Thursday, April 1, 2010

Changes in house systems

You can never do just one thing.

I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but new fiber optic cable was run through my rural area. I believe there was grant money of some sort available. I don't know the details. Bottom line, cheap unlimited broadband has come to the woods.

A few years ago my only option was dial-up: that ran at half speed due to the poor quality of my rural phone lines. When Wildblue Satellite became available in my area, I went with it. They've been a good company. They've delivered what they claimed to be able to deliver. Their basic service isn't as fast as most broadband services, but it blew the socks off my dial-up connection.

As good as the service has been, there have been some annoying limitations. One limitation is the speed of light. Their satellite is in geosynchronous orbit, about 22,000 miles away. A signal has to bounce up to the satellite then back down to a ground station. There's a half second delay. Heavy rain and snow degrade the connection. Thunderstorms can block the signal completely. Voice Over Internet doesn't work. There are bandwidth restrictions. Occasionally, I've come close to maxing out my allotment. Wildblue is upfront about that.

The temptations of a fat pipe to the Internet running right past my house has been too much. I've signed up for the service. There is currently a free connection deal in my town. It's time to go with it.

One thing that occurred to me is that I can now get Internet phone service like Vonage. It appears that it will cost about half what I'm currently paying for my land line.

But all systems are related. I'm also thinking about going totally off grid for my electric power. For an Internet based phone to work, the modem has to be powered up all the time. Right now, I shut down the satellite system when not in use. Every watt counts when you make your own.

The old Trace inverter that powers my house is terribly inefficient when powering small loads. Right now, I'm using the grid to power low draw loads, like my cordless phone. Well, I guess the cordless phone and broadband Internet modem would make two small loads.

One option is to just go back to corded phones, just like primitive man with his rotary dials and stone axes. Doesn't solve the modem problem for VOIP.

There is something that occurred to me. I could put all my tiny loads on a small efficient inverter. It would draw it's power from its own deep discharge battery. That battery could be charged from the big inverter when I've power to spare. It's also possible to put a solar panel just to charge that battery. I could use two batteries -one to power the phone and modem, while another charges in the car or truck when I drive to town.

I'm brainstorming here.

It would be cool to have a complete small scale alternative power system to back up my large scale system.

You can never do just one thing. Systems work together.


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