Sunday afternoon I installed the charge controller for our wind generator. I didn’t require much time, and the job went smoothly. It should—this is the third time I’ve installed one of these units in the last year. That means I’ve uninstalled them twice; I’ve sent two in for repair under warranty, meaning free except for the $50 postage to mail it to the factory each time. You’re darn right I’m keeping score!
I installed the first charge controller a year and a day prior to Sunday’s work. That brand new unit failed right out of the box, destroying my old wind generator in the process. I had to mail it in for repair. More than a month later, after several phone calls, I received a brand new unit—because my repaired controller apparently disappeared off the company’s loading dock! The replacement unit lasted six months, failing just days after the end of our Christmas celebration.
Now it’s repaired (it really is my unit—I checked!) and reinstalled. We’ve had a lot of calm weather lately, so it’s likely to be a while before I can put it through its paces to make sure that it’s working properly.
This particular wind generator and components are wonderful when they work. I can’t imagine what the national or international failure rate might be. I just know that most of the neighbors use the same company’s products, and almost everybody reports similar problems.
Sadly, the return of the new charge controller meant retiring (once again, and probably only temporarily) the trusty old charge controller that came with the property. I “traded up” to the new one reluctantly because of a “problem” with the old one that turned out to be no problem at all—that’s a sad tale for another time. Now fixed, it works well enough. In fact, except it only lacks the ability to stop the wind generator when optimum charge levels are reached—that’s the advantage of the new controller. Otherwise, it’s superior, because it not only measures the voltage of each individual battery cell instead of the bank as a whole, providing more accurate power levels, it displays outgoing amps so we can monitor what we’re using, not just what we generate. Most importantly, it displays information in large red LED numbers that can easily be read across the room. The new, “improved” charger’s display is weakly backlit. It’s very hard to read unless the room light’s just right. The only value that can be read across the room is “charging” or “not charging.”
I’m grateful that Sunday’s installation went well. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, I fear electricity; working with it is never easy for me. I sincerely hope that the next time I have to do this particular job, it’ll be more difficult, because I’ll have to remember all the way back to the last time I did it!