Eco House Thailand

This blog tells the story of how I am building an off grid home in Thailand.

To put the build in context it is best to start by reading the section that explains my initial Design Ideas There are also sections on how I manage Water and grow food.

Land PicThe site is on the edge of the family’s village was a field of teak trees. It is 1 Rai (1,600 m2) and cost ฿650,000. The price is a bit high, but it is perfect location for us, as it faces onto a road and has an electricity pole 10m away. Cutting the Chanote (land title)  to give us 1 Rai cost  ฿20,000 + ฿10,000 for an express service. I have a 30 year lease on the land and my name is on the title papers.

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20171129_103855.jpgThe Land where we planned to build was raised up by 1.5m with heavy clay soil to avoid flooding and cost ฿380 per truck with 150 trucks cost ฿57,000. The soil was left for a year to sit through a rainy season to compact.

20180625_100823.jpgNo power on site, so a trip to PEA (Provincial Electricity Authority) is required to set up a temporary meter.

at-pea-identifying-the-closest-post-to-our-land.jpgAt PEA identifying the closest electrical post to our land, which in our case is about 5m away. Each post has a unique number on the post and in the PEA system – quite impressed. ฿6,000 deposit paid for the temporary meter.

my-builder-connect-the-electric.jpgOur builder Khun Own, had to climb the post to make the connection, all PEA had to do was fit the temporary meter.

temporary-electric-meter.jpgPower connected!

Digging GeothermalLaying Geothermal Pipes - 100m buried 3mFitting geothermal. 30minutes with the digger gave me a 3m deep trench which cost me ฿750. 100m of pipe cost ฿3,600.

img_20181128_094029.jpgBelow 2m the ground is much cooler than at the surface. Air will travel for 100m in this cool soil before it is introduced into the Energy Recovery Ventilator in the house. My Thai neighbors don’t know what to make of it or the fact that most of my windows are sealed shut.

Main Build:
I couldn’t find a Thai architect who shared my vision. Before I met each one, I sent them a copy of my detailed design ideas, which they did not look at.  In the end I employed an engineer who took my designs and put them into a form that was acceptable to the Government Office that approves home builds, cost ฿20,000, with ฿1,000 for government approval to build.

testing-how-deep-the-foundations-need-to-go-6m1.jpgTesting how deep the foundations need to go, 6m in our case. I thought ฿5,000 was a bit expensive by Thai standards, but it came with a full engineers report and recommendation for the foundation type and size of steel to use.

my-house-is-just-sticks-in-the-ground.jpgMy house is just sticks in the ground

img_20181201_110251.jpgimg_20181201_111231.jpgimg_20181201_133804.jpg6m deep holes

img_20181202_095558.jpgFilled with steel and concrete

img_20181202_171601.jpgHouse now looks like a battlefield

img_20181203_133827.jpgDig some more holes

IMG_20181203_155702Add some more concrete

IMG_20181205_090050Add more steel, a lucky stick, some coins and a leaf

IMG_20181205_100910More steel for the column

IMG_20181205_162915More concrete

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Stage payment to complete all the foundations and column steel ฿300,000

IMG_20181208_133748Adding formwork and steel for ground floor walls

IMG_20181208_133658Geothermal pipe gets insulated coat where it comes out of the ground to enter the house

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IMG_20181210_113751Sand added between the beams to give a good flat surface to lay the concrete floors on. Sand also reduces the thermal bridge effect, meaning that less cooling is wicked into the ground below, the opposite to what happens in northern countries.

IMG_20181210_164334b.jpgThe sand is part filled, wetted, compacted and the process is repeated. I paid an extra ฿10,000 for the sand, instead of the usual Thai method of using whatever dirt is on site.

Ordered some insulation foam 184m2 = ฿20,900img_20181130_084152.jpgDelivered by overnight truck from Bangkok ฿6,500.  Foam will be used for underfloor insulation on the ground, second floor and third floor.

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30cm of compacted sand, then a vapor barrier and then 3 inches of foam.

IMG_20181211_144116b If you don’t have a Hot Wire Foam & Polystyrene Cutter, then use a bread knife

IMG_20181211_172910bThe Foam floor was a big hit with the village kids…”Dances with Thai Dog”?

IMG_20181212_164812Adding more steel, ready for more concrete

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IMG_20181214_143413 dIMG_20181214_144353 dConcrete for the columns

IMG_20181215_111801.jpgAs the columns for the wrap around porch are filled with concrete, the columns for the second floor are wrapped in plastic cling film. To prevent cracking, plastic is placed over the curing concrete to trap the water inside, ensuring gradual curing.

Second stage payment ฿267,500 for completion of ground floor slab; initial plumbing, waste water, and columns.

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Ring beam for the second floor. The smaller posts are to support the wrap around roof on the ground floor.

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Bought some windows for the “wet rooms” – kitchen and bathrooms. These windows will be constantly open. They incorporate stainless steel security bars and mosquito screens.  80cm x 50cm are ฿2,690

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The larger ones for the kitchen are 240cm x 110cm @ ฿8,690. With Thai cooking it is important to get plenty of fresh air into the kitchen. The usual approach to windows is to build the house and have the windows made to measure to fit. For the non-conditioned “wet rooms” I am buying the windows cheaply off the shelf first and then building the walls to fit.

IMG_20181225_110143 roofIMG_20181225_111335bThe second floor concrete floor arrives. The little house of straw and plastic sheeting is where the night security team sleep during the build.

IMG_20181225_150405 eIMG_20181225_150418 dIMG_20181225_150432 cIMG_20181225_150438 bIMG_20181225_150449 aGreat view from the second floor, can’t wait to see the view from the third floor!

IMG_20181226_110411 BMore foam added to the second floor and then more steel. I plan to have a home cinema on the second floor and the foam will help to dampen the noise.

IMG_20181227_102742IMG_20181227_162201More concrete and we have a second floor.

IMG_20181229_101059 bConcrete columns up to the third floor

sliderThe cost of building concrete staircases from the ground to the second floor and from the second to the third is ฿40,000. The third stage payment is ฿267,000.

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img_20190106_151510Ring beam for the third floor. The front and back of the house will have 8m wide by 1m deep balconies on the third floor, which will help with shading.

The last couple of days I have been distracted from the house build by another project.

On a recent visit to my local Primary school, I noticed the students watering a dry patch of dirt. I was told that they were trying to grow some vegetables.

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I saw that there was a pond nearby, so asked why they didn’t pump the water onto the land. (stupid question) – no money for pump and no money for electricity even if they had a pump. So I set about a little project that would help the school and hopefully be educational.  I purchased a 320 watt solar panel; Pump; DC motor and control box.

