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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 2/8/2020 9:00:34 PM

It occurred to me that I hadn't done a good job of keeping things updated here, though to be honest The Were Reasons since my last post at the Closing of the Year.

In contrast to the first half of the winter, which was mostly sunny days punctuated with brief snowstorms that actually cleared out so we had sunlight again, most of January and into February has been a lot of cloudy days.  As a result the overall batteries reserves are low, and I ended up having to fire up my back up generator a couple of times.  I dare say that worked out fairly well though and I now have good measurements on how long a "small" (standard BBQ grill sized tank) and a half-filled "large" (100 pound tank) lasts.  I'm pretty happy with its performance so far.  I need to make a note to check oil and such since it had a long run the other day and we have more clouds slated......

That's the single biggest minus to any off-grid solar system; it's all on you to provide power.  If the panels are covered with snow, or if there's three days of unending clouds, you're either out of luck or you  need to have some kind of backup....

On a somewhat related note, I had Solar LeRoy up at the beginning of the month we figured out why my generator was only providing one "leg" of power.  (A side note--if you're providing 240V of power it comes in on two connections of 120V and offset by phase.  The charging equipment is fine with that and turn it all into DC power for the batteries anyway for the most part, but I only had one connection/leg that was doing anything.)

We dug around and after about an hour found a remarkably simple explanation--one of the charging circuits had come completely disconnected!  We figure this probably happened when everything was moved into the new shed when it was dropped; not FAR, not HARD, but ENOUGH.  It wasn't at all obvious of course and I'm pretty sure Solar LeRoy was kicking himself.....

At least we have proper generator power now.  AND after a day or two I realized that this MIGHT have also fixed the Ecogen Generator issue...

See, WAY BACK when we got the new shed built and everything moved over to the shed, connected up and whatnot, the Ecogen suddenly stopped working.  This was the second Ecogen I had up there and it was surprising to me when it stopped working.  Winter was coming, I wanted something up there, so I purchased a simple "work generator" that honestly performed adequately for two years. 

Over the course of time that generator just plain wore out and so I purchased another one a few months ago.  Every so often I would turn on the big propane tank, stick a battery into the Ecogen, and fire it up for a few seconds.  Every time it would chug a moment or two and then display a weird error--VSCF FIELD LOSS.  There's remarkably little information on this kind of error, with most information just saying you to call Generac.  Which I had done originally, and they had completely replaced it, and it still didn't work, and they never called back and I had stuff to do and......time went on.

BUT....

I'm an engineer after all, and it occurs to me that the Ecogen might not be able to generate a proper internal electric field if the load wasn't properly connected.   And it would indeed have been improperly connected given the accidental disconnection of one leg of the field.....it would not have liked that at all.

SO....once I get a replacement battery procured and installed (it'll be a couple of weeks) and I have a fair enough weekend day, I'm going to have to test the Ecogen now that it's properly hooked up.  Mind you this might be danged short test--or I might just have gotten that puppy running again!

Time will tell, but it's on my To Do List for 2020 now.

In other news....

I spent much of January getting the last of the blackout curtains installed around the house at last.  I had thought I was all done on that last week of January when I put up my last curtain, sighed with satisfaction, and reveled in the Awesome---for about three minutes as I took some tools down to put them away and then came back up the steps for another load.  And then I realized I hadn't put a curtain on the upstairs patio door leading out to the deck....

DOH!

So that's all done now, at least.  NOW the quiet satisfaction is indulged...huzzah!

We also had a bobcat come traipsing down the canyon earlier in the week after we  had a fast snowstorm.  I snapped some excellent pictures of where he'd been.

So all in all it's been an interesting month.  I have hopes I might be able to properly check out the Ecogen before the end of February. I've ordered some sassafras trees for the upcoming spring and this will drive me to get some retaining wall work done.  Solar LeRoy has offered to swap me a couple of old solar hot water panels for my remaining PEx remainders from building the  house and I've gladly taken him up on it; I'll use them to finish up the heating of the Solar Shed so that come next winter it'll stay much more toasty than it is so far.  And of course I've got that ceiling work to do where The Leak was; so far this winter I seem to have finally stopped it.

Busy busy!


Steven in Colorado


Photos

Tracks from the mountain lion wandering down the road sometime during the night.
Same prints, slightly different angle.
The left curtain by the circular stair....
...and the right curtain by the circular stair.
The "weird" octangonal window I put in just because.
The nearly-missed patio door curtains open....
....and closed.


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Posted by Ian on 3/19/2020

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3/19/2020
So all in all it's been an interesting month.  I have hopes I might be able to properly check out the Ecogen before the end of February. 
Window Cleaners Rapid City
Posted by Ian on 3/25/2020

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3/25/2020
Are there more pictures?         - Deck Installer Lakewood
Posted by Daniel in Boucherville, QC on 4/26/2020

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4/26/2020
Thanks for this article. I have found it really entertaining and in the meantime I learned a lor from it. Feel free to have a look at my website to learn more about what I do.

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