Plan For More. We Always Want More

The homes of my grandparents were special places when I was a kid. Bro and I went by the former Collier house on a recent trip to Lake City, Florida. It was a sad sight.

The big camphor tree, where Dad had his tree house is now just a stump. The yard is grown up. The house looks shabby and gutted. The old houses of Lake City had a great architectural element in their pressed tin roofs. You never had to replace them if you just sent somebody up every 10 years with a bucket of silver paint. The roof has been replaced with asphalt shingles. I guess the more recent owners didn’t get the memo about the silver paint.

The house was built sometime in the 19th century, but I don’t know when. I know Lake City was around during the Late Unpleasantness because the residents got even with Yankee soldiers by throwing their rifles in the lake across from the boarding house while the blue coats were having lunch. True story. A few years back they drained the lake and found the guns!

Does Grandmother’s house date back to then? Dunno.

When the house was built, it had indoor plumbing, consisting of a pitcher pump at the kitchen sink. When city water and sewer came along, a bedroom was converted to a bathroom and later another bedroom was added.

Electric lights, a fridge and an electric range replaced the lamps and the icebox and the kerosene stove gave way to an electric range. The kerosene stove used a large glass jar as a fuel tank. Yikes! Central heat started out as an oil burner and later a gas furnace in the dining room, the center of the house. By the late 60s there was a window a/c in the dining room, as well.

We get a taste of something new and better and we want more of that new and better stuff. Human nature.

They discovered the same thing at the DelcoLight company in the 1920s-30s when light plant salesmen fanned out across the country side. They’d show up around sundown in a Model A Ford with a light plant stuffed in where the rumble seat would normally be. They’d give a little pitch about how better light would make it easier for the kids to study.

Yeah, they’d go to the Moms and save the kids. Worked every time. Once they had a foot in the door, they’d go on about all the other wondrous things you could do with electricity. Save time and labor on pumping water. Fresh water would make the cows give more milk. Oh, and you could have an electric cooler to preserve the milk. Oh, the wonders of electricity!

Then the guy would go out to the Ford and drag out a long cord with a light bulb. He’d put that in the parlor and turn the switch. Behold! Let there be light! The electric bulb, dim by today’s standards, outshone the oil lamp and clinched the deal. It would not be long before the house was wired for more than just a single lightbulb hanging on a cord from the ceiling. We always want more.

As I have grown my solar power system I have added more and the bill from the power co-op keeps getting smaller. We are now up to 3 refrigerators and a chest freezer. I’m charging 2 EVs and a boat, which in turn share their batteries. The two central a/c units are on solar. Welding and woodworking are solar powered, as are the chainsaw and other commonly used tools. The Man Cave has a rudimentary home theater and is getting a/c.

I keep adding more, but this latest (March 2020) bill had the lowest consumption yet. Last August, with temps of over 100 degrees wasn’t too bad. It will get better when I can get the next phase installed. Compare to an older bill, below.
You kind of get the idea, here, of my program of transferring loads to the solar circuit. In March the a/c got moved over. Super hot August 2019 used 259 kwh. August 2018 used 837, which is pretty good for these parts. Next August?

More, more, more. My inverter is getting toward its limits, as is the battery stack. Well, I can always stack more batteries and I have a bigger power module I can stick in the inverter cabinet when the time comes.

The moral of these ramblings is “Plan for Expansion.” If off grid or hybrid, get the biggest battery pile you can afford and not one of those dinky, toy Powerwall thingies. Get an inverter that can be run parallel with another so you can double up, later. If gridtie, you can add more solar strings and inverters to cover the bill.

Just plan big. You’ll be glad you did.

–Neal