looking cloud" and we'd only just got back home from a massive Christmas celebration with some friends.

Cherokee Organics said...

What did you do when the typhoon hit? I reckon the odds are pretty good too of a re-offense. Lightening does strike in the same place. Mind you, the forest here was hit by the Ash Wednesday bushfires in January 1983. Some of the trees still show the fire damage.

Thanks for the heads up on the local grape situation. I hadn't heard about it. The Barossa Valley in South Australia is just hot and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales is currently in drought from all that I've read and they're requesting government assistance. Margaret River in Western Australia is beautiful, but also really hot over summer and in a boom and bust environment.

The Tamar valley in Tasmania has a similar climate to here as the moisture during summer comes from the same sources. I hadn't thought about growing grapes, but it is probably not a bad idea. The wallaby ate the last lot I planted and I was a bit grumpy about that and sort of gave up.

Grapes and citrus in the UK is probably not out of the question. It is really nice not to read that sort of rubbish too. I’m grateful for the moderation.

It is amazing what you can grow that comes from outside your area. Mind you, the snow killed off the coffee bush - again, it looks a bit sad right now. One more try, but I'll wait a bit...

Cheers. Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

What did we do when the typhoon hit? Well, there was no warning. As I point out to the youngsters, it was a time long ago when there were no weather satellites. :-).

Well, after I got knocked on my can by the first gust, I finished my paper route (in a rising gale .. stupid kid.) and headed for home. We watched through the curtains as the transformers blew out all over town and then headed for the basement where we spent the night.

A whole new world, the next morning. No power for 4 or 5 days. Portland is a city of trees. About 1/3 to half came down. It's also a city of parks. You couldn't even get into them due to downed trees and branches. We found a banner in the yard from a gas station that was a good 5 miles away. A good section of the roof was blown off my school. Newish construction. There was some scandal over construction. A church tower, downtown, that I always thought was some solid construction was ripped like paper. It was sheet metal of some sort.

Just months before the storm, my Dad took down a tall fir in the backyard. He was going to put in a garage. The tree was all rot on the inside. Had he not taken down the tree ... Those are pretty much my memories of our Columbus Day Storm.

Speaking of growing things from outside my area, on the agenda for next year is to try to grow some Ginger, Turmeric and Tea. Things I use all the time that would cut my grocery bills a bit. And, if things slide downhill at a fast rate, would be some nice exotic trading goods to have on hand. I'd also like to put in a small grape arbor.

It's raining here right now! Quit the surprise. Guess I won't have to water the vegies, today. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Good to hear that you finished your paper route as the storm hit! How good is the weather forecasting we get nowadays?

Wow, that storm sounded worse than anything I've experienced. It actually sounds like Cyclone Tracey which wiped out 70% of Darwin on Christmas Day in 1974. In terms of wind speed and damage, however the Columbus Day storm was massive in terms of its path of destruction. The photos were like a war zone.

Building standards can be very variable in terms of how well the roof is anchored to the frame - even today. The building surveyor here forced me to tie every bit roof to the walls with steel cyclone ties. The walls are then tied to the footings again with steel. It seemed like overkill at the time, but you never know.

I've tried ginger here and failed, so I'd appreciate any tips. Tea camellia and turmeric are definitely worth the time in your location. The tea camellia shrubs here grow really well and I've read that turmeric is really cold tolerant.

Glad to hear that you received some rain. Hope the veges are growing strongly! The sun was shining here today and I worked outside once the frozen snow had finally melted. The solar panels were covered in a thin layer of snow this morning...

Cheers. Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

That bit about anchoring your roof to walls, walls to footing. That's what they also recommend for earthquake construction. You may not get a storm, but earthquakes are a possibility. You may thank that building surveyor, some day. Or, not :-).

Yup. The Columbus Day storm was really something. I can't remember the exact figures, but the death toll was pretty low for such a big event. Mostly from falling trees. I really don't remember much in the way of total building failures.

I think the death toll was low for a couple of reasons. Of course, the population was a lot lower, then. More people had basements. And, I don't know if I can explain it properly, but there wasn't such a false sense of urgency attached to everything. Not such a "need to know" and instant gratification of information as there is now.

We hunkered down, rode out the storm and waited till the trees had stopped flying before venturing out to see what was what.

Well, if the Columbus Day Storm was something, some day I'll launch into my tales of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens :-). Hmmm. Maybe I need a t-shirt that says "I survived the Columbus Day Storm AND Mt. St. Helens and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." :-) . Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, it is possible. I'm on the side of an extinct (maybe?) volcano here. You can't help but notice the various cones and plugs... This part of the continent has one of the third youngest volcanic plains on the planet. There hasn't been an eruption for a few thousand years though, but the Aboriginals were most certainly around to witness it.

You're probably right. People here are also far less prepared for bushfires and far more convinced that a fire tanker will magically turn up to their house (with a volunteer crew) during an extreme event.

I remember after the Black Saturday bushfires of Feb 09, people were actually saying, "why weren't we warned". They were serious too, even though there were dire warnings in the media for days beforehand. Afterwards some of the local fire crew had distraught people shouting at them and calling them murderers. It was pretty demoralising, I mean volunteers put their lives on the line. The response was dysfunctional and community expectations exceeded the reality by several factors.

Man, you saw Mt St Helens go up. Wow, I remember reading the National Geographic edition that covered that particular eruption. Wow, now that's a story I'd enjoy hearing.



Unknown said...

Hi Chris, just found your blog but have been following you and really appreciating your post on the PRI Web site. We have been meaning to contact you for well over a year but you know what it us like when one decides to crazily "retire" by moving to and setting up, in our case, a small 8ac permaculture property in SW WA (drying Mediterranean climate).

Anyway, now that we have established a reasonable degree of water security (rainwater tanks only) and gravity feed systems and done the bulk of the food forest and guild plantings etc, over the last 2.5years, We are about to commit to installing a predominantly off grid solar system and relegating the existing electricity grid connection to the status of the "backup generator" input into the off grid inverter.
I would really appreciate if you could provide a quick update on your system eg panel type (mono, poly or thin film), size (kW), battery type (eg wet or sealed lead acid or Lithium etc) and capacity (AmpHr) and rough average power production and consumption profile which will obviously vary. Finally do you have an DC or AC coupled system. I am familiar with the tech and electronic background. If it is easier you can email me at cjconline at Gmail. Thanks so much Chris (& Lin) Carrier