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This is the Spanish website for Peter and Maureen Scargill. When in Spain we live in Galera in Andalusia (for clarify that is the English spelling - Mid-Spain they spell it Andalucia and pronounce it "And-a-loo-thee-a").

We've had a home in Spain for something like 8 years or more and now we're spending a lot more time here.

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Archive for the ‘solar’ Category

A few short days with friends

We have just enjoyed two days in the north of Spain in the province of Aragon in the village of Valderrobres and just now arrived home back home to the sun.

Valderrobres and surrounding areasValderrobres is a charming and quaint mediaeval village that sits in an unspoilt area in the mountains of Aragon. The village comes complete with cobblestone streets, knobbly old oak doors and a considerable amount of EU funded resurrection.

We were visiting the area to see our friends Aidan and Helen who are buying a sizeable portion of land in order to resurrect an old ruined building and build a new home there for the summer months.

The area is totally off-grid and so we expect to see some impressive solar power there in the near future as Aidan, like myself, is particularly fond of the idea. Having managed to source the panel importers he has secured good pricing on the 250w units so I expect lots of it. A side effect of this means that next year I will be able to almost quadruple the solar power at our cave which I’m really looking forward to. I’ll test one of the 250w units in the UK but in the Northeast of England I’ll be lucky to get enough to light one bulb most of the time.

Right now the place needs a lick of paint (but actually will be levelled and they’ll start again)


Surrounding towns are wonderful.


On our way back we discovered a new garden centre on the way down to Caravaca De La Cruz

Garden Centre

Working on the album but some pics here  – https://www.flickr.com/photos/scargill/albums/72157675203701585

External Home Lighting

Totally solar-poweredThis is about externally lighting your property for fun/amusement or even security. I’m writing this because invariably the subject comes up in pub conversations and I often promise people to follow up the conversation later – I then usually forget or we simply run out of time.

Rather than fill up the Galera blog with tech stuff – I’ve written the full article over here at scargill.net – enjoy – http://www.scargill.net/external-home-lighting/

A little Experimenting in the Sun


Solar experiment

Just doing a spot of experimenting with the currently reliable weather here in Galera. What you see here is a cheap 10 amp solar regulator which has 3 pairs of wires – one goes to the solar panel, another goes to the battery – the third pair go to the “load”.

The “load” in this case is a little 12v-5v convertor sitting on top of the battery – I plan to hook that to my Raspberry Pi at some point…   but then over on the right is a standard 8-battery charger. I realised when looking at the instruction that it’s power supply was a 12v job – and that the unit could handle anywhere from 11v to 14v input – in other words absolutely ideal for powering from a lead-acid battery such as a car battery or alarm battery (the latter is what you see here).

Solar panel

The solar panel shown on the left here is way too small to be a great deal of use – it is able to put out about 400ma which means it will take maybe 16 hours to fully charge that 7aH alarm battery – I have a MUCH bigger panel but that will have to wait for our July trip in the car as I could not fit it into the case. That has a 3 amp output which will charge the little battery in under 3 hours and is better suited to charging a car battery.

The regulator is great, I now have two of these – cheap as chips from Ebay – will allow a maximum 10 amps load and protects the battery from overcharging and over-discharge (simple lead acid batteries do NOT like being fully discharged and rarely recover from this unless they are what are called “deep discharge” types. 

soilSo with the setup above I’m happily charging my little AA and AAA batteries FOC from the sun – soon I’ll find a more practical application for this. I’ve a larger setup on the Pergola and that’s powering a bright hanging lamp without any issue.

While that is going on I have my soil moisture sensor under test.. that’s producing an analog out put which I’m hoping to use to provide sensible watering for Maureen’s plants shortly. The sensor will indirectly control an (already fitted and tested over a year) cheap washing machine valve which controls the cold water feed to the plants.

Just as well as she picked up a boatload of new plants from the garden centre yesterday.

All good fun.

Garden Centre

The First Weekend

edge of galaxyIt’s been a great first week here in Galera, met some new people who’ve been great company and we’ve already gotten a fair bit of work done.

