Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cloudy Day Electricity

One tool we use more frequently during the winter season is our gasoline fueled generator. It sits, patiently waiting, all summer long. Then, when the days are shorter and the clouds block the sun more frequently, it becomes a key part of our life at the farm.

Our electricity comes from wind and solar power, and our large battery bank holds about 2-3 days worth of saved power.  This post explains a few details of our system. During the warm sunny Colorado seasons, I can use all the power I want. However, during the winter, the wind does not always blow, the sun is lower on the horizon and it is often blocked by clouds. So a bit more planning has to be done to be power smart.

Different decisions need to be made during the winter months. Heavy use activities like laundry, dish washing, and vacuuming, are done earlier in the day. That ensures that the system has time to create more power during the day to keep the batteries topped off by evening. By late afternoon we take a battery reading, and if they have not refilled sufficiently, we run the generator for awhile. It is very invigorating visiting the generator on those cold early evenings, which perhaps keeps us healthier too ! 

Having the generator ready to go is also reassuring from the perspective of available back up power. In the event that something might fail in our overall energy system, the generator would provide emergency power for short durations of time.

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