In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A visit from MaManna

Neither Greg nor I is the technical type. We sometimes say how helpful it would be if one of us were. But alas.
So since we live completely off-grid, we are fortunate to have an integrated solar and wind turbine system that is reliable and low-maintenance.
But we have been worried that we didn't understand how to perform one of the essential maintenance tasks that has to do with keeping the batteries properly charged. In the meantime, the company that installed our system in summer of 2007 was folded into another Nova Scotia company called MaManna. And we worried that we might get lost in the transition and be stranded on an island with nobody we could call if things broke down.
So today Sandy Hines and Steve Arseneault from MaManna came by for a visit. They looked at the solar tracker and the wind turbine and the batteries and the generator, and then Sandy walked us through the maintenance tasks for the batteries. Basically he translated the battery maintenance manual into non-technical English for me while I took notes, in English. When we finished he told me to re-read the manual to reinforce what we had gone over. Now that Sandy has explained it to me, I believe I can correctly equalize the batteries all by myself like a big girl.
Here is the bank of switches and monitors that is the brains of our off-grid system. In order to live this so-called simple life I am on far more intimate terms with specific gravity, a crucial but not simple reality, than I would ever have imagined being. Actually I probably never thought once about the phrase "specific gravity" before coming here. And Greg now knows lots more about propane tanks and generators than he used to. Not to mention how to stare down this panel when necessary.
The visit from Sandy and Steve and tutorial from Sandy gave us the confidence boost we needed. I find the batteries quite intimidating, but the more I work with them the less fearful I become. Isn't that always the way, and not just with batteries.

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