We are usually blessed with near perfect winters in Nimbin; cool nights and beautiful sunny days.
Every so often though, we will get a cloudy week. All through the valleys, thousands of stand alone power systems cry out for attention.
When the weather turns bad, we have got a few options. If you have planned ahead, you can start up a generator and battery charger. Ideally this is only used a dozen times per year or so. And allows life to carry on as normal, while also helping you to appreciate how amazingly clean, quiet and easy solar panels normally are in comparison.
If the generator has conked out or you never had one to begin with, you can cut back. You might even want to consider switching off the inverter and going very low tech for a few days. At the very least, take the time to do a home energy review and walk around and see if anything can be unplugged or used more efficiently.
After a few days without the sun, or a backup, we begin to enter the danger zone of battery consumption.
The longer and lower the batteries stay, the more damage is being done to the plates inside and you risk a blackout due to low battery voltage. Crystals begin to form and then even when the sun comes back out, some capacity is lost.
Older batteries are more likely to suffer, and could lead to a premature failure that usually means a few very costly decisions at the most inconvenient time.
So pay attention to the weather and get your systems ready for the inevitable cloudy week by making sure your generator and battery charger are working and ready to go.
Also take the time to have a look at your panels throughout the day. Trees grow up quickly around here, and a few years of growth can easily take an hour of sun from your panels. Consider pruning branches or cutting next years firewood.
If you think your batteries are reaching the end of their life, get in touch with us BEFORE they fail. Solar panel upgrades are much cheaper these days and we still have options to make the most of what's left and provide a plan for what to do when it happens so you aren't caught out.