Posts tagged: low power

Analog Days, Oil Lamp Nights

By , December 6, 2018

Our 21st century homestead seems like a 19th century homestead lately. As often happens at this time of year, we’ve entered a period of “doldrums.” Our weather has remained steadfastly cloudy and calm, reducing our power generation to bare minimum. Our battery bank has dipped close to the 20% minimum charge we’d resolved never to reach.

Even when we get clear skies, we don’t get the solar power we need. We’re so close to the winter solstice that the sun stays low enough on the horizon for the southern point to block it as it transits. We’re only getting a couple hours of direct sunlight on the solar array at most.

Usually, we can rely on our region’s abundant winds to make up the difference by driving our wind generator. These last weeks, though, we’ve hardly had more than a light breeze now and then, mostly from the north, a quarter that gives us little power.

We felt like we’d entered unknown territory at mid-November, when we fell to 40% (see Testing the Limits). Now, we wish for that much power!

Snow on the Chilkat mountains

I took some photos of the Chilkat range, across the Chilkat River, on our way to town Wednesday to write this post (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

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Low Power

By , January 17, 2018

We’re weathering a “perfect storm” of . . . calm weather.

In the middle of January, we can’t rely on the solar array to power our homestead as it does most of the rest of the year. Instead, we need the wind generator to cover the gap caused by seasonal darkness. But, if we hit a run of cloudy, calm days, we lose out.

That’s our current situation. We’ve had breezy days and nights, enough to spin the generator just below the 9 m.p.h. lower charging limit. Occasionally, we get a bit of charge. To make it all the more maddening, our local breezes trended the exact opposite of the forecast wind: while we were supposed to have northerly in the morning and southerly in the afternoon, our generator faced south all morning, then switched to north in the afternoon!

Currently, our battery bank registers 77% of charge. That’s well above our total shut down limit of 50%, but we try never to run down to 75%. So, in order to reserve remaining charge for emergencies, we’ve gone “primitive.”

cabin by oil lamp light

A low light morning. The room is better illuminated to the human eye than the camera’s eye. Since it’s morning, two lamps in this view are not lit (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

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