Watering & Testing Batteries

Perhaps the most routine task servicing batteries is the most important, – the watering and testing of batteries is absolutely critical to long life and problem free service. It is imperative to monitor and maintain water levels; nearly as important is routinely testing batteries, watching for signs of poor performance. One bad battery can drag down entire battery bank, if ignored long enough a few bad batteries can leave you with a next to worthless system.

The first sign of a problem is typically the batteries not holding power like they use to, they cannot handle loads for very long and they quickly shed voltage at a certain point, – typically they hold a moderate load until a certain point and then the bottom falls out rapidly. Say your 24-volt system will hold well until sundown, and then remain stable until 23.4 volts, and then the bottom will fall out within 30 minutes; this is a sign one or more batteries are bad or underperforming, dragging your good batteries down. This pattern can be subtle at first, but over time it will worsen and become very noticeable, but it is better to catch this early as the harm can become cumulative.

The general outline of general service follows, it is very basic and takes only half an hour, but it must be done religiously once a month, possibly more often if your batteries are older or weak, some failing batteries will consume more water and even feel warm (a bad sign usually).

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Living with Deep-Cycle Batteries

Living on your own terms can be both rewarding and challenging and this is never truer than when it comes to living with batteries. Taking the decision to live remotely, for whatever reason, whether due to the love of solitude or whether to escape the rules and regulation of society the same dependency for power is ever-present. Batteries and inverters are often the most practical means to achieving this goal of taking the best society offers without all the conformity that goes along with it.

A power system designed around batteries offers many advantages, for one if taken care of they can last for a decade or more, they are reliable under most conditions, in this age of high energy costs they can be economical over the long-term; lastly they provide a family with power in a wide array of options and most people can adapt to their use and maintenance with a minimal commitment of time. The only real disadvantages are the upfront cost and the fact you are the utility company, – there is no one to call when there is a power outage!

Here we will go over the basics, what you will have to deal with eventually if you buy and maintain your own battery bank. We will not pretend to know all there is about batteries and inverters, only our personal experience of actually living off-grid for over 15 years, – there are literally hundreds or thousands of websites dedicated to batteries, PV, wind and inverters, here we will only cover the raw basics drawn from actual trial and error.

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Rams

Integral to the profitability of sheep raising is breeding and selling off of unproductive animals, this is even more critical when dealing with rams and males, – simply put they consume more than they could ever bring in and they are by their nature aggressive and counterproductive to a peaceful flock.

We find this practice the most disagreeable aspect of raising sheep, the unpleasant and often ugly business of selling of animals that you have raised. The uglier truth to this practice is that unless it is done the rest of the flock will suffer or be unsustainable, that these less productive animals will cripple the ability to care for the more productive animals. This practice is not especially profitable in itself, young male lambs rarely can be sold for more than $150 and adult males or rams long surpass their “profit-cost” point before you sell them (the calculation of feed consumed versus sale price); the earlier you do it the better, though any calculation will show that you will usually lose money.

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