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2/17/14

Passive Solar Prefab House Faces Snowpocalypse!

Visiting the city, I was felled by the flu.
Four days later, still in Richmond, still recovering, we debated:
"Do we make a run for the passive solar prefab house, ahead of the snowstorm, still not feeling great, after being away a week, to finally go home to the land with the storm coming? Or do we stay here, in the city, where things are supposed to be 'easy, more convenient?'"

The children weighed in on their fate:
"Well... Where will there be the most snow?"

"Well... it looks like on the land we might get 10+ inches... In Richmond there will be less..."
They, immediately: "LET'S GO HOME! We! Want! SNOW!!!!!"

And then, the kicker, they continued:
"...besides: on the land we have the cook stove, and it's HOT inside! Here, these houses seem always cold in the city."
Even with the temperatures set to 68-70, on radiator heat!... These city homes they spend time in, because of their energy INefficiency, feel cold!

This city thing has been nice, veddy civilized...
Field trips, business meetings, friends...
But snow's a-comin', and it's time to head back to the off grid prefab for some
SLEDDING. INSANITY.

Honeychile I am not lookin' back. 
But what will we face when we come home to the off grid prefab?
We had some solar issues, which we think was due to the batteries stored outside in the Arctic temperatures. WILL WE HAVE POWER? [And: Do we care, short term, if the freezer is still running on DC and the house is cozy?]

The week had been Typical Virginia Winter Temperatures- in the 20s and 30s...
What indoor temperature, with no heat for a week, would we return to in the off grid prefab homeThe average home, unheated, is just a *few* degrees warmer than the outdoor temperature.
"The temperature of an unheated portion of a house is almost always at least a few degrees above the outdoor temperature. For example, an insulated attic may be at 37 or 38° F when the outdoor temperature is 32° F."

The temperature, upon arrival, had *risen* to 27/29 (I can't remember it was either of those).
What will the off grid prefab yield?

Inside the passive solar prefab, after a week of clouds and winter temperatures, unheated: 51! After a week of clouds!


I got the cook stove going, we unpacked, and let the fun begin.
Even with battery issues, we are
snug as a bug in the off grid rug
-and-
The land
Is awesome
For sledding.

The Weather Arrived.
I watched the WALL of snow advance across the ridge, across the valley, up the hill, to envelop us furiously, we in the prefab house.
See? On the ridge? That's a wall o' snow! Advancing towards us!!!

As usual, my parents think we are going to die, out here, with "no power" and whatnot...
The snow hit the off grid prefab house. The wind was whipping! The flakes, spiraling, whirling, sweeping sideways! I was terrified! See?:

We watched the snow swirl as darkness fell.

We got busy outdoors playing in the wonderland.
 
 
 
The eternal dog-runs-off-with-glove
chase begins...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Here, the goal is to crash into Handsome Husband's extremely unsightly crop-tree-release debris pile. 

So. Big snow at the prefab.
It's a zoo, here. No, it's a circus.
It's a circus, I tell ya!
And then...
There's that moment, after all the gray skies and snow, where you can FEEL the sky brighten... It reminds me of being slow in the water, watching the wind cross the bay, adjusting your sails as it hits, the boat lifts, starts screaming forward..

It's that moment, off grid on solar, even in clouds, where suddenly the control panel numbers rapidly start to change...
"WE! ARE! CHARGING!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
THIS I KNOW:
1. There's ALWAYS a creek at the bottom of each slope. ALWAYS.
 
2. The standard SIP prefab house package gets us easily through winter, COZY.

Icily soaked, pink cheeked, the children wearily wandered in to the hot prefab house.
"I've had my snow, I'm ready for spring..."
"What made you change your mind?"
"We just spent the past hour sticking our heads in the snow, like ostriches.
I'm done."
In the end, we callibrated the battery bank...
...and now, snow finally melting, without regret, we can dream of spring.

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