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Living Offgrid Affordably 10: Time To Batten Down The Hatches

| 2/2/2012 12:40:43 PM


Jeff with his one kilowatt array After building walls and a “roof” (loft floor) last time in Finally, Something Goes Up, we are about to be “under the gun.” Winter is here and nights are getting downright cold. Surviving until spring is the next order of business.

At this point, work needed to be done, both “inside” and out. A means to follow weather reports, in addition to some lighting at night, would be a groove. After researching all the alternatives for about ten years, I had never viewed a solar module in person. This seemed a perfect time to try the technology to see how well it actually worked.

I had previously obtained a catalog and planning guide from Backwoods Solar, and was impressed with the fact that they “live” what they sell. I ordered one Kyocera 120 watt solar module. In the fall of 2002, it cost $575. A 130 watt version can now be purchased for around $400. At a nominal 12.5 volts, it would produce a maximum of 7.1 amps. When it arrived, I leaned it against the east facing wall, outside a window. The wire ran through the bottom of the window (I soon drilled a hole in the wall, ran the wire, then caulked it) to two automotive 12 volt batteries. An automotive voltmeter was installed to monitor the “system.” We had power!

The next logical move was to install an automotive radio. We could now follow weather reports, plus have some background music to work by.

After one week of use, we had plenty of “juice,” so I installed a recreational vehicle light fixture. It was a 13 inch, 12 volt florescent, with a one amp load when on. The setup proved a resounding success, a semblance of civilization!

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