First requirement was a frame to hold the solar panel at 15 degrees.

panel 1Then sort out the electrics for the motor and pump.

3aNote my use of zip ties to hold it all together.

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img_20190109_100202 bBack to the build: a boom concrete pump which uses a remote-controlled articulating robotic arm to place concrete accurately in the ring beam for the third floor. The concrete is poured from the concrete truck into a second truck which pumps it up to the third floor.

img_20190109_145204 fThere was a little concrete left over and I have another parking place.

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The first Q-CON blocks have arrived. They are Autoclaved Aerated Concrete Blocks (AAC Blocks). AAC is light and the blocks are joined with a thin bed of mortar. They offers excellent sound and thermal insulation, are strong and fire resistant. Originally I was going to use 20cm wide blocks, but have decided to use 2×7.5cm blocks between which I will put 7cm of foam with a silver radiant barrier that reflects thermal radiation and further reduces heat transfer.

I have agreed a price with my builder to purchase and fit all the Q-Con blocks for the three floors, including any steel/concrete reinforcement, the SCG block “glue” and render. This includes the double block walls in the main block and the single block walls for the kitchen, bathrooms and porch. I will purchase and fit any foam/foil insulation. The price includes fitting all the windows and doors (which I will buy) ฿500,000

img_20190109_133118The blocks are easy to cut and work with, so the walls go up fast.

img_20190109_165426Two guys put these walls up in a couple of hours. Steel bars are inserted between the rows and joined into the columns. Additional concrete and steel columns are added every couple of meters for extra strength.

img_20190110_130821 bCrane arrived to fly the floor planks up to the third floor.

img_20190110_135308 cimg_20190110_135446 cCracking view from the top

img_20190111_083841Another giant crane arrived today to deliver concrete to the third floor.

img_20190113_101739bWalls progressing and columns built for the roof. The fourth stage payment is ฿267,000

img_20190113_144417To avoid any confusion on where the doors go  – latest plan attached to the wall for all to see. The main block can only be accessed via the porch or the kitchen so there are 2 sets of doors.

An open plan design is very popular now, especially after all the house make over shows, but it far less efficient as you cannot just cool the  location that you are in, but instead you are cooling half the house! This is the opposite of designing for climate. For example in the USA, house designs look very similar, no matter the climate that they are located in. This might explain why the USA uses more energy for cooling than the whole continent of Africa uses for everything!

img_20190113_133449The same three inches of foam that we used under all the floors will be sandwiched between two 7.5cm Q-CON blocks in the walls of the main block. The double sided foil insulation is stapled to the inside of the outside wall  – ฿1,900 for 75m2img_20190120_125723 b

img_20190121_132541img_20190121_144624To fill the gaps we used expanding polyurethane foam, just one more product that the builders had not seen before.

We attached the foam to the foil with dabs of spray foam to create the all important air gap between the radiant barrier and  the foam insulation

img_20190121_154342Then a second wall of Q-Con Blocks with another air gap between the foam and blocks.

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img_20190121_093313Starting the staircase to the third floor. As we are not planning to be dragging any sofas up these stairs, they are designed to be quite steep and narrow to save space. If we do decide to have a ping pong table or the like on the third floor, we can always pull it up the side of the building.

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Measuring for the roof. I have decided to use Bluescope Colorbond steel roof for the build. An expensive steel roof by Thai standards. Colorbond uses Zincalume® steel, a Zinc-Aluminium Alloy and the colour is then baked on to the surface, hence the name “colorbond”. It comes with a 30 year anti rust warranty. I have chosen .44mm thickness in white. I have also ordered 5mm of foiled coated foam to be preattached to the steel at the factory. This improves the thermal reflection of the roof and reduces the noise from rain. The materials cost for the roof  above the third floor is ฿48,000 but this cost is included in the quotation I received from my builder.o he will be paying.

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The roof and walls of the house have reflective foil insulation, able to stop more than 97-percent of radiant heat. There is also a layer of foam in the roof,  walls and floors to reduce Thermal Conductivity.

img_20190128_134939The roof sections arrive. Attached to each sheet is 5mm of foam and silver radiant barrier. The sections are the whole length of the roof, so there will be no joins. They overlap each other with the ridge section on the right with no foam sitting on top of the ridge section of the next piece.

img_20190128_175331The galvanized screws, complete with rubber washer are colour matched to the roof – in my case white.

img_20190128_141334The first job is to pull all the roof sections up onto the roof.

img_20190128_093008_burst1img_20190128_155749Galvanized wire mesh is then attached to the roof steel, this prevents the foam from falling off the roof panels.

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img_20190131_134110There have been some comments from the locals about why The House has no windows. In the thermal envelope of a building, the weakest link are the window frames – so I don’t have any. The next area of weakness are the windows themselves. In Thailand, double glazed windows are not easily available and are very expensive.

img_20181219_165714 bimg_20181219_165821 dThe glass in a clear glass block is much thicker than standard window glass and there is a much wider air gap between the panes than what you would find in double glazing. The result is a window that is far better insulated and soundproofed and only costs ฿48 per block.

As steel bars will be inserted between the blocks and tied into the walls, they are much stronger and more secure than standard windows. When the double internal walls are finished, the glass block windows will be added.

Ventilation will come from in the form of filtered, cooled, dried air which will be pumped into each room from the ground source geothermal and the Energy Recovery Ventilator.

The reduced view from the small windows will be supplemented by “virtual windows” from security camera feeds.

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It is far cooler on the third floor than at ground level, this is partly due to the fact that wind speeds are higher with increased height, but the speed of the wind is further increased by the building design. The wind is funneled by the sloping roof and partial side walls, this  phenomenon is called The Venturi Effect

venturi effect in architecture

Doors:

Internal doors will not be made of wood, which rots quickly in the hot humid tropics and is also subject to termite attack. So I have chosen foam filled UPVC from eco-door at ฿3,200 including frame.  External doors will be oversized and made to measure in high grade stainless steel ranging in price from ฿12,000 to ฿16,000 depending on size. The doors are currently being manufactured and I will post pictures when they arrive. Three ground floor stainless doors will be equipped with biometric digital door locks from eco-door at ฿5,500 each

Digital Door locks

There will also be a stainless steel door at the top of the second floor to secure the whole floor as a safe-room. The third floor will have a stainless door to prevent access down to the second floor or up from the second floor, making the third floor a place of “last stand” there being a rope ladder on the third floor down to the ground.

