No more vampire devices

We’ve finally found a power board that does what we want!

The Smart Home Theatre Power Saver power board from Mort Bay. We found ours at Bunnings

It comes with an infra-red sensor that learns the “off” command from your remote. It then waits 60 seconds and if the power consumption of the devices connected is low it then turns them off at the power board. It also has 1 outlet that is always left on which we use for our PVR.

It is nice to hear the little “click” and see all the red and green stand-by lights turn off.

You are my sunshine

After reading many horror stories on the Whirlpool forums we finally settled on a 1.5kW grid connected solar system from Origin.

Interest free and big name were main deciding factors for us. Downer EDI did the install and the guys were really professional and happily answered our numerous questions. Like many people we were offered an AreoSharp inverter because of supply issues with the Sharp model but we declined and had to wait an additional 2 months for the install.

We have:

The panels are installed on the north side of our house and actual look pretty good when seen from the street.

solar panels on house
The panels installed on my roof

I still have my old meter which happily spins backwards during the day and over the last couple of weeks we have produced much more power than we have used. The new “solar” meter will be installed in about a month. On a sunny day the display on the inverter usually shows between 1200W and 1400W.

Inverter installed
The inverter installed and operational

So now we can run the pump for my water tanks without any worry about CO2 or cost 🙂

Plus we can use the tank water to keep them clean and operating at full efficiency.

In the first 3 weeks we’ve generated over 150kWh!

Got Water…?

We are growing some of our own food but we still need to keep it alive over summer and also keep the some of the extra rain water for use around the house to further reduce our impact on the world.

We were lucky enough to be included in a study into storm water management and recieved funding towards the installation in addition to the state and federal government rebates. More information about the study can be found at

We have a 5000 L tank connected to all the downpipes on our house. This is achieved by using a “wet system” where all the downpipe are connected together under the house and then taken into the tank. You can see an explanation of this style of system at

The tank is connected to two toilets, the washing machine, and a garden tap to keep our vegies growing. We still use town water for drinking but we have room to add extra storage, filtration, and treatment if we want to add this option. The rain fall and usage model predicts that our little tank will overflow on about 35 days in the year. This excess water is treated and filtered naturally in an infiltration trench for storm water management.

The installation was done by

Tanks and Pump
Tanks and pump

Own your grow

For the second year our little vegie garden is growing our summer food. Winter was not that great but we did get some garlic growing along with some celery and parsley. The garlic is in the small bed on the right hand side.

Now we have bok choy, spinach, and broccoli in the main bed and herbs and strawberries in the pots in front. There are still some celery and parsley from winter and room for some other vegies once we decide what we want to grow.

The Vegie Garden

The fence is to keep the dog out. 🙂

We are thinking about adding a second bed to see if we can grow even more of our own vegies but we need to ensure that we don’t grow more then we can eat or store for later. Last year we grew more basil than we could ever use, we still have jars of it dried that look like they will last years however we did use up the pesto we made.

Compost, manure, blood & bone, seaweed, sugar cane mulch, and tank water keep everything growing.

The Gardening Australia website has a helpful planting guide

A book that has been great is The Kitchen Garden Companion: Dig, Plant, Water, Grow, Harvest, Chop, Cook by Stephanie Alexander

The Kitchen Garden Companion: Dig, Plant, Water, Grow, Harvest, Chop, Cook