Monday, October 4, 2010

What life looks like, since the lightning strikes

Now that we've had two inverters fried by ground surges of electricity (related to lightning strikes about 600' from our house), we're limping along on a minimal amount of available power. We now have only a tiny inverter working, and it can't process very much battery power into usable household electricity. Here's what we've done, to keep things running.

We removed several of the solar panels from the roof, so that less power would be flowing into the system - we hope that not sending this excess power to our batteries will help them survive until December, when the new batteries are due to arrive.

The tiny inverter cannot run the refrigerator at all. We have chosen to continue to use the fridge, rather than using a cooler. We regularly put bags of ice in the fridge and freezer, and then we run power to the fridge twice each day, using our gas generator. While we cool down the fridge we also run any other appliances which use large amounts of energy, like the washing machine, the grain mill, and the shop vac. Of course, this system doesn't keep the food in the fridge as cold as when the fridge is plugged in full time, so we've made a few changes. We cook our hot meal of the day at lunch time, and we try not to make enough to have any leftovers. Leftover foods go bad really quickly in our current situation. We've used up all the food that had been stored in the freezer compartment before the lightning strikes, and now we purchase small amounts more often, using the freezer as if it were a very cold refrigerator, storing all meats, cheeses and dairy products up there. The freezer doesn't get cold enough to freeze anything, so we don't have ice, and we don't store anything long-term in the freezer.

We actually have the computer on most of the time now, as the inverter is willing to run either the computer or the TV/VCR, and we need to keep one or the other running to use up power out of the batteries during the daytime, so the batteries aren't charging up too much.

In the evening, when we're running the generator for the fridge, the sun is down, and so no power is coming into the batteries from the solar panels. During this run of the generator we also charge up the batteries, so we have enough power to run lights, and computer or TV/VCR until bedtime.

This has all been quite easy to do, and wouldn't be much of a problem except that we'd rather not have to run to town so often for ice and perishable foods, and it's expensive to run the generator so much.

In just a few days, our wedding guests will start to arrive, and they'll be bringing us a new inverter. Then, we'll be back to limping along with a sufficient inverter but not enough batteries.

Who knows what will be next?


Theresa in WV said...

You certainly are flexible! I'm sure I would be doing a fair amount of whining.

Missus Wookie said...

juggling but surviving - so glad you are able to do so. Glad the new inverter will arrive and hope the batteries last until December.

La Gringa said...

I'm so sorry that you've been having all of these (expensive) problems.

I ran across this the other day. Allen probably knows all of this stuff already but the "Lightening Protection" Yahoo group mentioned might be something that Allen could check into. It's membership is apparently real lightening protection professionals that work on huge multi-million dollar projects -- not your everyday run-of-the-mill homeowner types.

Small structure lightening mitigation

I hope you can get some good advice there.

La Gringa said...

Just had another recommendation to pass along to Allen:

PQ (Power Quality) Forum

I hope this helps.