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Living Off the Grid as an Oilfield Gate Guard

The company supplied service trailer

There was a nice dew overnight so that means the dust will lay down for a few hours this morning,  That is a good thing.

It is a welcome relief to be sucking up someone else’s resources for a change. When Miss Kathy and I were checking out the oil field gate guard possibilities, I always looked real hard at any pictures of their service trailer and septic facilities. Living in an inhospitable off grid situation makes you totally dependent on what the company provides as far as support. We went with the company that had the reputation for the best equipment.  When you look at the daily rate of pay, consideration needs to be given that utilities and pad rent are included as part of the compensation package.  Conservatively, I would estimate that value at $25/day and worth even more in the high summer when the air conditioners are running round the clock.

The picture of the service trailer shows the 12kw 3 cylinder Perkins diesel generator, the black 500 gallon fresh water tank and the 200+ gallon diesel tank.

Generator close up

The generator is in a sound insulated enclosure and is not irritatingly loud.  I did re-position the trailer as far away as I could on the pad due to the noise.   The electrical box has 2 50 amp RV outlets and one 20 amp outlet.  I shut the generator down for several hours each day and fuel consumption appears to be in the neighborhood of 0.5 gal per hour.  The water  in the tank is deemed non-potable. I know the water originally comes from a city approved water supply but the delivery system is rather crude and I would not feel comfortable drinking it.  I have no problem using it for dishes and showers.  The water in the tank is clear and has no odor.  There is no evidence of algae.  The service guy throws a chunk of pool chlorine in there at every fill up.  Interestingly enough, there is no chlorine odor at the tap; unlike when I pour liquid bleach in my nurse tank.

The septic holding system consists of 2 flat 250 gallon inter-connected tanks and a  110v lift pump.  My employer contracts with a septic company to come every two weeks to pump out the tanks.  The lift pump appears to be a custom unit as it is labeled with the name of the guard services company. It has a 60 gallon capacity and works well.  I just have to make sure the generator is on when it is in

The septic holding tanks. Lift pump on the right

operation.  So far the system has been odorless and does not leak. We will see what happens odor wise when it gets hot for real.

I like to turn the generator off for a few hours each morning for two reasons. Miss Kathy says she is aware of it being shut off even if she is sleeping. She says she gets some of that deep REM sleep in the peace and quiet.  The other reason I like to shut it off is to save the company some money.  I figure I am saving $50-$75 every week at the current price of off road diesel.  If I could run my array of night time flood lights off my battery bank, I would turn it off at night as well.   This respite from the noise will be short lived.  As soon as the high summer arrives, the generator will have to run 24/7.

I upgraded my house battery bank last year about this time with 2X100ah AGM batteries.  They replaced 2X250ah AGM batteries which were hosed due to neglect on my part and an old style single stage Magnetek inverter/charger.   A doctor owned the Old Girl before me and I guess she could afford those massive (160lb) and costly ($700) batteries.  I couldn’t.

100ah battery on the left, 250ah on the right with the 1000w inverter above. The red battery charger charges the 250ah battery

This is where the story takes a little detour from the norm. I tried my damndest to salvage those 2 big ole batteries. I desulphated them, I equalized them, I said juju words over ’em and when it was all said and done, I was able to salvage one of the two. The only problem is I didn’t know what to do with it when I brought it back from the dead. It was a different capacity, it was older and 3 is an odd number….. I guess I could have sold it and bought some more 100ah batteries but when you are on the back side of nowhere, the logistics of that kind of deal suck. So I decided to modify my 12v system.

 

I had originally set up the Xantrex 1000w inverter to feed off the house batteries. I ran two 10ga extension cords from the inverter. One went to the front of the RV and the other one is in the bedroom closet. I plug the cords into the inverter when I need 110v boondocking. I decided to power the inverter from the salvaged 250ah battery and re-charge it with a Husky car type Smart Charger. The system works pretty danged good.  The inverter shuts off at 11.9v and squeals like a bunch of seventh grade girls when the battery gets low.  Luckily, I can’t hear it since I am near deaf.  I can hear Miss K hollering from the back to ‘turn the @#^%* alarm  off!’ It is wonderful to have a good woman around, let me tell ya.

The baby Kenmore refrigerator

Back in the winter, we picked up an old Kenmore dorm sized refrigerator in Waco at an auction house for $25. It looked like a frat house survivor but has worked surprisingly well. I removed the barrel chair that was just to the right of the entrance door and put the fridge there in its’ stead. I had never seen a single person sit in that barrel chair and it had become a depository for coats and other flotsam. We never missed it.

The inverter and the 250ah AGM battery will run the flat screen TV, the DVD player, the DISH receiver, a computer, the router and the fridge for 6-8 hours easily.  It takes a little more effort to monitor the battery and keep it charged since it is not tied in to the house system and I can’t just punch it up on the Trimetric 2020 system monitor.  Doesn’t really concern me at this point since I do have an inordinate amount of piddlin’ time on my hands.

 

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4 comments to Living Off the Grid as an Oilfield Gate Guard

  • Joshua

    Is the fridge the heaviest draw as far as amperage goes? I find that is my largest no matter what I do if I am trying to avoid paying out the butt for a nice low power RV fridge. My fridge uses almost 3x more than my TV.

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    • Andrew

      Couldn’t tell ya on that one. Our fridge runs off propane when we are disconnected from shorepower. Maybe somebody else will chime in that knows.

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  • Bob Bergeron

    Can you deduct all your business expenses??

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    • Andy

      You can deduct a large portion IF AND ONLY IF you maintain a home other than your RV at which you stay at least 6 mos a year. If you fulltime in an RV most expenses are not deductible because the IRS classifies you as itinerant homeless. Anyone who chooses to ignore these guidelines is asking for an audit.

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