It’s grassfire season, as even a glance at the horizon would tell anybody.
We in the Gulch aren’t in danger from wildfires, for fairly obvious reasons. You can’t throw a stone without hitting a lightning-struck juniper, and here and there you can come upon the charred remains of a dead one that got struck and burned right down. But those fires never spread, because dirt don’t burn.
Which doesn’t mean we’re not affected by wildfires. Seems like we’re downwind of all of them, and that affects more than just air quality. Lately, on this ‘100 degrees every damned day’ week we’ve been having, I’ve been using more than the usual electricity on fans to move the hot air around, and at first I thought that was why my indicated voltage was staying so low.
My charge controller normally goes into float by 10 am on a sunny day, but lately that hasn’t been happening. I look out and see sharp shadows, I don’t worry about how much haze is really obscuring the sun and so weakening my solar panels but it is a factor whether I see it or not.
Which is why, in my opinion which is admittedly formed in quite limited and specialized circumstances, solar electric power didn’t become really practical for the hoi polloi desert hermit until the advent of cheap Chinese solar panels, which American manufacturers would argue destroyed the (their, that is) market. Because the only really practical way to make solar work under all circumstances, including high demand/constricted supply, is to oversupply your system. The extensive charts of 20 years ago where you carefully added up all your electrical draws, performed arcane eldritch calculations, bent down, turned around and gave the sun a wink and so arrived at the precise minimum necessary amount of solar panel wattage become obsolete when you can afford to just throw a whole great big bunch of watts at the problem. Through slow accretion over time even a penniless hermit can do that, because people are prone to actually throw old solar panels away, incredible as that would have sounded 20 years ago in the era of elaborate tracking racks desperately trying to squeeze the last watt of generating power out of an expensively inadequate panel array over the course of a day.
And that’s important, because even when there’s not a cloud in the sky you never know what air quality is really doing to your generating power. I’m living in the future, baby. It’s Fallout IRL and I feel fine.