Stainless steel doors will all be fitted with stainless steel Zombie-Bar security barricades made by the door company. Basically a piece of medieval technology, but it is time tested.

zombie-bar

IMG_20190214_094745The  blockwork for the porch on the left and kitchen and bathrooms on the right has started to go up. These rooms are part of the buffer zone and will not be air-conditioned. My plan is to have all the “wet-rooms” (kitchen and bathrooms) together. It simplifies the plumbing of the solar thermal hot water and means no chance of a leaking pipe in the main house. You can see that window holes for these rooms has started to be punched out. These rooms will be naturally ventilated, so will have the only windows that actually open.

IMG_20190214_161134 bBefore applying the render a primer coat is sprayed onto the brickwork.

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The stairs from the ground to the second floor and from the second floor to the third are boxed in to prevent air-con being wasted into areas not being used. It also means that a security door can be placed at the top of the stairs on each floor.

When no aircon is being used, the doors in the stairwell are opened to aid with natural cooling, using a principal called Stack Effect Ventilation: having an opening at the top of the building, draws warm air up and out like a chimney. The effect is magnified by the higher wind speed on the third floor – The Bernoulli effect: wind speed differences move air. It is a general principle of fluid dynamics that the faster air moves, the lower its pressure. Outside air that is further away from the ground is less obstructed, so it moves faster than air closer to the ground. The higher air, therefore, has lower pressure. This lower pressure can help “suck” fresh air through the building. A building’s surroundings can greatly affect this strategy, as more or less obstruction could be caused depending on whether the building is in a quieter or more built-up environment.

The Bernoulli effect is magnified by the Venturi Effect which creates a partial vacuum in the stairwell. It is like adding an extractor fan to the chimney.

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This type of design was common in warm climates before the arrival of air-conditioning.

These days people are always talking about designing a house with cross ventilation through having windows on opposite sides of the house, but cross ventilation only works if there is a breeze to push the air , where Stack Effect Ventilation will always occur if there is a way for hot air to rise and escape at the top of the house.

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One thing that many people comment upon when they see the house is the thickness of the walls compared to the bricks used in most Thai house construction.

IMG_20190215_100022 cIMG_20181219_165705 cFor symmetrical reasons the front of the house will have the same glass block windows for the ground and second floor. However, three of windows on the second floor will be for the home cinema, where having windows would cause a problem, so an opening is cut only through the first wall as far as the foil and the glass blocks used will be patterned and not be clear.

Rendered WallRendering has started and they are doing a good job of itIMG_20190227_165034 bThe rendering is a major part of the build and will take some time to complete.

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Reading taken on external wall of new house build at 11:04am – partial sun
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Reading taken on internal wall (the other side from first reading) of new house build at 11:05 am – partial sun (no aircon)

IMG_20190227_103731 cNew transformer being added on the road into our village, bit of luck for me as mine is the first house in the village and closest to the transformer.

DiggerHoles

img_20190315_093756.jpgI thought I was long finished with digging holes, but these three holes are for 3 more posts to go in front of the house in line with the 2 existing posts. These new posts will mean I will be able to run the Blue Scope steel roof across the front of the property and join up with roofs of the carport and bathrooms. If you want to read the story of why this was not done from the beginning and you are not afraid of Ghosts then visit: https://ecohousethailand.wordpress.com/building-the-thai-way/

These three posts gives me a new 20m2 room in front of the bathrooms which will act as a pump room/invertor room/battery storage. I will also gain 40m2 of roof area facing due south for solar panels as well as a much extended carport.

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“Panda” the builder’s dog, loves the view from the third floor

Render 2Render 1The outside render is complete

Paint
฿20,000 of exterior paint
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Why you have red windows?
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฿23,000 labour only to sand, clean, and undercoat x1 and topcoat x3 the exterior
Electrics
฿13,144 for this lot

Tomorrow have a busy day helping the top builder fit the electrics. I have prepared an electrical plan, but it will need some explaining. Labour to fit the electrics ฿40,000.

Electrical Plan Ground Floor Main Block2
Electrical Plan Ground Floor – Main Block
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Electrical Plan Second Floor

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Electrical Plan Third Floor v3
Electrical Plan Third Floor

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TrunkingStill need to paint the walls, so not all the trunking is going in yet. Copper speaker cable marks the spot for a wall speaker

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3 twistThais prefer to use individual wires as they can get away with thinner (cheaper) trunking.  I want all the colours to match in the house, so insisted on sheathed wiring. Also using Twist Connectors rather than just tape. It helps if you insist on paying for all components yourself as this rules out cost as a determining factor.

LANYour ability to successfully terminate LAN cable is a factor of the quality of your connectors and your eye sight. In my case, fail on both counts.

IMG_20190512_094812Luckily I had more success terminating using Cat6 Keystone Jacks

IMG_20190323_093020Cables going down to the second floor: Lights; Power Sockets; Led Strips; Speakers; Security Cameras; WiFi and 3G/4G Booster.

IMG_20190319_163450Outside of the building is all primed and we are starting on the top coat – Dulux Weathershield Ultima in Bright Shiny White.IMG_20190318_134050A contrasting color had to be chosen for columns etc where heat reflection was not critical. Sophisticated Grey was chosen and I had great fun asking the Thai Staff what the colour was called. The colour is mixed by computer, so we will always be able to match it.

ERVERV2My Energy Recovery Ventilator arrived today, now just have to work out the how to get the ducting installed to feed fresh air to all rooms. The ducting needs to bring fresh air in from my Geothermal system through the ERV, then split to send fresh air to the ground and second floors and stale out   Video explaining ERVs

FilterEven though the ERV has it’s own filter, I will also be installing a wall mounted HEPA air filter in the bedroom

IMG_20190323_131535IMG_20190323_132108IMG_20190325_084602IMG_20190327_135428Some decorative concrete is being attached to the building, which will be painted Sophisticated Grey  ฿300 per meter to make and fit

IMG_20190322_180304IMG_20190322_182443The cabling for 5 Video cameras are being fitted before the ceilings go in. The cameras are connected to the control box by CAT6 ethernet cable with POE (Power Over Ethernet) – so a few less power sockets to fit.

IMG_20190325_135731Ceiling on the third floor going in and being painted

IMG_20190330_154026Foam applied to the back wall of the home cinema to insulated it from the adjacent room

72D41597-6F29-4B06-A1F9-78F050F7755BACC99311-AF0D-4932-8AB3-2608169568392B827008-E029-4E73-8949-518CE31B0F99LEDs starting to go in

IMG_20190331_110233Starting to build the Mechanical Room

IMG_20190401_145738Waxed Loft Style paint for the interior

IMG_20190401_172332Control box for my solar pump – now an ant house – another problem with building in the tropics

IMG_20190403_143311IMG_20190403_141628IMG_20190403_153719Scaffolding comes down and the steel for the wrap around roof on the first floor starts to go in.

