Sunday, May 28, 2017

Clobbered By Climate AGAIN-

It's not that I want to post a list of new ways climate change is messing things up.  It's that new and unheard of things keep hitting.  ME.

Got a seriously weird one for ya.  Did you see the news going the rounds this week about "global warming is messing up our sleep"?   It's not that.  But.  Sleep is involved.

One thing that has been consistent over the past several years is increased cloudiness here.  Being off grid, relying on solar electricity and solar heating- we really really notice, and take data.  It's been a lot more cloudy, to the point where we have to buy more gas for the backup generators than usual (expensive) - and run them more often (wore one out, had to replace it this winter; expensive).

And here we are, nearly June- and over the past week we've had maybe 1/3 of normal full sun.  Most of the plants don't care, they only need a small fraction of full sun to have all they can use; but my older solar panels don't work at all except in full sun.

So; had to run the house generator last night; batteries really low, so left it to run all night.  It's fairly quiet; not intrusive as far as sleep goes.  But there is a low solid "hum" that is always there.  No biggy.  And my brain is tuned to the hum - if it coughs, sputters, or the hum changes the note; I hear it instantly; the generator is going to need my attention immediately.

Except.  This morning, the generator was still going; but during my coffee, did finally run out of gas.  Ah, the hum is gone.  All good; all normal.  Not going to start it again, sunny today, batteries well up.  More coffee.  Up to the morning computer chores.

Wait - the generator is running again; the exact exact hum is right where it should be located from where I'm sitting; same tone, same volume.  EXACTLY.

What the hay?  Did someone put more gas in and start it up?  Odd, but not impossible.  Downstairs?  Still humming, just right.  Outside?  Humming.  I had to walk all the way to the generator to check- is it running?

No, it's not.

But the generator hum- is right there.  It has been all day; no drop in volume.  Somehow- my brain assimilated the generator hum; and is now playing it back for me.  All day.  It actually has the same little normal variations that come from changes in wind direction; head movements.  Exactly.

Ignore it?  I'm tuned to it; listening for malfunction.  Yes, I can tell myself to ignore it, since I've now proven it's a phantom noise of some kind - but - in a few minutes, my watchdog will notice the hum again; breaking off my concentration from whatever I was working on.  What?  Generator?  Oh, right, nope, phantom.     What?  Generator?...

"Stuck song syndrome", now known as "earworm" - would be nice.  I'd love a melody.  This- is a familiar sound from my world- that is now running full time- with no cause.  And sucking up a few more neurons to keep noticing it's not gone yet.  They tell you to do something "moderately engaging" do a cross-word; sudoku-  nope, not for this.  It hums right along.

And why?  Cloudy weather, from climate change.

Have you got a weird one?  This may be the place- let me know in the comments.


Ellen and Mark said...

Hi I have been trying to trace the history of our first Solarex round PV panels that we purchased in 1980, in my image search your blog came up. Do you recall where you purchased them we haven't been able to find our records from that purchase back in those early days. I am preparing for our recognition of Richard and Karen at the MREA this year. Thanks in advance for any help

Best Wishes

Mark Klein

Greenpa said...

Ellen and Mark - I'm fairly sure (84%) we purchased our first directly from Solarex. They initially did some direct consumer retailing; I would guess specifically to start building market. A year later, we bought a complex charging regulator from them; almost the only one in existence then. That was after we boiled our batteries on a bright sunny mid February day, when the air temperature was around 15° below 0 F; with a 15 mph wind. Which means the panels are putting out a lot more power than their specs.

I remember it waa a lot of work finding those panels then; lots of digging and "snail mail"; no on-line shopping. There were very few places where you could find panels then; so once you found anyone who knew, it wasn't too difficult to get to Solarex.

You might be interested in this post here- lots of detail about replacing panels hit by lightning - and dealing with the fact that since the original installation the technology had changed dramatically:

Greenpa said...

Ellen and Mark- doing my homework after the fact, I recreated your search to see what you found - and see that the photo (showing an ARCO square cell and a rectangular Solarex round cell panel) - does NOT show my first Solarex panels. They were about 1/3 the length of that rectangular Solarex - and the panels were exactly SQUARE - with considerably smaller round cells. I had two. I don't think I even got into a discussion about an "array" of 2 panels; but I used that for about 5 years, I think, (charging 2 golf cart batteries) before my increasing electricity needs make it kind of imperative to get larger. I added the bigger rectangular; so 3 panels for another 4 years- then needed more again, and added 4 of the ARCOs, retiring the little square ones. Went to charging 4 golf cart batteries when I went to 4 panels; still running the house on 4. So ya know. :-)

Ellen and Mark said...

Sorry I guess our comments passed in transit. Yeah it might have been directly from solarex what years do you think for those purchases?

Greenpa said...

What year... A long time ago! Pretty sure it had to be before 1984; because- that was the year Macintosh computers were new; and I desperately needed one for my work (really) - so that was the deciding factor to put in more panels; those little square ones were certainly not going to manage the old 128K Mac.