End of an era…….

24 05 2013

Today, you will be spared another depressing post about climate change…..

The ten year old SunProfi inverter which has literally been here as soon as the roof was up and our first solar power system was able to be installed has been playing up for the past couple of years, occasionally not turning on in the morning, sometimes discharging the batteries into the grid, and lately behaving more and more erratically.  So seeing as we’re selling the house, I don’t want to sell the new owners a lemon and problems in the future, it had to go…  I looked into replacing it with a more modern equivalent, but such an exercise would’ve cost us over $5000 (that we don’t have), and in any case, the grid today is far more reliable than it used to be when we were building.  The cost of batteries is such that we doubt this particular array, apart from knocking power bills on the head, was ever really paying its way.  So I’ve sold the batteries, and the old inverter will be replaced with a new Latronics PV Edge 1200…..

bye bye batteriesThe fellow who bought my batteries – Glen – lives some 40km the other side of a town called Millmerran, and he offered to pay me to move them to his place.  We agreed on a fee, and the hard work started.  The whole bank weighs 900kg, and whilst it was relatively easy to move them downhill to their position, I now had to physically lift them back up some 1.8m to the tray on the ute!  With my chronic fatigue problems, that took me two days…..  and it took less than five minutes to unload at the other end.

Glen had warned me that there were lots and lots of roadworks out his way, and to stay well away from the Toowoomba Range Highway, the main road between Brisbane and West of the Great Divide.  So I planned another route (never having travelled it before) via the back roads of Kilcoy, Yarraman. and Crow’s Nest…….  little did I know what was in store.

The whole trip didn’t even start on exactly the right footing, because whilst I knew the ute always had issues with traction, I never expected it to get bogged on the wet grass with nearly a tonne of lead in the back…….  I actually had to ring my mate Dean to come and tow me out with his 4WD after messing around with letting air out of the tyres, putting boards under the back wheels, etc etc……

The GPS.

Never having been on most of those roads before, I thought it might be a neat idea to use the GPS in my mobile phone…….  and seeing as the radio does not yet work in the ute, I thought it might actually keep me company!  So I set the trip into the device, which of course calculated the quickest way via Brisbane which I had no intention of following.  It all became an amusing “battle of the wills”, and all I can say is thank goodness I knew where I was going and I have a good sense of direction!  I now know why some people even drive into lakes under the instructions of these idiot devices!

I thought it most amusing that whenever I went in some direction it didn’t approve of, it would repeatedly tell me to turn around, until, having given up, it just said “follow the road”….  yeah right, like I was going to go off it!  It constantly tried to find any way of getting me back on its original track, no matter that it would add maybe even hundreds of kilometres to the journey.  The number of times it told me to turn off the main highway to Toowoomba (which is where I had to go to first!) in places where there were NO ROADS to turn into was truly baffling…  but the real corker was when I was in Toowoomba at a T junction with a big clear road sign saying Millmerran and pointing to the right (West), and the stupid thing said “turn left”…..  at that stage, I simply shut it down, the comedy had worn off.

The roads

Glen lives some 40km South of Millmerran, in the middle of nowhere, which Australians prefer to call Whoop Whoop (sp?).  And the last 200 metres to his property was deep black soil, stuff so slippery you can forget steering, throttle and brake adjustments…..  I drove half of it at 45 degrees to the road in full opposite lock in both directions!  That I even made it without getting bogged amazes me to this day……..  and I even did it on the way out when empty!

I don’t get out much these days, and I have to say I was a bit stunned at how much damage the last few bouts of flooding caused to the roads (I refrain from mentioning climate change here…).  Glen had warned me it can take over an hour to get up the Toowoomba Range because of roadworks (normally a 15 minute trip), but even the Blackbutt Range road must’ve been heavily damaged by landslides, it appears millions have been spent concreting the slopes to what looks like as much as 100 metres above the road in places.  It was obvious many trucks, including B Doubles now go this way too, and I must’ve waited well over 20 minutes before I was let through.  I was stopped more times than I can recall, and many of these stops were over ten minute waits which, when all added up easily added well over an hour to an already long trip of 840 km……..

westernplainsThe return voyage in the late afternoon light was quite delightful, I’ve never thought of the western plains as being particularly beautiful, seeing as they are so boringly flat….. but with all the stops I even had time to take some snaps.

The ute

I was expecting the ute to consume a lot more fuel with such a big load especially with the long climb up the range in third gear, but because it was all open road travelling, it didn’t, returning exactly 10L/100km on the way there and back to Toowoomba where I filled up, and it seemed to be doing only 8L/100km on the all downhill and empty trip in the cold night air.  In fact the old girl ran like clockwork, I’m so impressed by it, and to think the previous owner let it go for $200 is truly baffling……  but I must do something about the seat……..  cars like this were obviously not designed for travelling really long distances!  Did I have a sore butt when I got home…!

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4 responses

24 05 2013
Jean Stasse

Yes, being navigated by the mobile phone can be interesting!!!

25 05 2013
wanderer1954

whoop whoop is at least another 1000km west …CSIRO is now printing solar PV panels .. will be much cheaper soon .. cheaper batteries still several years off, but the brits are making breakthroughs in this arena with bucky balls of carbon and nanomolecular graphite layers ..

25 05 2013
mikestasse

You know wanderer, panels are already down to $0.70/W……… that’s how much my ex boss pays for his 250W panels. If they get any cheaper, they’ll be giving them away.

I’m not concerned about panels so much as I am about inverters. Electronics have a limited life. Just think about how long your last computer lasted…… I’ve had nothing but problems with inverters, with this SunProfi I’m replacing never having worked properly (as far as I’m concerned) and the firm that made them went belly up years ago, almost certainly from out of control warranty claims……. my other Chinese grid inverter failed twice and blew up once. The current one is going well, toes and fingers crossed.

How will they be replaced post crash………….? THAT is the real question.

25 05 2013
Don

Hi Mike,
I sometimes wonder what will happen post crash when us old dinosaurs are the only ones left who can read maps. Maybe we won’t be able to travel very far.
As far as solar power goes, if TSHF tomorrow I’d expect not more than about 5 years (and counting) from my system . After that its back to the stash of old gear and metal I’ve been hoarding for many years – scythes, crosscut saw, pedal powered metal lathe and other hand tools. I do something better than the old piece of railway rail I use as an anvil though.

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