Solar Homestead

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Richard and Maureen Pratt have been using photovoltaic
cells to generate electricity for chores around their North
Carolina home for over six years. They also use an extensive set of solar powered tools.

The concept of benign, sun-produced
electricity originally seemed little more than a curiosity
to them, but upon discovering the amazing amount of
work that could be done with just one panel, the pair
became dedicated to the advancement of solar electricity.

The Pratts’ original panel has been on the job for five
years,. though cracks in its plastic covering allow it to
see only sunny-day exposure. But their new ARCO Solar
model, now residing on their roof, works come rain or
shine. It’s used to run a 12-volt DC chain saw (it cut all
their firewood for the winter of 1980-81), a
rototiller, a pump to irrigate their remote vegetable
garden, and a blower to provide air exchange in their
hybrid solar homestead.

The enthusiasm that Rick and Maureen
developed for sun power has led them to start their own
energy enterprise: They sell photovoltaic panels, 12-volt
tools and some appliances, solar air and water heaters,
wood burning stoves, and other alternative energy equipment.
Thus–for one couple–a fascination with better,
cleaner ways to produce energy has turned into a successful
business!