All along, the shipping container at the very back of the Fanny Farm was going to be our ‘power station’. It’s where the Nickel Iron batteries due to arrive soon will reside, along with the inverter (which is now here) and electronic peripherals. I will have at least one power point in there, and a fluoro strip light hanging off the ceiling, and I plan to move my freezer there to keep the batteries loaded because NiFe batteries prefer to not be floated.
Initially, I had planned to put two rows of 250W panels on the roof (a total of eight), but changed my mind and am now putting a ‘lean-to’ frame against the Northern face of the container, reserving the roof space for header water tanks instead. The PVs will assist in keeping the container cool by shading it; you’d better believe that even down here, it gets hot inside….. so I have also started cutting holes in the sides for vents, and hopefully after Easter I will have a whirlybird on the roof to vent the whole thing. I will be picking up the solar panels on Tuesday.
The frame I designed is built of 50mm angle steel, which one of the local talented men cut and welded for me. Pete’s a blacksmith and boiler maker, and the quality of his work is second to none. I could have tried to do it myself, but I didn’t have a large enough (3.5m x 4m) flat surface that would not catch on fire to do the welding, so decided to let the expert do it……
Pete only lives maybe one kilometre away, but moving this frame proved challenging. Pete’s neighbour owns the local hardware store, and he used to own our property to boot. Andrew has gotten to know me well after spending many hundreds of dollars in his shop, and when Pete asked him if we could borrow the store’s flat tray truck, Andrew agreed. Free of charge too!
Only after we had loaded the frame on the truck did it suddenly occur to Pete that it might not fit through his front gate opening! Miraculously, it did, scraping on the steel gate side, and scratching the wood off his gate post on the other…… We could not have done this on purpose if we’d tried!
Now of course the widest legal vehicle in Australia is 2.4m wide. Wider things are allowed on the road, but they need an escort with flashing lights, and sometimes even police…. but this is Geeveston, and being Easter, traffic was down quite a bit, so we decided to make a run for the 600m or so down Arve road unescorted! Except for me at the front, pretty much in the middle of the road with headlights blazing and hazard lights flashing. In the end, only one car came the other way, and I simply waved him down and asked him to park off the road as we crossed paths. No problem.
Until as I drove through my own gate opening, it struck me that the frame might not fit through that one either….. but like at Pete’s place, it did, just, with one millimetre to spare . That entrance width must be a standard Tasmanian dimension!
Mark who is from Cygnet way and is going to help me wire the whole thing up was waiting for us at the shed, and we all drove up together to unload the truck at the container. I painted the edge that will be in permanent contact with the container, and while waiting for the paint to dry, Pete took the truck back to the hardware store, and Mark and I started discussing solar energy and energy efficient houses…… it’s amazing how I keep meeting people who are on the same page as me!
Mark and I then lifted the frame into position, and he left having things to do elsewhere….. which of course is when my new wwoofers arrived. Talk about a rollercoaster morning….
Simon (who is Danish) and his girlfriend Annéa (who is French) settled in and had lunch.
Simon and I later tackled screwing the frame to the container, which turned out harder than either of us thought. The legs were concreted in, and as I type, the pair of them are painting the bare metal with killrust.
So now, all I need are batteries…… you have to be patient in this game.