If you would like to live “off-the-grid” there are many ways to get started. Moving to a home that does not have the power companies’ electric lines coming to it makes it much easier. It is already done for you. All you have to do is to move in. That is when the fun starts. At first you can live with no power, but nobody wants to live that way for very long. Everyone eventually, grows older, gets tired of the work involved with doing all those chores using their physical energy. So what to do next?
Set up your own solar system of course! Everyone has some sun sometime. Free power from the sun is nice. But there are somethings you need to know first. A solar system does not have to cost a lot of money. At least not to get started. In the beginning, when we first moved here we started with one 50 watt solar panel, a tiny charge controller, two fork-lift truck batteries and an automotive inverter bought from a truck stop. When the batteries needed to be charged and there was no sun, (after all, we live in NY state which is the state with the least amount of sun!), we pulled our vehicle up to the house and charged the batteries that way. It is not the most efficient way to do it, but it works.
Over the years our system has grown. It still is not a big system like you see on all the fancy houses, but it keeps us happy. Truthfully, as long as I can use my computer that is all I care about powering. Our system now has five solar panels and they are on the barn roof. My husband studied our sunlight over the years as to where the best place to move the panels to would be. On the barn roof, they get the most sun for the longest periods of the day. During all seasons. There are periods that the sun moves and there are periods where they get the sun longer in the afternoon than real early in the morning.
Our inverter is where the DC power is converted to AC for use. A charge controller controls how much power comes into the batteries. Overcharging the batteries ruins them. The meter is another important component of our system It tells where our power is at and whether we need to charge the batteries, or how much power the sun is bringing in. The meter is also used to check how much power electric gadgets or appliances use.
You do not have to be “off-the-grid” to use an alternative energy system though. One way you can learn to use one is to set up the small system and power just your lights, televisons and computers. Then add to the system as you can afford it. It is a good way to learn how to use one as well as keeping your house powered during power outages in your area. My blog, Solar Baby is full of information on how to do this.
Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole