I've discovered an extremely cheap method of obtaining temporary power which is totally mobile. There are many mobility scooters used by the elderly and disabled people which enter the used market at very low prices. I've seen them as cheap as $100. They often sell for less than the value of their batteries.
24 V scooters are the most common which happens to be the same voltage as my cordless skill saw, reciprocating saw, drill and light. The best scooters for Homestead use are those which are being sold because they are too big to get around in grocery stores and other tight places. Many of these cumbersome models have good-sized wheels and are well-suited to outdoor use. I stopped in to a dealer with my cordless tools and the salesman had everything needed to power these tools directly from the big batteries on the scooter.
Some of these units come complete with baskets which could become toolboxes. I drove a unit which moved along at a good jogging speed and it had a rack the size of a laundry basket. Convenient carrying racks are available so the scooters can be transported by car which means that you could charge up the scooter and show up at your building site with plenty of power for several days of cutting and drilling.
I have considered a golf cart for my property but it would be vulnerable when I'm not there and would not be able to drive down every garden path. With the more maneuverable old guy scooter I would be able to get electrical power to every corner of my long, skinny and difficult to service property.
This unit would be most useful while I'm building but even when the house is complete it could be constantly plugged in and would simply add to my available battery bank.
I'm in my 40 and perfectly healthy but I still look forward to riding my scooter everywhere and only walking if I absolutely must . Whenever I'm invited to go to the gym or for other exercise I flatly state that I'm not fond of unpaid exercise If I get lots of exercise I want to be able to look at what I've built or the big pile I've loaded on my truck as evidence of my efforts.
I've had really bad luck with gas powered generators: theft, break down, starting problems... When I look at the actual amount of time spent cutting or drilling I'm willing to accomplish those tasks a little slower if I can avoid the noise and stench of a generator.
Does anyone have another source of cheap mobile power or a supply of deep cycle batteries going cheap?
This idea has evolved a little in the last 2 1/2 years. I'm moving to the property on a part time basis. Whenever I find work in or near Nanaino, I'll be there.
For now, the cottage will run on battery power alone. My usage will be only 200 watt hours per day. Eventually, I will need more.
I'm looking at buying some really good battery powered tools. They will probably be made by Stihl or Husqvarna. I was very pleased with Stihl's 36 volt chainsaws, hedge cutters, and blower. The best battery powered stuff I've ever seen. I tried them out. All of these tools can be operated from a remote battery pack that fits around the operator's waist. The power cord that makes this connection could also be run from any 36 volt battery bank. I checked. This means that the scooter would need to carry an additional 12 volt battery which would be connected whenever the tools are used. If I manage to find a larger robust model, it could tow a little trailer containing three 12 volt batteries and all the tools. This quantity of mobile power would be enough to serve all of my needs for several years. Well pumps, pond pumps and cottage uses could all be powered by it.
Charging --- As stated earlier, I hate generators for various reasons. Probably because they've cost me a small fortune in purchase costs, fuel, repairs and theft. I will eventually put a large solar array on my south facing slope. For now, all charging will be done in town, at the homes of my customers. Those Stihl tools will be added to my tool kit that goes with me to tree cutting jobs, building sites and demolition projects. Most sites have grid power. Some demo sites don't have power and usually the power is shut off before I'm done. Whenever I get one of these, I hurry to accomplish all stucco and roof cutting and jack hammering before the power is dropped. From then on, my chainsaw and lights from the van are all I use. A mobile battery bank will be a welcome addition.
Transport --- A scooter and trailer could easily roll up a ramp onto my pick up truck. Unloading could be tricky. I will probably get an old tent trailer deck that sits low to the ground. This would carry the scooter and increase my capacity when hauling firewood and branches.
When I look at the various tools that I already own, they all need standard 120v AC. The only sensible route is for me to run them from an inverter attached to the batteries. With all of this stuff available in a trailer behind a scooter, I'd be better equipped than I ever have been at places that have power at the house but nothing in the field. A cheap plug in electric chainsaw could be used for bulk cutting of stuff that has already been limbed and fallen. My circular saw and reciprocating saws are often needed at a distance from grid power.
