Mary Ann's Tropical Building Page
Part 2 of 4
Warning: This report is long and has many photographs. Therefore, it is divided into several parts. Remember to Click "Page 3" when you get to the end of this segment.
Having lived with a generator for 3 months after Hurricane Luis, and now having had solar power for 3 months, we can confidently state that there is no comparison. Solar wins hands down.
Computers hate generator power. Many computers refused to work on generators after Luis. We had to purchase an expensive line conditioner to make ours work.
Generators are noisy, require messy, stinky fuel, and never work when you need them unless you give them regular maintenance.
Solar is quiet, maintenance free, zero-cost for fuel supply, computer-friendly, and operates every day to your advantage, even when their isn't a hurricane (most of the time!).
One of the wisest decisions we made.
The office has two separate electrical systems. One panel box has a standard "mains" system which supplies the air conditioners and the water pump (although we plan to move the water pump off this system). When ANGLEC, the Anguilla Electric Company, cuts power to our site (once a week to once a month), this system shuts down.
The second panel box is tied into a solar power system. The solar panels are currently on the south side roof of the lower floor, although we may move them, since they are in shade part of the afternoon during the summer. Actually, we thought they were facing due south until Spring started turning to Summer and the panels became shaded due the building height above them!
|Power Central Hut.|
A small shed on the back of the tech center contains the Inverter and the batteries for the solar system. The solar panels generate 12V DC which is fed to the Inverter. It directs that power to the batteries, unless they are already fully charged.
When there is a demand for 110V AC from the office (for a light or a computer), the Inverter converts some 12V battery power into 110V. If the batteries fall below a certain level, the Inverter will use power from the grid (Anglec) to top up the batteries. If the batteries are low and the grid is down, the Inverter will startup a generator (should we so wish). If not, it shuts down to protect the batteries.
For more technical details on the power requirements and usage of this solar power system, go to the web page for Beachtech.
|Panasonic Split Air Units.|
The downstairs office complex is completely air conditioned, while the upstairs villa is cooled only by fans and the breeze.
We selected Panasonic because we wanted a very quiet unit. And they are quiet. Almost silent. And because the building is insulated and has radiant barrier, the air conditioners don't have to run all the time to keep the interior tempature cool.
|Griffin and Larry set up microwave tower.|
Our complex is intended for use as an Internet Technlogy Center, which we call Beachtech. Computer Engineer Griffin Webster has switched off the construction project and back onto Information Technology (if you need a network installed or a solar power system, call him or Bob Green at 1-264-497-5011).
Although Beachtech has uninterruptible, clean solar power and air conditioning and the latest in computer equipment, with Internet access points in every room, it is still connected to the Internet via a single 28.8 modem. This connection costs US$800 per month for 24x7 operation.
Here you see Griffin and Larry Stott of Cable and Wireless (the local phone company and sole Internet supplier) setting up a microwave transmitter for an experiment in achieving greater bandwidth.
This Cylink Microwave transmitter from Cable and Wireless is fruitlessly trying to send a signal over the hill between us and The Valley.
We seemed to have picked one of the worst possible places in Anguilla to set up an Internet Technology Center!
Telephone lines are too far from the closest exchange in order to run ISDN or ASDL or any of the other high speed services that work on standard copper phone wires. Even 56K modems have trouble from our location and the 28.8 modem must reconnect frequently (luckily the LINUX operating system handles that automatically).
We are currently experimenting with other equipment to
see if there is any way to get bandwidth to our site,
short of string a $75,000 optical fiber!
|First Official Function.|
The first official function at Beachtech, however, was not a technical one at all.
It was a meeting of the Church Youth Group of the South Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church. We had no idea that 80 people could pack into our conference room and still keep cool and enjoy the program.
Pastor Fleming blessed the building during the event and Beachtech served cool drinks to the many young people (and their parents) who attended.
The man standing by the door in this picture is parishioner Daniel Stevens, who is also our "rock man".
Jamel Lake of The Farrigton and St. Thomas is our newest employee. He is learning about construction and computers as fast as he can, while running errands all over Anguilla and waiting in line at Albert Lakes.
Jamel is 19 years old and can be reached via email
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