Bureaucracy: 1, Customer: 0
Originally posted 11/2/2012
The new solar controller that I had sent to me via 2-day delivery was delivered to the local post office at 11:23AM, giving me plenty of time to wire it up before sunset to see if it works. Since I suddenly recalled at 12:48PM that the post office limits General Delivery pickups to 11AM-1PM, I hustled on down there with just minutes to spare. My son Tom would have almost been proud to see his decrepit old Dad push that 7,000-pound Ford down the very rough dirt road through the desert, brazenly ignoring the 15 MPH speed limit. Probably looked like a slightly smoother version of the Baja 1000. Cloud trail of dust. Oh yeah.
Made it! The lone employee produced a mail forwarding package that Tom sent to me, but no UPS shipment with the controller. “If it’s here, it has to be scanned in first, and all UPS deliveries are done at once. You won’t be able to pick that up until Monday.” With half a dozen people behind me, I gave up all hope. They’re closed on the weekends. It’s been 3 days since a battery recharge. This delay will double that. Fortunately, the house batteries measure out to almost 85% charge right now. With the lower limit being 50%, not 0%, I think I should be able to make it until the new controller starts charging on Tuesday morning. (All those cheap “Marine/RV Deep Cycle” batteries aren’t really deep cycle at all – they’re a hybrid that doesn’t tolerate 50% cycling nearly as well as the real thing.)
Because I long ago fitted nearly all the lights with LED bulbs that I use sparingly, light at night will not be an issue. I have other light sources as well. Recharging this iPad and the Verizon hotspot via an inverter doesn’t seem to put much stress on them either. The water pump current draw – not so good. That means I should continue to minimize water use. Also, the poo grinder for the waste tank is currently wired into the house batteries. Doing a water/waste run before the solar controller is rolling would stress the long-suffering house batteries plenty, even with jumper cables running from the Ford – assuming they even reach. Since I have no past experience and thus no idea how many days they can last under these usage conditions, I’m staying conservative.
By the way, I’m attempting an end run around the existing 18 volt solar panel and 12 volt controller incompatibility. I threw a white blanket over the house batteries’ solar panel. It didn’t help in the early afternoon, but now at 4:30, it cuts the panel’s output voltage enough that the BatteryMinder controller thinks it’s a 12 volt panel and is charging. How well, I don’t know. Desperate men do desperate things. Two hours of charging per day is nothing, but whaddaya want?