Open Day, Sunday 16th October

Not much news here at The Off Grid Solar House, all has been ticking along nicely.

The system (and house) is four years old this month, which means we should have another 6 to 11 years in the battery bank…and makes us really old technology now.  Can’t believe it’s been that long since we moved in, seems like yesterday!

We’re open again for the Geelong Sustainable Open House Day on Sunday 16th October 2016, so if you’d like to come along for a chat it’d be great to see you and yours.

Shhh for the governator…

It seems to be the week of celebrity endorsements on TOGSH, but I wanted to also share this great analogy from the former Cali governor Arnie S that he presented in Paris yesterday:

“There are two doors. Behind Door Number One is a completely sealed room, with a regular, gasoline-fueled car. Behind Door Number Two is an identical, completely sealed room, with an electric car. Both engines are running full blast.

I want you to pick a door to open, and enter the room and shut the door behind you. You have to stay in the room you choose for one hour. You cannot turn off the engine. You do not get a gas mask.

I’m guessing you chose the Door Number Two, with the electric car, right? Door number one is a fatal choice – who would ever want to breathe those fumes?”

Love it.  Clear, understandable and a great way to shut up climate change deniers.

Wonder if can stick Abbott, Hunt, Dutton and Hockey behind door number one?

Full story at Climate Progress.

Is Tesla ‘all that’?

So, as we all know, climate talks are happening in Paris and anyone with a stake is there.


Tesla S. Cue extended wolf whistle.

Including Elon Musk.  The guy is kind of like Robert Downey Jrs character Iron Man in the Avenger series – very brainy and with lots of cool hardware.  While the details of the Powerwall and it’s emergence onto the precious Australian market are still a little sketchy, the electric vehicles he’s producing have met rave reviews, even from notorious dinosaur-loving PM Malc.

While important leaders are meeting in important places, Mr Musk headed over to the Sorbonne University to give his ideas on carbon pricing and other things to a rapt audience.  I dunno about you, but is it too late to get him to run for US presidential candidacy?  Hey, he can’t do any worse than Chump Trump.

Getting through winter

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted and, for that, I apologise.

I’ve taken on an exciting role with a new Aussie website called One Step Off The Grid which features the stories of ordinary people all over the world who are…well, going off-grid.   It’s a sister publication to Renew Economy which some of you might be familiar with.   I’ll be sharing some of those stories on this site; if you have an off-grid or good grid-connect story, let me know.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some stats from our system through June 2015, which is of course the dead of Melbourne winter.  Not as cold as some parts of the world, but still pretty chilly!

The state of charge (SOC) of our battery bank looked something like this:

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 8.07.28 pm

You can see that we had a run of a few cloudy days where the batteries haven’t quite floated – got to 100%.  However, despite the batteries (lead acid) being 3 years old, we’re still not dropping low enough for it to be an issue.  (If we were, we’d organise a back up generator that would charge them up.)

While we were aware of the days when we didn’t float, we didn’t really change our energy-guzzling habits – TV was on and we still reheated our warming soup in the microwave!

So…if you’ve been wondering (like many others) how we cope through winter, this should answer a few questions for you.  Of course, if there’s anything else you’d like to know, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Battery storage costs drop

Just like all technology, once you get your energy storage out of the shop and installed in your home, a younger, cheaper and better looking model comes along.

So it is with Elon Musk (where were you three year ago when I was building!) and his Telsa Powerwall.  As always, the excellent Renew Economy has the goss (a little tech heavy, but otherwise easy to follow) about how its already revolutionising the energy storage market.

We knew when we installed our $35k lead acid battery bank it would be outdated eventually and it’s kind of good (as well as kind of annoying!) to see it happen so quickly.

Read it here.

The Tindo bus

So, it appears that Adelaide is leading the way with solar powered public transport.  I’ll never make jokes about it being sleepy hollow again.

The Tindo bus is the world’s first solar powered 45-seater, getting it’s charge from panels on the roof of the Adelaide bus depot.  With a range of 200 kilometres, it also carries a small ‘fast-charge’ unit in case it’s running out of juice while taking the tourists to Glenelg.

Now that the South Australian’s have achieved carbon neutral public transport, when do we start seeing them on the road here in Melbourne?


TOGSH Open Day

Apologies for radio silence, it’s been a (very) extended break over the Christmas period.  Now back to it…

What better way than to throw the doors open and welcome viewers as part of Wyndham Council’s Green Living Series?  If you’re in the area, pop down between 10am and 2pm on Sunday 15th February if you’re interested in having a look-see.

Of course it’s free to come along (donations of succulents for the garden always welcome!) buy you do have to register through the good people at council here.

See you then!

Four seasons in one day

Stormy sky against a sunny paddock

Stormy sky against a sunny paddock

I remember when I was a child growing up in England, my parents took us to Butlin’s Holiday Camp (do they still have those?) and my sister entering the fancy dress competition; dressed in her cossie, a pair of gumboots, a sun hat and carrying an umbrella, she took first prize as “English Summer Time”.

And so it is in Melbourne.  The weather here can be kind of unpredictable.  Just yesterday, my daughter and I slathered on suncream to go and pot some tree seedlings and today we woke to sounds of thunder and flashes of lightning over the You Yangs.  (I deserve extra points this week for getting out of bed even though it’s Monday and the sound of rain on a tin roof is the best staying-in-bed noise known to humankind.)

For the first time in months, today was the first day when the solar system didn’t float (hit 100% state of charge in the battery bank).  The lowest we got was to 97.1%, which wasn’t bad considering I was working from home, charging both the laptop and phone, had the TV going non-stop, did two loads of washing and cleaned out the fridge.

A burst of sunshine around 4pm for around an hour boosted us back up to 99.2%, but as the sun was then moving away from the panels, that was the highest we reached.

Floating the batteries is not imperative for a longer battery life span, so there’s certainly no harm done.  And, given it’s Melbourne, I’m sure it’ll be a stinker tomorrow!


Coal is good for humanity

Is anyone else shaking their heads in disbelief?  After scrapping the Carbon Tax, threatening the RET and almost destroying the renewables industry overnight, our leader today said “Coal is good for humanity” amongst other irrational, short sighted and frankly stupid things.

Just when I start to completely despair at the lack of foresight at our federal leadership level, the news is good from overseas.  The Germans, who have an ideological en masse push to renewables and energy storage have caught the attention of major analysts such as HSBC who have released a report “Energy Storage – Power to the People” which outlines the increasing demand and dropping cost of battery storage.

Read the full story in

And join the revolution.

(Thanks to Adam Bandt for picture)