We've hit a snag with our solar power system. Basically, our batteries are dying. This isn't good.
We knew we might have some problems, for various reasons, with this set of batteries. For one thing, the batteries (purchased in the US) were brought down here too early, because we thought we would be moving onto our property sooner than we did. So, they sat around for too long, before they were connected to our system. Additionally, some of the batteries were used to provide temporary power before the solar power system was installed, and that use wasn't the very best thing for long battery life. Finally, these batteries weren't really the best type for us to have purchased in the first place. That, unfortunately, is one of those things where there's lots of conflicting information out there, good and bad advice, and our choice turned out to be a trial-and-error experience.
At the time we started running on solar power, we had sixteen batteries (each similar in size to a car battery) running. In the two months we've been using the system, we've had three batteries burn out on us. At this rate, we're in trouble. The stress on the remaining batteries increases as we run the system on fewer batteries, so we expect more, and possibly quicker, battery failures coming along soon. Yikes.
We have a plan, of course. Allen researched the type of battery that will work better, and last longer, for our system, and we intend to purchase the new battery (it will be one big one this time) and have it shipped down in our container this Christmas. The new type of battery can be expected to have something more like an 8 year lifespan, instead of the 2 year lifespan expected of the type we are currently using. Of course, with the better battery comes a big price tag, but we don't have much of a choice on this.
Meanwhile - and this is where things tend to get fun - we're making plans to live without access to electric power, possibly for a few months. We figure that the current batteries will not likely last until the new battery arrives. If that is indeed the case, we will use our generator to create power for a few hours each day - just enough to wash laundry, run the freezer a bit (we'll use the chest freezer like a cooler), check on the internet for emails and the news, and possibly watch a movie.
Now, some of you are thinking to yourselves, "Oh this is awful. I wish I could do something to help them out." GOOD NEWS - I'm going to tell you how you can help!
We're going to ship the Christmas gift container, filled with donated used clothing, household items, shoebox gifts for the Gifts for Gracias Project, and our new battery, as early as we can this year. The sooner we have a containerload of goods to ship, the sooner we can get our new battery down here, and have electric power again. So, if you are planning to participate in the gift project this year, it is time to start making gifts and collecting donations. I'll be working on setting up the collection points (almost certainly one in Maryland and at least one in Florida, like previous years), mailing addresses, and mailing deadlines over the next week or so. We're hoping to ship the container sometime in November. Can you be ready?