Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Solar Power Considerations September 23, 2012

Filed under: green living,off grid,old fashioned,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 11:24 pm

I have been wanting to begin writing more specific information in posts that explain how we are managing an off-grid lifestyle. Our way of doing things may not be everyone’s idea of the right way, but it is what works well for us.

When we first went off-grid, we went totally non-electric for about 2 years. While some may be shocked at the idea of a family choosing to go back that far into a simpler time, it was a blessing for us. I had grown up in Ohio where we had Old Order Amish neighbors. They, along with talking to my father & grandmother, taught me how to manage without electricity. I also remember winter storms that knocked out our electricity for an extended time. The worst storm had schools closed for a full month. Knowing what to do in times like those was essential.

The two years without any form of electricity was a great learning curve for me. i learned to run the household without any of the conveniences that are common in today’s homes. Laundry was done by hand. Our lives evolved around what was always known as “Farmer’s hours” when I was a kid. I rose early and we all were in bed early at night. We had a propane refrigerator that we had bartered for, as well as a gas stove converted to run on propane. Cell phone was charged using the plug in the car, as well as the laptop computer. I learned to always use the inverter in the car to charge the cell phone and laptop batteries whenever I had errands to run.

When we chose to get a small solar power system in place, I went to Lowe’s Home Improvement store. They had a small panels, about the size of a cookie sheet, which I purchased. I bought two of them. My son-in-law installed them while my husband was out on a trucking run. By themselves, these provide just enough power for my immediate needs. I can charge my cell phone and power the little mobile wifi unit we use for Internet access. My netbook can be charge during the day if the sun is shining brightly. Otherwise, I use an inverter in the jeep to charge the netbook using the jeep battery for the power source.

The time without electricity brought with it the very conservative attitude we have towards alternative energy usage. I am fully comfortable in using non-electric means to accomplish most tasks that need to be done. When we add the homemade wind generator, the extra energy will be great, but I still will do things as I have been. It will simply help to eliminate the use of so many batteries to listen to the news & weather on the radio.

We are planning to expand not just by adding the wind generator, but by adding a larger solar panel or two. Places like Harbor Freight sell ones that are sufficient for our needs. Adding deep cell batteries will make the system more efficient. Joe hopes to have enough power being produced to allow us to have a small stereo.

The main consideration we made was how much electricity are we realistically going to need? from there the planning was easy. I don’t mind the work. In fact, I enjoy it. As long as I stay on a good routine, I have no problem getting everything done. My stress levels are extremely low.

Next post, I will post a typical daily routine which I am keeping.

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