August 2007 I chose this month to do a major correctional battery equalization. This normal battery maintenance procedure needs to be done periodically to maintain the batteries at optimal condition. It consists of essentially charging the batteries to 100% of charge, then deliberately overcharging the batteries for a few hours using the generator power to get the batteries to de crystallize any lead sulfate crystals that may stubbornly adhere to the battery's lead plates. It sucks up a lot of power, but refreshes the batteries and keeps them at optimum performance. Since our batteries are 8 years old and expensive to replace I keep a close watch on them to make sure they are performing optimally.
March 2006 4-H Party! 23 people (mostly middle school aged girls with parents) from the U.P. Riders (horse riding) Club spent the night at the Rock for their 3rd annual 4-H Sleepover. In preparation, we vacuumed (1200 watts) the house for many hours and machine washed and dried bedding. The girls spent the evening watching movies, eating, and keeping every light in the house on while talking, talking, talking till the wee hours. It was a good wind and solar day. The hoist (1200 watts) made MANY trips hauling girl gear and food up the hill for the party then back down the hill the next day. The gas oven (400 watt igniter element) was on for many hours both in the evening for pizzas and morning for a baked Fortune Lake French Toast breakfast. The gas generator never turned on. They had a 100% alternative energy party.
December 2006 Parties! December 21 (winter solstice) was calm and cloudy. We tested our system by hosting several large holiday parties at the house. Each party necessitated vacuuming and doing laundry even when little alternative power was available. The largest party accommodated 20 relatives sleeping overnight at our house for 2 days and 2 nights. Since these were mostly conventional power people, they were accustomed to showers in the evening AND in the mornings (we use an electric water heater so showers utilize our energy system), complete with blow dryers and curling irons. We had to pump extra water. The oven was cooking many big meals for many hours (the propane oven uses a 500 watt heating element igniter while baking). Every light in the house was on most of the time and late into the night. Tree lights and electric trains were on in the evenings. The refrigerator, toaster and electric coffee pot were working overtime. We electrically hoisted gear up and down the hill many extra times. In all, the electrical load was considerable higher than "normal" for us, we deliberately ran the generator extra hours, but were still slightly above average in alternative energy production. There were no problems. All energy equipment performed flawlessly. I was and still am impressed.
Our kids are getting older (ages 9 & 12) and using more energy, but we will keep them since they are great kids. We seem to have enough energy to make up for lights left on and the additional cooking, laundry, vacuuming, hot water, electrical musical instruments and computer time. As long as Cathy and I can find enough mental energy to keep up with them, we will be OK!
July, 2006 we added an efficient upright freezer to our load. It is full of produce from our garden. We keep it outside on the back porch so that it is in the shade in the summer and during winter it rarely runs. This freezer has been kept outdoors for 10 years without any problems. We seem to have abundant power to run it in the summer and since its winter load is minimal, the total energy burden is minimal.