I expect to eventually install some solar panels that will require a battery bank. When not in use, the scooter and trailer could be plugged into the panel.
Truck battery bank and tool caddy --- Once a suitable sized solar array exists, I could see housing the bulk of my batteries in the cab of a retired pick up truck. Many trucks are pulled off the road for safety inspections and the required upgrades are prohibitively expensive. Perfectly functioning vehicles are scrapped. A vehicle that suffers this fate can make a good farm truck for hauling tools, rocks, firewood and a battery bank around the farm. Once they are condemned, they can never go back on the road. Vehicles like this typically bring between $100 and $500, which I think is reasonable. My average trip would likely be under a quarter mile. It would take forever to go through a tank of gas. --- I think the batteries should be in the cab in order to keep them out of the weather. The bench seat could be removed and a small bucket seat for the driver installed. This would free up space for 6 to 12 batteries. The inverter would also be in the cab to keep it dry and to keep the cab warmer in the winter. --- I currently drive my van to various spots around the farm where tools are needed. A truck full of tools and plug in power would be much more handy. It could haul the materials as well.
Batteries and tools are best stored inside. I have never in my whole life, used a garage to store a vehicle. It seems a waste of space. This is different. This truck is primarily a tool caddy. Since the truck will never be driven fast again, tool pouches could be screwed to the body metal wherever convenient. A thin padded box could sit on the hood. Another box could ride on the roof. Almost all work would be done during fair weather, so a wide array of tools could reside on the outside of the truck. The truck and tool shed should have a roof covered in solar panels. This keeps the batteries out of the sun and the tools out of the rain. The panels will be less prone to theft or damage when elevated and they'll catch more sun.
I've narrowly missed three old ride on mowers that were given away this week. One had a bad tranny. All had working motors. All needed lots of money spent to fix the grass cutting portions that had rusted off. These machines could be stripped of that stuff and used as farm transporters. Old mowers in the 5 to 12 hp. range are also a good source of motors for sawmills. Mowers are more suited to rough terrain than scooters are.
Mowers are more suited to rough terrain than scooters are.
Yes. I have considered getting one and just removing the belly mower for better ground clearance.
Very useful for many onsite jobs, and would use far less fuel than my 4WD 3/4 ton Chevy.
"Yard tractors" are quite expensive, but mowers (with bad mowers) can be very cheap.
Suitable for towing mini-trailers, etc.
I was looking at one that had a 22 hp. motor. The belt drive comes off the bottom of the engine. I imagine you could run a belt to a hydraulic pump and from there, operate a sawmill, woodsplitter, jackhammer...
Almost always the mower attachment has failed, but it still drives.
Here's another reason why I need to get my hands on a free or cheap scooter. My cordless hedge cutter is being converted to a sickle bar mower for road work and hay cutting. The scooter is the perfect platform, since they can be driven dead slow.
I've bought 3 battery powered tools. A chainsaw, hedge cutter and blower. They take a 56 volt battery and are the most powerful cordless tools available. I'll still put an inverter on a scooter if one comes up. All of my carpentry type power tools need 120 AC except for two cordless drills and a reciprocating saw. The scooter would be really handy in conjunction with my electric pole saw. Using a 100 ft cord, I could have power in every corner of the property. The road runs right up the middle.
Thanks for that informative post! Have you heard about power scooter? I've seen their ads many times and always thought something was wrong in there promotion of free wheelchairs paid for by Medicare. Apparently, they promise to get any person with compromised mobility a power scooter. They may also have been committing Medicare scam, as the company was raided by government agents.
I just got a phone call, telling me to come and pick up a free mobility scooter. It's in perfect working condition. They have the charger. The battery needs replacement.
Two years ago, I told a guy at a scooter store that I was looking for obsolete equipment for this purpose. Today, he gave these people my number. It pays to advertise.
I have purchased many lithium ion powered tools since I started this thread, so the scooter won't be needed so much as a power source.
For now, it will operate as a tool caddy and I may attach my hedge cutter to it, so that I can use it as a little tractor with a sickle bar mower. This idea has already been thoroughly tested by me and by others. I have mowed enough weeds to pay for my hedge cutter several times. See photo.