Easter 2000 saw a few more changes. The solar panels were fixed onto the wall of the house on a framework which I constructed myself. I was planning on installing them on the roof later on, but the way I'm thinking now is to go for solar roof tiles, and use the solar panels as some kind of remote stand-off system for powering a fridge or whatever.
The lights in the house were changed from flourescents (which needed too much current to start up) to 12 - volt halogens which proved to be much more satisfactory (and don't "buzz" either) even though they draw more current.
Consequently two 90 amp - hour recreational (caravan) batteries have been bought as another long - term temporary solution, as ultimately I'm intending to use a range of 2 - volt fork - lift truck cells or maybe some golf-cart batteries. I put in a few cigarette-lighter sockets to run 12-volt car appliances and to charge up cordless drills etc.
Lighting (again, 12 - volt halogens) was also installed in the barn, which makes working inside so much easier.
Other tasks carried out were :=
Summer 2000 was a period of rapid development. I dug a trench 7 metres long and one metre deep (and that took ten days - you should have seen the size of the stones!) and laid a water pipe and an armoured cable sheath. In the armoured sheath I ran three heavy duty pairs and earths, a telephone line, a co-ax cable, an earth wire and two lengths of seven-core caravan cable.
Once that was done, I finally installed the (now 3) deep - discharge caravan batteries, and then made a start installing a 12 - volt power circuit using old British three-pin plugs and sockets. Now I can wire directly in a few 12-volt power cables and plug in a few 12-volt appliances and so on. I was never a big fan of cigarette lighter sockets.
With one of the the three heavy-duty cable pairs, I've connected up the wind turbine to a mini-controller with the solar panels; and connected up the batteries in the house to those in the barn and on the caravan with the second heavy-duty pair. So now it's a real integrated system!!
The third pair is a spare and I might use this for running a 230 volt current from an inverter.
The 14 cores of caravan wire are for individual power lines for running power across for specific needs (like connecting two-way light switches and so on).
Inside the house I took out the stairs as I want to put a spiral staircase in to save space.
Very little was done in November 2000 owing to an emergency in Brussels which led to my having to spend my two free weeks with the Transit towing a trailer moving all my cars down to the farm - 1500km (950 miles) each trip, not to mention loading and unloading at each end - and all alone as well. I needed another holiday when I'd finished!
While I was there in NovemberI did notice that the batteries were not performing as they should, and it turned out that one of the new deep discharge batteries I'd bought is .... er ....... badgered (or something similar). That really p|$$ed me off and I'm going to have to get this battery problem sorted out properly and permanently.
However, a quick visit in December 2000 revealed that all batteries were fully-charged and held their charge during a lengthy period of usage. I'm wondering if this might be something to do with the fact that when I left in November, I disconnected the circuit into the caravan. I wonder if there's a short circuit somewhere inside the caravan's wiring that's draining the current?
See more photos from 2000 in the photo gallery.