Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Failure points and other things
My friends came back from a 3 week trip only to discover their solar electric system had malfunctioned while they were gone. The charge controller failed -again. I think he’s had at least 4 of them fail.
Why keep using the same controller? They all failed while under warranty so the replacements were free. Until they stopped working, the controllers did what they were supposed to do. Also, they were cheap.
Still, enough is enough. They went to a solar electric dealer in Vermont and bought a better controller. The said that while his old controller was rated for the use we put them to, in reality they weren’t. The company only rates them at a higher amperage so they will sell. At half their rated power they should last a long time.
I helped my buddy wire in his new controller. It had a few more bells and whistles than he was used to and the instruction manual was minimal. Having a bit more experience with these things, it didn’t take me long to figure it out. We even got it installed in time to capture a few hours of good sunshine.
The other annoying problem solved today was on the van. Occasionally, there would be a small puddle of antifreeze under the engine. All the hoses and the radiator looked good. The problem would come and go. I even parked it with the hood up and waited to see where it would leak. Of course, it didn’t until a few days later -when I wasn’t watching.
Finally it hit me: radiator cap. A replacement cost all of $5. The gasket on the replacement cap is more robust that the original equipment. That seems to have done the job. It’s the little things sometimes.
People have asked how my new wood fired cookstove is working out. So far, we are very happy with it. It’s our only cook stove so we use it every day. The oven has much more even heat than the old stove and the temperature gage appears spot on. We’ve baked muffins, brownies, potatoes, meatloaf, and a whole chicken in it. No problems.
As a source of heat, it’s doing the job. While it hasn’t been super cold yet, we’ve have nights in the low 20s. In the morning the house is still warm. There are enough hot coals left in the morning to get full sized logs going. I’m splitting a lot less kindling these days. The new stove puts out more heat and uses less wood than the old fashioned wood cookstove. Less wood is less work for me.
Not much else going on. There are times I’d like to make some comments about the Presidential race, but why bother? Nobody is talking about the real problems and issues and I don’t want to get caught up in their fantasy.