Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Single Digit Temps….Sigh…

Our generator is definitely getting a workout! It's been working very well since we changed out the control head to a newer version that offered a little more control of the Generac. For example, instead of having the Generac turn on when the battery voltage drops to 47.7 volts for 2 minutes (the default setting, which could not be changed with the old control head), the new head allows us to set generator turn-on when voltage stays at 48 volts for 15 minutes. Right now the inverter is set to shut down when the battery voltage drops to 47.4 volts. This is, according to our experts, a conservative strategy to maximize the life of the battery bank.

With the original settings, it was not unusual for the voltage to dip long enough to shut off the inverter before the generator could make a difference, or when the only big-draw voltage suck we don't have any controls on, the deep well pump, kicked on. With the higher voltage/longer time duration setting we're less likely to be standing around in the dark working on everything with flashlights. My Sweetie also spent a lot of time balancing the generator run time and target voltage…the sweet spot seems to be a 90 minute run time or boosting the batteries to 55 volts, whichever comes first.

Two lessons learned:

1) I made penny-wise/pound-foolish decision when the well pump was installed. The well guy asked whether we'd like a computer installed at the well head with a controller in the house. Since our water set-up is built around the idea of the deep well replenishing the cisterns under the house, I decided to forgo the computer for a simple on/off fill switch, purely a dollar decision. What I didn't think through was having the ability to control the timing of the well pump runs. Ideally, we want the well pump running only when the sun is shining. That's a fix we'll be putting in place, along with going to higher efficiency pumps for the internal plumbing. Again, penny-wise/pound-foolish.

2) A second generator has moved up to the number one priority. Hopefully, this can wait until spring, but it's something that definitely has to happen. Once again, my long-term plan was to add an 1800 rpm diesel generator, ideally with a 50 gallon drum tank. My plan would be to have the back-up generator wired in an "either/or" set-up, allowing us to manually route the genie output to recharge the batteries or, in a pinch, to run the primary house systems. I'm considering a refurb'ed military generator for this application.

Seamlessly slipping between topics, interesting article in today's New York Post on how NYPD is quietly prepping for a Mumbai-style terrorist attack:
The NYPD has quietly spent the last six months making preparations for a potential ISIS assault in Manhattan, which police fear could be similar to the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India, sources told The Post.
As we've said repeatedly, a Mumbai-style attack has an excellent ROI for an operation like complicate logistics or world-wide supply chain for explosives or idiotic underwear bomb development...just people willing to die and full auto AK-47s.

The Washington Examiner is quoting a top LEO official as saying the M855 "green-tipped" ammunition currently under attack by the ATF and the White House, doesn't represent any special threat to American law enforcement officers:
A top police representative on Tuesday said that there is no history of criminals using a round popular among AR-15 rifle shooters against officers, undermining the Obama administration's argument for banning the 5.56 M855 "lightgreen tip." 
"Any ammunition is of concern to police in the wrong hands, but this specific round has historically not posed a law enforcement problem," said James Pasco, executive director of the Washington office of the Fraternal Order of Police, the world's largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, with more than 325,000 members.
Never let it be said that Barack HUSSEIN Obama let the truth get in the way of a good lie!


nj larry said...

Classic line....can you identify from where LOL?

"Pat, Carrington has turned off the generator ! "

clark myers said...

I find it interesting to remember that John Dann MacDonald did a good job of forecasting future training and tactics in The Green Ripper.

We seem constantly to be surprised by what every thinking person already knows.

Vaguely curious how much water filtration there is in your system. Despite a good well and casing water got to be pretty discolored during spring runoff.

When I was living alone on a deep well system I mostly just didn't use enough water over night to drain the pressure vessel and so trigger the pump but that was just me living a near Unabomber lifestyle.

Michael Bane said...

Clark...I had forgotten all about THE GREEN RIPPER! I'm going to order it and read it again. The Travis McGee concept of "taking my retirement a little bit at a time" had a PROFOUND (and probably deleterious) effect on me. John D. MacDonald was always someone I wished I could have sat down with for a long conversation. A thriller writer friend of mine actually sailed up to JDM's house and introduced himself, and they became buds.

Actually, we have zero issue with runoff...probably because of the composition of the rock we're sitting on. Last spring, which was wet, the water didn't discolor at all. Lot of sandstone filtering going on.

