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Feilding icecream trailer runs on alternative solar energy system

A Feilding household that built its own alternative solar energy system is now using mother nature to power its business. 

Norbert Reiser and Renate Thun​ went off the grid in 2010 and havn't paid a power bill in eight years because of a $15,000 system converting sunlight into power and servicing all their household appliances.

The couple have now designed a similar system for their mobile icecream trailer, FoodiesBar, which sells homemade baking at weekly markets in Manawatū. 

A couple of power-hungry appliances prompted them to reconnect to the grid, but 90 per cent of their consumption is still sourced from solar energy. The stove requires significant amounts of power, which Thun uses during the week to make her delicious treats.

The trailer is powered by three batteries, which are charged by solar panels on the roof and provide enough electricity to run appliances for 24 hours. Only the real-fruit icecream machine must be connected to power. 

It took Reiser eight years to reconfigure his home's power circuit after they moved from Bavaria in Germany in 2001.

They remain self-sufficient and grow vegetables and fruit, and keep chickens and sheep for food.

A former industrial electrician, Reiser said solar energy could be a pricey investment, but the savings were worth it in the long run. The trailer system cost $5000 and took Reiser one month to wire.

"The business philosophy is to reduce our carbon footprint. It's the same as what we've got at home, but a smaller version. It is worth it because you can go to any occasion, any location, and you've [got power]." 

Sunny conditions provide the best power, but too much sun can fry the batteries and ruin the system. 

"The crucial part is you've always got the fridge and freezer in there storing food, so it's important they always have enough so the food is safe."

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