…that comes of installing and maintaining your own vital infrastructure!
Yes! You too can live off-grid, and wonder with every bump in the night whether your tap will run and your toilet will flush! Let “what’s that noise?” become the center of your life! Start today!
Regular readers will recall that less than two weeks ago we had a pretty good windstorm here at the Gulch, and the next day I found Landlady’s solar panel rack sort of … kneeling.
Nothing was really broken, and I didn’t detect anything wrong with the system electrically. At least not right away. She and I got it back upright last weekend, though of course there’s still work to do on the front legs…
But the morning of the very day she was to arrive, I noticed something unsettling. Every thirty seconds or so, for about five seconds, the inverter would buzz and the display would show a 3000 watt load. This had clearly been going on overnight and had badly discharged the batteries. It happened like clockwork; 30 seconds off, five seconds on.
I had no idea what the problem might be or how to alleviate the problem short of switching the inverter off, which I didn’t want to do since Landlady was coming that very day. I checked it again in the afternoon; the batteries were charging in the sunlight, but the periodic severe discharge continued. She dropped by the Lair after she arrived, since we had to coordinate the work plan, and I told her what was going on but had no suggestion as to a diagnosis.
She figured it out, though, quite logically: she asked herself, “What’s the oldest electrical appliance on the property, and could it cause that kind of load if it failed?” Then she went into the powershed and unplugged the well pump. The cable was hot.
Yup. She checked the well pump, just because it was due. It’s fried, I guess, and the 30-second gap is the time it took for the relay to re-set? I really don’t know.
These things come in bunches.
While of course this is bad news, chances are it’ll work out well in the end. The pump is more than 15 years old and really was due, and it’s of an old design that’s now seldom installed off-grid around here; AC, high-flow, and needs god’s own amperage to run. The plan is to replace it with a solar-powered low-flow DC pump like the one Ian and I use. Properly installed it’ll be low maintenance but in case of failure we can do swap-outs ourselves, and it’ll put no strain on the main electrical system at all.