Monday, 30 September 2013

THE CURSE OF THE INVERTERS ....................

24th September
The inverter stayed on overnight!!! We started to have hope; had Nick diagnosed the problem with the spiking charge controller?
Cesar came with our wood order; the inverter still stayed on!
We left for our language class; the inverter was on!
We left home about 12 noon and got back about 8.30 - we did a bit of shopping, updated blog, had a two hour language class, then a cup of tea at Mark (and Glenn's), went round to P&M to pick up our frozen food and when we got home ................. the inverter was off!!! Of course it was L.
So it wasn't the charge controller then; though Nick still thinks it was faulty (we've got to take readings tomorrow - they're both reading zero now). We've tried everything we can think of, eliminating everything we think might be making it short (basically clutching at straws), we've swopped extension cables, turn off all appliances (so that only one is using the inverter, in the end just a lamp with a 15w energy bulb) - we're totally fed up, the inverter will stay switched on for about 5 mins then switches off.

25th September
Good Luck with your job interviews Helen!
Our frozen food is back in P&M's freezer and I'm sulking!
Nick came around, he's as flummoxed as us; he suggested today that (1) we reduce our battery bank by 50% i.e. from 14 to 7, because the more batteries the more (or is it less?) impedence?!!! (2) we don't use my lovely new fridge, because it could be causing a surge (we can use it again once we have circuit breakers) (3) and we've already changed the charge controller. So now we have another (is it the seventh? I've lost count) inverter which we are nursing!
We started making slots for the joist hangers and then we had to stop because the disc got blunt so we went into Castelo Branco to pick up a fuse box and circuit breakers and a new disc - we've kind of lost our will for the moment.
When we came home from Castelo Branco the inverter was ON!!!!! J Shock horror and fingers crossed.

26th September
We got on quite well with the sleep platform  today; we cut all the slots for the joist hangers (Brett using the angle grinder and me standing below with the vacuum cleaner tube, trying to suck up all the dust) and put four joists (25%) into position.
We invited Mark and Glenn and their friend Jules (who in Mark's words is a solar nerd!) for dinner tonight. Oh dear, Jules is not impressed with our system! He says it is extremely dangerous as there is nothing isolating components (no way of turning things off if you need to work on it) and no circuit breakers; he has given us a shopping list of what we need - we're going into Castelo Branco first thing to buy it! He doesn't think there's anything intrinsically wrong it just needs tweaking to make it safe. He doesn't know why we're breaking inverters either; he suggests we prove it isn't any of our appliances by running them through a 3 amp trip switch (one by one) before they reach the inverter - and if one trips it that might be the culprit.

27th September
Well the solar debacle just gets better and better; whilst going round Castelo Branco trying to get the bits Jules says we need we went to a place that installs off grid systems. They consider that (1) a 12 volt system (which is what we have) should only be for a couple of panels and batteries, greater numbers should utilise a 24 volt system (we have potentially 12 panels to go with the 14 batteries) and (2) our cables should be 50 - 70mm thick ........ that's 2 - 3"!!!!  And on top of all that today we've had torrential rain and thunderstorms which meant that our seven batteries soon used up their power (running the fridge and one energy bulb) and the panels didn't generate enough to replace it; the annoying thing is we have 7 fully charged batteries we're not allowed to add to our system (for the time being) - but having said all that the inverter is still working so it's worth the compromise.
P& M came round for dinner and we used the last of our power watching a film by candle light! Oh dear you have to laugh (or cry!). We had to turn the fridge off before we went to bed.

28th September
It's rained on and off for most of the day, but we did manage to put our fridge back on (the panels generated some electricity between showers).
This morning we (us and P&M) strained the wine and put it into the stainless steel cylinder - we have 200L.
Unfortunately it wasn't worthwhile setting up the generator and chop saw (outside), because of the rain, so we didn't get any of the sleep platform done - tomorrow is supposed to be better.

29th September
We had an extremely busy day finishing off the joists for the sleep platform; the joists are supposed to be 50mm x 150mm, huh, they vary between 142mm to 156mm - the majority of our time was taken up with cut back or packing, so that we have a flat surface to lay our floor boards on (and don't get me started on the floor boards!!). We are extremely tired with all the climbing up and down ladders; it's times like this when it would be good to have a take away in the village - it's not something the Portuguese go in for, there aren't any in the towns either (perhaps in the Algarve and Lisbon).

30th September
Raining again, and it's forecast for the next few days ........ so we had no electricity this morning (should be some by this evening), but we do still have internet (which restarts tomorrow) so I will update blog this evening to take advantage of the last of our allowance .
Brett decided that he didn't like the idea of me (or any guests) climbing onto the sleep platform from the front (with the potential of an eight foot drop if I slip) so he has redesigned the entrance through a trap door in the centre of the floor - it feels much more secure. All that's left now is to lay the floor boards.

It rained on and off all day so the batteries didn't receive much charge; we'll be sitting in candle light tonight! We need to set up more panels (six was fine for the summer) and to get the whole of our battery bank back ........... but the inverter is still working!

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