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IMG_20190414_163548Bought a little Christmas tree to put on top of my house – great difficulty was had trying to explain what it was and why I wanted it.

IMG_20190419_125131IMG_20190419_124834The Mechanical Room is almost complete.  5m x 4m this room will house the invertors and batteries as well as additional electrical components for the solar system. It will also have filters for the whole house water system and a drinking water filter system. One item that will not be in the mechanical room is the Energy Recovery Ventilator. The ERV needs to live within the airconditioned envelope of the house.

whiteWhy you need to paint the outside walls of your house white.

An update on some costs, most of which I have paid:
Purchase of Steel and fitting for the wrap around roof on the ground floor. This includes the roof for 2 bathrooms, the kitchen, the porch, car port at the front of the house as well as the covered area at the back of the house: ฿295,000.
Blue Scope Colorbond white steel roof, purchase and fitting, plus foil and foam insulation and galvanized wire mesh to protect it: ฿181,500
Small Ceiling boards for outside and gyprock board of inside, supply and fit: ฿340,000
Building the mechanical room at the from of the house and 3 additional columns ฿120,000
Fitting tiles on the third floor ฿350 per meter, I supplied the tiles.
It is fair to say that I have been overcharged for the above work, but I didn’t really want to have to find another builder at this late stage.
There is just ฿240,000 to pay for ceilings. Unfortunately the ceiling contractor is the least competent of all the trades. He rotates his teams and is rarely onsite to supervise. LAN and speaker cables on the third floor ended up hidden in the ceiling. I really don’t want his team to do the main house due to the amount of tech I have.
This week, we have had a big fall out with the builder, we were off site for a couple of hours organising the paperwork for the house with the city government and returned
to find he had brought in the “B Team” to do tiling on the second floor and they were doing a very poor job of it. We asked if we could stick to the agreed tilers, he said yes but
the next morning he was jack hammering all the tiles off on the second floor, and they were unusable. There was a lot of shouting, mostly from him and we have not seen him since.
At this point I have been onsite everyday except 2 over the last six months. We flew down to Bangkok for the day to attend the motor show with the aim of looking at electric cars  and we did the same for the architects’ show. To say I am exhausted, would be an understatement.
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Testing the Geothermal with a leaf blower.
We tested the Geothermal after installation and it worked perfectly, unfortunately at some point over the past 6 months the weight of 3m of soil and 40cm of concrete was too much for it and the pipe collapsed. Perhaps a thicker pipe might have survived, but it was already at the limit of the flexibility needed to coil it.
It is funny that “Building your own home” does not feature on most lists of the most stressful things in life. Add into the mix doing it in a country where your command of the language is limited and sourcing non standard materials is extremely difficult.
To try to look at the positives, the builder leaving us, meant that he took his site electrics with him:
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Very unreliable especially in the wet
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New site electrics, very reliable and indoors so never gets wet

IMG_20190515_115055Visit to our stainless fabricators. They are making up the first of our stainless security doors. They have taken our biometric door lock to fit for us. The girl with the glasses, speaks excellent English and has made the whole process very easy. In the background is the stainless railings for the third floor.

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IMG_20190520_175102Stainless Security Door on the third floor with Biometric Lock

IMG_20190520_174447New Stainless Railings

IMG_20190529_163730Nice neat job on the wiring for one of my three consumer units.

IMG_20190510_114144IMG_20190529_120243Ducting for the energy recovery ventilator, which brings fresh air to all rooms. I had to install all the ventilation system myself as it was too complicated to explain to the Thai builders, who had never seen anything like it before.

IMG_20190525_141634I personally installed approximately 300m of Cat 6 cable for home networking with another 100m or so being installed by the security camera company.

IMG_20190524_11295727U Network Server Rack – This is a floor standing cabinet, which probably takes up no more room than the usual 6U wall mounted rack.

IMG_20190418_104142Bought some furniture for the third floor from the Cambodian market ฿30,000

IMG_20190513_173536Nice place to watch a tropical storm

20190604_163814Visited Piyanas HiFi store in Bangkok to demo some kit for the home cinema

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TANNOY REVOLUTION XT-8F  x2 front speakers with TANNOY : REVOLUTION XT-C  x1 center channel. TANNOY : REVOLUTION XT-6F  x4 for side and surround.

You can hear the REVOLUTION XT-8F  here  and a review of them  here

https://www.whathifi.com/tannoy/revolution-xt8f/review

B&W CCM-362 x2 IN-CEILING speakers to support Dolby Atmos

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A/V Receiver: ONKYO : TX-RZ730

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A/V Receiver: ONKYO : TX-RZ730

Total cost ฿163,600

20190604_164042Having listened to the CAMBRIDGE AUDIO :EDGE-NQ  Network Player with Preamplifier and CAMBRIDGE AUDIO : EDGE-W Power Amp they will definitely be my next purchase, but at ฿258,000 it will have to wait until the house is finished.

I did demo a pair of REL Acoustics subs but will wait until I have accessed the cinema room dynamics before purchasing.

An Introduction to the Edge Series Cambridge Audio

We attended the Architect Show in Bangkok

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Bought a Sliding gate automation system which we will be installing later

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IMG_0051Bought some Mr Ken Fans with DC Motors and got a show discount

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The fans are beautiful, very efficient and very quite. As they all have DC motors, they are very efficient.

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Lots of smart home kit available:IMG_20190502_132529img_20190502_114739.jpgIMG_20190502_114730IMG_20190502_114726IMG_20190502_114137I was even able to pick up a smart controller for my Energy Recovery Ventilator (top)

The stainless steel doors have been installed:20190627_100115541_iOS20190627_095812944_iOS20190627_095804921_iOS20190627_095612046_iOS20190627_095543905_iOS20190627_095431360_iOS20190627_095413767_iOS20190627_095332716_iOS20190627_095313589_iOS20190627_093018820_iOS

Did a little testing of the home theater today. I did a calibration for the 7 Tannoy speakers and the B&W Dolby Atmos ceiling speakers. I have ordered the screen but not the projector (The prices are falling all the time) so we used a 50 inch 4K TV I was planning to use with security camera feeds.  I am not sure I need subs, the Tannoy 8s have great bass. We have bought some acoustic foam and will be using roomeqwizard.com acoustics analysis software for measuring and analyzing the room and loudspeaker responses, before placement. My girlfriend’s brother who is an engineer came to help, he wanted to know what the sound was like, because he said for the same money, he could buy a Thai mobile disco system that would fill a 6 wheel truck!

