Friday, January 05, 2018

Winter Power Solutions

We use the sun as our primary source to generate electricity.

Winter Solstice sunrise and sunset.

During winter, it can be problematic. On the shortest day we only get two hours of direct sunlight.

A foggy sunset at Hole in the Wall.

On top of that we get stretches of cloudy weather. Even when the weatherman promises sun, it often turns foggy. So we use several winter power generation alternatives. One is wind. When we get storms it helps charge our battery bank.



Thermoelectric power generation is common in industry. On a small scale, it's more experimental. We tried a unit made in West Virginia, but there was limited success. I still think it's a great idea for woodstove heated homes.

A thermoelectric generator using woodstove heat to create electricity.

Our fallback is a 1000 watt Yamaha generator. It's fuel efficient and relatively quiet. On cloudy days we run it in the evening for five hours to directly power electric devices such as computers and a small television to display movies. 

A fuel efficient and quiet Yamaha 1000 watt gas powered generator.

At the same time it tops off our two battery banks to keep them in good shape and provide us with power for the following day.

The cabin battery bank in its protective storage box.

Our most important winter power solution is to minimize our use of electricity. We monitor our batteries carefully, and switch everything off when levels become low. Being off the grid means we are responsible for meeting our own needs. It also means there are no unexpected power outages during winter storms. I like it that way.

You can read more about float cabin living by selecting Float Cabin Living and Float Cabin Construction in the topic list on the right side of this page.

You can also read about our off-the-grid lifestyle in Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series books including Up the Lake, Farther Up the Lake, Off the Grid and Off the Grid: Getting Started. All books are available in print and e-book formats from most online book sellers. -- Margy

26 comments:

  1. It has been so dark this week here in Comox too...the fog has been ridiculous. Finally it is raining but still dark and dreary with no fog. It must be challenging to keep yourselves in power. Summertime no problem though :)

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    1. We've slipped away for a weekend in sunny California. We lucked out, it is supposed to rain the day after we leave. But they need it here so much it is hard to complain. - Margy

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  2. Always so interesting to see what/how you do things there. We have had freezing fog here since Sunday night - holding in the 20's. I have been feeding the wood cookstove - so glad to have multiple heat sources. The weather is moderating now and it is amazing how much warmer an additional 10 degrees can feel!

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    1. Isn't it amazing how there is such a difference between one degree above freezing and one degree below? We may have to cut extra wood to make it through to April. - Margy

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  3. Looks like you're well prepared.

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    1. We may be off the grid but we aren't rustic. - Margy

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  4. I like the idea of a wind generator. Sunlight, even on good days, is iffy. Up in Bella Coola, we got none at all from November to Feb. 2. If ever I move back there, I'll look into wind power; there's always wind!

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    1. Unfortunately (or fortunately) our cabin is in a protected spot except in storms coming from the southeast. But when that happens it is usually winter so that helps us out. - Margy

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  5. Love the foggy view! How great that you can generate almost all of your own electricity needs.

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    1. What we can't produce we don't use. Conservation becomes key at those times. - Margy

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  6. Living out in the back country you really need to know your "stuff". I'm afraid I'm not very knowledgeable about such things but I'm glad you are. The sun through the fog makes a very beautiful photo. Wishing you a fabulous 2018!

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    1. We had to learn as we went. Both Wayne and I were city raised so we never got all the skills needed to be successful at first. - Margy

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  7. Very interesting post. Living in the deep south we get LOTS of sunshine. Many people in our area use solar panels to generate power for water heaters, and pools. Fortunately we have energy efficient AC units. I think generating power has come a long way in recent years.

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    1. When we go to Arizona on "suncations" we see lots of urban solar panels as well. - Margy

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  8. I loved reading about your life and how you have to adapt to living there. We are getting a lot of rain and it is very dark. I liked the fog picture.

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    1. Thanks Nora. We are getting lots of rain this year but it is milder in temperatures than last year. - Margy

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  9. It's interesting to read about people with a very different lifestyle from my own and the way you rely on generating your own power. However, when I began to read the article I thought you were about to suggest the way to conserve energy is to get up late and to go back to bed two hours later!

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    1. Well, we do go to bed earlier and get up later in the winter, but not quite that much. - Margy

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  10. I admire your dedication and tenacity. I think having only two hours of daylight would bother me more than cutting back on electricity. I crave sunshine.

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    1. We do too, so we travel more in the winter than the summer. Arizona and California made good quick trips for a dose of sun. - Margy

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  11. Well Margy, while you are "off the grid ", we are still connected, although I wonder if we'll make it through this year with late sunrises and early sunsets. However, Spring is right around the corner so until then, stay warm...:)JP

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    1. I can already tell it is staying light a little later. It used to be full dark at 5:30. Now it's more like 5:45, but I guess that's like splitting hairs. - Margy

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  12. WOw! we haven't had much sun either it has been raining for days. I am ready for spring.

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  13. You live a creative life! It's hard work, but must keep you young!

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    1. Not sure if it keeps us young or ages us before our time. Just kidding. - Margy

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We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy