Battery acid and solar electric system

This post was written while we were in Chad.

On Monday, we set up the solar panel on the roof, and bought two 150 Amp truck batteries! We acid that the base for the fridge isn’t there, so we couldn’t move it over to the house yesterday.

As the sun was setting, I was wearing my old clothes saved especially for the job of dealing with battery acid. Before pouring the battery acid into the container, I used a battery acid tester to make sure the acid was of a good quality. In the past, the stuff I bought tasted watered down… but this time, the little balls in the tester all floated! So we filled up all the compartments with acid, and let the battery sit overnight.

This morning, we brought them in, and I spent most of the morning carefully attaching the solar panels and the battery to the charge controller… only to find out that the charge controller is defective out of the box. The charge controller keeps the solar panels from overcharging the batteries (which may create an explosion), or drained of electricity from the lights and appliances on the solar system (which would permanently keep the batteries from charging ever again). So the charge controller is a vital part of a solar electric system. There was a need to return and replace it, so the prospect of a quick trip to N’Djamena looked more and more likely.

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How Much Solar Energy Do You REALLY Need?

This post was written while we were in Chad.

How much of a solar energy system do you need to satisfy the needs of your village home?

The answer depends on a lot of variables, the biggest of which are where you live and what you want to do with it. Some of us live near the equator and want to just run a few lights, while others of us live outside the tropics, yet still want to run a hot tub while they microwave a bag of popcorn as they watch satellite on a large screen TV, while they wait for their clothes to dry.

To run a few lights, all you need is one 70 Ah battery and a 50 to 120 Watt solar panel. I read about someone who was in the latter group, and three arrays with 25 120 Watt solar panels each could not satisfy their need.

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Strawberry plant, springs in the desert

This post was written while we were in Chad.

We arrived in Iriba just in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve. We made a big deal of it; we watched the emma plantBBC version of “Emma” while eating popcorn. Debbie barely made it through the movie before falling asleep, so we put her to bed. At midnight, we had Susan drop a beach ball to the ground while standing on a chair. We hugged one another… then went to bed.

Outside, there was silence; it was just another quiet evening in Iriba, like so many others.

Ever since we arrived at our Iriba home, there’s been a leak in an outdoor pipeline near the cistern. With so many leaks in the plumbing in the house, we only turn on the town water at the meter level for the few hours each week to fill up the barrels… but, right under the place I sit as I pray at sunset, water keeps bubbling up from the ground and flowing next to the cistern and in a place just outside our wall!

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An Introduction to Village Life

This post was written while we were in Chad.

Some of the most beautiful places in the world can be reached only by following a dirt road, a footpath, or paddling a canoe.

I started off my career overseas as a language survey worker.  This gave me the opportunity to travel to remote villages, and even to live in a small village, to see if the language they speak there was dying out.

Once in Chad, we nearly ripped the bumper off the truck, because the mountain trail we were following was so wild.  We often drove in water that went halfway up the door, and had to “gun it” to keep the water from flowing into the engine.  We became stuck in many wadis (dry river beds), and changed LOTS of flat tires due to the thorny acacia trees!

In fact, that’s why I finally decided to buy a camel.

isolated villageIt always seemed that the more difficult it was to get to a village, the more beautiful it was.

With the rise of adventure travel, people from the technological world have finally got a glimpse of life into some of these places.  I was amazed when I saw a van of German tourists pass by our village home one day.

There is nothing like a landscape lacking in billboards, or the view of a clear night sky, without the glow of a nearby city.

It’s one thing to view these places on a live-stream documentary, or even to stay overnight there.  It’s a completely different thing to call one of these places “home.”

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