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120″ 16:9 Vertex Fixed Frame Screen in High-Definition-Gray has arrived

Interior doors going in:20190709_093406698_iOS

And the rest of the windows outside the main block:20190711_051425952_iOS20190711_051329177_ios.jpgWith extra longs screws into the concrete.

20190710_071813435_iOSThe house must be nearly finished if I am buying ping pong tables!

Air-conditioning:

Aircon serves two purposes, firstly to cool and secondly to dehumidify the house. I briefly considered using DC aircon units, but they require dedicated solar panels and dedicated batteries, they are also very expensive to buy in Thailand. So DC aircon for a spare bedroom would have solar panels and batteries that were not being used if the room was empty. I prefer to pool my solar production and storage to use it where it is needed.

The main concern with running aircon off a solar system is how to run aircon at night off batteries. My system utilizes a hybrid inverter so I can always pull from the grid if I need more power. However, I want to design my house to be off grid for normal use.

The choice of aircon units: I chose the smallest BTU units I could find using the smallest number of watts. I chose 8,500 BTU Daikin Super Smile Inverter II it uses 640w in normally running and an “intelligent eye” system which tracks movement and reduces power if the room is unoccupied. 5 units installed was ฿100,000.

These Daikens use is an environmentally friendly refrigerant called R32. It possesses a cooling capacity greater than Coolant R410A used in most units in Thailand, reducing strain on the compressor. This results in rapid cooling and energy efficiency.

Each refrigerant has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) with CO2 used as the base. CO2 has a GWP of 1.  R410A has a GWP of 2,088 meaning that if one kilogram is released into the atmosphere it would have 2,088 times the harmful effect of one kilogram of CO2. R32 has a GWP of 675.

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20190713_115348646_iOS 120190713_115344025_iOS20190713_115339634_iOSAircon installation in a thunderstorm.

The next question that will come up is why fit the compressors at the front of the house and not at the back? The front of the house is where the vehicles will be parked, it is the south facing aspect of the house, while the back of the house is the north side and we will be eating on the back patio. I do not want it heated up by the compressors blowing. For my design, Form Follows Function.20190719_093416720_iOS

I have tried to use dropped ceilings wherever possible to give me the option to use concealed lighting. With LED strips, the colour can be changed to match your mood.

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Coloured LED strips in the Home Theater

The ensuite bathroom is outside the conditioned space, so there is little cooling costs apart from a fan and auto extractor fan.20190720_044620216_iOS20190720_044639008_iOS67224649_2311957018901341_4487727738936885248_n

Hot water is free, so a bath is not a luxury and the waste water is recycled to water the garden.

The unusual shape of the master bathroom was due to wanting to have a guest bathroom with an access door on the outside of the house.

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Built-in black acrylic bedroom furniture by Ice Furniture in Buriram :20190808_033949960_iOS20190808_033936359_iOS20190808_033742582_iOS20190808_033735235_iOS

First night staying in the house:Bed

Solar Thermal hot water system worked great:

Bath

View back to the house from the pond at dusk:20190819_110746839_iOS

The rainwater overflow combined with the rains we have had this month have done a lot to fill the pond

Starting to work on the networking:20190810_001817772_iOS

All the network cables end up on the second floor outside the Home Theater. The cables are all labeled at both ends and bundled by room.

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The first job was to tidy up the cables and then them punch through to the home cinema. Then set up the 3G Booster. Due to the fact that I have silver foil in the walls and the roof, the building is basically a Faraday Cage , which is great if you are worried about an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) but not so great if you are trying to get a 3G signal from inside the house. So I have an antenna on on third third floor pointing at the cell tower:

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linked to a booster box and 3G aerials on the second and ground floors:

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The next job for me was to terminate the network cables into a patch panel in my network cabinet:

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I initially installed the patch panel backwards, so that I could see more clearly what I was doing and have a firm base to punch down the cables.

Label the cables going into the patch panel and the corresponding keystone jacks for the wall sockets

Then strip the cable and punch it down into the patch panel

Then repeat at the other end in the wall plate keystone jack then test the connection

Below you can see that I have now installed the patch panel the correct way round and labeled all the rooms. Neat ribbon patch cables link the patch panel to the switch.

Network points – the other end from the patch panel, installed in rooms.

Long range WiFi access point installed on the third floor to give WiFi out to the pond and to the family house several hundred meters away. Also installed, a pair of Yamaha waterproof speakers.

The Yamaha speakers are linked to an amp in the Networks Cabinet and a Sonos Connect Network Music player, which allows music to be accessed from the network and controlled from an app on your phone.

I also have a Sonos One smart speaker in the kitchen which can also play music from my network or from my Tidal HiFi streaming and YouTube Music subscriptions:

“Fishing Fiber” running fiber-optic cable from the network cabinet on the second floor out to the street. My Internet Service Provider made a connection to their system in the street. Then my fiber-optic cable ran underground to the house.  The I.S.P. then connected the other end of the fiber to their Gigabit fiber modem in my cinema server rack.

Cables are run in conduits in the ceilings and underground, all with prepared pull through lines. Life is easier if you plan ahead.

Another thing that you normally only see in commercial buildings are inspection hatches to give access to wiring in the ceilings. Practical always wins over pretty in this house.

1 Gigabit/Second Fiber broadband connected and all 5 Ubiquiti WiFi access points showing blue LEDs that they are connected.

Kitchen, not completely finished at this stage. The cabinets have the same black acrylic as in the bedroom with green Indian marble worktops and brushed stainless fittings, sinks and cook-tops:

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The island is recessed to accommodate seating.

The gas tanks are outside and have valve gauges to take the guesswork out of determining how full they are.

Solar Installation:

The system is Off Grid Hybrid

Solar panels are Monocrystalline 350W X32 = 11.2kW
Deep Cycle Gel Batteries 12V 200AH X 16 = 38.4kWH
(A Tesla Powerwall 2 has a capacity of 13.5 kilowatt-hours)

Clamps and brackets:

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32 x 350 watt = 11.2kw for home electrics and 2 x 320 for solar well pump

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Inverter and Battery Bank. 10kW Hybrid Inverter and 16 Deep Cycle Gel Batteries 12V 200AH  = 38.4kWH

Having panels on all sides of the house we are producing power whenever the sun shines

6am and already producing more power than we are consuming

By midday all panels are in full sun producing 11kw

Electricity bills are now just the service charge of ฿49 or £1.20/$1.50 per month

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Security cameras installed:

Camera display in the office and also available on the living-room TV as a virtual window.

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There is a mobile app to view the camera feeds when away from the house.

