I woke up at 4:00 AM today, thanks to Gambit the World’s Smartest Dog. My son made the mistake of attempting a furtive trip to the bathroom, which set Gambit to growling. Like he’s never seen the lad before. I think he’s hard of seeing – the dog, that is.
So bam, I’m awake. After a few minutes of ceiling staring, I give in and flip the tablet on for some YouTube action. Luckily, one of my favorite prepping channels, Commsprepper, had just posted a new video about maintaining his new solar-charged battery bank, so I settled in to watch that.
Commsprepper is apparently way more conscientious about battery maintenance than I am, because a few minutes into the video, I realized that I haven’t checked the water level in my battery bank lately. By which I mean never, of course. I made a mental note to get some distilled water once the sun came up and check the batteries.
Mental notes being worth no more than the paper they’re written on, I naturally forgot all about this little task during the day. So like at 9:00PM, while I’m trying to wind the day down, the light bulb finally goes on, and I pull the drawer out to check the water level in the batteries.
Um – what water?
OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad. No cells were actually dry, but the water level was certainly too low – it’s supposed to be up to the rings inside each cell. I debated what to do – you really should use distilled water to top off a battery, but I didn’t have any. The right and proper thing would have been to get back in the truck and head out to Walmart for a jug or two of distilled, but I had already taken a shower and really didn’t feel like heading back out into the night.
Then I remembered my dehumidifier, chugging away in the basement keeping things from getting too musty. That puts out buckets of distilled water every day, pumped outside by the HVAC condensate pump. I decided that even if it’s a little grungy inside the pump’s tank, the water would do for my immediate needs. Only problem: what do I catch the water in?
IKEA to the rescue. Turns out that their iconic PS 2002 watering can (shouldn’t it be named SMÅRLM or WATERSÜM or something like that?) makes a fairly good battery water topper-offer, and at 99 cents, a hell of a deal. I threw Mrs. P’s watering can under the condensate pump outlet, went down to the basement and jiggled the tank on the pump to trip the float switch. I ended up with maybe half a quart of field-expedient distilled water, and fairly clean looking to boot.
So now I can sleep soundly tonight, secure in the knowledge that not only are my batteries properly cared for, but that I can produce and capture distilled water whenever I need it.
As long as it’s humid, of course.