limping on solar

Until the new-new controller arrives I will be limping along on limited solar.

  • the main array (2 out of 3 panels running on 20A PWM), max ~250w
  • the portable array (2x 100w panels on spare 10A MPPT), max ~140w

To make matters worse, it’s cloudy/rainy today.

crockpot cooking

I decided to cook the pound of italian sausage in the crockpot for lasagna in the next few days. Literally as I turned the power switch rain started hitting the van from upwind. Then clouds rolled over. I could still run the crock on LO in challenging conditions but I had to stop due to the present limp mode.

The rain stopped and the sun came out, allowing me to continue cooking.

testing the rice cooker

I think I mentioned before that I’d picked up a rice cooker from Goodwill but hadn’t tested it yet. It’s an Aroma 6-cup, rated 300w. A bit larger than I need but I haven’t seen any smaller ones recently in thrift stores.

I don’t have the power to run it (especially concurrent with the crockpot) but I did test it briefly on the kill-a-watt meter. It pulled 271w in cooking mode and 34.5w in holding/warming mode.

warmer/chafer idea

Rice cookers work by running full power until they detect the water has boiled off. This can be done in a low-tech manner: if temperature exceeds boiling point of water under low-power heating then the water must be gone. A bimetallic strip could handle it. Anyhow, when the water is gone the cooker drops back to holding/warming mode and will stay there indefinitely.

I wonder if someone with very limited excess power (35-40w) could run a rice cooker in this mode to reheat foods over time. It’s even less power than a crock on LO (or a mini-crock, which tend to have one setting, ~45w-60w).

howdy, ranger

While I was finishing up this post I got a visit from the local BLM ranger I had met in late May when I first arrived in this doG-forsaken area. He showed me how to distinguish between pinion and juniper which grow shoulder-to-shoulder in this camp. He also pointed out scrub oak, which is a collective names for several oak species I’d never heard of. They loook like 4’ live oaks to me (leaf-wise).

He thanked me for having a clean camp; I’d actually picked up a decent amount of litter earlier in the day and put it in the fire pit for later handling, if we get more precip.

Apropos of litter pickukp, I also made a fly-catcher out of a discarded beer bottle (bottom) and a cut-up soda bottle (inverted for the top) but no takers yet. Maybe the honeywater isn’t enticing enough. I’ll add a bit of brown sugar and see if that helps.


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