off grid amp reading
September 25th, 2015 by Off The Grid

For the last week I was holding out hope that the solar battery bank may be ok but unfortunately it looks like the batteries are done. If you remember back in Episode 52 Big Solar Battery Bank UPDATE I topped off all of the batteries with distilled water. Then I reconnected my off the grid solar panels via the charge controller to the battery bank. The last few days I kept an eye on both the levels of individual battery cells along with the amps at the end of the day. After not noting any change as to the solar battery bank holding a charge I started checking each individual deep cycle battery. As it turns out one by one each one of the (3) 12V deep cycle batteries were in fact done. Not a single rechargeable battery held a charge so my off grid solar battery bank needs to be replaced.

The second notable note for today’s podcast I was trying something new for my DIY / homemade off grid toilet by using kitty litter. If any of you have cats you may be thinking one of two things.. one your crazy!! or two wow that makes sense so lets try it! lol Well time would tell as to weather this was going to work. First impression so far was that the “99% dust free odor free” might just be false advertising. It was still to soon to tell about the odor but there was a lot of dust! Now granted this was kitty litter and probably not intended for use in an off the grid compost toilet of any kind but out of necessity I was willing to give it a try. The off grid toilet that was a simple 5 gallon bucket lined with trash bags that anybody could easily put together in a SHh hit the fan scenario.. Attention preppers you probably already knew that but it doesn’t hurt to explain for the newbies out there. People wanting something quick as a DIY toilet for off grid living will appreciate the simplicity of it all too.

“At the start of a journey your desire is always greater than your talent and sometimes that time is just so that your talent can catch up”

Thank you guys once again for tuning into the podcast and sticking with me. It really does mean a lot and I thank you for it! It seems like for the most part every day is a welcomed new adventure in many small ways. Yes for years probably just like you I listened to and watched countless shows about people living off the grid or way out there in harsh environments. It was really cool to see how they were able to figure out and adapt to challenging situation. Evey day I learn something new and am still amazed as to just how much of “everything OFF GRID” that I simply could not have imagined or predicted. Life as always it seems is best experienced first hand as opposed to watching hours of TV.. especially when things are far from ideal. lol

 

Show notes from today’s Off The Grid Podcast

  • Today’s lesson: Experience life first hand not in front of a screen even when things are challenging!
  • Got questions, comments, or tips about living off grid? Please post and share them here or Contact me!
  • Please help support this show and the off grid community by checking out Off Grid Singles.
  • The Off Grid Podcast is now available on iTunes and Stitcher so please Subscribe and rate the show!
  • If you like the show please tell a friend about the podcast 🙂

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small off grid battery bank
September 22nd, 2015 by Off The Grid

This just in ~ BIG BATTERY UPDATE in the off grid camper! If your a regular listener to the podcast you are aware of some of the problems with my deep cycle batteries not holding a charge from the solar panels. Due to the heat I have not been able to stay out here in the camper all day long in order to keep an eye on the batteries during an equalizing cycle. First and foremost I want to say I am not an expert here but I am learning very quickly! lol I have been having an issue with the batteries not holding a charge. The solar panels were putting out electricity. The charge controller was supplying the off grid battery bank with the proper DC power in order to charge the batteries up. The issue ultimately wound up being with the deep cycle batteries themselves. I have 3 deep cycle batteries in my off grid battery bank in total with a fourth battery on the side. The fourth battery is a gel cell battery where as the other 3 are lead acid deep cycle batteries. A gel cell battery is sensitive to overcharge so this is why it is not hooked up to the main off grid power bank.low solar battery

After figuring out that all three batteries in the off grid solar power system were low on fluids I researched on how to correctly top them off. It turns out that all three deep cycle batteries needed to be topped off with distilled water. If by chance you found this this episode of Off The Grid Podcast in seeking an answer to your own deep cycle marine batteries not holding or keeping a charge then please research thoroughly. I found that you can not use tap water, spring water, or filtered water for topping off a battery. Only use distilled water because other trace elements in waters can cause calcification as well as other issues with the plates inside your lead acid battery cells. It took about two thirds of a gallon of distilled water between the three of them. Time would tell as to weather or not this recent lesson in off grid solar power problem with the battery bank was going to work. Crossing my fingers and holding my breath a moment I decided to hook everything back up so the solar panels would charge the batteries the next day. Just because your of the grid does not mean you do not need power. Well.. um I guess ultimately you don’t but it sure makes thing easier. Really the only thing I want right now is to have enough power here in the off grid camper to be able to run a refrigerator. This would give me the ability to refrigerate and preserve food like normal! lol I couldn’t wait to find out if this was going to work or not.

