Pennsif’s Progress #592 – Come on Steem, I want to save the planet

Today I have been invited to guest on the new Meadows & Makers radio show hosted by @makinstuff and @jackdub.

Greg @makinstuff mentioned he would like me to talk about my plans for installing a solar PV system on our homestead.

I have written several times before about my solar plans and how they were the initial driver for me to join steem.

Back at the start of 2017 I was looking at ways to save up the capital needed to invest in a solar PV and battery system to start our homestead on the journey to becoming offgrid for electricity.

A friend introduced me to Bitcoin that was just beginning to take off at that time, and along with the discovery of Bimble Solar who were taking Bitcoin payments, crypto looked like the way to go to raise the funds for our solar adventure.

But after only my second Bitcoin purchase, my bank blocked any further crypto purchases.

Then as I was looking for new ways to build my crypto-stash I came across Steem on YouTube. Earning crypto currency just through blogging seemed a whole lot better than buying.

I signed up. I was hooked.

Many, many, many, many hours of steeming away, and the super lucky timing of the conversion of my original Bitcoin investment into steem, allowed me to reach Dolphin status at the very end of 2017.

At the start of 2018 steem was topping out at over US$7 and my wallet value was looking rather handsome at around US$40,000.

That would have paid for the solar PV system – and for the biomass boiler I’m looking at now.

Should I have hit the sell button then?

It was tempting but I am ethically opposed to killing dolphins. So I hung on. With the upbeat mood, the moon talk in every corner of the steemiverse, $7 looked like it was the bottom not the top. $100 steem was definitely on the cards.

Little did I realise that the steem price would begin a slippy slidey path all the way back down to where it is now – just thrashing about in the shallow sub $1.50 waters.

So I have kept at it blogging, vlogging (a little bit) and pumping out radio shows to double my stake to over 11,000 SP – currently worth around $13,000.

I have just gone back to the quote I was given early last year by the renewables company. Totally by chance it was just under $13,000.

  • 9 PV panels (2.3Kw) = $2500
  • Lead acid batteries (600Ah capacity) =  $2000
  • Outback inverter/charger & solar charge controller = $4500
  • Cabling from barn to house = $500
  • Labour = $2500
  • Tax @ 5%

So if I squashed my account flat and powered down completely, assuming steem didn’t fall further during the 13 week power-down period, I could get my PV system paid for by crypto and steem.

But then like Snakes and Ladders I would be all the way back down to the beginning again.

I have faith, and science. I learnt at school that steem always rises. So I will sit tight, and keep grinding, til the highs return and the steemrays shine on my solar plans again.

 

 

Pennsif’s Progress #604 – Get out of oil, dad

https://pennsif.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/oil-well-pixabay-591934-450×253.jpg

Our boiler broke down again on Friday.

It is the third visit from the engineer this year.

Luckily we have a maintenance contract with Worcester Bosch the manufacturers – but they are getting more fussy now.

The boiler is only five years old and it is supposed to have a design life of 15 years but the original installer appartently didn’t do a very good and it has suffered ever since.

We have been trying to get off oil more or less since we moved here. The ever growing cost and the obvious fossil fueled environmental impact don’t taste right.

When we moved into this old, cold farmhouse there was a 10 year old oil fired Rayburn heating the house and the water. It took up a big chunk of floor space, guzzled truck loads of oil and on the coldest days sounded like an angry jet engine landing in kitchen.

But it was what we had and we didn’t have money to replace it.

Our dream was to move to a solar thermal / wood burning back boiler combo. We got an engineer in to plan it out and give us costings. But the south facing roof wasn’t strong enough to support the panels so fixing that added to a budget that was already out of our league at the time.

That plan was put on the back burner.

Then one winter’s day about 5 years ago the Rayburn blew out. That phrasing might be a slight over dramatisation but it was a sudden and catastrophic failure that involved water and oil pouring out on to the kitchen floor.

With the sudden loss of heating and hot water in the midst of a cold Welsh winter we had to make the quickest decision for a replacement boiler.

Alas with the money we had available, the speed of installation and the lure of a government boiler replacement grant of £400 our only viable choice was to replace the Rayburn with a modern oil fired combination boiler.

No time to review our solar and wood plans. That had to wait for another day.

That day may now be approaching fast.

Although today’s fix – a broken valve – was carried out free of charge under the maintenance contract, the engineer, following company policy was obliged to inform us quite forcefully of what changes we will need to implement to continue to be covered.

The list was suprisingly long – a new guard in one place, a new valve in another, moving the gas cooker as it is too close, adding this and adding that… All things that were not needed when the boiler was installed only 5 years ago and the cooker just 18 months ago – both by registered and certified engineers.

And the real kicker… in about 18 months our oil tank will be illegal for domestic use. It is single skinned, unbunded and worse of all measured in gallons which takes it just over the 2500 litre domestic limit.

For the new tank and all the other adaptations required we will be looking at approaching US$ 7000.

The time for change is fast approaching.

If we will have to be spending that sort of money to keep our wonky oil fired system running legally I would rather find a bit more money, ditch the oil and finally and joyfully head into the renewable offgrid world of wood and solar.

To reinforce this conclusion I put the question to the engineer (from the company that makes and services these oil boilers) – “With all these extra requirements and costs, should we be ditching oil now?”.

“If you were my dad, I would say get out of oil as soon as you can,” was his reply.

