Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Free Energy, Power to Burn.

Generator season is long past now. I haven't started that thing for a long time now. It gets it's use in the winter, but it is now spring. This is my first spring in the new house with the new power system. I am quickly finding that I do most certainly have power to burn. The other day I purchased a little 2 burner electric stove (hotplate). It seemed a waste to burn propane to fry my bacon and eggs in the morning. Or to fry anything anytime for that matter. I fried some chicken with it tonight.

This is my whole supper cooked using free electricity. The rice and vegetables were cooked in the microwave.
The battery bank was charged right up to 100% State of Charge before cooking supper. Actually it was at 100% quite a lot earlier in the day. Probably around noon, I'm not sure as I didn't pay much attention to it today. This is what the State of Charge read after all that high electrical power cooking session. I used a small fraction of my battery bank cooking supper. This was a little later in the evening, and the sun was still doing a bit of charging, but for the most part the charging day had ended.
Then I thought, what the heck, use some free energy to heat the dish water. I very easily could have turned the tap on, and had as much hot water as I wanted, but that would be burning propane. Why would I burn propane when my free power is right there and waiting to be used. It's not like I have to stand there and hold the kettle or anything like that. I just do something else till the water is hot. By the time this task was done, my battery state of charge was at 98%. So it does use some power, but it sure won't take long for the sun to put that and more back into the batteries tomorrow. Unless of course the sun don't shine tomorrow, and if not, it don't matter, I have enough power for a few days without any charging going on, depending of course, how I use it.  
I have lots of options when it comes to cooking, and I always choose which ever one makes the most sense for the kind of day it is or the season etc. This time of year seems to be good using electrical powered goodies. Microwave, electric burners, toaster, I just may have to look into a crock pot or toaster oven or something like that possibly in the future.
         In the winter the green coleman campstove gets used a little more as the days are a lot shorter and a lot of times it is cloudy, snowy or just too much snow on the solar panels. Also, the furnace runs at times consuming power, depending on if the wood stove is lit or not.
I do usually try to use the woodstove as much as I can in the winter, and if it is in use anyway, I usually utilize it for most my supper cooking, whether by using the top of it or the inside of it. So anyway, I'm not bragging about my system, just merely putting this out there for your information. My battery bank is a bit of over kill for what I actually could have gotten away with, but I'm glad I have it just the way it is. I wasn't sure how much extra power I was going to end up with, but now I can see that it is lots. This helps me decide things like what type of fridge to get. Propane fridges are expensive and burn propane, d/c powered fridges are very expensive for what you get in my opinion. I think I will be leaning toward a normal ac powered fridge, but only on a smaller scale for now. This will be used in the summer time anyway, possibly in the winter too, but  not real sure at this time. Could have a different plan for that season as the great outdoors act just like a deep freeze most of the time anyway. This winter I froze jugs of water outside that I would put in my cooler. This worked really good. When the winter days got too warm to freeze the water outside, I would simply set the whole cooler outside on the deck overnight. That worked good also. I kept all my frozen foods in the freezer in the RV and just left it shut off. However, when the weather had a warm spell, I would simply start the fridge and it would keep all the frozen goodies frozen. Life is so good at times. I know I could run an a/c fridge in my house year round, and I would just have a little more generator charging to do, but usually when I leave the house for long periods of time, (which don't seem to happen very often anymore), I like to shut my power right off. I guess if I plan on going somewhere, I would just plan on not having much left in the fridge, so I can do just that. So anyway,8 or 9 months of the year, power to burn, 3 or 4 months of the year is generator season.
A quick run down of my power system, is 12  L16  6 volt batteries, 6   Sharp 240 watt solar panels, magnum 24 volt inverter/charger, outback 60 mppt charge controller, and miscellaneous other parts and accessories. The generator I use is a Honda eu2000i. The Honda does get the job done, although a little bigger sure wouldn't hurt. This whole power system with the generator costed me roughly $12,000.00. The price I was quoted to get grid power put on my propery was $9000.00-$12,0000.00 if I remember right. That was 4 years or so ago. It is likely more than that now, but I am not sure.  
It would be really neat if I could store the summer power to use in the winter. I can't do that, but I can sure use more power in the summer and less propane to help balance things out a bit.
April 10 2013. It was a pretty nice day today and if this keeps up, this snow will be gone in no time. I still haven't done much more building lately. I have been busy with other things and the days have been really flying by.