TT - The Gap


I was in Brisbane a few months back and had the pleasure of meeting Chris and Joan W who are involved in the organization committee behind The Gap transitional towns movement.

Chris and Joan have been involved in sustainable practices for a number of years and I was very excited to see a number of very interesting adaptions that they had incorporated into their own lives and into their house.

Chris has connected up the house with alternative 12 volt wiring and outlets. LED lighting fixtures were strategically placed throughout the house and outlets were positioned in places that made them accessible for use with major appliances.

The entire 12 volt system was built very economically with standard multimeter's fixed into position to measure the voltage and current draw and a small bank of salvaged batteries from UPS  (uninterruptible power supplies) devices that received a charge from PV panels on the roof.

The outlets are different to 240 volt types which avoids any confusion for someone who is unfamiliar with the use of 12 volt power systems in a house.

Chris told me that there have been several times when there have been power outages in their street or suburb and they didn't find out about it until later as all the electrical appliances that are important to them just keep ticking along.

 I had a ride on this electric bike that Chris built using a conversion kit from Oatley Electronics.

The bike uses a hub mounted style motor and runs off a small battery mounted on the back.

At first when I started peddling I couldn't really feel the effect of the motor but as it built up momentum you could really notice the improvement that it offers when you want to travel up a hill.

Australian laws on electric bike motor wattage's are really restrictive and I believe that if the government ever decided to limit e-bikes by using speed governors as many other countries have done rather then by enforcing crippling wattage limitation then this will become a fabulously popular form of transportation.
 
Home made solar oven
Solar oven side view


 Around two sides of the house including over the entire verandah, Chris and Joan have made use of this magnificent passion-fruit arbor that has made a substantial impact on the ambient temperature on the inside and around the edges of the house.

The difference in temperature on the verandah was very noticeable and removed the need for any artificial cooling to be provided on the day that I was there.

I also took a trip out to the permaculture gardens in The Gap which is part of the work being done by members of the transition group. This garden is only a short walk up the road from where I use to live when I was in Brisbane and it was interesting to see how much the community there was starting to move behind these grass roots actions.

Greg Rutter

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