Sanity Farm is moving towards running completely on renewable energy! Our solar and wind capacity is currently backed up by diesel generators, but as we add more green power to the farm these generators will be used less and less.
Powering up the farm
When we bought Sanity Farm in 1992, energy was supplied by quaint piped gas lamps and candle power.
We at first were satisfied with this along with paraffin lamps but we soon wanted to listen to music so we installed a single 12V solar panel (1 amp from Croatia) on the side of the house attached to a single leisure pack battery in order to power our sound equipment.
When the house burnt down in 1998 and we rebuilt, we opted to power up the outside buildings only (“the office”) and installed 2 larger 12V solar panels (150 watts in total) on the roof with a bank of batteries. Shortly afterwards, we installed a satellite dish and were able to watch tv, again only in the office. We added 3 more 12V solar panels, 70 watts each (210 watts, so 360 watts in total).
About 5 years ago, we added a 12V wind generator which trickle charges the 12V battery for our alarm system and recharges all our batteries for tractor, for lawn mower, quad, etc
Only in the last 2 years, we have expanded our power into the main house, finally, after 17 years, having electric light in the kitchen!
When we built the sausage kitchen last year and with our plans for the olive press, we upgraded the solar power and battery bank and converted to a 24V system, 8 panels with a total of 2.4KW, as well as purchasing a large diesel generator for the olive press, all housed in special “power room”.
We are adamant that we will never be part of the Eskom grid and although this has been a huge capital investment, we have no regrets and will continue to upgrade as and when funds become available.
In the meanwhile, we have added solar water heating to the main house, which in time will be linked to our filtered lui water, in order to preserve our precious rain water.
We are rightly proud of our system, beautifully conceived and built by Mike himself, an incredible achievement and one which we will always be thankful for especially when we need it in our old age when we definitely would have been hard pressed to afford Eskom rates! More importantly, we are harnessing natural energy to power up our lives and doing our bit for the environment.