Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Power Failure

Last night New York had its first significant rainfall in nearly a month. The rain brought strong winds and lightning. Around 8:30PM, I logged into the server at the Shier. The Winepod software showed no connection to the controller. I quickly switched to the camera. Pitch black. I realized that the power was out and the server was running on the battery backup surge protector. The battery keeps the laptop, router, and cable modem alive for about 30 minutes once power is gone. Past 30 minutes, the laptop stays on with its internal battery, but I cannot access it because the internet is down. If the power failure lasts more than 3 hours, then the internal laptop battery is exhausted. Unfortunately, the laptop, like most computers these days, does not have a rocker switch that can be left in the on position. With no way to turn the laptop on from a complete shutdown, a trip to the Shier is the only option.

After 4 hours I realized that I needed to make the trip to check the wine and restore the server. I was able to confirm that the power was back on before I went to sleep by calling and having the answering machine pick up. The Winepod does have a rocker switch and when power was restored I was pretty sure that it came back to its normal operation, but without the server I could not be certain. My fear is a temperature drop that kills the yeast.

On my way up to the house, I decided to pick up a battery backup surge protector for the Winepod. I figure that it could buy me some extra time in the event of a power failure by reducing the downtime. It is apparent that the Shier receives a number of short power failures throughout the year, often at least once a week. I can tell the duration of these power failures without being there by observing the time that the clock timer on a house lamp is delayed when I return. If I set the lamp to turn on at 6PM, it slowly creeps back in time with each power failure. If I don't reset the timer, the lamp comes on late at night.

All is well. The Winepod remained at a safe temperature above 60F, and the Brix was 9. I performed a SG check with the hydrometer which read 1035. The Brix meter appears to be functioning properly.

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