Infrared for night time security:

An update on the Energy Recovery Ventilator, before all all the ducting is boxed in.

The more you insulate, the more you need to ventilate.

The inter core of my building is a conditioned space, with windows that are sealed shut and doors with 4 frames and airtight seals around the top, bottom and sides.

So it is important to bring fresh air in and take stale air out. The fresh air is cooled by outgoing air-conditioned air, then filtered. Incoming humid air passes humidity to the dry expelled air.

The ERV will cool incoming air, filter it and reduce its moisture content.

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Air exhaust and intake

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Controller set to heat exchange.

There is still some concern that with such a tightly sealed house, C02 levels could build up

AQM 3

So we monitor CO2 levels

AQM

As well as atmospheric particulate matter at 2.5 micrometers

AQM 2

and 10 micrometers

filter

In addition we have a HEPA air purifier running in the bedroom

TV

TV for the living-room being delivered.

Livingroom TV

TV setup in the living-room. LG 86 inch TV with with Denon AV amp; Castle Knight 4 left and right channel speakers and Klipsch R-34C center channel.

Virtual window

A 50 inch tv takes on the role of virtual window

My old 55 inch TV was wall mounted in the Bedroom and is used together with an Onkyo HT-S7805 5.1.2-Channel Network AV Receiver. The system currently has a 5 speaker surround sound system and sub-woofer. The AV amp is on the network and so is part of my multi-room system. Audio or Video can be sent to any room in the house with the appropriate end point.

Bedroom AV

Surface mounting the the electrical trunking allowed easy fitting of the surround sound speakers at the back of the room and the LED light strips in the dropped ceiling. The trunking will be painted to match the walls when all upgrades are done.

There is a Xiaomi MI BOX S 4K Ultra android tv box in both the living-room and the bedroom. The living-room also has an Apple TV box.

Plex 2

We use the TV boxes to access Netflix, YouTube and stream content from my PLEX media server.

Synology NAS

The PLEX media server is installed on my Synology Network-attached storage (NAS), which has 8 bays for drives into which I have installed 8 × 10.0 TB HDD SEAGATE IRONWOLF  drives.

Pantry

Starting to get the food pantry organised – lots more space in the kitchen to fill

Lab1

We upgraded security when we rescued a black Labrador called Rambo.

Lab2

He is about twice the size of any dogs in the village and he seems to terrify the locals.

walkies

Walking him twice a day with our Thai dog Panda is helping with cardio.

Another security device we have installed is a steel locked key box.

The box prevents the keys from being cloned:

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or fished:

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Any zombies that make it into the house will be in for a big surprise.

We knew that the house design had a cooling effect, but we wanted to know the difference between indoor and outdoor temperature without running the air-con. So we bought a indoor/outdoor temperature gauge.  The outdoor sensor is not in direct sunlight but lives in the spirit house.

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The opposite effect is seen in winter. Obviously as the house is located in the tropics it has no heating installed, just insulation.

Cold

Latest project: Installing solar lights. In total we installed 6 lights around the property. @฿1,800 each they are far more expensive than some models I have seen online, but they have a large solar panel and the light lasts all night. There use saves running lights off the house batteries at night and they give enough light to greatly improve the quality of the security camera footage.

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We have decided to replace our 160L upright freezer (purchased while I was living in a condo) with a 429L chest freezer. The freezer will run on a timer from 9am to 5pm (so powered only by solar and not running down the batteries)  It will not be opened outside these times and it will be well stacked with ice to give it a good cold sink. Our fridge has a small freezer.

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If you are interested in the efficiency of chest freezers, see the video below

Further upgrade for the kitchen is a commercial gas oven (฿15,000) for baking bread and pizzas.

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As we now have 2 dogs in the house we have added a Robot vacuum/mop:

One way we try to reduce the strain on the batteries at night is minimise standby power usage, the way electric power is consumed by appliances while they are switched off or in standby mode.

I have a number of smart home products in the house. One of the companies I use is Xiaomi. I have the Xiaomi Smart WiFi Socket plugged into the power outlet in my living room and the TV; AV Amp, Apple TV etc are plugged into it.

Xiaomi Smart WiFi Socket

I can program the smart socket to switch off and on at certain times of the day. The socket also records how much power is being drawn through it and it is controlled through an app on my phone.

TV Power

Using smart power strips anything with a battery such as the Robo Vac and the Dyson are charged between 11am and 1pm when the most power is being generated by the solar panels.

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The Gym on the second floor has taken a leap forward. Firstly we installed Interlocking Foam Tiles.

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For cardio we have a BOWFLEX MAX TRAINER M3  which is a cross between an elliptical trainer and a StairMaster – a very good cardio workout.

Bowflex

On the third floor we have a spin bike with belt drive and contact-less magnetic breaking.

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Some more smart home items:

xiaomi honeywell gas detectorxiaomi honeywell smoke detector

The smart smoke and gas alarms in the kitchen works like conventional  alarms with some added features:

  1. They are linked to the Xiaomi Gateway Hub in the Living Room, so not only do you get an alarm from the device but also from the Hub which also flashes a red warning.
  2. They send an alert to the app on your phone so it will notify you if you are away from home.
  3. The sensitivity can be adjusted if they give too many false alarms.
  4. They can be reset from the app, so you don’t have to hit them with a broom handle to turn off the alarm
  5. I have set them to auto self-test every month.

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The water leak detector does not have an internal alarm as it is a much smaller device, but otherwise it has the same features as the gas and smoke detectors.

water detector

New year party 2020:

New Year Party 2020 on the third floor

Cinema update:

Previously:20190702_065215918_iOS

Currently:20210201_123001124_iOS20210201_123149141_iOS20210202_092637789_iOS

The system now consists of

Speakers: TANNOY REVOLUTION XT-8F  x2 front with TANNOY : REVOLUTION XT-C  x1 center channel. TANNOY : REVOLUTION XT-6F  x4 for side and surround.

B&W CCM-362 x2 IN-CEILING speakers to support Dolby Atmos

A/V Receiver: ONKYO : TX-RZ730

New additions:

Cambridge Audio CXA81 Integrated Stereo Amplifier 80w which will drive the front TANNOY REVOLUTION XT-8F speakers.

Cambridge Audio CXA81

The Onkyo AV is an 9.2-Channel amp but it’s power is split across all channels. So using Line-Out for the front Left and Right Channels the CXA81 can take over the heavy lifting.

Q Acoustics B12 Subwoofer Speaker 12” with an integrated maximum 440 W Class D Amplifier again helps take the strain. By setting the crossover to the appropriate level, all low frequencies can be handled by the sub, allowing the the other speakers and amps to concentrate on mid and high frequencies.

