|This is actually a 2.8 kW solar tied system, but it looks very similar to the generator tied back up whole house inverter system that we operate. (homeenergyllc.com)|
One of our sons (the one who came to us through adoption a couple of years ago, as a young teen) is occasionally frustrated by one thing or another. His latest annoyance is how frequently we have power outages here. He grew up in a Group Home, where I suppose the facility was a priority site for electricity, and he has no real memories of power outages, or how to cope in them. At first I listened to him and gave him some positive strategies for coping, as I told him how everywhere in the US is experiencing more outages as repairs and upgrades to utility infrastructures are not being done. Then, I listened to how often he said they were occurring. He was right. In the last six weeks, we have lost power once a week during thunderstorms, high winds, or no discernible reason at all. These outages have not been brief. One was four hours, another eight, and two have been overnight. Yesterday, we lost power in the morning when we were doing important internet business. It came back at lunchtime. We lost it again around five, and when I reported it, the recording told me that "this address had already been reported as having an outage today, and that the power has since been restored". They are apparently not set up for two reports of an outage at one address, in one day. It eventually came back at 3 am.
The biggest frustration is that without electricity, we cannot pump water from the deep well. We do have a large military village generator, but this takes time to switch over and does involve a combination of going outside, and switching some things in our basement mechanical room. Traditionally, my husband does this, and occasionally my eldest son does as well. We also for a time, had a whole house inverter system which powered the house, sans well pump, during outages, but the incredibly lightning here in Virginia damaged it, and it requires replacement.
|This is not our battery array, but you get the idea. We have ours in a clean dry basement area.|
Our plan here to overcome the perennially disappearing electricity which plagues the entire sparsely populated region, follows.
1. Send for the hand pump well and have welldriller install it. At least, we would still have water.
This alone is a complex matter, and the subject of other posts as well.
|The upper portion of the hand pump which will prime our indoor water tank for use during outages. This is what we settled upon: http://www.grit.com/at-the-trading-post/hand-water-pump.aspx|
2. Repair and move the other whole house inverter down to one of the outbuildings where it can provide lighting on a regular basis to that building.
3. Reorient each adult family member on the activation and safe use, and the maintenance of the large diesel generator. Produce a guide manual and place it, in the mechanical room, so that any questions about the order in which things need to be done is quickly answered. It seems that the two people best qualified to manage the military generator, are the people who aren't here during the outages !
4. The lightning abatement is complete on the main house and the outbuildings, so we HOPE no additional lightning strikes will damage future whole house inverters.
5. This is the tough one.... Save enough money and order a new whole house inverter, of sufficient size to power the entire house during frequent outages, and BEFORE the marine battery array ages to the point of no longer being useful !
6. Then, have the whole house inverter installed, and assess the practicality of powering the farm exclusively ourselves. The system would work by using a brief run of diesel fuel to charge the marine battery array. (These marine batteries come from Sam's Club) Then, the whole house inverter provides power to the entire house, including refrigeration. Water would be pumped to a holding tank for the day either through the generator cycle itself, or primed by hand using the new hand pump. We don't yet know if this is practical for every day. We still cook using gas, which we bring to the site ourselves via the farm truck, in a tank.
We do use solar for the gate opening systems here, for one area of electric fence to protect certain types of animals for predators, and to heat a section of the kennel when needed. In a forested farm, we cannot get enough light to implement this furthur. We have also explored wind, but other than March here, we don't have sufficient wind for this to be a major source of power for us.
In any event, we will let you know as we move toward being much less grid dependent versus being off the grid entirely, as we move forward. I suspect that going off grid may still be too expensive, just as we found it to be five years ago when we tried then. It may be, that in a collapse situation, we won't have much choice.
Please see posts which follow on the subject of implementing hand pump sources of water for those will wells at the following posts written following this one: