Your Electricity Comes From Where?

“Wait, you don’t have power?” When I start to explain where our electricity comes from most people give me a look that says “I can’t you believe you have shoes on and all your teeth in your head”.

Out here on the ranch, we live off the grid. The closest power poles are about 12 miles or so away. My mom likes to begin her description of my life with, “they don’t have electricity” and then watch people’s jaws drop. Well, that’s not entirely accurate but it provides an excellent shock factor. As I write this, my laptop is plugged in, I have lights on and I’m sipping coffee from my automatic coffee maker. I know, you’re feeling disappointed, you were picturing our family huddled around one kerosene lamp straining our eyes to read.

Hang in there, you’ll like this. Our electricity comes from a Pelton Wheel. It’s a turbine that sits over a year round running spring and uses water to produce electricity for us.

Our Pelton Wheel

Our Pelton Wheel

The electricity is stored in batteries and sent to our house through a power line. We also have a backup generator to run if the spring is low (during the summer especially) and the turbine is not able to produce enough electricity to keep up with our electronics charging and girls drying their hair.

When it’s too cold to hang clothes on the line to dry we throw them in the dryer and I crank up the generator. Appliances that use heat draw too much energy for the turbine and those poor batteries to keep up. When the generator is on, we live it up! We charge electronics, run the microwave, plug in the hair dryer and straightener at the same time! L-I-V-I-N Baby!

 Our Batteries

Our Batteries

Each morning after feeding the horses, I take a hike up to the battery room to check how we fared during the night with our power usage. If the readout says “Full” we’re good to go. If it’s not full, we”ll need to be conservative for the morning and see if it comes back up on its own.

"Full" is a good thing!

“Full” is a good thing!

Next, I hike further up the hill to check the Pelton Wheel. I take a quick peek inside the pump house and check the gauge. If we’re at 10 or above, life is good. If it’s extremely low, 6 or below, I have to shut off the water valves and take it apart to see if a rock is obstructing the water flow. Less water, less power.

 Plenty of Water Today

Plenty of Water Today

There are certainly pro and cons to the power situation out here. Pro; we never have an electric bill. Con; if a drought hits and you come to visit, you may be given a complimentary headlamp to use for all your lighting needs while staying with us.

Well, that’s a glimpse into my life here on the ranch. When you casually flip on your lights and run your dryer, think of me.

 The Pump House

The Pump House

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