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).

Currently, we’re using oil lamps for all our lighting. We’re supplementing with batteries, but as time goes by, we have less and less opportunity to recharge them. As I type these words,  my computer battery hovers at 8%—so low that our small DC inverter can barely keep it charging without cutting out! (see Review: The Bestek 300 Watt Power Inverter.)

Cabin by oil lamp light

Michelle cooks breakfast with the help of a wall mounted oil lamp and her headlamp. Again, we see better than the low light photo would indicate (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

If the forecast holds, we’ll have relief by this afternoon: 25 knot winds, building to a northerly gale of 30 knots. But, if the forecast had held true, we wouldn’t be in our current low power situation to begin with, so we’ll see.

If not, expect either very short posts, or none at all until we claw our way back to full power.

We’ve been here before, (see Power Flex) and will be again. Thankfully, it happens far less often now that we have the larger solar array. No matter, we just adjust in minor ways, and continue on with homestead life.


One Response to “Low Power”

  1. Ekij says:

    Have you considered a human-powered charger?
    The tiny ones for charging your phone are not practical but larger ones that are hand cranked or even “bicycle” powered seem a practical alternative. They’re also a way to get some exercise when the weather is too poor to do much outside.
    I’ve often considered one but haven’t purchased one.
    I’m surprised your on oil lamps though. LEDs are so low power than you can run for days on a single charge of batteries.

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