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3/30/15

At The Off Grid Modern Prefab, Passive Solar In A Whirlwind Week

Ahhhh, spring. At the off grid modern prefab house, the temperatures were in the 70s, AND 20s.


The passive solar design of the modern prefab + insulation of the SIP kept us lazily comfortable, as always. And on foggy days the passive solar window placement kept everything indoors bright.
Handsome Husband Wants To Talk Batteries and Inverters For Our Off Grid Prefab House.

"When we designed the systems for the Casa Ti we were planning to use the house as a weekend
getaway until we were ready to retire, giving us likely 20 years before turning the house into a full time residence. We therefor undersized the electrical system, giving us a small battery bank and the matching small set of solar panels. In fact, the size is usually referred to as "cabin size" or 'appropriate for a development country.'

After having used the system full time for 3+ years we respectfully disagree. We are able to live very comfortably, blaring music (on our wonderfully powerful Bose portable sound system), lighting up every corner of our house (using LED bulbs), pumping water (out of our cistern) and keeping our food reserves chilled (using a Sundanzer freezer and Copeland's fantastic chest freezer turned refrigerator).

Making smart choices allows us to be perfectly comfortable with this solar off grid systems size  - far from the shivering group huddled around a candle and rationing their use of power that one might imagine living so minimally. There are however times when we need more power than the batteries and inverter are intended to produce. Our on-demand water heater comes to mind, allowing the inhabitants to overcome the threat of the cold shower induced by low insolation at times and certainly in the winter. For those applications our inverter is able to call up the help of the
generator. This is possible because our inverter has the capability to surge for short periods beyond the normal output. In our case the rating of the generator is 4000 Watt. For 30 seconds it can surge to 8000 Watts, giving it enough time to start up the generator, let it warm up and transfer load to it.

Our choice of a small solar system in our opinion ended up being an actual advantage: We are able to maintain our needs 99% of the time extremely comfortably with available power, and the inverter can surge when necessary (pretty much only a hot shower viat the tankless water heater and even then, only in winter) by adding the power available from the generator to its own supply."

In two weeks, neighboring Appomattox (and our nation) will commemorate the ending of the Civil War, and we will be in the thick of that history and experience.

Knowing guests arrive, I'm trying to see what I can tidy up in our off grid modern home.

These closet curtains have got to go. They were always supposed to be temporary, but years later they are stained with soot-covered fingers from the woodstove, dirty gardening hands, and dog noses.
Let's see if it happens before the 150th commemoration of the ending of the Civil War...
We shall see.
Can't wait to get rid of curtains
covering closets. Hopefully soon.

It's also something to consider when considering modern built-ins. With our rough lifestyle, stains and dirt will be a prime consideration when choosing what materials to use. I have some ideas...

But meanwhile:
We're getting ready for the garden season.
Early season seeds like kale / brussel sprouts / collards are sowed, now we wait for it to warm truly before the summer garden is sown.

With spring, Egg has gone broody!
(Yes, her name is Egg.)

And PIP 1 FINISHED SIXTH GRADE!!!! 
Pip 2 has maybe two more weeks. Then it's on to summer schedule! Let the (homeschool) summer begin!!!!
Stalking Silence
I heard a turkey scratching in the woods and thought I'd show the kids how to stalk. As it scratched, we steadily crunched over leaves towards it. They need work on freezing, though- when supposed to be "frozen still" they were thundering in the quiet woods, although on a playground it would be considered not making a peep. I am going to enjoy teaching them silence- as I explained, "You be still. It might be twenty minutes until that turkey starts scratching again. But right now he's still and hears everything. Learn to freeze, not rustle, loudly playing with sticks in your boredom. Instead of allowing boredom, listen. Listen to the slow rustle of the wind in the branches, smell the cooler air, suddenly what is nothing is huge and filled with sound. Look around you. Note the scratch areas, the creeks, everything. Suddenly being 'still' is very active."

Well, the Pips are always active, that's for sure.
Pip 2's Apple Delight
Slice apples, thickly. Fry in butter, sprinkle with cinnamon, a sprinkling of sugar. While it's frying make whipped cream. Drizzle over. Yum.

We headed into the city to see friends.
We saw the dear O's... and L's...
Indoor sports.

We cheered on the Monument Avenue 10K...
Go Team Stefan!

And at the W's, a riding playdate in the middle of the city.

And then we were back. Back at the off grid modern prefab house, happy to be home.

Reading Club:
Now home at the off grid modern prefab house after such a whirlwind week, I am off to stalk silence.

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