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Scheduling loads - random brain leakage/ramblings

Kalahari Meerkat

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Hanging off solar panels with a 5kW Hybrid inverter and 4 'naffed 12V 170Ah batteries with an extension lead to a neighbour (for after hours mostly), solar panels being ( 9 + 8 ) 280W panels.

If you are wanting to get off the grid completely or partially with panels etc. you should expect to change your lifestyle/timing of your consumption somewhat, unless of course you are one the southern hemisphere's Rockefellers.

In addition to the panels etc. we also have a 12glass evacuated tube solar water cylinder, which I think has 200liter capacity (might be 100). We've gone half last winter with this lot, so will have to see how well we do in the winter ahead.

Dishwasher - we run this mid day, so solar power only, the grid does not contribute to the running of the dishwasher at all and in the future when we will be without the extension lead and off a bunch of LiFePO4's we will continue this, if you're short of crockery and thus *have to* run at night, more crockery should be a lot cheaper than battery capacity, it makes sense to time shift this.

For the hot water side, I need to come up with a few things, to make life easier etc. the water here is fed by way of a 500 or 1000liter Jojo tank on a 6 or 8m stand, so gravity fed. We pretty much only shower, so running a bath might occur once a decade, unlike the annual bath of Vitalstatistix, since by the time the bath is more than half way full, you may imagine there's a crocodile hiding in there. What I would want to add, for info is replace the HWC's drain plug with one with 2 pockets in it, one, maybe 8cm deep and the 2nd one 30cm deep then I can run a pair of temperature sensors in these and know whether at 10PM on a cold winters night I can get a shower or not. Also, to reduce the water wasted since the run from the HWC to the main bathroom is probably 30m or more, have a small pump and temperature sensor that feeds the water from the hot water side, that would be too cold, into the cold water pipe (back to the Jojo tank) until a reasonable temperature has reached the bathroom side, this is less important, but I hate wastage and this would appeal to me.

If you are doing a solar hot water system as well, the pocket and sensor option may be something you'd want to consider home brewing, I haven't seen anything like this as yet, but think this would be quite handy. Also if you have a backup element you would at least know what you are looking at temperature wise. (I have messed around with some Arduino's and various sensors including DS18B20 temperature sensors and since I don't have cabling all these talk via 433MHz radio modules back to one of the Raspberry Pi's in the house, which is on the local & WiFi networks.) This would be the way I'll be doing it, when I get a round tuit 🙂

Ideally everyone who is on solar or looking at it, should probably have an interest in power measurement, Ellies used to sell Effergy 15A power meter units that plug into a 15A socket and provide a 15A socket on the other side, so you would be able to get an idea, what the appliance (dishwasher/computer/whatever) consumes that you plugged into it and therefore could figure out what is a *heavy* user as opposed to much less energy hungry items. As for the home in total, I don't know what is available these days, but I still have an old Owl energy meter, which gives me an idea on the kW consumption, updated probably every 30 seconds, or so, the data is chucked into a SQL like database and longer term graphs can give one an idea of when during the day how much energy is consumed.

Our baseline consumption here, for instance is around the 500 to 600Wh mark overnight (3 fridges/freezers + various other energy warts like 4 X Raspberry Pi's a 3G router a network switch or two and two WiFi access points + a 5GHz network link to the neighbour, VoIP phone or two,  laptop on 24/7 less than 30W average for the laptop etc. it all adds up 🙂 and I'm sure I'm forgetting some items.) So, from the extension lead, at this stage we end up using anywhere from 7k4Wh to 10k5Wh, but this could be reduced by, for instance not using the electric kettle until after power production is up to a reasonable level, but I *need* my morning cuppa, else murder may be the order of the day...

If you want to be an energy miser, you may want to either only heat up the amount of water you really need in the kettle, else put the rest in a thermos flask for use later, even if you want to bring it to boil again an hour later, using the thermos will lose a lot less heat/energy than leaving it in the kettle.

Ok, I think enough for now I'm sure not too many will want to read this, but if you do, I hope you find something in it that has value and maybe sparks an idea or two that has value for you as well.



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