On Saturday, September 29th, I woke up and went to start a load of laundry. When I pressed the start button the entire house lost power. Of course, my husband was at work! (It always happens that way). So I gave him a call, went down to our “power house” and checked it all out. There were sparks!!!
A little background to our power situation. We are about a mile and a half away from the closest power pole. We decided to purchase a solar system rather than run power to our home. It has been almost 4 years since it was installed and we have had minimal issues. It has been a learning experience as there are not a lot of people like us out there.
So…here I am in a house with no power and freaking out! My husband came home that morning and took a look. We found that the panels were pushing power in, the generator was pushing power in, the invertors were working correctly…the problem was the batteries.
We have 4 batteries that are a group of six 2V cells. So we have a 48 Volt system. The battery weighs 850lbs each. They also are $3,500 each! When one goes bad, you cannot replace just one or the other three older ones will drain the newer one too much and cause it to wear faster.
Jeremy called over a dozen solar companies and each one said they could not help. The only install their own (cheap) systems and only troubleshoot their own. So we were left to figure it out on our own. We aren’t the only ones either! We went on off-grid forums and there were many other people that could not find anyone to service their systems. (I know what business we should go in!!!)
Once we figured out we were on our own Jeremy and our friend Will started looking at the batteries closer and pinpointing what battery or cell was malfunctioning. Three of the batteries were fine and got 12V reading. One battery was only reading 11.1V. There was our problem. We then tested each 2V cell and found that each one read 2V. They figured out it was the connections across the cells. They cleaned them up and put a protective coating over each bar that connects them.
Then they held their breath…
They started up the generator to start charging the batteries and then get power to the inverters. It worked!!
All together it was 4 days of no power, living out of an ice chest and using up all the flashlights we could find. We went through the emotions of having to move, having to rent until we could get it working or save up enough money to buy new batteries, to why have we had so many major issues this year. We questioned if we are doing the right thing, are we asking too much from this 30 year old home?
As of now, our power is “functioning” I don’t want to use the word “fixed” as I feel it will jinx us. We still haven’t fixed our water issue but it will get fixed soon. We just have to work on one thing at a time.
Thank goodness for good friends and family that show up in a moments notice willing to help. We wouldn’t be able to make it through these hard times without them!!!