high wind, using up Amazon credits, backchannel comment

windy windy

Winds picked up yesterday afternoon and are still pretty bad. 35-45mph with gusts to 65-75mph, per the NWS warning. It was enough to blow Muffin’s wide-based bowls into a nearby arroyo.

solar harvest in high winds

A couple factors might be in play

  • increased cooling of panels due to high winds could reduce cell temperature derating
  • dust in the air could reduce insolation

We can eyeball it and tell there is excess dust kicked up a few hundred feet into the air – horizonal visibility is definitely compromised. Right now harvest is fluctuating due to partly cloudy conditions, but it seems to be making a -5% difference. I guess the saving grace is that the dust is in a thin horizontal layer and not stacked up any higher between the panels and sun.


There is enough sun that I committed to a crockpot lasagna (~650Wh).

During prep I dropped a piece of noodle and Muffin grabbed it. She turned away to chew so I wouldn’t see it but the crunching of the dry pasta was so loud it was completely obvious what she was doing it. She is not a subtle dog.

ordering for delivery to Coachella

I still have those Amazon credits1 and I’ve been looking for a way to use them.

swamp cooler

My current Frigidaire evaporative cooler doesn’t work well but the Honeywell I prefer has skyrocketed in price to ~$250. (!!!) Nope! But I caught an open-box on Amazon Warehouse for $40 w/free shipping. Yes, please!

instant pot

I am not super interested in Instant Pots, preferring to use lower-current devices like crockpots and a small stovetop pressure cooker. However…

  • I’ve been experimenting with holding pressure in the pressure cooker on the mini-hotplate
  • there is a smaller Instant Pot (the Duo Mini) that’s rated at 700w instead of the usual 1000w
  • the IP is insulated and so might have better efficiency in slow-cooking modes than the uninsulated (and often unregulated) crockpots
  • the Mini is ~$80 new but shows up open-box for ~$50
  • I like to try things and write it up

These factors have tipped me in favor of trying it out.

There was enough credit left over to get a bigger 1000w MSW inverter to run it.2 Not fancy, but it’s same brand as my 700w cheapie and is known to have user-replaceable fans and fuses.

I also picked up a steam vent redirect for the Mini. So I can aim the steam in the direction of the roof vent.

backchannel - big loads off solar

While I was consulting some demos of running IPs off inverters I ran across this comment:

so I love my InstaPot. I don’t understand if my solar system is drawing from Solar Panels or the battery’s. I have 2 280 watt panels and a TriStar remote meter with a 3000 watt Sine wave Inverter. Also I have 2 huge 12 volt lead acid batteries. When I turn on my InstaPot the TriStarts beeping and red lights flash like I’m drawing too much. I just can’t believe that with all this I can’t use my solar to run my InstaPot. But then I just turn to the Generator. Weird.

Not weird.

2x 280w will make about 475w under excellent conditions (local solar noon in early summer). Now take a ~15% inverter loss and the system might run a 400w load “off the panels”.

FLA batteries can be excellent bang-for-buck but voltage will sag significantly under heavy loads. Hence the beeping and flashing. Folks wanting to run big loads off grid will need more panel, or a different battery chemistry (AGM or LiFePO4) that sags less when hit hard. Horses for courses.

This is your daily PSA that having a 3kW inverter doesn’t mean you can power 3kW loads.

Note: I don’t plan to run the Mini off the battery bank, but if I did it’d be ~63A, or ~0.42C. More likely would be when solar is pulling normally at ~30A, so a net of ~33A (0.22C).


mastodon comment thread for this post

  1. since I’m souring on Amazon in general I’ve changed future afflink payouts to be direct deposit. Won’t see any of that for a couple cycles, though. 

  2. several YT videos demonstrate this will work. I’ll be interested in seeing if MSW throws off any timing functions.