My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Anything off grid. Energy, waste management, water supply, housing, whatever.
The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:02 pm

I installed the new inverter, and, after nearly a month of waiting for it (shipping to and from plus I was gone for 2 1/2 weeks), it went right into overload protection with no load on it whatsoever. This was when I turned it on for the first time after connecting it- no modifications. I am dissatisfied with AIMS. Not only did it not work, it was a product that had likely been previously used because it had marker on the bottom of it to poorly cover up scratches on it made at the factory or a by a previous owner. I already contacted them and I expect a refund, another exchange with shipping compensation, or knowledge on how to bypass overload protection. This power inverter breaking really messed up plans. Now, I have to wait up to another 2 weeks for a new inverter.

Over the weekend, I am going to Home Depot to get 6 hinges for my screen door and a new door I made for the playground. I will also be getting paneling for the interior. I might need to take out the walls and put in rigid foam insulation, but that's going to be a project. Last, I'm going to make a real box for my batteries. For 9 months, they've been in a laundry/clothes bin with holes for ventilation.

techman
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Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by techman » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:16 am

That is very frustrating about the inverter. Do some research and read some reviews on inverters first. I found that the Tiger Claw 2,000 watt pure sine wave inverter is only $200 and has pretty good reviews. I have one for my work shop. Used it in the old camper for a while before I demolished it.

Hope you get it working soon.

The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:30 pm

I told myself that if I was to ever get a new inverter, it would be a very good quality one that I would use for hopefully many years to come. (not saying Tiger Claw is bad, but I want basically the best.)Today, that inverter arrived here: a 2,000 watt (4,000 surge) Samlex pure sine wave inverter that cost ~$420 after shipping once I realized it was a really good inverter used by many people (no "splatter" on an oscilloscope, high efficiency, and no harmful stuff that may affect the operation of electric applications). I hooked it up to some 2 or 00 gauge wire that is no more than 3 feet long, flipped it on, checked my 60 watt fan, and it worked! I finally have AC power in the playground after a month and 8 days of nothing but DC power!

I tried the air conditioner's fan which is 80 watts, and after letting that speed up, I gave the compressor a go. It works! After 1/3 of a year trying to get the playground area cool using any virtually any means possible (but no grid ties), its compressor finally kicked on along with the load fans of the inverter. I am really glad that I finally got working air conditioning in there. One weird thing is that according to the watt meter I have, I am only drawing 240-280 watts. The fans' speeds are fine and their watt readings are accurate, so I would have to guess that the air conditioner is only using ~270 watts? I mean, it cools down and works just like it did when connected to grid power, so I can't say it's not working properly and therefore lowering the wattage. Using the A/C draws the voltage of the batteries from around 12.46 volts down to 12.15 under load. Once it was running, the voltage dropped only 0.05 volts after running it for 10 minutes, so I could have theoretically ran it for 30 minutes as it was with no sun on it.

The thing I like about the playground's small space (36 sq. ft.; 144 cubic ft.) is that it is so small that within 10 minutes, it went from 79F 85(?)% humidity down to 72 and 63 when I turned it off. It will also go up from around 40 degrees in winter to 70 in about the same amount of time.

In other news, since my last post, I spent about $25 and made a new, smaller, and more durable table along with a battery chest instead of a plastic laundry bin.
-The table is smaller since I didn't need such a big piece of wood to hold everything. It was only that big because it was a completed piece I had made in 2011 which was going to be part of a storage chest that I never completed.
-The chest has capacity for 4 batteries and its top has 3 holes: one for charging stuff, one for loads, and one for the heavy duty inverter wires. They're also good for ventilation, I guess (no outdoor ventilation because I don't understand how I could vent the gases out to the air but maintain its current temperature. Plus, the cardboard insulation isn't the best and is very leaky so air will escape sooner or later).

I also decided to ditch the paneling idea-it'll rot before I move out.

Both of those things make the place feel so big and everything is now 100% accessible with EASE. Everything is coming together and I am very happy with what I achieved today especially.

