#LifeWithBLUETTI : homesteading, breaker board and roof works

August 2023: Embracing Solar Power

After 15 years teaching Latin, my husband and I decided it was the best choice for me to become housewife and homeschool our children when our first kid born. Now we have three kids (4th is coming next year), and I find great joy in my duties as homemaker.
We celebrate my eldest’s 6th birthday on Thursday, and I never regret my choice. It puts things in perspective: it is best age (<12) to build strong, lasting relationship with kids. Life will remember, and our choice is to put the relationship with our kids first, as well as creating the most solid foundation in their life. Schools changed a lot over the past 2 decades in our country. When I started teaching, it was about instruction. Now, more and more, the state wants schools to educate, and in a politicised way on top of all. Education should be done at home, with culture, values, and family. Schools should focus on instruction. That motivated us to homeschool, while my husband stays a teacher in the “real world.” It is good to stay connected with the world and see how things change. We do not want to become like “The Village,” a story that shows danger of isolating too much, I think.
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This introduction of our #LifeWithBLUETTI should give you a little background on our journey, and how it fits our quest for ind independence in different aspects.
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Back in time, August 2023
My in-laws, who openly admit they have become solar evangelist (not to cult level though!), lent us their AC300 system. They also gave us six big solar panels they had as surplus after upgrading their own setup. I thought at first it was just a camper’s gadget. But soon, I see I can do all my laundry with just one generator and battery, if we have some sun during the day even during mid-season.

R.I.P. Laundry Dryer

The AC300 is enough to run the washing machine. I have three kids, a husband, and my old aunt who lives upstairs. Our dryer used too much power, and it made the battery empty in 90 minutes. On cloudy days, this was bad because the laundry does not dry in the garden either. But then the old dryer broke in September, and we buy a new one, with heat pump and A+ energy class. The shop warned it takes more time to dry, but it uses less power. To us, it proved to be ideal as more time and less overall power means it can mostly run on solar power.
The logic is simple: less energy, over a longer period gives solar power a chance to run it from start to finish!

Homesteading and Self-Sufficiency

We like homesteading, growing our vegetables. It’s part of our community’s culture. It is healthy and teaches the children many things. In two generations, our society as forgotten how to grow food in a garden, and it is sad. It is seen as an old people thing, however, it is harder to master than we thought.
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We homeschool our children, and they help in the garden. Even the youngest, who is 3, helps with weeding, watering, and tasting!
Somewhere in autumn, our electric tiller broke. That was just a few weeks after the dryer.

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The shop said it was because the wire was too long and too thin, causing the motor to overheat. We got a new tiller with a warranty and learned a few things about extension wires.

Thanksgiving 2023: Winning an AC200L

In November 2023, we won an AC200L in a contest on this forum. It was very lucky for us.
While we are very grateful for this, we found AC300 to be superior to help in the house.
AC200L was too heavy for me to move in the garden. And even if I could take it in the garden, it could not get solar power for the laundry during the day. And since most of the solar harvest happens while I tend to the garden, it’s not the best choice to try and move it around. The AC300 we were lent has more solar input power, and we can add more batteries (see our plans below). So, we offered our in laws to trade their AC300 against our brand new AC200L. They needed more mobility, and we needed more power. Everyone is happy!

Gardening Solutions

A thick extension wire (2.5mm²) is good for tilling. But with this thickness, comes shorter wire. And to avoid overheating the wire, the extender needs to be fully extended (coiled wires create more heat apparently).
Running a 60m+ wire is not possible, especially since we have to maintain the sidewalk too. So maybe we will buy a small power station like the AC70 for these tasks.

Breaker Board Upgrade

My husband, also a teacher, takes our oldest son to school on Fridays. It is good for him to see a more mainstream school. We met an electrician friend in our community. He helped us connect the AC300 to our breaker board.

Kids are recharging on the induction top!
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We now have a sticker indicating the fire brigade that another source of energy powers the house:

Our friend also added a new row of breakers and a transfer switch:

Now, the AC300 powers our fridge, laundry room, and other important things like the water pump, lights, and internet router. The row can switch to the grid if the AC300 has problems. For that we turn the “batteries” breaker down, slide the plastic window from left to right, and then turn on the “grid” switch up. The plastic acts as a safety device to prevent turning both sources on at the same time.

Future Plans: House and Solar Panel Upgrade

We started some major renovations in the spring on the top floor (“mansardé” under the roof), which used to be an attic, to create a living space for my aging aunt. It will likely become a nice apartment for our children as they grow older and seek some autonomy and privacy without a big expense.
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You can see our roof (East side):


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This was the perfect time to plan for installing solar panels on the roof. Currently, our panels are currently on the ground, and they suffered from long shadows during the 2023-2024 winter, leading to poor production from mid-November to late February.
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We asked a company to install the panels on our roof, but to our surprise, the roof is made of asbestos. Since the house is 50 years old, the roof needs to be completely redone. Only a specialized, “acrédité” team can perform the work due to the toxic and volatile nature of asbestos. No one can drill or attach panels to the roof until the shingles are safely removed and replaced with a non-hazardous material.

After that, we will buy six more panels, bringing our total power to 4800 Watts. The roof is East-West facing, so we will have a broader range of sunlight, with one “versant” per solar input in the AC300.

We meet the company in two weeks and hope to get the roof redone before winter so the solar panels can be installed and increase our energy independence.
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In the meantime, the works keep us quite busy, as the top floor used to be an apartment, and it was not renovated since the late 1970s (previous owner):

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You can tell energy efficiency gets particular attention as houses in the 70s lacked proper insulation. It’s the perfect time to reduce our energy needs!
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Some days, we are scared by the amount of work this represents.
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Last but not least, meet our cat… Suez!
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He finds it very stimulating to explore all this new playground.
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Final note, some energy readings.
I use energy meters to see our power use and find ways to save. For example:

  • Laundry uses 600Wh to 1500Wh.
  • The new dryer uses the same.
  • Fridge and freezer use about 1kWh per day.

Thank you for reading, and we hope to share more as we progress with our top floor, roof work and solar panel installation!

7 Likes

Thanks for sharing with us @amandine and good luck :)

1 Like

@amandine Thanks for your entry!
An impressive renovation process of your solar project :sunny:. And the cute little kitty supervising the work. :eyes: :eyes:

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Well dear @BLUETTI thank you for rewarding our project with a PV350!
And thanks to your special offer on AC180, we’ll enjoy both the portability of a smaller unit for the garden, and infinite power from the sun! Thank you again!