We try to be careful about water use after dark, but sometimes it does bite us (or sometimes you just gotta shower!).

Larry...I cheated and Googled...

You can quote "The Thing From Another World?" I'm impressed...VERY impressed!


Anonymous said...

You can easily integrate a simple electro-mechanical timer into the circuit that feeds the well. They are industry standard and can even be mounted outdoors if you select one for that app'. I'd put it in the house where the leads go out to the well. You can set the "on" time interval easily. That way, it will only enable the pump during the day, as you wish. No electronics involved. The only down-side is that the timer has an internal clock motor that draws less than an amp, but if you loose power, you will have to reset it.
Check out "". They have all sorts of stuff. Your "Sweetie" will want to open an account! ; )

As for the back-up generator, you may be able to find a 48 v. unit. They were used to recharge hi-lo batteries.

I'm still puzzled by your 55 v. charge though. I'll look deeper into that tech'.

Life Member

Overload in Colorado said...

Totally off topic question that occurred to me:
How large a rectile (sp?) can you have in a red dot?
If you were able to make one nearly the size of the entire 'window', non centering the dot would cause part of the 'frame rectile' to disappear creating a crescent. If misallignment were extreme enough to lose the red dot, it would be easy to see via the remaining 'frame' which way to align the gun to get the dot back.

Do you think this would this work to speed up finding the red dot?

Anonymous said...

Now Overload,

You just opened up an entirely new opportunity for some comedy.

If the sight is electronic, would that make it an "e-rectile"

OK, I'll go to my room....
Life Member

Overload in Colorado said...


nj larry said...

Cheating is allowed ! A NYC thing...Million Dollar Movie back when they repeated The Thing from 5pm to 11pm everyday for a week. I guess I have seen it from 500 to 1000 times. Really. First time I saw an M2 Carbine in full auto.

FF to 2:00 or just watch the whole clip for 4 minutes or so.

Anonymous said...


I wish mine only ran 90 minutes. Does that include any float time?

My bank is 24 1200Ah batteries, 2.2v each, connected series to 48v. My charge settings are similar to yours. Charging total is about 4.5 hours, including 2 hours of float. Now that the sun is hanging around longer I will probably dial the float back a bit as the solar can do that. I realize some of that may be how my system is setup too, and it is older.

I have looked at some of the military units too, just never quite decided on what I wanted to get. Anyone know how they are at starting during 30 below zero temps??


Pathfinder said...

When you add the diesel genny set, go with a 300 gallon tank, the kind on a frame that sits about 6 feet off the ground. Fifty gallons won't go far if you need to rely on it. Besides, you can use it to fuel diesel equipment at the bunker - pickups, tractors and the like.

Of course, with your winters, you'll need a tank warmer, another electrical load to consider.

John said...

I just read a short novel by William Forstchen called "Days of Wrath". It takes the Mumbai attacks to another level and has ISIS targeting schools in small to mid size cities. They have two teams to the city, one to attack the school and the other to shoot up the Interstates as parents race to the schools to get their kids.

Forstchen is the author of One
Second After and has written a number of alt-history books with Newt Gingrich.

Clarke said...


As an owner of three different MEP (Military Electrical Power) generators over the past five years, I can heartily recommend them as robust and simple equipment without all the do-dads of Generac and other similar makes.

Also very effective pricewise if you buy direct from surplus vs a reseller. On the other hand you won't generall know what you are getting since they almost are never in running shape as they go to surplus - so paying the 75-100% extra for one that is checked out and operational is probably a wise investment if you don't want to turn wrenches yourself.

How big is your current Genny? the common military models are the MEP-002/003A's (70's-80's tech) - 5KW/10KW and the MEP-802A/803A which are late 80's to early 2000's tech - also 5KW/10KW but a bit more modern with more readily available parts.

Expect to pay twice to three times as much for an 802A/803A. Feel free to reach out privately if you want to talk gennies.

Michael Bane said...

My EcoGen is a 6KW, which was pretty much the only game in town for off the grid gennies when we bought ours. Generac has a 15KW version available, and I believe Kohler has an warranted off-grid generator.

I think a 5KW would be sufficient for the back up back up. I see that nobody has the 802s, but that when they're in stock (refurb'ed) the price is about $5k, which is pretty good.