Friday 28 April 2017

Bring on the power cuts ~ The Champ is ready ....

A spot of insurance was recently purchased and today was installed, a generator and associated parts. It was really not something I had ever thought I would need. Back in Ontario I had the occasional power outages mainly in the summer, but none to make me ever consider digging deep into my sporran to buy a back-up power source.

Here in rural Nova Scotia the considerations and practicalities are much different. During the past winter our hydro went out twice, once for 6 hours and the other time for about 3 hours. Having the woodstove which has (at this date) evolved into our main heat source does provide less concern about having no power, but having an electric pumped deep well for water, it is more critical ~ it is a fact that a box of matches and a candle does make the toilet flush …..

A possible power outage for 6 hours is fine and no big deal, but one never knows for how long the hydro is going to be out. During the past winter, some of our east coast neighbours in New Brunswick were in the dark for up to 10 days. So with that fact in mind, it provided enough motivation to investigate generators and all that goes along with them.

The Planning and Considerations ~
There are a few planning and considerations to take into account before purchasing a generator and the associated additions. The first one is "what are the needs and wants" as far a desired features and appliances to be powered. It is good to have the fridge, the freezer and the deep well pump as "the needs". Then "the wants", could be the TV, modem, some lights, the kettle and microwave. Once that is all decided the total power requirements must be calculated.

If those selected features/items were all running (in our case with only the kettle or microwave but not both), it would amount to about 5500W. To this calculated wattage, the start-up demand must also be considered for motorized appliances such as fridge, deep well pump and freezer. In my example this could (briefly) add an additional 2000W to the overall power output requirement from the generator. I would therefore need a generator with at least 5500W running power, and in the unlikely scenario of everything starting at the same time a total requirement of about 7500W.

Choosing an actual make of generator is a minefield, there are far too many cheaply manufactured Chinese knock-offs on the market, which I am told would make better ship anchors than generators. Considering this fact, I spent a good amount of time researching a lot of makes and finally deciding upon either Briggs & Stratton or Champion. The ultimate decision came down to which one of the two would come on sale first at Canadian Tire ~ eventually the Champion did at $400 off, it is Model #100107, 6500W running with 7800 starting watts.

The next part of the overall puzzle was how do I get the power from the generator to my appliances ..? I had absolutely no idea, so this too required careful research and education through one, two or more YouTube videos. I learned early on, that a generator must never be wired in a way that it makes your breaker panel live. This type of direct connection could have fatal consequences for utility repair crews and also overload your generator by possibly powering too many circuits in the house. The correct and legal way is to, either use a two position Interlock Toggle Switch added to your main breaker panel, which flips between that and a second breaker panel powered by the generator, thus allowing only one to be powered at any time ~ by either the utility or generator. A disadvantage of this type of arrangement is that you never know when the power is restored unless you switch back to the main breaker panel to find out.

The other method is a transfer box, which in a very clever way allows the main breaker panel to be left on but not powered by the generator, while transferring generator power to your selected circuits ~ this was my preferred option.

The purchases and transportation ~
Not being a person who likes to pay for delivery, a relevant and important aspect of the Champion generator purchase was ~ will it fit into the back of a 4-door Civic ...? 
I called Canadian Tire to ask if someone could measure the box, which they kindly did. So with those numbers I carefully and methodically studied the Civic door opening with the acquired box dimensions. I decided that if the box is lifted in a level state 3 inches above the back seat, it would fit ... but with not much room for error. The only possible negative to my plan was the weight, the Champion is 213lbs. So, I could foresee a slight issue with that aspect, how to keep the box level and elevated the necessary 3 inches ......

Feeling somewhat confident about my Honda Civic back seat analysis, off we went to Canadian Tire. Eventually, it took myself and two Canadian Tire guys to guide the box into the Civic. During the whole process at no time did those two guys, show the slightest confidence in my continued assurances that the box would fit. They kept reminding me that they could arrange delivery ~ “no way” I thought, it’s going in ... and it did.

Uncharacteristically though, I neglected to plan for the arrival and eventual extraction of the box, all I will say it provided a number of interesting challenges ...!!!
The Box
The transfer box which is a complete kit, is a Reliance 31406CRK, which came with a 10' generator cable. I required 60', so I also ordered an additional 50'. This will allow the generator to be operated at the open door of the garage, keeping the noise level away from the house. The cable and the kit were bought through with no delivery charge.

The Reliance Transfer Box

Circuits and Balancing ~
Before doing any installing, another prerequisite is to decide what house circuits have to be powered to accommodate the selected features and appliances. The transfer box has a total of 6 protected circuits 3 on each side of the box with each having a 120V supply. Two of those (one from each side) are required for the deep well pump giving a total 240V. This then leaves 2 circuits at each side for everything else.

Also the power requirements on the both sides transfer box (marked A~B~C and E~F~G) have to be balanced. For example if all the appliances use 5500W, it best to try and get as close as possible 2750W from each side. In my situation, if everything was running I will have 2500W and 3000W.

The Installation ~
This is my favourite part ~ taking all the theory, the study and the planning, then putting it into practise ....

