jeudi 31 décembre 2009

Liberté, j'ai crié ton nom!

Je vois partir l'année 2009 avec joie. J'ai passé les six derniers mois à me battre contre la technologie. Quand mon téléphone n'était pas en panne, c'était des virus à répétition sur mon ordinateur. Ensuite le téléphone de la compagnie nationale de télécommunications, ma fournisseuse d'internet ne répondait plus pendant 10 jours.

Mais plus prosaïquement, j'avais un grave problème d'énergie.

Bon, je vous fais un peu l'historique de la chose. Dans ce pays, depuis 15-20 ans nous ne connaissons les 24h/24 d'électricité de ville que lors des grandes fêtes religieuses: Nouvel An/Jour de l'Indépendance, Carnaval, Pâques ou Coupe du Monde de Football.

Ne me demandez pas pourquoi, personne ne se préoccupe plus tellement des causes.

Il y a différentes façons de gérer tout ça:
a) vous faites avec, la patience est une vertu;
b) vous avez un petit budget (comme plus de 90% des habitants) vous utilisez lampes à kérozène, bougies et la lune;
c) vous avez quelques moyens et vous engloutissez des centaines voire des milliers de dollars US dans un inverteur et un nombre variable de batteries;
d) vous êtes riche, entre votre inverter, votre génératrice silencieuse et vos panneaux solaires, vous êtes à peine concerné!

J'ai pris toutes mes économies de l'époque et j'ai souscrit à l'option c) en 2002. Je restais tributaire du courant de ville mais plus de bougies ni de lampes. Et, suprême avantage, je pouvais coudre quand je le voulais.

Sauf que...

Sauf que les batteries, elles finissent par crever. Depuis l'été, je ne peux qu'allumer les lumières chez moi. Donc un grand coup de frein dans le Mojo, déjà pas en forme.

J'ai tenu bon jusqu'à la Noël et avec mon bonus, j'ai acheté quatre nouvelles batteries.

Pour ceux et celles que ça intéresse, un inverter et des batteries, ça ressemble à ça:




Les batteries sont dans la cour, l'appareil dans la maison parce que la réaction électrochimique produit des vapeurs toxiques.

Mais comment ça marche?

Pour faire simple, le courant de ville passe à travers la machine qui permet aux batteries d'emmagasiner de l'énergie électrique. Quant on coupe le courant de ville, le circuit de la maison est alimenté par les batteries. En fait, c'est comme une grande pile rechargeable! Naturellement, tout dépend de votre alimentation en courant de ville, du nombre de batteries et de la consommation. Je ne peux pas repasser parce que ça demande trop de jus. Idem pour tous les gros moteurs genre pompe à eau ou les résistances genre grille-pain ou séchoir.

Mais je peux coudre quand je veux (ter)

2010 n'a qu'a bien se tenir!


Cry Freedom!

2009 cannot end quickly enough for me. I have spent de past six months struggling with one tech problem after another. Either my phone is dead or my laptop has a virus. Then it's the ISP's phone that goes out of order for 10 days.

But the real problem was a major energy shortage.

Here's the backstory: in this country, for the past 15-20 years, we have seldom had electricity 24/7 outside of the major hollidays: New Year's Day/Independance Day, Carnival, Easter or the World Cup. Don't ask me why, nobody really bothers with the reasons anymore.

Now, you can deal with this situation a number of ways:
a) Live with it. Ascetism is good for the soul;
b) money is tight (as it is for 90% of the population) so you light the night with candles, kerosene lamps and the moon;
c) you have some money and you sink it a few hundred to a few thousand US dollars into an inverter and batteries;
d) you're so rich that, between your inverter, your silent generator and your solar panels, you're barely aware that there is a problem to begin with!!!

I went with c) back in 2002, investing all my savings in this system. I still needed city electricity but bye bye lamps and candles. And *gasp* I could sew whenever I wanted.

Except...

Except batteries grow old and stop working. Since this summer, I have only been able to turn on the lights in my house. So one giant knife in the already wavering Mojo.

I hung in there until Christmas and, with my bonus, bought four new batteries.

For those who wonder, an inverter and batteries looks like this:




The batteries are in the yard, the inverter inside the house because the chemical reaction produces dangerous fumes.

But how does it work?

Basically, the city electricity goes through the machine to charge the batteries. when there's a blackout, the batteries power the whole house. Like one big rechargeable battery, actually. Obviously, it all depends on the number of hours of city electricity, the number of batteries and how much electricity you use.

But I can sew whenever I want (repeat 3 times).

2010 better watch out!

5 commentaires:

The Slapdash Sewist a dit…

Very educational! I try not to take my easy Western lifestyle for granted. Thank you for reminding me how lucky I am.

Melissa Fehr Trade a dit…

ok I can TOTALLY geek out with you on inverters and batteries (honestly, I'm so boring at dinner parties!). Since our boat was designed to be away from mains power for days at a time, we've actually got two power circuits - a 240v AC that normally comes off the mains power, and a 24v DC that comes off our batteries and solar panels and powers all our lights, our pumps, our toilet macerator, fans, etc etc. Anyway the fun comes in when the power goes out because our inverter then provides power for a few important 240v sockets off the batteries (primarily our fridges/freezers and our water pump). And as we discovered the first summer, pretty much everything on 24v is FREE because the bit that tops up the batteries from the mains was broken for months and we didn't even notice because the solar panels (dirty, 10 years old, and in London cloud cover!) were more than enough to keep everything 24v running! So as we're planning all our renovations, we're putting as much on 24v as humanly possible.

Though I do have to ask - your batteries look kinda like ours, and we're always having to top them up with distilled water. What's your secret for good battery maintenance?

La Karibane a dit…

@Trena, glad I had an impact, small as it is. If you're feeling up to more eye-opening, please visit my "serious" blog, http://3rdworldgirl.blogspot.com. I have to update it too but you'll get an idea of the ambiance around here.

@Melissa, I'm sooo happy to find someone who knows all about the inverters. I really wish I could get solar panels but I rent a house and the roof is slopped (sp?) with corrugated steel sheets. Also, crime is very high and solar panels are on the Top 5 Things to Steal, I'm afraid.

Battery maintenance, oh, joy! I do have to put water in there, about once a month. There is a debate on the fill line. Now I hear it's supposed be just above the thingies, the plates or whatever.

But the big issue used to be oxydation of the poles.

My father sprayed this purplish sealant when he installed the batteries for me. I'll send you the name. It's supposed to retard oxydation on the poles. He swears by it.

Before that, I used clean them with baking soda paste and a toothbrush, wipe clean and apply a think coat of vaseline or other grease.

Do you get the greenish oxydation too?

My whole house is on the inverter, except, contrary to you, for the water pump, and the refrigerator. I only have 4 batteries and they are rather expensive. These cost me $110 US each, yikes! But a coworker says his fridge (which is bigger than my 5fter) is on his 8 battery set-up. But I think he has a generator too.

Lina a dit…

Hi!
After you have commented at my blog the day before that disastrous earthquake, I can't stop thinking about you and all people in your country. Hope that you are well.

Leizel a dit…

Hello, I love your blog and wanted to pass on an invite for a Kreative Blogger award:
http://craftyashell.blogspot.com/2010/01/first-off-big-thank-you-to-deligthful.html
I hope you have fun with it if you decide to participate :)