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10/28/12

Passive Solar Prefab Home Readies Off Grid For The Approaching Hurricane

We're Living Off Grid On A Small Sized System.

So. By now you know we bought the "We're weekenders and plus technology is going to change SO MUCH in the next 5-10 years before we live here permanently so why bother investing a boatload of money in the solar system" folks whose plan then turned from The 5-10 Years 'Till Permanency Plan to The Now Plan, right?

Now, people are thinking I'm sitting here in my mud hut cooking solar 'cause I can't even rub two sticks together to make a fire, honeys.

Here's an example of a solar cooked dinner this week:
Solar cooked lamb with homemade blackberry jam + reduced juice sauce and Handsome Husband's bread.

Oh mah gersh.
And just wait until it cools down enough for Cookstove Season. (swoon)
My hybrid solar oven doin' its thang
seven years after purchase.
A good investment!

You just have to learn how to position the solar oven depending on when you're going away and returning, so that your meal is hot and ready...
You just have to learn what not to add water to, and to what to add water...
It's not complicated, it's creative.

How many moms do you know who put dinner in the oven, then leave?
I do, daily.

Our delicious repast, solar cookin', enabled me to cut trails on a beautiful day with our neighbors & dear friends, joining our properties together...

While we were working hard pruning briars, cutting saplings, moving logs, and ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the rubs & scrapes of the deer, the bear claw marks we found, my solar cooker was finishing up a delicious meal to return to at dusk, far away, safely.
Cutting riding trails with friends while
dinner cooks back at the prefab.

Now I don't want to over-boost my solar cookin' ego.
I know my limits... Like today, working hard on those trails, when the Pipsqueaks asked, "So, can you make us a solar blueberry cobbler?" Oh, no, honeychiles, that's what we have S.W. as our neighbor for. SHE is the Queen O' Cobbler, and that's why we subtly, and consistently, angle and wheedle dinner invitations out of her...

At last weekend's Jamboree, butter again rose to my mind like cream on milk. I snagged a card from the butter gals there. Their butter had a dash of ambrosia in it.

Energized, I researched butter churns and quickly lost interest. Seriously. $80-$150 for a simple churn... somehow I don't imagine normal people back then who had normal backyard hens and a dairy cow in their yard in normal places sunk that chunk o' change into a churn just to make... butter.
So I came up with this:
But There's A Storm A-Brewin'.
In Fact, It's Hurricane Sandy.


Growing up sailing is SO much like living solar- you trim a sail here, unplug an appliance there... I am adjusting the house for upcoming weather...

With the approaching hurricane, we face our biggest challenge: NOT the winds, as the prefab SIP house is so solid, and the hurricane's path not direct to us; not the power going out for weeks as we're already off the grid... but our battery bank staying above 50% through this cloud cover.

We ready for the  4+ days of extreme cloud cover on a solar system that was, at the time, purposely undersized for weekend use that then became The Live Here Now Plan. Preemptively, I have turned off anything that draws power except the Sundanzer freezer.

So: Water pitcher is filled, then the rainwater treatment is turned off. The refrigerator which just holds some cheese & jam & beer? Well, that can stay off a few days- we drink lukewarm beer any-hoo, being married to a German!

With all of that off, my power draw is now .01-.02, and the battery bank, without draw, even on this intermittently-cloudy day, has recharged to 93%.

I can now face these days with more confidence, knowing the battery bank should not get to 50%, and, as Orphan Annie sez, soon...

But until Annie shows up singin' her heart out while the cloud cover tap dances away into sunshine, I will be telecommuting off my tractor battery for the next few days...

Friday: Cloud cover moved in. We awoke to the usual battery bank at 85ish %. Thanks to a little sun and everything except the freezer unplugged, we were able to rise to 93%. That heartened me.
Saturday: Pea soup, yet bright clouds. Awoke to 84% (not bad considering that is our normal range and that we only got to 93% yesterday thanks to clouds! The unplugging really makes a difference!) and still, the battery bank rose to 90%!!!! It is amazing that we can RISE on cloudy days just by scaling back consumption!
Sunday: Awoke to 84%, and mid-afternoon, now it is, even with *thick* cover, 88%.
The hurricane hits soon, it's path moves up the Chesapeake Bay... we should have 2ish days more of cloud cover.  The passive solar prefab readies to sail through this storm.

To everyone in Hurricane Sandy's path, along the coast, on the Chesapeake, DC, Philly, NYC... stay safe & sound.

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