Recently, we hit a milestone of sorts in our power generation: for the first time in a year and a half, our battery bank fell below 80%. The situation appeared even more dire by our Trimetric’s read out, which indicated we had fallen to 78%.
We had a period of heavy overcast (often with rain and down-to-the-water ceiling) and no wind. This came on after a movie night, which dropped our power into the mid-90%s, and it decayed from there.
I call this a milestone because I don’t think it’s happened before since we began using the new solar array. It came much earlier in the year than we expected; along with our recent early snow (see A Whiff of Winter) it may warn of a harsher winter this year, in a variety of ways, than we’ve seen lately.
For a normal American home, such a situation might have proven disastrous. Here we have no electrical or electronic necessities—no refrigerator or freezer to keep running (see Life Without Refrigeration) no electric stove—that’s about the limit of appliances I can even identify as “necessary” at the moment.
At this time of year, each of us knows where to find one of our individual collections of headlamps (see Headlamps: Don’t Leave Home Without Them!). I cleaned and filled some of our oil lamps to use in the evenings (see Oil Lamps As Alternative Lighting in the Home). Movies left the list of evening entertainment possibilities. Instead, I read aloud while Michelle sorted seeds, made sauerkraut, and sewed on one of our treadle sewing machines. Aly knitted and made desserts. (see Reading Aloud to Your Family.) If we wanted to listen to the radio, we used one of our wind up or solar radios, such as this one: Emergency Ready: Eton FRX5.
We ran down our rechargeable batteries, to be sure. We used a little power each day to keep the computers running, and phones don’t take a lot of power to recharge. It delayed our return to full capacity, but didn’t cripple us.
It wasn’t business as usual in our home, but then, what is? We shifted activities to match the available resources, that’s all. We remained flexible.
A few days later, the wind freshened to gale force, the sun came out, and our battery bank regained full 100% charge through the wind generator and solar array. “Crisis,” if that’s even an acceptable term in this instance, resolved.