We love watching the weather outside change, living off the grid has a new set of rules really, it is just that simple.
The main factor that affects how much Renewable Energy that is produced at our home is the weather. If the sun is shining our solar panels are working non-stop to charge our batteries. When the sun isn’t shining that’s a different story.
Since our family lives this way we need to follow the weather. Being off the grid brings with it a different set of priorities each day. At times (especially during thunderstorm season) it is really about watching the weather. The weather outside has a direct relationship to the amount of charging that takes place with our battery bank. To remedy part of this problem and the erratic charging cycle with our solar energy power production we built a wind generator to capture the energy of the frequent storms and the wind that is produced in our area.
But, all too frequently a big storm will come along and force us to do a speedy disconnect of our renewable energy charging system. We are responsible for all of our system. It’s not like living with grid electric power and you can call someone to fix things when they break. If it is broken, we fix it. For that reason, we take extra precautions with our solar panels and new wind generator.
We don't really trust the lightning arrest system that we have installed. We frequently disconnect our entire system to insure no damage is done during severe storms. Our investment is just too great to risk.
About twice a year we run around disconnecting everything in a frenzied attempt to ‘save our system’.
Once, in a pouring down rain and with lightning approaching we were readying ourselves to take down the wind tower and realized quite suddenly, this is really stupid.
What if lightning struck the 40 foot tower while we are taking it down? Not good. We needed to know what the weather was going to do ‘before’ it hit us, and caused a panic. We needed some weather forecasting knowledge to prevent dangerous situations from occurring at our off grid home.
Jane's favorite movie is Twister with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. It's the story of this group of ‘storm chasers’ lead by Hunt and Paxton who try to develop an early warning system to warn the public sooner about impending tornadoes.
That’s what we needed- ‘an early warning system’ or at least a way to tell what the weather is going to do, so we could prepare ourselves. Every owner or potential owner of solar panels, or wind generators needs to know what the weather is going to do, before it does it, in order to protect their homes and their investment in Renewable Energy.
Jane and I love talking about the weather- the five day forecast, frost warnings, is it going to rain today.
But the truth was, we didn't know anything about the weather and how to predict it, save for listening to the weather channel. The broad area covered by their forecast and the always general nature of the weather forecast left us wanting more. We needed to be better tuned in.
We wanted to be able to look outside and see the weather forecast, to know when bad weather was coming just by looking at the sky and the signs of changing weather. But we didn’t know what to look for.
We decided to educate ourselves about the weather.
We checked our usual sources, the bookstore, and online, but we could not find a reliable guide to predicting bad weather.
One day recently while searching on the net, I stumbled on a guide for storm chasers- you know, those ‘out there’ guys and gals who drive around chasing tornadoes and such, just like in ‘Twister’.
It looked promising. We didn't really want to chase tornadoes but we did want to know when bad weather was approaching so we could prepare, and this guide provided that information.
The price was very reasonable at $20, compared to the investment in our solar panels and wind generator. It was good insurance and several times has helped us to avoid the weather panic that used to set in. We have also used the information in this guide to see approaching severe weather before it hit, and prepare ourselves accordingly.
Clouds and rain that used to send us scurrying and disconnecting now don't frighten us at all, we know which weather systems to look for.
Every person with a system like ours, or just contemplating solar panels and wind energy need to know about the weather and how it affects your battery charging system.