This blog is about our travels in our solar powered "Airstream" and living off grid, in our passive solar home, near Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.

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Wednesday 21 November 2012


This was our first vacation away from our home since we've had the solar panels installed. A solar powered house requires some extra care when one is gone for more than 24 hours. 

While away Paul sent us an e-mail saying our generator was running long and frequently. This I assumed was because the batteries had been run low and there was insufficient sun to bring them back to full power. Our generator is set-up to kick in when the batteries get below 50% and the sun isn't able to get them re-charged.

Since we've been home I've had a chance to look over the system and discovered that the breaker that controls the flow of electricity from our solar panels to the batteries had been off. This breaker operates much like your breakers on your electrical panel in your basement. When there is a disturbance in the line the breaker trips to turn off the power and prevent damage. Unfortunately no-one here was aware of the situation so no action was taken and the generator was the only way our batteries were getting charged while we were away. 

Today our batteries started off at 84%  and by the afternoon had been charged back up to 100% by our solar panels. That's the way we want them to work, efficiently and silently. I will continue to monitor their production and report any changes noted. Tomorrow I will check and test the water level of each battery. Battery plates must be covered at all times by distilled water or permanent damage could result.

On a positive note our house was 56*F when we got home last night while the outside temperature was 30*F. Our only source of heat at the moment is a wood stove if the sun isn't shining. All seems to be working fine in that department.

Also our chickens were happy to see Mary and have the chance to run free outside of their pen for the day. They are fun to watch and by nightfall they always put themselves to bed. All we need to do is close and lock the gate.

While we were away, Paul came in to tile the guest bathroom. We are delighted with the work and are anxious to get everything hooked up and in running order; then we will be ready for company.

Above you can see the tiled floor and the raised platform for the tub.  If you click on the picture you should get a larger version, much easier to see the tile.

The shower looks great and will look even better once we get the glass doors installed.

The shower ceiling is covered with smaller tile and has a light. Paul did a beautiful job fitting everything together perfectly.

But there is still lots to do as you can see by the missing drywall in the hall. Not sure when everything will get done but we want to have the bathrooms fully functional before Christmas arrives.

The great room just needs some trim and baseboards installed. Look how far across the floor the sun now reaches. That's our solar heat at work. It warms the concrete floor during the day and the floor gives back the heat at night. We love our passive solar house.

Our path back into the woods is beginning to look like it's ready for winter. We see fewer animals, birds and there is a stillness in the air as if it's holding it's breath as the big storm approaches. Some say we are in for a lot of snow this winter but so far it's been sunny, mild and snow free.

Our propane tank holds 800 gallons of propane and our generator (smaller white box to the right) is connected to it. If we need to run the generator we have lots of fuel for several weeks of running.  We also use propane to heat our water and cook our food.

Not sure what tomorrow's blog will cover but stop by and see for yourself.

Thanks for keeping an eye on us.

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