The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Tue Aug 19, 2014 7:15 pm

I have good news and bad news-

The good news:

--I got a screen door installed in the playground a week or two ago and is completely sealed off, keeping the bugs out with my door opened.
--I also finally got all the leaks gone from the playground and removed all pieces of untreated wood that had mold growing on it (very small amount in the corner that always got wet).
--The inverter is still fine and operating smoothly.

Here's some bad news:

--This time last year, I began to have some growth in my left nostril that caused 2-4 nosebleeds per day. I dealt with it until early October and had it surgically removed. That same growth is returning on my right nostril.
--Last night, there was a car break-in involving our family friend+neighbour. My brother who just got off of work was there to see the people leaving the house. I know who those people are, so I am going to have to deal with the police tomorrow and possibly longer. I now have to make a security system along with putting 2x2s to make some kind of bar over each of the windows, including the massive one.


As a side note, somebody has gone into the playground before before I installed a lock on it, but nothing to whoever it was seemed to be of interest (Jan 6; nothing but batteries, a lamp, and a MSW inverter at the time. I installed the lock the same day because of this). After getting the lock on and a month and a half passed by, I walked into the playground to a broken plexiglas window. I only was able to tape it up for the time being until April when the air conditioner went in that hole.

techman
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Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:49 am

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by techman » Tue Aug 26, 2014 9:34 am

Thats horrible. I know how frustrating these things can be. I hope and pray your nose will be ok.

As to the other points. Get a hunting camera. The deer trail camera that works day and night, uses very little battery power (3 months to a set) and uses an SD card. When someone walks by the camera, it takes a photo or short video clip of them.

Place it in a hidden location (not in or on the playground but nearby) and let it do its job.

The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:13 pm

More bad news, but a lot of good stuff to come.

Good news first-

-I am likely going to get a propane heater for the playground and I have already made a little theft-resistant box to house a propane tank so it won't get stolen. I have been considering this since the start of August because it's supposed to be a bad winter again and I don't know how much a 400 watt heater will work if there's not as much sun this winter. I also think this will heat the place up in less than 5 minutes since it's only 36 square feet.

-Our new neighbours installed a big flood light that is on a sensor that will help us detect if anybody is in their yard or half of our backyard. We might install one if something else similar happens again to cover the other part of the back.

-The thing growing in my nose was just a weird-shaped pimple and never popped. It just went away and all is fine with that.


Here's the bad news-

-I got hurt in a 4 car accident on Thursday, the 21st of August. I'm fine and nothing was broken or messed up, but I was sore for about a week afterwards with whiplash. The car got totaled along with the car that hit us from behind. We got a new car that runs better than the old one, so I guess that's an added bonus. Insurance still hasn't decided officially who's at fault. It's hard to explain what I most strongly believe happened (I was looking out the mirror when we got hit) but the insurance companies are starting to believe my theory. Don't worry about me, I'm back to normal as if nothing happened. The only sign anything happened is the bent up license plate I took off of it and the fact that we'll never see that car again.

techman
Site Admin
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Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by techman » Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:46 am

Sorry about the bad news. Hope things are well now.

Sorry also about my late reply. Been working 16 hour days on the tiny house. Sort of cool we are building at the same time.

Please let me know how things are now

The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:29 pm

Don't worry about the late reply; I'm making one, too. I am fully recovered from the car accident now and nothing is wrong. The crimes have stopped and everything is back to as it was pre-August 15.

I decided to do paneling and I did it with some plywood that was aged and looked orange-ish. Had you not done it, I don't think I would have, either. I didn't even think about cutting all my scrap wood I had anyways. I cut about 90% of my scrap plywood in the garage up to make many pieces of paneling that are going on two of my playground's walls- the one with the A/C on it and the one facing the door. The other two will be painted. I must say, it is very time consuming but well worth it in the end.

I did decide to stay with electric heat. It's not because I didn't trust propane, but I was purchased a new battery to help reduce some of the drop of voltage I get when using it and so it won't drain as fast. It would also simply work as a third battery for capacity with any other electrical demands. Last, I now don't need to deal with the hassle of having this huge propane heater on my wall and it cost $50 cheaper than it would've had I gone with propane along with my lack of need of making additional purchases for heat.