Yesterday I went off to Huescar in the morning in search of washers to complete the gazebo (or carbuncle as Maureen calls it – after she bought it!!) over the hot-tub. On the way I popped into Spanish Inland Properties to pick up the solar panel delivered from England – I’ve tested that and it’s chucking out 2.5 amps reliably during the day so now I just need to find a suitable 12v 20amp (or so) “deep discharge” battery. I can get one overnight in the UK for around £40 but they won’t deliver to Spain.

stars above the cavesWe spent the afternoon putting up screens on the new carbuncle – and immediately ran out of screen so last night we went off in search of more – turns out the local Ferreteria in Galera stocks the stuff so that was easy -  of course we had to drop into the pub (La Poza) on the way back and that was the end of that night – we sat outside all night had a great time.

Got back very late but not too late to get the camera out as it was a clear night with a smashing view of the edge of our galaxy which you’ll see in the first picture. – look over on the right and you can see it coming out of the corner of the image (the left corner is light pollution from the village). That was a 16-second exposure incidentally – tonight I plan to try taking a bunch of them and averaging out the noise.

This morning I’m taking it easy – slight alcohol poisoning and it’s quite warm out there. I can see a quiet night in coming along and with luck we’ll get some more wall patching done (it’s a never ending task) and maybe we’ll finish off the carbuncle. I’m doing some work on the home control stuff but I’m kind of stuck waiting for parts to arrive from the UK which might take a few days.

I took the shot below late last night – most of the lighting you see there is either solar or LED or both.

Things I’m short of it anyone local has ideas for suppliers…. I need a couple of posts for the Pergola (to run horizontally for fencing off one side) – maybe 75mm diameter, 3 metres long.. and a deep discharge battery (camping type) 12v at maybe 20ah or so – got to be cheap as the solar panel is just an experiment for now.. haven’t even figured out where to mount it yet 🙂

The as yet incomplete Gazebo

Another weekend is upon us

A fine time was had last night, we met up with Alan and Ant at Cueva Cascada and also with fellow Geordie Brian and his wife Maureen – some amazing work on lighting over at Cascada which has given me lots of new ideas for the future. We all had a great time – I spent some time talking to Ant who is Russian – he has one hell of a camera and it shows in his photos… and now I’m sitting here checking out Ebay for lighting.

We had hoped to get to the lake today for a baking but despite being 28c, it’s a little overcast. The lake is quite cool and so it really needs to be 30c+ to get the best out of it.

Scenery around Galera

Maureen has been checking out properties this morning while I’ve been catching up with the email mountain and figuring out some new lighting and solar power ideas. I still have to hook up my remote controlled relay unit for controlling stuff on the mobile phone… amazing how powerful the sun is at sapping enthusiasm for projects.

I reckon I’ll implement some of this stuff when it gets just a little cooler maybe in October. For now we’ve a BBQ then there’s some horse show on later tonight and of course a trip to La Posa at some point.

Shock Horror – the TRUE cost of electricity in Spain

After reading some time ago on the web that the average cost of electricity in Spain was something in the order of 14p per KW/H (I’ll explain later) I was shocked to say the LEAST to actually sit down with LED fire surround lightinga real modern bill now that we have “proper” electricity – the basic cost per KW/H isn’t bad – but by the time you add in the standing bill (ie payment for nothing) and all sorts of other perks and then the dreaded VAT (which most of us have to pay and can’t claim back) – the TRUE cost of electricity at least around here is currently around 22.4p per KW/H. That’s a LOT.

To put that in perspective for those who don’t do maths – the little dial in the electricity meter is usually marked in KW/H – might be marked to 0.1 KHW or just to the nearest KW/W

How does this work? Simply – if you run a gadget that uses a Kilowatt (Microwave) – for an hour – you’ve spend 22.4p. If the gadget uses 2KW (maybe an oven) it’s costing you 44.8p an hour.

Mainly SOLAR and LED lightingSo why am I showing you my new lights (temporary setup) – because thanks to LED technology which most of these are, the display you’re looking at comes to around 50w all in a running cost of around 1.1p per hour – not too bad, all except for the distant green rope light which is going!! 

I can’t do much about hot water and washing machine etc.. until we get organised and get a solar heat panel – friends recently told us they’d used no electricity for hot water since May! I figure using that same feed for the dishwasher and washing machine would reduce their electricity use by a massive amount also – but that’s for the future. For now with Compact Fluorescent (and some LED) inside and solar outside we’ve made a start at a decent lighting setup without running up huge costs. The lights are all able to take on any colour.