A path to energy independence in Phuket: forming the foundations

First utility bill of the year came the other day (for December, 2014), and I’m pleased to say that it was the lowest I’d ever seen since moving to this mangrove-side man-cave 10 months ago – thanks to a few energy conscious lifestyle decisions, my latest electric bill amounted to a whopping B78 (aproximately US$2.50), for just over three-kilowatt hours of inflated, off- the-beaten-path grid energy used on my property that I had apparently used last month.

Solar panels on the back porch.

Solar panels on the back porch.

 

First, it should be noted that the electricity line running into the property is siphoned from the Soi-master’s house at the front of the dirt lane some 300 meters away; as this community is technically off the official grid, the siphoned if not locally micro-generated electricity supplied to villagers is charged at between B20-24 per unit (one kilowatt-hour), compared to regular grid energy on the normal grid in Phuket, which costs between B2-6 per kWh, depending on various factors (peak hours, private residence or serviced apartment, etc).

 

New TPS 1230 12VDC solar charge controller, cost B1,500 or US$50.

New TPS 1230 12VDC solar charge controller, cost B1,500 or US$50.

I gave the 13-year-old collector boy a B100 bill and couldn’t be bothered asking for change, though I regret not asking for the hand-written receipt for keepsake and to snap a photo to accompany this report online. Perhaps next month’s bill which I expect to be even lower.

 

The truth is I’ve used much more than 3 kWh of electricity this past month. The 3kWh of electricity that I paid for was mostly consumed via turning on and off the AC220V, 15W fluorescent lights –   on the porches, in two bathrooms, the kitchen and in my workshop. There was at least one occasion I recall plugging in the AC220V, 80W LCD TV to watch a movie with my son, and his mom plugging in her iPhone to charge a few times.

 

Read this article to understand why the Siamerican is striving for energy independence in Southern Thailand.

 

Even the 3 kWh that I had aparently used… I do have some doubt as to how accurate the make-shift meter actually is. In any case, it certainly is not spinning as quick as it’s used to over the past year, for most of my energy requirements have been successfully and independently generated on site, thanks to affordable access to basic, domestic photovoltaic (PV) solar technologies and systems – solar panels, deep-cycle batteries, charge regulators and the respective direct current (DC) circuits.

 

On any given working day, in which I’m home from work by 8-9pm and there through to the early morning, I estimate I use as much as 500 watt-hours (Wh). And, on a day off in which I’m home for a better part of the day, I might use up to one kWh. Thus, I reckon I’ve used some 15kWh from my own grid throughout the past month, but certainly under 20kWh, Comparing this figure to my latest electric bill, I estimate that I’m currently 80-90 per cent off the unsustainable Phuket/Southern Thailand grid (link to Krabi coal stories). One year ago, I was 90-95 per cent on the grid.

Next, I’ll share calculations/an overview of my energy consumption, systems, notes and observations from the last year of making the enegy independence transition, and challenges, plans and steps to look forward to.

Watch this space.


Comments

A path to energy independence in Phuket: forming the foundations — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Off-grid energy autonomy in Phuket, Part 1: Water management

  2. Pingback: Off-grid autonomy Phuket, Part 1: Water life

  3. I’m starting to build a new house here in Phuket, Soi Saliga, Rawai. Need to figure out what angle the solar panels should be? and how many. Pool, A/C, fans, computer, fridge, freezer, etc.
    Thanks, Pete 088-761.3600

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *