jody with turbine header

This is an old photo of me installing a new header on a water turbine. The old header was made from galvanized pipe and was very restrictive as well as ugly. Turbine output increased from 350-400 watts to over 800 watts by simply changing the header. Wish I was still that young.

It has been a long time since my last blog post. Let me see what has happened in the past few months?

We had a major sewer backup on our bottom floor that removed us from our house for over two months. We stayed in a hotel during the repair and I can’t believe how many commercials there are on¬† television. We got rid of our TV eight or nine years ago and it was one of the best things we ever did. The good news about the sewer backup is we have a completely brand new downstairs that is nicer than the one I built 15 years ago.

We had to say good bye to my beloved mother last fall who died after a long battle with her lungs (cigarette related) even though she never smoked a cigarette in her life. However as a child her parents smoked constantly in their small home exposing my mom to massive amounts of second hand smoke.

Shortly after we had another huge loss, our boxer named Eli who was only 8 years old. We got him when he was only 8 weeks old. We used to have a Rottweiler but she died years ago.

eli blogAfter having children we decided a Rotty was not the responsible choice so we got our first boxer.

There is nothing like them. They love kids.

Boxers will NOT stay off the furniture and they are the most fun and loving dog a family could have.

I couldn’t have imagined life without Eli but time passes and the pain of loss subsides.

Suffice to say it has been a hard long winter and I am glad summer is just around the corner.

We are now in the process of [click to continue…]

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class t fuseYOUR response to our DC Class T fuse sale has been overwhelming!

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

While we still have at least a few of each fuse and fuse holder in stock supplies are getting low. We are also taking the time to redesign our store front and website functionality.

Build an online store for freeOur goal was to build an online store at zero cost.

You read that right ZERO COST.

There hundreds of platforms for do-it-yourselfers to build an online store that vary in price from a $100-$300 for setup and $60-$200 a month forever to $10,000-$15,000 for setup and $300-$1000 per month. If you hire a designer/developer, the price will be much higher than that.

However each dollar spent on an online store is a dollar that must be passed on to our customer [click to continue…]

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Although we have lived off the grid since 2001 and operated a solar store since 2002, this is the first time we have done it online without actually speaking to our customers on the phone. It is a whole new ball game. There have been a few hiccups with the store but generally things are going really well.

canada postWe will be adding a Canada Post shipping calculator within the next few days so you will be able to get an exact shipping cost for your entire order instantly, instead of over paying at times and getting a refund for the extra shipping the website charged you compared to the real shipping costs. Although you have been very trusting in that department and there hasn’t been one order that we didn’t have to refund some of the shipping and handling charges.

uspsFor our US customers Canada Post will be handing your package off to the much more efficient United States Postal Service even though Canada Post will be collecting the shipping costs.

learning curveThis is a huge learning curve for us. We are off grid solar experts not shopping cart / WordPress /e-commerce experts and it has really shown itself to be more difficult than anticipated. So far all orders have shipped on time without a hitch but there has been so much manual labor involved.

That is what we are trying to avoid so we can spend more time [click to continue…]

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If there is one mistake that is made over and over and over it is sizing your solar electric system too small. We all dream of living in the peace and quiet, off the grid, cooking over a rocket stove and washing our laundry on a wash board.

We have images of brewing our coffee in a glass coffee percolator on our propane range. Surely we won’t need that much electricity?

washboardWrong? Most of us have lived with the luxuries of modern living and adjusting to not having those luxuries is NOT easy.

It might sound romantic but when you have three or four children dirtying laundry faster than you can scrub it clean and hang it on the clothesline the romance is gone.

Be realistic. There are certain appliances you will probably not want to live without.

An electric coffee maker for example may sound like a huge energy pig but when you consider it is only operated for a few minutes at a time, it does not usually use that much power.

Ice boxes were a necessity a few generations ago but now that we have efficient refrigerators, it does not make sense to cut and store ice all winter for your ice box in the summer.

If you have a special someone [click to continue…]

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square headerFor any of you who know me I am NOT pro corporation in any way shape or form. I realize we need stores to buy stuff but capitalism has become an unfair playing field due to some receiving large tax benefits, breaks and handouts and some not. But when a company does something really well I believe they deserve mention and that company is Square.

graham family small 450 wideI operate a small business in an attempt to spend as much time home as possible with our children. My wife Anne works as a child psychologist and I own a small store providing odd items to those trying to live off the land.

But operating any type of  business is difficult without the ability to accept credit cards.

Getting a merchant account (what you need to process credit card payments) is intimidating, expensive with large monthly fees (up to $100 per month) and only available to those with the best of credit scores.

But what about the homesteader who wants to sell their produce, or grass fed beef or home grown eggs. Is is worth paying up to $100 a month (even if you don’t use it) just for the privilege of accepting credit cards? Not really.

Thankfully with Square you can now accept credit cards to sell anything from handmade crafts, to honey, to homegrown eggs and chickens and anything else you can imagine with no setup fees and no monthly minimums.

For the past couple of decades we have had PayPal which is a pain to setup, your customer must have a PayPal account and you can wait up to a week to get your money once your account balance is high enough ($100 in Canada). It is just not practical for selling a dozen organic eggs.

Square enters the picture. It is easy to setup, costs nothing if you do not use it and [click to continue…]

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It is hard to believe and almost sad that folks are still trying to get away with using AC rated fuses in the DC side of an off grid power system. I cannot stress how important this topic is.

YOU WILL BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!

dc fuse samplesAlternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) are two different animals.

120240 volt AC current 60hz (in North America) and 230 volt AC current 50hz (the rest of the world) changes polarity 60 (or 50) times per second. It changes from positive 120/240 or 230 volts to negative 120/240 or 230 volts constantly. But in order to do that it must cross zero volts many times per second. If you start an arc with AC current it will die or extinguish itself when the voltage crosses zero volts.

AC current passes zero volts

That is why you can only make a tiny spark with AC current. When you open an AC circuit with a light switch for example there is only a tiny spark or arc to deal with which an AC switch can handle easily and over and over. When an AC fuse blows there is only a tiny arc and the fuse only has to open the circuit a few millimeters. Then the circuit is broken and all is good.

Direct current on the other hand is constant. When you open a DC circuit the current just keeps on coming. [click to continue…]

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We finally did it. I am embarrassed to admit how long it has taken to build our very own online store. We don’t do anything normal anyway??

Our goal is to provide the solar homesteader with the items they cannot find anywhere else and at the lowest prices possible. No matter where you live in most of the world you can buy solar modules, batteries and even inverters locally. Why would we want to compete with those suppliers and take money out of their pockets?

We don’t.

A smaple of products you will find at SolarHomestead

It is our goal to provide the hard to get items like [click to continue…]

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