We've always had a 5000 watt gas generator that would run about 6 hours on 5 gallons of fuel. It was a good solution for short-term power outages but not such a great idea if the power was out for days or longer. Plus it was noisy and smelly.
Like all other technologies, photovoltaic (solar) systems have been getting less expensive while significantly improving in output and simplicity. With the federal credits for installing a system expiring in 2016, we decided this year was the time to start.
We initially contacted several solar contractors only to be handed estimates that were grossly more power than we needed and grossly more expensive than our budget could handle.
Finally we found a solar consultant who was perfect - Roger. Roger is a retired chemistry professor who spends his retirement years designing and helping regular people build their own PV solar system. In mid-July we started the process and two weeks ago we "flipped the switch" and started producing our own electricity.
We did the majority of the slave labor and saved Roger's skills for the technical stuff. Actually Don did the majority of the hard work while I worked on the backup to the solar system - four cords of firewood. In the perfect juxtaposition, the brains of the solar system hang on the outside of the woodshed - the old and the new.
Rather than bore you will all the details I'll just share some photos.
|Layout of the solar panel array|
|Digging the holes|
|Setting the panel framework|
|Building the battery cellar|
|Battery cellar housing 8 - 6V batteries|
|Cabinet for power center|
|Power center with inverter|
|Woodshed with solar power center on right side|
It still amazes me that you can produce your own electricity. And it's nice to know that when the power goes out again we'll have a little more comfort than in years past.
Watch for the next edition of Harvesting the Sun - Beekeeping
From Fleur Creek Farm