Sound advice, but do I really look that old ?

He even threw into the melting pot that he is installing an air source heat pump and solar PV battery setup in his house.

“Get off-grid as fast as you can” he exhorted as he loaded up his van.

Sounds like I might have had a prepper in the kitchen and I didn’t even know it!


Farewell to oil

It is looking like the time to say goodbye to oil for heating our house and our hot water is coming real soon.

I am going to check out the air source heat pump option but my natural leaning is towards the solar and wood combination. Mainly because we have an almost infinite source of wood here.

The one big elephant of course is cost.

I haven’t had full costings recently but I am suspecting we will be in the US$ 15k plus range to buy all the kit and get it installed.

That is a big chunk of change that we don’t have to hand.

You may have read in my previous blogs that the main reason I initially joined steem was to raise the capital to move us forward on our journey to our offgrid renewable nirvana.

Here comes the big fat steem dilemma. $15K is the total value of my steem account all in and powered down.

But that wasn’t the plan. If steem got to $5 then I could take the capital needed with only a third of the account and leave the rest to grow.

So where do I go from here?  Just sit back and hope steem rises?

That would be the wonderful path to take but with current progress I fear I might have passed into another world before steem reaches that moon.

Steem on and all that…



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ images from pixabay.com ]

Pennsif’s Progress #641 – steem up for a solar rising…

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As a prepper and a homesteader the quest for self-reliance underpins all that I do.

That drives me to grow my own food, source our own water supply, design our own sewage system, burn our own wood…

Disconnecting, and going off-grid in the wider sense that @wwf puts forward, is my grand goal.

Taking it to that next level of going as far off-grid as White Walking Feather is achieving is a target I aim for. How far I get on that journey only time, courage and perseverance will reveal.

What I strive for in the here and now is the ability to disconnect from the electricity grid – or at least have the ability to do so in times of need.

Although sunshine levels in Wales are not remarkable, with the continually falling price of PV panels solar electricity economics are becoming ever more attractive.

So much so that last year I started planning, and costing a project with a local renewables company to install PV panels on the barn roof.

With the required battery banks and associated components the system has been designed to provide all the electricity for the barn as well as a 4 day backup supply for the house if the grid goes down.

The cost of the project was not cheap! Around US$ 12,000 with all the additional components, cabling and labour costs.

#### It was in fact this project that brought me to steem.<br><br>

It was around 18 months ago I started planning the project. I had just been introduced to the crypto world by a friend who persuaded me to buy a little Bitcoin.

As the price of Bitcoin started to move upwards I realised that this might be the vehicle that would allow me to gather enough money to build my solar offgrid dream.

When I came across a company in England ([Bimble Solar](https://www.bimblesolar.com/) who took Bitcoin for solar panels I was locked in and fully loaded on the idea.

But I needed to buy more Bitcoin to ensure I had enough wheels on the wagon to really make this roll.

Very quickly though the plan came unstuck. After one transaction to buy Bitcoin my bank blocked crypto related transactions. Then I tried a different back and similar issues arose.

Buying Bitcoin for a novice in the UK was proving difficult.

Then I came across a couple of videos on YouTube (by @jerrybanfield and by @thedollarvigilante) both talking about steem as a place where you could earn cryptocurrency just by making posts.

I signed up in double time and just over a year ago I was up, running and posting on steemit.

It was of course slow to begin with but I stuck at it, dug in and kept on hitting the Post button.

As I busied myself day and night on steem, my little pot of Bitcoin kept on growing in value.

Just around Christmas I decided my steem wallet needed a bit of a push to make it to dolphin status (5000 SP) by the end of the year.

So I started converting my stash of Bitcoin into steem.

Bitcoin was peaking out at $18K+ when I converted to steem which was around $3 at the time. I jumped into the pool of dolphins.

A few days later steem shot up to more than double what I paid.

Super lucky! I suddenly had enough for the solar PV system.

If only I had sold then. But steem, I heard from all around, was going to the moon.

I hit the HODL button, and watched steem gradually slide down again.

So I kept at it, building my account bit by bit, steem by steem. Ready for the next big rising.

In the meantime my offgrid aspirations have begun to grow further.

I had the good fortune to have solar expert @makinstuff as a guest on my Alternative Lifestyle Show on MSP Waves Radio a few weeks ago.

Talking with Greg @makinstuff I have begun to learn more about micro-grids.

We have a stream running through our property. It is only small in flow, but it does enter our property 80 feet above our house.

If I could install some form of pico-hydro system I could mesh that in with the solar PV to form a little micro-grid.

And the two go together perfectly. The stream has maximum flow in the winter when the solar hours are at their minimum.

This sounds super tempting and could take us toward a total off-grid solution.

I have no idea yet on the likely cost of a hydro setup but I would imagine it will push the whole micro-grid and solar project up to the $20K ballpark.

With 10K Steempower I am not too far short of this. But I really don’t want to wipe out my steem account now.

If steem did head back to its $5 point, then I could use just half the account value to build my offgrid microgrid.

That really would make my offgrid steemdreams come true.

Come on steem, lets make the sun shine…

[Note : unfortunately Bimble Solar stopped accepting Bitcoin payments shortly after I found them – citing the volatility of Bitcoin as the reason.]



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ stream photo by pennsif  //  solar PV images from pixabay – Creative Commons CC0]