Q

Home Theater PC (HTPC) This PC will live in the cinema and its primary roles are for gaming on the Steam gaming  platform.

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It’s secondary role will be to act as a music server. I have YouTube Music via my YouTube premium subscription which works well with the various smart speakers around the house for a “OK Google play…” but for serious audiophile music I subscribe to Tidal.

Tidal

The highest quality on Tidal are Tidal Master which are better-than-CD stream courtesy of MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) To achieve the highest quality a MQA-enabled DAC is required (Digital-to-analog converter)

I have an AudioQuest DragonFly Red DAC.

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It changes colour depending upon the quality of music streaming.

Dragonfly_colours

To manage my music collection on my NAS together with my TIDAL favorites I have a Roon server installed on my HTPC.  Roon requires a subscription of $12.99 /month or lifetime for $699.99 which is the option I selected.

Roon-brand3

Roon is not easy to explain, but just let me say that if you take listening to digital music seriously and want the best possible experience, you should consider Roon.

whathifi.com/advice/roon-everything-you-need-to-know   .

I also have a Xiaomi MI BOX S 4K Ultra android tv box to access Netflix Premium, YouTube Premium and stream my own movies and TV shows from my PLEX media server.

My original plan was to have a projector in the cinema and I spent 2 years researching the options available in Thailand. I was originally drawn to ultra short throw laser projectors, but most are shipped from China and there is no after sales support here. A traditional back of the room projector with native 4K resolution was a very expensive option. There is also the problem running 4k through very long HDMI cables and replacement bulbs are crazy expensive. So I settled for an 86 inch LG LCD TV.

The room which has no windows  is 5m long by 4m wide. The concrete walls were covered in acoustic board and acoustic foam.

Solar update:

Since installing solar I have had many requests to see my statistics on power produced. The inverter came with a module that was not wifi enabled but required to have a network cable plugged in. The mechanical room is one of the few rooms in the house without internet sockets. So I had to run Cat 6 cable from the living-room into the roof space above the kitchen, then across the top of the bathroom and over to the far side of the mechanical room. Once plugged in I could see the device on the network but the supplied software could not detect it.

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This has not been a problem for 9 months of the year when I can run the house completely off grid. However, in the 3 month rainy season the batteries can drop down to 50% capacity at which point the inverter calls for power from the grid. The problem is that can happen at 5 in the morning and the batteries can be at 80% when the sun comes up. For this reason I keep the grid switched off and and manually  add a couple of kwh before going to bed, if I think it was needed. To monitor the state of charge of the batteries without a walk outside to the Mechanical Room, I have added a wifi camera and small USB powered LED lights, so I can monitor the battery state via my smart home app on my phone.

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Latest Smart Home Project:

Managing the lighting in the cinema: I have installed Xiaomi smart color bulbs into the four wall light fittings in the cinema and a further Xiaomi smart color bulb backlighting the TV in a lamp which is plugged  into a power outlet. In addition, I have 10m (5m x 2) of “dumb” color LED light strip plugged into 2 power outlets set up high on the wall. So how to control all of these lights with one switch?

  1. I created a Light Group in the Mi Home App which included all 5 Xiaomi smart color bulbs
  2. I changed the “dumb” light strips into smart ones by plugging them into 2 Xiaomi smart plugs
  3. I then added a Xiaomi programmable smart switch to the cinema

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I then programmed the smart switch to turn on and off and all the light in the cinema with one click

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The wired lights switches are now no longer used, just the smart wireless switch

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I have set the cinema lights to the optimum cinema viewing colors and brightness which is remembered when they are switched off.

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If I  want to change the color or brightness of the 5 Xiaomi smart bulbs, because they are in a light group, I can change all 5 at the same time via the app.

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Temperature is always measured in the shade as it is measuring air temperature, being in direct sunlight solar radiation raises the temperature by 10 to 15 degrees. However, when you go out you are exposed to solar radiation. It is a shame that both figures are not quoted.

My outdoor temperature sensor normally lives in the shade of the spirit house, but they must have kicked it out today as I found it cooking in the sun, which explains the crazy outdoor temperature reading.

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The kitchen:

Latest addition for the Cinema: Cambridge Audio CX-C V2 CD Transport to match my Cambridge Audio CX-A81 Integrated Amp. What HiFi Best CD transport under £500. It is a CD transport and not a CD player as it sends the digital signal through a digital optical cable to be converted  to analogue in the amp for a purer sound.

I have been very impressed with the sound and have decided to expand my CD collection, before they disappear forever. Music streaming is very convenient, but you never actually own the music, you are just renting it. When my newly purchased CDs arrive I make a lossless digital backup copy in FLAC format. I use dBpoweramp CD Ripper. Metadata and album artwork can be checked against 5 online databases and the resulting rip is verified error free using AccurateRip which compares the rip to rips done by others. In the example below my rip is confirmed accurate by comparing it to 30 others.

dbpoweramp

The digital copy lives on my NAS where it can be accessed by ROON so I can play the digital file if I want. Here the list of Albums is  filtered by location on my NAS and the tag “Rip”

Roon

Purchased some CD storage units from IKEA before they are discontinued!

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Unfortunately they all have to be sprayed black before they are moved to the cinema

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Electric Car:

The first thing people ask me about my solar system is “How long before you get your money back?” Mine is a big expensive system designed to be off-grid. Based on my estimated electric bill of ฿3,500/month it will take me over 10 years to get my money back. However, my system was also designed to produce excess solar in the middle of the day specifically for charging an electric car.

The choice of electric cars in Thailand is very limited, with any imports being heavily taxed. When I started looking 2 years ago the base level Nissan Leaf cost ฿732,161 in the USA and ฿1,990,000 in Thailand. Then MG imported the ZS EV for ฿1,200,000. I rushed to put down a deposit only to be told that I would have to a second meter installed to bring grid electric to charge the EV as “solar would not produce enough power to charge an EV”  – I refused on principle.

MG have now released the HS PHEV, which takes 3 hours to charge the 16.7 kWh battery using the free wall charger. The PHEV’s onboard charger only draws 3.7kW so I thought maybe with a small battery and a low charge requirement I be allowed to charge it from solar. “No. Unstable voltage from the solar system could damage the wall charger”  So I emailed the President of MG Thailand to ask for his help. He very kindly agreed to help negotiate with the install company and a compromise was arrived at where I get a wall charger with no warranty and if my solar system fails to charge the car I will upgrade my grid connection. When the wall charger install company came to to inspect my system they discovered that my pure sine wave inverter produced a perfect steady 220 volts. The electricity supplied from the grid here fluctuates widely anything from 190 to 250 volts!

