Monday, April 30, 2007

Float Cabin Living - Do You Have Power?

Part 4 - Electricity by Blow Power
Winters can be problematic for generating electricity with solar power. After two cloudy days, we can’t use our electrical system without draining our storage batteries below the critical 12.0 volts. What to do next? Answer - blow power.

Back to John and Ed for another consultation. Both of them say it's a waste of money. Why? The one place on the lake to get out of the wind is Hole in the Wall. But we've been here for winter storms with lots of wind (What Happens During Storms, Wind Damage in Hole in the Wall and Weathering the Wind). So why not give it a try. One day we were walking through Canadian Tire with John and there was a sleek Air X model on display. John was sold, so we got our wish.

First we had to decide where to place the unit. The cliff would catch the most wind, but the distance from the float for wiring was too extensive. The outer corner of the upper deck was selected as the most advantageous position. It would catch the winds from the east (storms) through the west (clearing). Only north winds would be blocked by the sheer cliff in that direction. The wind generator did not come with a mast. John created one from a hand-milled 4X4 twelve feet high toped by a galvanized pipe going up an additional eight feet. All of the components, including the heavy electrical cable, were salvaged from John’s shed or the local recycling yard. That’s the great thing about John, he can make something out of nothing in true British Columbian style.

The wind generator is connected into our cabin electrical system. We can charge our storage batteries using both solar and wind power. Now, when it is dark or cloudy, we hope for wind. It takes speeds of 10 MPH (16 KPH) for our turbine to generate enough power to start charging. But now you’ll hear us cry, “We’re making electricity” on a cold stormy night rather than our old song, “I wish the wind would stop!” At least until it reaches 45 MPH (72 KPH). That is the speed when the blades stall to protect the unit from internal damage, and we hold on tight and hope our cables to shore don’t break.

Read more about “Blow Power” and float cabin living in Up the Winter Trail available at

You’ve heard a lot about our alternative power generation. Do you have a system that you want to tell us about? We are always looking for new options. -- Margy

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