Shifting Power, Shifting Perspective

By , May 26, 2015

To recap the plan, we are renovating our off the grid power in the following ways:

This change in power means a change in perspective.

Here comes the sun . . . . (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Here comes the sun . . . . (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

It’s odd not to watch the wind as closely as we once did. I’m quickly breaking myself of the nearly 10-year long habit of perodically checking the wind generator to see if it’s turning. The inevitability of daylight soothes anxiety over whether or not we’re harvesting adequate power. Our focus has turned more to the clouds than the wind.

We’re learning to use power in the evening without hope for it to be immediately replenished, waiting instead until the next day to regain it. I expected this to be the hardest adjustment for me, but thanks to a recent long stretch of sunny weather, I’m finding it very comfortable. I had been concerned about losing the opportunity to replenish depleted power at any time of day or night with wind. In practice, I’m finding it much less stressful to take the longer view, trusting the inevitability of coming daylight. I know the coming day will restore the power adequately if not completely. Wondering when the wind will blow steadily enough to recharge the batteries to full turns out to be more stressful than I’d realized.

It helps a lot that the new solar power seems to have “healed” the lead acid battery bank—the less erratic charge, shaped by the charge controller into a definite bulk/absorb/float regimen, seems to have revived the batteries to the point that they show none of the symptoms of impending failure! (See Is It Time for a New Battery Bank?) This raises some interesting questions about what to do when the nickel iron battery arrives. It also makes me wonder how much longer the old battery bank might have lasted had we switched to an emphasis on solar a few years earlier.

Without relying so heavily on wind, we’ll wake less often to the crying generator on stormy nights. I’ll rarely need to climb a wind generator tower again. Our “homestead” will become even quieter. We’ll save money in the long run. We won’t have to worry about the battery bank losing energy while we’re away from home, nor will we need to ask neighbors to come and run the wind generator for a few hours now and then while we’re away to keep them charged.

I see few downsides at this point. I do find that I relied on the wind generator to gauge wind speed for our weather records. I now have to estimate that from the motion of the water more than in the past. The idle generator does indicate wind direction, at least!

We’ve reaped great benefits from wind generated power over the years, and will likely continue to do so in the winter months, but relief from heavy dependance on the volatile machinery continuing to run well will surely add years to my life. The reduced stress in the last few weeks has already felt wonderful

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