The HS PHEV has 67km of EV only range. This might not sound much, but most of my driving would be less than that per trip. The Standard MG HS (non-electric) has a fuel economy of 6.9 L/100 km. If I drove HS (non-electric) 67km/day it would cost me ฿5,000 per month. So now my potential saving from installing solar is ฿8,500/month and a payback of less than 4 years!

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I chose a PHEV to try and placate wall charger install company but I have since received some flack for not buying a full EV. One comment I got online was “a PHEV is a con with regard to sustainability”  The EV owner who made the comment charges his EV from the grid. The 67km range of our PHEV is enough for our daily needs and as our solar system is off-grid we are charging the PHEV purely from solar. On a busy days we drive the car in the morning, charge it over lunch and drive it again in the afternoon. The maximum I have done is 130 solar generated EV kms in a day. On the other hand an EV charged from the grid in Thailand is basically powered by “burning stuff” as “Ninety percent of Thai electrical generating capacity is conventional thermal” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Thailand

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Another reason for owning an electric car that I can charge from my solar panels is that it increases my Self Sufficiency. Now not only do have lights on at home when the village is in darkness, but I can also make my own fuel at home.Gas

The first thing I did when I purchase the car is have some window film fitted. Most people are happy to have the dealer fit some privacy film, because it usually free, but I wanted a heat reflecting film, especially because of the large sunroof. I paid ฿9,000 for HI-KOOL CERAMIC BLACK NIGHT

HI-KOOL CERAMIC BLACK NIGHT

Film

An alternative and cheaper solution I saw on line was: 20210709_075920015_iOS

New Workshop Project:

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Upgrade to my solar system.

Most people would think that my current solar system was already overkill:
32 x 350 watt = 11.2kw
10kW Hybrid off-grid Inverter
16 Deep Cycle Gel Batteries 12V 200AH = 38.4kWH

But I am trying to be Off-Grid and during the rainy season, which was much longer than usual this year, I am not. It is not possible to simple add more batteries to my existing system particularly as I want to use lithium batteries as they are now a more reasonable price than they were 3 years ago.

I plan to create a complete second system of panels, inverter and batteries. The panels only job will be to charge the new batteries which will then replace my grid connection on my primary inverter. I will set the primary inverter to a more conservative setting to put less stress on my gel batteries so both systems should have a much longer life.

New System:

  • Longi 535w PV x 10 purchased from Surin SolarShop  – free delivery ฿52,800
  • Inverter Growatt SPF 5000 ES ฿37,300 including delivery
  • 2 set of Lithium battery 9 kwh  ฿68,000/set =  ฿136,000 www.nruitpower.com/product
  • Combiner box for battery set ฿1,500
  • Shipping cost for batteries is ฿2,000

GROWATT SPF 5000 ES https://www.ginverter.com/Off-Grid-Storage-Inverters/44-625.html

Growatt

9kWh - 3

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I am now paying ฿68,000 for a 9 kWh Lithium battery or ฿7,555/kWh. Four years ago I was quoted ฿150,000 for 5.6kWh or ฿26,785/kWh

E-KwBe Price 2017 09 20

Geothermal Revisited

The biggest problem I have encountered in my quest to build an Eco House is sourcing the appropriate technology here in Thailand. When I purchased my Energy Recovery Ventilator from a company in Bangkok it came with very little in the way of instructions and I was initially unable to get it working. The company I purchased it from were no help as I was the first to purchase and knew more about it than they did. I was fortunate to meet a rep from Panasonic at an architect show in Bangkok who was able to sell me a control module for it. My plan for geothermal was to combine it with the air intake of my ERV, unfortunately the piping I used was not designed for geothermal.

Geothermal

I am still looking at Geothermal and think the way to go is either a closed or open loop groundwater system combined with a heat pump. Easy enough to drill a bore hole down to the water table. I have 3 solar well pumps and have tested the temperature of the water at 30m and it is a steady 19°C all year round.

Water temp at 30m Geothermal

Hi Fi Upgrade

This upgrade came about with the sad demise of 2 of my AV Amps

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The top one, the Denon AVR-1911 I bought when I was working Hong Kong and is over 10 years old. It was powering the speakers in the Livingroom. The bottom one is Harman/Kardon AVR 7000 is over 20 years old and was given to me when I worked in Bangkok by an American friend when he returned to the states. This one was powering the 2 Yamaha outdoor speakers on the third floor terrace.

I decided to replace Harman/Kardon with a network player amp that would support 4 channels in surround mode, so I could increase the number of speakers to 4.   I wanted an amp that would sleep when inactive drawing very little power in standby but would have a wake command when  you wanted to use it. I decided to go for the Yamaha R N602 stereo-receiver and 2 more Yamaha outdoor speakers. The Yamaha comes with the excellent MusicCast app.

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Rather than replace the AV amp in the living room, I decided to upgrade the AV amp in the cinema and move that amp to the bedroom and the bedroom amp to the Livingroom. That way we had the best equipment where we spent the most time.

The 10 speakers I have in the cinema and the Cambridge amp and CD transport are all British and have the warm relaxed British HiFi sound I like. So I really needed a British AV amp, so I went for the NAD T 778 AV Receiver with it’s touch screen. At $3,000 it was a bit of a luxury, but it is at the heart of Cinema setup and it looks and sound great.

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At the same time I upgraded the speakers is the bedroom to KEF, another British speaker.

KEF Q SERIES SET

Building a Music Server

Music Server based on an Intel NUC mounted on the wall next to my Office PC

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Why are people so threatened by renewable energy?

Since getting solar I have had endure quite a bit of hostility online about it. I could understand if the comments came from people who worked in the fossil fuel industry or had millions of dollars invested in these businesses (not a good idea), but that is rarely the case. Most people start with the cost  – it’s too expensive and a payback of more than a year or so seems to put people off. I often hear the phase, “What happens when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow?” Of course these comments come from people that don’t have solar, because if they did have solar they would actually know what there were talking about. Cloud cover reduces solar radiation, but it does not block it completely

Major Solar Upgrade starting next week:

Adding 3 new 9kWh batteries, 3 x 5kW inverters and 10 x 535w panels to add to my existing system of  32 x 350 watt panels = 11.2kw and 16 Deep Cycle Gel Batteries 12V 200AH = 38.4kWh.

To give a total of 16.55kW of solar PV. Using a Depth of Discharge of 50% on the Gel batteries and 80% on the Lithium batteries giving 40.8 kWh of usable storage.

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Links to other pages on the Blog:

DESIGN CRITERIA

WATER

FOOD FARM

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