Just today did I panel all but one piece of one of the two walls set for paneling. It's also insulated with R6.4 insulation between the OSB (old walls) and the paneling on top of the cardboard insulation that worked well last year. I will definitely be warmer this year. Also, when I aluminum taped the walls up and sealed in the windows, I rarely see bugs inside the playground anymore. Probably one every other time I go inside.

Tomorrow, I will remove the air conditioner ahead of a storm front that will bring true fall-like temperatures to the area with highs not going above a *dry* 75 degrees for probably the rest of the year. The heater is definitely going to be used this year with the predicted winter upcoming to be even worse than last year's.

If you want to check out my YouTube channel, I've been making videos on it mostly relevant to my projects at the off-grid playground and it will give you a better view of the place and how it's evolved over the past 6 months since I started the channel. I'll post it on this post in case you want to see it as soon as you read this, but feel free to take the link out if it's not allowed to be shared.

(https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... freload=10" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;) I recommend you watch the videos oldest-newest as I linked it. The videos are pretty poor production wise since I know nothing about how to speak professionally on camera or edit a video besides cutting out parts of it. Also like I said, I am 16 (was 15 at the start of this) so there's not too much to expect with experience or knowledge of construction. I am only doing this because of a construction class I took in semester 1+2 last school year and my parents said that I can't solar power my bedroom so I just did it outside. Feel free to mention my channel on yours since I think you said that you would if it was alright with me.
Last edited by The_Amateur on Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Thu Oct 30, 2014 9:45 pm

Today marks the one year anniversary of the playground experiment. This time last year, I had put my brand new solar panel/battery/charge controller setup on the upper part of my playground and just let the solar panel sit at a slight angle on the wall (it has wide gaps that sunlight could come through) so I could set it up on the roof the following day. I truly can't believe that it's been already an entire year.

Bad-ish news: A week or so ago, it rained and the roof leaked again as it usually did so I decided to get rid of what was covering the ceiling and found rotten old wood under the boards. I immediately took everything off the roof besides the plastic trash bags that were my only real barrier between the inside and outside of the playground for 3 or so days.
-After that, I took the rest of the wood off and replaced it with two huge pieces and with more plastic between the wood of the ceiling that came with the playground and the wood that I put on it. It rained a few inches earlier this week and it was bone dry inside. I finally fixed the problem after 10 months of the issue!

Good news: I have most of the walls paneled but I stopped because I ran out of funds for wood/insulation. Now that I have money, I have a ton of scraps again from buying wood for the playground's new roof/ceiling thing and will resume paneling tomorrow. I also decided that while I am going to paint the other two walls, one of the walls to be painted ended up being able to have insulation in it. So now, I am going to have three big pieces of wood on that wall to look like drywall that will be screwed onto 2x2 "framing" like the other paneling was put on and that'll also have R6.4 insulation in it. I'll see what I can do regarding insulation in the last wall that the battery chest is on, but I'm not entirely sure.

Saturday morning, it's going to be in the low 30s and very windy, so I am going to go inside the playground and see how well my insulation really works since that'll be the first day I truly need to use the electric heater to keep warm. It will run fine since last winter I had only 100W of solar and 210 AH of batteries. This year, I have 200W and somewhere around 322 AH along with much improved insulation. It'll be a good test of how well I actually sealed up the cracks I found in there over the months, as well. Windy days are the best to find air leaks but due to the climate I live in, we get about 5 days with winds of 10+MPH and only during fall/spring. Hopefully, I will have at least the insulation for the "window wall" as I call it in, if not the wood that I'll screw on top of it to. I'll also put spray foam insulation or aluminum tape in where the air leaks are.

I wish you luck with your tiny house since it'll be windy there as well as most of the Atlantic states.

techman
Site Admin
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Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:49 am

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by techman » Sat Dec 06, 2014 12:11 pm

Sounds like you are doing very well.

Please email me the link to your channel: info@thediyworld.com and I will post it publicly.

How did it go with the colder and windy weather?

I cant wait to see your videos. Dont worry about the video quality. What is important is the work you are doing and what you are showing the World. Just the fact that you are making it happen is huge in itself.

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