Cliffs was founded as a 'solar village', although the original farm
buildings were already connected to mains power. Several lots are
now serviced with 240v power, although most units operate economically
on environmentally sustainable stand alone 12 or 24 volt DC solar
systems, creating energy from nature. Most solar systems include
an inverter to provide 240v AC power as required, but the existence
of many 12v appliances means that an inverter is not necessary to
enjoy most 'creature comforts'. Most mobile phones, laptops etc
these days come with a 12v cigarette lighter car charger, doing
away with the need for an inverter.
Solar electricity is clean, noiseless and
uses no fuel except sunlight. Solar energy is renewable in that
the sun will shine another day to recharge your batteries.
on solar power conditions you to be more aware of your power usage
- to turn off lights and appliances that are not being used, and
to be aware of how much power is coming in compared to your overall
usage. In the average 240v household little attention is paid to
how much power an appliance uses.
Another argument in favour of low voltage is the safety aspect.
Anything less than 120v DC is not considered lethal, whereas with
AC you need to come as low as 32v. This makes doing your own 12v
wiring a feasible option.
Solar hot water systems are also popular and efficient. Most cooking
and refrigeration is achieved using bottled gas. It takes quite
a big solar system to run an electric fridge. Some residents also
have a generator as backup during extended overcast periods.
CLICK HERE for
info on the Billen Hall solar project
Composting toilets offer an alternative to septic tank systems,
and are widely used at Billen Cliffs. A septic installation can
cost $5000+, requires a plentiful water supply for toilet flushing
and is far less environmentally sound than the option of a composting
For internet access, ADSL is not available so it's only satellite,
wireless (if reception available) or dial-up. The Billen telephone
exchange operates on an outdated pair-gain system. Mobile reception
is variable. Because the television transmitter is at Mt Nardi on
the other side of the cliffs, television reception can be difficult