Solar Life and Solar Death

This summer has been about living and dying by the sun.  Let’s start with life, shall we?

About a month and a half ago now, we installed solar panels on the roof in an effort to produce as much of our own energy as possible.Panelsroof

We bought 2x 36v 200watt panels, an “mppt” charge controller, 2x 115ah 12v batteries, and a 1000w/2000w pure sine wave power inverter.

PanelsThis is a non-grid connected system, which means we do not feed excess power back in to the power grid.  We have our batteries which store the charge during the day, and should theoretically cover our usual power needs for a day or so even with no outside power input.  Unfortunately, in practice we have been getting much less time out of the batteries than we should.  I am suspicious that we were sold “dead stock” batteries.  They probably hadn’t been stored and periodically charged properly, and therefore have reduced capacity.  Unfortunately since we are out on the island, I wasn’t able to go to a shop and choose the batteries myself.  We’ll be ordering a new set of two and upping the battery bank capacity, and that should either confirm that I am correct, or that I still don’t know what the heck I am doing!

The power generation portion of the system is working beautifully though.  We’ve got loads and loads of sunshine here.  With 400 watts of power at peak, we are able to run our mini fridge, 2 notebook computers, wi-fi/modem, fans, and the washing machine.

When we are running on batteries, our largest power draw by far is the mini refrigerator.  It uses 10kwh/month.  This is the most energy efficient mini fridge we could find, and uses 1/3 the electricity of our old fridge/freezer combo.  Unfortunately, it is also about 1/2 the size.fanenjoy

Making some small sacrifices in order to live a solar powered life is something that has taken a bit of getting used to.  For one, we just don’t have the space in the fridge to keep extra food drinks chilling “just in case”.  If a guest drops by unexpectedly, we may not have much more than water chilled and ready to serve them on these hot summer days.  Worst of all for me, I can’t store any ice cream!

No ice cream in the freezer?  That is where the solar death comes into play…  This summer has been HOT!  The other day recorded the highest temperature Ojika has seen in 10 years.  Hot days I can handle, the problem is the hot nights.  Lately the temp has not been dropping below 27C (about 80F) or so at night!  Generally traditional Japanese houses are designed with summer heat beating features which provide for nice cross-breezes to cool the house (and its inhabitants).  To our dismay however, this house doesn’t seem to take advantage of those.  The treetops all around the house can be swaying, and we will feel barely a rustling inside.As a result of this, Yo and I find ourselves struggling to get work done at the house, our drive sapped away by the oppressive heat.

Thankfully, Fall is approaching and with it the cooler nighttime temperatures and warm days that accompany it.

Somehow in this summer swelter we have still managed to put together our program offerings and prices, update them on the website, and we look forward to hosting our first “Ojika English Experience” next week.

We’re excited at the progress, and the opportunity to teach and share about Ojika and a different way of living.

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