Saturday, July 3, 2010

Phocos SF50E refrigerator

Linda, who is leaving Greece, has passed on to me her Phocos SF50E refrigerator.  I tried, last year to buy one of these life improving gadgets but, according to their website, the German manufacturer had 'ceased to distribute this product in Europe'.  In common with many boats and motor-homes, my home here has only twelve volt, direct current, electricity.  This has not always been so.  For too many years I tried to emulate mains connected homes by feeding twelve volt battery power into an inverter which turned it into normal mains strength alternating current electricity.   This worked well enough during the summer but in the short, cool and invariably partly cloudy days of winter the power system had to be managed with great care, and electricity used with great restraint even so, after ten o'clock at night, there was no power left for the water pump; candles and oil lights were the only option for lighting.
Albeit slowly, I learn.  In a yacht chandlers I had entered, hunting down some odd artifact I believed I needed at the time, I 
chanced to notice a stock of energy saving electric light bulbs identical to mine at home but marked '12V DC'.  I bought one, took it home to experiment with and was both surprised and delighted that it performed exactly as my existing light bulbs.
Water is pumped to outlets around the house by an ingenious pump.  The pump has a large chamber which is electrically pumped full with water.  Within the chamber a bladder full of pressurised air is compressed by the incompressible water.  When a tap is opened  the air in the bladder is able to expand to produce an instant flow of water.  Converting the pump to twelve volt was simply a matter of changing the electric motor but getting an adequate current to the motor did prove to be something of a problem which was eventually solved by adapting a pair of truck jump-leads to link pump to battery.  Nothing else that I use here draws high current so existing wiring is adequate.  Inexpensive car adapters are freely available for computers and mobile phones and many electrical appliances and tools in fact work with low voltage direct current electricity and have to have built-in transformers which can be more or less easily by-passed.  I am fortunate in this respect in having an electronics boffin living near by, it was he who converted the Yamaha Clavinova piano to work with a twelve volt supply.
The fridge will be a godsend; thank you Linda.



7 comments:

Andrew Scott said...

Out of interest, what is your ultimate source of power, ie how do you charge your batteries? Forgive me if you say elsewhere but I can't recall. I wonder if you use a petrol generator, wind or water power or some mixture. I have a relaible and fairly rapid stream flowing at the bottom of my garden and have often thought of the potential for some micro generation of power, but have never investigated the possibilities. Maybe one day I will

John Foster said...

Helios, Andrew, the sustaining power of our solar system! I have 4 X 110w solar panels on my roof that charge a bank of six batteries'. Now I am travelling the 12v road these provide more than enough electricity for my needs here but needs here are a far cry from needs there. I am not a great fan of small scale mechanical generating devices because anything mechanical must, ultimately, wear and anything small can not be built with enough beef to make intervals between failure comfortably long. It is something else of which I am sure because I have been there; expensively!

Andrew Scott said...

Oh yeah - sunshine. Forgot about that, I'm from Scotland! But the sun's only got a few more billion years to burn, apparently, so what will you do after that? Worry, worry...Your reservations about small scale micro generation are the precise reason I have gone no further than idle speculation with my thoughts. Machinery is expensive and breaks down or at the very least needs maintained. I doubt it would be economic or even environmentally sound to explore my idea, even if the steady flow of unharnessed energy does make me wonder. I'll just enjoy sitting by my stream and watching the water flow by.

John Foster said...

Ah! Yes Scotland. Did you know that the classical greek word for darkness or gloom is 'skotia'? I can think of few better ways of spending my time than sitting by a stream watching. An analogy I frequently use to explain my metamorphosis of spirit when I came here is that previous to the change, I was one of a horde of people struggling in the middle of a deep and fast flowing stream to hold position against its incessant flow. Post my enlightenment I am a man watching the great struggle from the tranquillity of the river bank. In Iceland some years ago I saw a huge pre-war water powered 3kw generator. The stream that fed it was quite small but it did fall steeply from a considerable height. In the past the generator had been the family farm's only source of electricity and, when I saw the contraption, it was still providing power for the farmhouse but could not come near to providing the power requirements of the new, fully automated cowsheds and computerised milking parlours. The ultimate answer to energy conservation is to use less!

Andrew Scott said...

Darkness and Gloom = Skotia? No, I didn't know that, and it may be relevant since I am Andrew Skotia... and in Greek Andrew means "Man", I think. May change my name by deed poll to Man of Gloom.

As for struggling in the stream, I try to just go with the flow, rather than fighting against it, and hope I don't hit the rocks. Hadn't occurred to me that I might be able to scramble onto the river bank and get out altogether.

John Foster said...

It did not occur to me until I woke up one day, knowing not how or why, to find myself there . Maybe the First Cause had a hand in it?

Andrew Scott said...

I'm more of a cyclical causation chap myself, if I had to bet (which I never do) but Bang, Crunch, Bang, Crunch... forever and ever Amen, Makes more sense to me, especially given the dominance of cyclical vibrations in every phenomenon we know, than any First Cause going "Right, let's get the party started" without itself pondering what caused First Cause to be caused... I plump for: No beginning, no End, no First Cause and no Last Effect. But I am a mere fool who knows nothing. The myriad sentient multidimensional worm-waves in charge of everything may be laughing at me as I write.