After mounting the transfer box next to the main breaker panel, all the selected house circuits have to be wired via the main breaker panel into the transfer box. An inlet box which is also supplied with the kit, is installed at a convenient location on the outside of the house. Some additional 10/3 building wire is required to go from the back of the inlet box to the in-house transfer box.
Transfer Box in position ready to be wired into the selected house circuits
All wired and closed

The Testing ~
After the installation, it was time to test that everything was good and fine. Each circuit on the transfer box has its own three position toggle switch ~ LINE (utility powered), OFF (no power) and GEN (generator powered).

The first test is to confirm the "LINE" position, in this position all the selected circuits should be live powered from the utility, then the "OFF" position where the circuits will have no power, finally my favourite "GEN", for this test the generator has to be fired up.

There is a sequence to this, first plug the generator cable into both the inlet box on the outside wall of the house and the other end into the generator. Start the generator, let it run for a couple of minutes to balance out. Flip the generator Breaker to "ON", then with a flashlight (because the house power is off), go to your transfer box and flip each circuit one at a time from "LINE" to "GEN". If the job is done correctly you will have lights, fridge, freezer, kettle or microwave and flushing toilets .....

The Inlet Box
The Generator Cable

The Champ

Thursday 27 April 2017

The woodith cometh ......

Planning well ahead, today Mike our local School Bus Driver and Wood Guy delivered four cord of fire wood. This wood will be dried out for use during winter season 2018/19.

Over the last week we moved just under three cord which we bought last August from the outside storage to the woodshed, this will keep us warm during 2017/18.

Over the past winter we burnt about three cord which was kindly left for us with the house, I reckon this will be our typical consumption.

All that is required now is for this new bundle to be stacked ….
To give some idea of the amount of wood, if it is stacked 4’ high it would extend for 96’: ~ gullible volunteers are more than welcome …

Friday 14 April 2017

When is it not perfect ...?

Today I was out on my own for a wander on Crescent Beach and George Island.

At one end of the beach there are a group of rocks, one of which I have now adopted. Back in July 1971 as a 10-year-old, I did the same with a rock at Big Sands, near Gairloch in the West Highlands of Scotland.

"My Rock" as I often refer to it, is very special to me. It provides many extremely happy memories of great times and adventures as a young boy. I often fished off my rock, caught crabs and only when the tide was in, I would jump from it into the water. On other occasions I would sit and gaze at the beautiful Torridon mountain range, often getting completely lost in my thoughts. In the late evenings, I would witness the most magnificent sunsets which I have never seen equalled anywhere, truly fantastic.

I believe everyone should have a special place in their life, a place you recall with fondness, warmth and where you never once felt fear. A place from your past or even now in the present, which provides safety and comfort. A location whose surroundings render an environment to develop your hopes, formulate your ambitions and think about your dreams. A place perhaps like mine that only requires the company of the sea, the mountains and the warm wind to make it perfect. Living almost 30 years in Ontario, I missed My Rock and all the 360° splendour it provided. My hope during all those years was always that some day in the future, I could find another rock, a place that I could sit and look out in any weather to enjoy the peace and perhaps again get lost in my thoughts.

It may not have the grandeur of the Torridon mountains, the smell of peat coming off the surrounding hillsides or the even the company of local sheep, but the rock on Crescent Beach will do just fine ~ I have found My NS Rock.

Below is a photo taken today at My NS Rock and a couple of My Rock in the West Highlands of Scotland.

On my way back along Crescent Beach I came across some young lads having lots of fun with a surf board connected via a very long rope to a Volkswagen. I have also added a photo of a very elusive Cardinal doing his best to avoid me on George Island.

When I got home today, Linda asked ~ "So how was it ...?", I answered with a question ~ "When is it not perfect ...?"

My NS Rock, it will do just fine .....
Looking south east at My Rock in Scotland (far end of the beach) with the Torridon Mountains in the background
Looking west My Rock in Scotland at low tide

Friday 7 April 2017

A foggy wander

In addition to a good paced wander on Crescent Beach and a little more exploring of the LaHave Islands I also experienced my first Nova Scotia coastal fog. According to popular belief Nova Scotia gets a lot of fog. If this is in fact true, then as far as I am concerned it the fog is more than welcome any time.

With the tide out I started my beach walk in a steady drizzle. By the time I reached the rocks at the end of the beach which are about 2.5km away, the sun was attempting to break the fogs hold resulting in beautiful diffused light conditions.

On the way back with the tide rapidly coming in, I came across my first Monarch butterfly of the year ~ see the last photo. It happened at the water’s edge while enjoying the warm southern wind and looking out at the rolling waves, that the butterfly fluttered down in front of me. He was absolutely exhausted and looked like he was truly ready to give up. I reckon he had probably just completed the long journey from his winter home in Mexico. Noticing he was completely helpless, I bent down to offer him my hand. With much surprise he climbed on and allowed me to carry him to the safety of some nearby long grass. As I left, he looked very happy ~ perhaps I may see more of him this summer ….

The old and the very old

Out on today’s wander on Bush Island, I came across this nice combination of the old and the very old.


We've got ducks ....

A couple ducks have taken up residence in the front yard, it could be quackers around here if there are babies ….