Appropriate proportions…

I’m very pleased with the way that new charger worked out, and I must say the timing was exquisite. We had over a week of hardly any sun and that never happens. And it has tested every solar power system in the neighborhood till they scream. I visited Ian’s place early this morning to find the power completely shut down and while I can’t say that has never happened, before now it was always because of something gone wrong with the – ahem – rather amateurish house wiring. This morning it was because the batteries were flat – and that has never happened in 12 years. All that ran in there was a refrigerator and a couple of CFLs, and those have never come close to draining the batteries.

Visited D&L later, and they said their generator ran twice in a day this past week. This is their monster of a generator…

D&L built a giant strawbale & earthbag house, with a giant electrical system. When their giant battery bank goes low it takes a giant automatic-starting propane-powered powerplant to talk it back to some sense of its duty. And it takes several hours’ running time to do it.

That would be rather excessive for the Lair, but my completely opposite approach – that of having no backup to the solar panels at all – took minimalism rather too far to get me through this very unusual gloomy period. None of my improvisations were much help at all. But now I’m ready for next time. Everything in proportion, I guess.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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5 Responses to Appropriate proportions…

  1. Mike says:

    That generator setup at D&L’s place reminds me of my next door neighbours. Where I get away with a small Jackery power box for short term power outages and a Yamaha 2600 generator for longer ones, they have a humongous, 12,000 watt unit. But their home is twice the size of mine and they also have a sump water issue. Without power, their basement will flood in less than an hour.

  2. Ben says:

    I’m just trying to figure out if your old saying applies here:”Two is one, one is none”? Solar is wonderful, but it’s only 1.

  3. Joel says:

    Interesting question. I (gradually, I admit, as parts became available) built the system with a lot of redundancy: Two sets of panels with separate charge controllers and a spare inverter (that I hope still works after seven years of inactivity) because “two is one and one is none.” I didn’t think about a backup generator because the job I had when I first arrived was fixing small engines including generators and all the inexpensive portable generators I worked with were undependable Chinesium junk. Hated’em. Never wanted to have to depend on one. Never dreamed of owning a nice Honda.

    But it does bother me a bit that I’ve had the Honda for over five years and only now got serious about using it to charge the batteries when needed. I got used to cutting back when the photons got sparse, and just went with that.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It would bother me to run a generator to charge batteries. It just doesn’t seem right.

  5. Ben says:

    “ It would bother me to run a generator to charge batteries.”.
    Suppose that PV had never been invented, and that wind or water power wasn’t an option. In that case you would likely STILL want generator-charged batteries to handle your normal loads because if a generator is running, it’s wasting most of the energy that it’s burning. An hour or two running once in a while beats the pants off of 24/7!

To the stake with the heretic!