Staff training WARM style 10… ‘Let there be light’ (and internet)

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Staff training WARM style | Comments Off on Staff training WARM style 10… ‘Let there be light’ (and internet)

Staff training WARM style 10… ‘Let there be light’ (and internet)

Once the window and door were fitted and all the insulation installed, we realised that if we had electricity and internet up at the office then Rowan could actually move in. Maybe he could move in before Christmas?

I thought this would be the easy bit. You just get a really long extension lead and data cable out to the office right? Wrong – for many reasons. It took a long time and much indecisiveness and asking of opinions and Googling before we decided on a solution, partly because I am a mechanical engineer not an electrical engineer and partly because there wasn’t an easy/cheap solution.

So it turns out 70m is quite a long way to run an electricity and data cable.

An extension cable isn’t viable because 1. The cable size is too small and the voltage drop would be too great. 3. They can be damaged too easily to be safe as a permanent solution. 4. Doesn’t meet any kind of building regs.

Normally over this distance you would bury the cable, but we can’t bury it because we are trying to make this build have minimal impact on the landscape. Burying the cable would have required digging up ancient stone pathways and crossing a centuries old Devon stone wall/bank. So it needed to go above ground.

Possible solutions considered:
  1. Off grid solar generator (I really wanted a Yeti ( but the site was too shaded and we required more power than it could provide).
  2. Off grid petrol generator (urgh Petrol)
  3. Rechargeable batteries and charge them up in the house each evening (Urgh batteries).
  4. LPG heater (too much moisture, difficult to vent safely).
  5. Heat brick heated up in our wood stove inside each evening (too time consuming, might not stay hot long enough).
  6. Wood burning stove (too much heat, too time consuming, difficult to vent safely).
  7. Rig up a catenary wire and sling an external cable from it connected to the mains supply from our flat (feels very permanent, and required a lot of ladder climbing and tree surgery).

After a crash course in power, voltage and amp hours we decide to go with option 7, as this seemed the most robust solution and the least hassle in operation. Once we tracked our electrician down and rigged up the catenary wire and cable (quite an exciting job involving climbing very tall ladders, chopping down lots of laurel and hanging precariously out of windows), it took him a few hours to make the final connections and install the consumer unit and sockets in the office.

There was a last minute panic when the electrician got to site and he told me that I had bought and rigged up the wrong type of cable; a two core instead of a three core. Apparently some types of two core aren’t used very much anymore as they aren’t as robust as modern armoured three core cables. Fortunately on closer inspection it turned out that it was armoured and had a much thicker protective casing than the old style two core cables and so our electrician decided that it would be OK, and in actual fact we think it may have been better in some ways than a three core as it is a lighter cable and we are spanning long distances (it was also much cheaper).

Let there be light 1

Threading through the jungle

Let there be light 2

The cable enters the building…

Let there be light 3

Consumer unit

Now for data; this almost stumped us completely. Google informed us that we may or may not be able to run a data cable that far; it may or may not get interference from the electricity cable if we hung them from the same catenary wire and running the data through the new electricity cable may or may not work through the circuit breaker in the office.

The internet to our flat already comes via a 15m data cable from our neighbours and is pretty poor. With impeccable timing the neighbours decided to switch their internet provider and our repeater stopped working entirely. So no internet at all for a month while we tried to figure out how to resolve this.

Four borrowed routers and repeaters later and Rowan decided to take a gamble on an £80 device that plugged into the data cable from next door, provided wifi in our flat and sent a signal via the newly installed electricity cable up to the office to provide wifi in the office… and against all odds (and advice on google forums) and to all of our amazement, it actually worked.

Coming up… moving in!!!!

 Blog written by Caroline Martin