Archive for November, 2012

Update on costs

Friday, November 30th, 2012

I’ve spent the past week negotiating on pricing for the off grid power system. I’ve picked up 2.5kW of 24V solar panels from Low Energy Developments in Melbourne for a very nice price.

Coleman Air based in the USA are sending out all of the electrical control gear to run the panels as well as allow input of wind turbines. Components with the capability of this gear are not available in Australia as the renewables sector has been unfairly skewed to solar, where the ridiculous incentives and rebates were offered.

One example of the capability of the Coleman Air equipment is their charge controller. It will take any mix of power input (of the same DC voltage) to a total of 10kW, charge the batteries to optimum capacity then dump the excess power generated to just about anything I like. Try and find a controller here that comes even close to the capacity alone and you’ll be pulling hair in no time. Since his gear is so damn cheap I’ve ordered everything but the copper wire to get the system running.

Once we have sourced the wind turbines I anticipate we’ll have a 4.5kW system leaving plenty of reserve should we need more panels or turbines in the future to meet power requirements. Ideally I would like to have enough capability so we are not needing to use a genset to charge the batteries.

Since all the pricing of this gear was more than acceptable I have also grabbed 2kW of panels and all the control gear for the aquaponics shed as well.

I still need to source wind turbines, batteries and an inverter for the house system plus purchase the steel to make the mounting racks for the solar panels and the copper to wire it all together. I’m anticipating this to run another $14k which will give us a functioning system for less than connecting power to the house.

And as a bonus to all that there will be no more f#*%ing power bills.

By the way, do you enjoy paying through the nose for your power? Blame the neighbours with the 5kW grid feed systems getting 60 cents a kW for feed in. Then blame the government who forces power companies to buy that power being fed in as part of their renewables targets. Can you see where the unreasonable power price increases have come from?

Ironically since those incentives have collapsed solar panels are now reasonably priced.

So, on to the figures:
Low Energy Developments for the panels, freight and insurance – $2375 (house only)
Coleman Air for charge controller, rectifiers, ammeter/voltmeter, switches, breakers and blocking diodes – $1781.53 (house only)
Bunnings for primer/sealer/bonder – $271
United Fasteners for fixings for the windows – $167.27

Total project spend is now at $306,085.78
House only is now $92,133.28
Cost per square metre is now $319.91

Priming the timbers

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

This is one of those jobs that most people would say really doesn’t need to be done and it is a total pain in the backside, but it should help the colour coat that goes on to the verandah remain sound for 15-20 years. I’ve used Dulux 1 Step acrylic sealer, primer and bonder to protect the seasoned treated pine from moisture. It’s being brushed on to make sure the coat gets into all the knots and irregularities of the wood. Even though it is dressed all round (DAR) it still is far from smooth.

All up there is over 600 metres of timber to be primed and top coated before it will be turned into the verandah. It is much easier to paint wood at waist level on level ground than try and do the job perched on a ladder once it is completed. We’ll just touch up the cuts as the timber is cut to length.

The colour coat will be Taubmans Endure with their new nanoguard technology. I’ve been extremely impressed with how the painted portions of the power room self clean, and appear to stay clean.

Pics 1 & 2 below show about 3/4 of that timber primed and ready for the topcoats. That’s our 14×9 metre aquaponics shed on the other side of it. I’ve been banned from playing with that until the house is habitable.

Third pic is a set of shutters that have since been slit into 150mm sections for the filling of the voids in the last row of blocks. I needed the angle iron on these to be able to clamp wood to position the threaded rods for the verandah fixing accurately in the voids before filling.

Update on costs

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

We’ve had our biggest single purchase since the slab was laid – Bianco for timber and associated hardware for the verandah – $3451.72

Total project spend is now at  $301,490.98
House only is now $87,538.48
Cost per square metre is now $303.95

Moving right along

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

The verandah, windows and doors are next on the to do list.

Work on all the recycled Jarrah and Kauri has begun with the first step being to properly de-nail the wood before it is passed through a planer to bring it all to the same dimensions.

We have already worked out how we want the windows to look for the different openings and once all has been planed to size the router will then cop a beating as the hardwood is machined to the profiles required for each of the openings.

Across the front of the house I can manufacture all the doors and windows bar the kitchen window and leave them safely stored here until needed. Once that is complete production will move on site with the front door frame and windows for the kitchen, craft room, walk in robe and wet areas being built to suit the openings in the walls to ensure best fit. The french doors for the master bedroom and the large set of doors for the dining area will be assembled on site as they will be too large and heavy to move safely if in one piece.

Once everything has been fitted all of the sashes will be removed and brought “back to town” to have a glazier fit the toughened glass required under the BAL 12.5 rating we have for our site.

I have ordered the verandah timber and hardware fixings from Bianco and they are scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday.

The verandah is going to be built differently to what most people are used to seeing. The purlins (roof sheets fix to purlins) will be fixed between rafters (rafters are the structural support for the purlins) rather than run across the top. This will reduce the overall profile height of the verandah as well as ensuring there are no “safe” spots for birds to sit and shelter while they crap all over the path below.

I’ve decided to do this with joist hangers rather than skew nailing as the hangers will provide greater strength (for walking on for example) and increase rigidity overall. All of the timber will be cut roughly to size and primed then painted before it is taken to the block to build the verandah.