Third Year Experiences: Part Two

| 10/8/2013 10:01:00 AM

solarLooking back the past three years and identifying what we have learned form our experiences.

Solar – Off grid means some alternative type of energy unless you really want to rough it. Our solar experience has been a good one. We are still forming opinions and about the best way to operate our system but for the most part have settled in to a routine.

It works the way it works. You only really have to decide how big a system you want to have and then how to maintain it. Most of the learning curve is right up front starting with how to determine how much electricity you use every day. You could have a complete stranger (system designer or installer) guess what your needs are but it is far better to actually figure it out yourself. Once you have that information in hand you can design and size your system.

The next step is installation of the system. We chose to have someone else do it. Many people do their own. After it is installed and running the only thing left to learn is how to use and properly maintain your system. Our system is set up to operate by itself on autopilot with no interaction from us but we’ve learned over time that it is more efficient to take an active role in the daily functions.

We decide when to run the heavier power load stuff like our 220 volt deep water well pump, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher etc. We also decide when to use our generators, large or small. We decide how far down to let the batteries go until they start charging. If you take an active role like we have it takes a while to learn what is a good balance between convenience and your system components. We have learned how to get the most out of our components with the least amount of equipment stress. That won’t happen if you run it on autopilot.

Living remote – Rural would best describe our distances to the typical amenities. It is anywhere from 40 - 250 miles round trip to utilize everything from shopping to airports and hospitals. We have to go at least 40 miles for food and family doctor care. 100 miles for limited shopping, a dentist, and some larger equipment repair facilities and up to 250 miles for major hospital care. We like where we live but it is a major inconvenience if you have to have a tractor fixed or surgery at a hospital.

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