The house is on a country road and on the village water supply but is off the grid. Solar panels charge batteries that provide illumination and recharge devices. A 700-W pull-start generator can also recharge the batteries. The hot water heater, room heaters, and refrigerator run on gas fed by a large outdoor tank. The nearest neighbor is 1 km away.
Rates (1 week minimum):
Wooded property (about an acre) is bordered by a stream (the Boyne River) and overlooks a vineyard. Maps show nearby hiking trails. In the garage, there are three guest bicycles (men's and women's touring bikes and a child's off-road bike). Pump is by coat pegs under the stairs.
Other things to note
Staying in a remote photovoltaic-powered house with gas appliances may be a new experience for many visitors. To help your stay be as enjoyable as possible, please have everyone in your party familiarize themselves with the following information. See the house pictures for relevant photographs. Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.
One downstairs outside the pantry; one upstairs outside the bathroom. There is a smoke alarm at the top of the stairs.
The left side of the front door (the panel with the keyhole) opens; the right side does not. Please open and close the front door gently and do not leave it ajar, as a gust of wind could slam it shut, breaking the glass. If the front door sticks, use the handle at the bottom.
The master switch for the downstairs wall lights is located by the front door. In addition, each wall light has its own switch. Both switches have to be on for whichever lights you want to be on. The kitchen lights are turned on by the switch on the wooden staircase post. As you stand on the staircase landing, you can reach up and switch on a light that illuminates the staircase (and then turn off the light from the switch at the top of the stairs). Like the wall lights downstairs, each bedroom has a light with a wall switch and a switch built into the fixture. Both must be on for the light to be on.
This is a good time to point out that a light is being used whenever it is on—whether or not anyone is in the room. When you leave a room, turn the light off. Lights left on unnecessarily drain the batteries and may cause the inverters (device chargers) to switch off if the system battery voltage is too low.
Feel free to use any of the oil lamps or lanterns downstairs. Use only pétrole désaromatisé, which is kept in the pantry on the shelf over the door. If you finish a bottle, please replace it. To reduce the risk of fire, do not use oil lamps upstairs.
BATTERIES AND REGULATOR
The 2 deep-cycle batteries are already connected to the solar panel regulator, and house load cables are connected to the batteries. Don’t make any changes. If you accidentally disconnect a cable or need to charge the batteries from the generator, reconnect them as shown in the photo. Note that red/+ always connects to red/+; black/- always connects to black/-.
The solar panel regulator shows a solid red light when the batteries are charging and a solid green light when there is a load (which there should be since the house load cables should remain connected). A flashing red charge light means that the regulator is preventing the batteries from being overcharged, which is fine. To check the state of charge, flip the toggle switch up when the house lights are off. (Flip the toggle switch off when you’re done checking.)
INVERTERS (DEVICE CHARGERS)
There are US- and European-style inverters below the solar regulator. These can be used to recharge low-wattage devices, such as laptops/tablets/phones, which can be placed on the empty shelf to the left; the inverters are not meant for hair dryers. The US inverter has a red switch; the European one has a push-button, which must be turned on. If the battery voltage is too low, they will not turn on or they may turn off. Wait till midmorning and try again. You are welcome to use the USB cables to charge your devices from your car.
Located over the stove, the water heater is activated by the flow of hot water through an ignition system in the heater. A hot water tap needs to be turned on to at least a medium flow and kept there to maintain ignition. I recommend “practicing” with the kitchen sink before you take your first shower. If the hot water shuts off while you are in the shower, turn the hot water off, wait a moment, turn it back on.
WATER IN GENERAL
The house water is from the village supply and is tested annually. It’s not only safe but tastes good!
The cold water tap in the bathroom is prone to "hammering." This means that it makes a hammering sound when turned on low. It's not a serious condition and is easily corrected by turning the water on full (or turning it off).
There is a hose by the outside tap at the southwest corner of the house. Children are welcome to use it to cool off on hot days. As with all publicly provided water in France, water use is metered, so please keep the tap off when not using water.
The fountain in the front yard is connected to a spring 100 meters up the hill. Please do not adjust the flow, as the drip is all that the spring can currently sustain.
The stove runs on gas provided by the big tank behind the garage. If you are accustomed to town gas, you will find that this stove burns hotter. To light the oven, push the oven button in, insert a hand-held piezo flicker into the pilot hole, and pull the trigger. If someone has just taken a shower or in very cold weather, the gas pressure may need to build up, which may require keeping the oven button pushed in for up to a minute before slowly releasing it.
Gas fridges run on an efficient, continuous cycle, but they cool slowly. It can take a few hours to make ice cubes, so plan accordingly and minimize the amount of time the door is left open.
A 700-Watt, 230-Volt, pull-start generator is stored under the refrigerator. It can be used to recharge batteries or operate European voltage appliances. It should be operated in the shed with the blue door below the house. The batteries can be placed on the floor of the shed. The generator runs on gasoline mixed 50:1 with motor oil. A few liters of premixed fuel are in a labeled container in the shed. Before using the generator, please read the manufacturer’s instructions in the brown vinyl binder in the red cabinet downstairs. If you use the generator, make sure to run it until it’s empty so that it is stored dry.
Set out household garbage in the gray garbage bin stored in the garage and set it outside the gate on Tuesday evenings. Please remember to return the empty bin to the garage. Recycleables should be deposited in the roadside containers at the entrance to the village of Valamascle. Compostable materials may be left in the metal grill container alongside the garage.
No charge for firweood or gas. 4 liters of premixed gasoline for the generator are provided. Guests furnish any additional gasoline and must mix it (50:1) with engine oil. (A 20-L container is provided.)
Towels and linens are provided. Guests can launder their own in town before leaving, or the caretaker can launder them at the end of the stay. (A small laundering charge will be deducted from the deposit.)
Pets are allowed.
Smoking is allowed.
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