Power Issues

For a while Monte and I have been debating the issue of grid power versus off grid power. Obviously there are pros and cons for each. Hence the long debate.

A while ago now, Monte and I decided that we would connect to grid power ie mains electricity. We thought that it would be a cheaper option, and I love the idea of being able to use a washer and a dryer at the same time. It is so much quicker to boil the kettle for a much needed coffee, as opposed to the gas method, or, even slower, the wood fired stove method!

Nevertheless, we are at the crossroads of debate again!

Seeking assistance from Aurora, Tassie’s power people, we started the process of getting a quote for connecting to the mains. The process of getting a quote is quite lengthy. First, you phone Aurora for the paperwork. They send the paperwork, and you send it back. The idea is that they will write to you, informing you of a ballpark figure of what it might cost to connect to the grid. Next, you complete more paperwork, including site plans and vegetation etc, and you pay $500 and they tell you how much it will cost, and then you decide whether or not to go ahead!

We thought that it would not be too expensive, as we are in a rural area, and Aurora will subsidise the cost of our connection. Except, what we did not realise until now is that they will only subsidise if your usage is not less than 3000kw hours a year.

As we do not think that we will use that much power in our new, energy efficient home (especially when we used only just that amount of power in our previous energy consuming house), we have – again – decided to go off grid. The other reason why we have decided to go off grid is that Aurora did not give us the ballpark figure; we would have to pay $500 for that! That would be fine if we thought that we would go ahead, but with more talking and more thinking, we do not think that mains power is what we should do.

As petrol prices keep rising, and knowing that they will only increase, we think that the maintenance to rural power supplies and roads and council vegetation will eventually cease. There are trees nearby that could cause power outages, and we think that, eventually, we would lose the power supply for various reasons. Because of this, we think that off grid power might be the best way to go.

It rightly seems as though we are circling ourselves around this issue of electricity. What I would like to see happen is that we move away from needing it completely. We think that we will add to our solar panels and wind turbine, so that we can have a bigger power source for this cabin. We hate using the generator, which costs us nearly $20 a day! It would be much cheaper to buy more solar panels than to use the generator, and for that reason, I am keen to move onto 100% wind and solar power as soon as possible! In fact, I am hoping that we can get it all organised in the next week.

At present our only system on the solar/wind power is the water. We think that we’d be able to have lights and power points on the solar power, and just use the generator for using the washing machine and dryer. In the new house, however, we will have a bigger system, which will be able to run the washing machine, and I won’t need a dryer, because we will have many north-facing windows with lovely sunshine streaming in to dry the clothes, and much more room to put clothes airers in!

Here’s a piece of trivia. A kettle uses so much power that a petrol generator may not even be able to run it. I bought a very cheap, simple kettle (much to Monte’s horror), which the generator only just runs. The cheapest, simplest appliances use the least power. That some kettles use a lot more power than a washing machine is just absurd.

And here we are, worrying about electricity, when it is not a necessity. We could actually live without phones and computers and lights and kettles and television and washing machines… It would just be a lot harder! Although, if we did live without all those things, think about how much sleep we would get. How much time we would have for children and gardens and animals, if we were not spending our time on computers and blogs and facebook and emails… I reckon all that time would be spent washing all those clothes by hand. Ugh. That thought is so terrible. Go solar power!