If topping the off grid batteries off with distilled water and then running a couple of water for deep cycle batteriesequalization cycles did not work then this was going to be a $200 – $250 mistake. Why a semi-costly mistake you ask? Because I bought the deep cycle batteries used. Comments, questions, or lessons anyone? If your off the grid solar power system does have an equalize feature integrated within your charge controller please use caution before using. Why be careful equalizing your battery bank? Because running the equalizing feature charges the batteries at a slightly higher voltage causing the lead acid battery cells to literately boil. Use caution because when equalizing deep cycle batteries because the boiling is meant to clean the plates within the cells themselves. Again I am not an expert but I have learned a lot in the short while of my off grid journey. If you are having an issue with your battery bank draining and I can help I will. Yup.. today’s episode of the podcast motto rang true. “Its not what you have its what you know”.

 

Show notes from today’s Off The Grid Podcast

  • Today’s lesson: Save money ~ If your running a solar powered battery bank check your levels regularly!
  • Got questions, comments, or tips about living off grid? Please post and share them here or Contact me!
  • Please help support this show and the off grid community by checking out Off Grid Singles.
  • The Off Grid Podcast is now available on iTunes and Stitcher so please Subscribe and rate the show!
  • If you like the show please tell a friend about the podcast 🙂

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soft testing solar system
August 26th, 2015 by Off The Grid

If you have been keeping up with the podcast hopefully your half as excited as I am bout finally being off grid! Today’s episode is coming once again in the camper as I was still taking everything in with the new surroundings. For the last four months I was staying at a friends house on the couch because when I originally planned to be off the grid in March everything simply wasn’t ready but I still had to move.. somewhere. The move was planned but when it was clear the camper would not be ready in time I had to go with plan “B” which was staying on a friends couch. The time had finally arrived to be off the grid and it was still settling in. I was not used to the peace and quiet yet but was still making progress each day in the camper. I just bought a brand new multimeter the day before.

I was also excited and looking forward to getting started with the day because I got a new multimeter. I had taken some electronics classes in high school but that was a long time ago! lol A multimeter can be used to check various things when troubleshooting electronics. I had just put two 85 watt solar panels on the roof of the off grid camper with only one of them hooked up to start. The solar panel was converting energy from the sun into DC (Direct Current) Power. The DC power was being regulated through a Charge controller feeding into the deep cycle batteries. The charge controller basically helps to protect your batteries from being over charged.. and having to prematurely buy new batteries. A side note: On average it takes 3 hours / times as long to charge your batteries as it does to use 1 hour to use the power stored. Whoops!!!!! After double checking the settings and putting the multimeter on its highest setting I FRIED IT! Soon after I hooking up the multimeter and realizing it was indeed cooked a burnt electronics smell filled the air in the camper. This was a minor downer to start the day but I was not detoured. It was time to make good use of time by hooking up some LED lights. Today’s episode of the Off Grid Podcast was recorded back in July ~ new shows being posted 5 days a week until current! 😉

 

Show notes from today’s Off The Grid Podcast

  • Today’s lesson: Know your meter BETTER than you think you know your meter. Don’t blow it!
  • If you have questions, comments, or tips about living off grid then please post them here!
  • Please help support this show and the off grid community by checking out Off Grid Singles.
  • The Off Grid Podcast is now available on iTunes and Stitcher so please subscribe and rate the show!
  • If you like the show please help support this journey off grid by telling a friend about the podcast 🙂

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August 1st, 2015 by Off The Grid

Today was the day of deals for the Off Grid camper as I searched the flea markets and Craigslist. It was Saturday so it was a good day to hunt for useful items to make my journey off grid a smoother one. I found 3 deep cycle batteries on Craigslist! This was huge! The batteries were kind of an important piece of the off grid puzzle.. I had the solar panels but needed a way to store the power. I also found a 500watt power inverter brand new in the box at the flea market for only $15 and a pair of work overalls for only $2! Several other treasures were found and everything will come in handy when away from the suburbs in the camper!

My goal of being off the grid by the 1st had come and gone but did not happen (Today’s show was recorded back in March). I was able to move out after 3 late days of packing and cleaning. I would guess that most of us have way more stuff than we even realize. Well it was official.. I moved out and was staying at a friends house on the couch until the camper was ready for my journey off the grid. It was not a good feeling “crashing on the couch” but I was grateful for a warm place to stain on these still ice cold nights. Life continued with more change and at least I was one day closer to moving off grid.. even if this was a small setback due to the camper not being ready on time. Humbling times like these remind me of a quote:

Turn life’s stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

 

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