Electrical Power for the Homestead

One family's determination to live off the grid led them to research a variety of energy sources.

| June/July 1995

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    No more lugging frozen diapers 45 miles to a laundromat.
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    Ike stands next to the Powerboard, on which are mounted twin meter, inverters and the Source Center.
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    A closer look at the Powerboard.
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    The sole source of power to the batteries is a China Diesel 8kw generator.

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For 18 years a diesel generator created power on our ranch in British Columbia. Six hours every evening it puttered through gallons of fuel while furnishing our family of four with modern conveniences. Eventually, these limited conveniences did not atone for rising fuel costs.

Modern technology, unlike fuel taxes, offered us an alternative—the fuel efficient Gencharger Power System. Nowadays we operate the generator once every six days instead of every day for six hours. Yet we have 24-hour independent power, and we use less than half the amount of fuel predicted by the experts on alternative energy. Installed in 1991, it provided the missing link between our lifestyle of choice and the demands of reality.

In 1974 my husband Ike and I bought 320 acres of wild land, located 45 miles south of Prince George, B.C. As it had no access, we first cleared a spot where we wanted our dirt road to join the graveled Blackwater road and built a log cabin on skids. Then Ike started logging and building the new road with a Cat. Slowly, dragging our cabin with us, we worked toward our land, three miles away. After reaching our goal, a miracle in itself, we started clearing land and planting new fields.

With the addition of two babies, we needed more space and started building a log house. As we settled our shoulders into the harness of responsibility, we found less time for simple chores like hauling water four miles from the closest neighbor or lugging frozen diapers 45 miles to the laundromat. So we invested in a deep well with an electric pump, a washing machine, and a diesel generator to operate them.

After harvesting our first hay crops, we needed a barn to put it in, cattle to feed it to, and miles of fences to contain the cattle. As the years passed and our farm evolved, the demands of our simple life became very complex-and expensive. Ike purchased a road grader and obtained snow plowing contracts to pay the bills, while I stayed home, taught correspondence, and cared for the livestock. In cold weather I couldn't start the generator by myself and the long winter evenings became even longer.

By 1989, 45 families had settled in the Blackwater area. Like us, they knew grid power would make life easier. So we banded together and formed the Blackwater Power Association (B.P.A.).


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