As Canadians we have an abundance of cheap power, so we rarely need to concern ourselves with power management. Last week however there was a severe thunderstorm that passed north of Ottawa that did a real number on cottage country. For the first 5 days of our stay at the cottage, our power came from a generator hooked up to the power-takeoff of a diesel tractor.
This small 240V generator was used to power the refrigerators of 8 cottages and we were limited to just fridges and lights. The hot water tanks were cycled each day and the power went off at 11PM. One good thing that was added to the experience this year was WIFI. My mac-book was open on the table at a page that displayed power usage for all household devices. In order to boil water for tea, we had to turn off lights.
We had to calculate the power consumption of the microwave, fridge, stove elements, lights, chargers for our e-readers, and make sure that we stayed below our allotted maximum. I’m sure some of you are thinking that this took away from our vacation, but actually it was an interesting exercise. We read until lights out and cottage time took on a new structure.
I was really amazed at how long water in a hot water tank stays hot. The tank was allowed one hour to heat each day and that was enough for two showers and water to wash the dishes. The cottage tanks are not as large as home tanks, but they must be really well insulated.
The only downside of the whole experience was the noise from the tractor made it difficult to read outside, especially by the beach. By day 6 though, power was back to normal and peace was restored. I was really amazed that a generator just over a foot long and maybe 8 inches across could power the whole site. Yes there was a big diesel engine driving it, but I would have thought that the generator would have been much bigger.
Just as an aside, a typical 1600-2000 square feet with electric appliances except for the furnace, will use an average of 1500Kwatt-hours per month making 50 Kwatt-hours per day and a total of 18,000 Kwatt-hours per year.