Saturday, October 29, 2005

Generator Tales

So, whatever smugness I felt at having a fairly reliable power supply has been well and truly run over by the Karma Bus. :-)

For the last two weeks, not only has the power been as likely to be off as on, when it is on, it is shy and tends to run the voltage scale from about 80 to 180- never approaching the 220/240 power supply we are theoretically suppose to have.

Cue the generator (note Old Faithful and his tank o' diesel in picture!). What a buncha babies we are. One night Coop and I had been reading and doing homework by mood lighting for a romantic restaurant- you know, bulbs that say 75 watts, but due to voltage fluctuations, wiring phase brownouts, etc. have been reduced to dim glows under lampshades. Much like sundown, you don't really notice that you are trying to read or work closer and closer to the light source until you bump into the lamp. But we soldiered on, not really caring, having long since shut down the uninterruptible power source for the computer so it would stop beeping at us and telling us the end of the world was near and it had only X minutes of power left before it shut down the whole shootin' match in a fit of pique.

But then we realized that since we were seriously starting to need our lights, Ted would be home soon and we should be thinking about dinner. No problemo! We troop into the kitchen only to notice that part of the wiring phase-out we were having included the kitchen AC and the plug where the microwave is- still no problemo! We'll just move the microwave over to the poolside window- there's a plug there that is on a different phase and still has power. We move the micro, chuck in the frozen snap beans, and watch as it struggles to light the light bulb inside while turning the little glass tray approximately one rpm, and making a horrible wounded elephant sound instead of the steady hum of microwaves bouncing off the little compartment.

Well that tore it. Fire up the generator, kiddo! There's only so much we can stand. And of course once the generator comes on, we are blinded by the sudden barrage of full wattage lights all over the house and deafened by the new rattle and hum of previously quiet appliances whose surge protectors and voltage regulators have shut down or been put into standby until things smooth out.

Cut to later, things have calmed down, our power needs are minimal, we have shut down the generator again and spent a nice evening in Africa. About thirty minutes after bedtime, the power goes off. Ha! We don't care, we are sleepy, we are comfy, and we don't need no stinkin' air conditioners! It may be 85 degrees outside at midnight, but inside, we are coasting on the cool breeze of recently running air conditioners. Then we wake up three hours later, on soggy sheets, sweatin' like the big babies we are. Vroooom! Thank god for generators!

After a day or so of the usual fluctuations we are getting ready for bed again, and suddenly the AC in our room beeps (that means it's either going on, off, or someone has moved the temperature setting up or down). In this case, it means the AC is going off, and in a spectacular fashion that can only happen when the voltage drops precipitously and freaks out the compressor in the unit, setting off all three function lights at once, making them blink, and causing a plaintive Help Me! beep to come from the vent holes at regular intervals. The only way to fix this is to shut the AC off at the wall switch which resets it, but since we have a unit in each room, plus three in the living/dining room, this is lot of lights and beeping and general chaos. We reset all the ACs. We go back to the bedroom and prepare to go to bed.

Beep. Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep. Rock paper scissors to see who gets to fire up the Mack Truck without wheels.

The following day we still had so little actual power to the house we left the generator on until almost dark when the voltage level revived enough to turn it off. The day after THAT, we had no power at all and ran the generator for almost 24 hours straight. Whew! When that Karma Bus comes through, it comes full speed!