Friday, December 26, 2008

Solar Power-A Panel Discussion

Ten years ago, when we built this house, we did some strange things. Or, at least, strange in the eyes of some. The following few posts will be a series of descriptions and reasons why we did what we did. This is in an effort to create some interest in alternative, homesteading methods and dialogue. I like to hear from folks that do some of the things we do, this helps me make better, informed decisions and have a better knowledge base with which to share. This is, after all, the purpose of this blog-to learn from folks like you, and, perhaps, pass on some little knowledge, myself.

The first thing I am going to talk about is solar power. This is not really a strange thing that we did (I'll get to those in a later post), after all, solar power is becoming quite popular, even in the more urban areas. In other words, solar is not just for homesteading, off the grid types any longer.

Let me start by saying that solar panels and equipment has been one of the best investments we made when building. (Sorry, I don't have pictures right now.) We went "light" (get it?) because it is expensive. We purchased two 500 watt panels and mounted them on the roof, facing south, to maximize winter sunlight (sunlight, what's that?).

We also just stuck with D/C power as that was the cheapest way to go. We have two six cell batteries (Trojan brand), deep cycle that are wired directly to the panels through a special fuse box. This system powers all of our ceiling lights. The charge will last about three days without sun, right now, however, our ten year old batteries need to be replaced as we barely get a full day anymore. We feel like we did OK as most batteries are only rated for about five years.

I had to use 10-2 wire for this system because solar power travels slower and needs the larger diameter wire. But that is basically what we have. When the power goes out, we still have lights. The rest of our house is on the grid. Like I said, we had to go cheap, but our intention has always been to add more as money allows. Unfortunately, that never seems to happen.

We also had to purchase a bracket system to mount the panels on the roof. It is made of a heavy aluminum and is mounted on the ridge, in line with the pitch of the roof. Very efficient and effective. I can adjust the angle of the bracket for the season. In summer, it is tilted back enough to catch the high, summer sun. In winter, the sun rides lower on the horizon so the panels are adjusted to be more in line with the roof pitch to catch the low afternoon sun.

Just a twelve volt, deep cycle battery (which is two six cells linked together) is all it takes to power all our ceiling lights. Now, do any of you readers use solar? Describe your system for me. The old adage goes, two heads are better than one. Lets hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

The Watchman said...

Ecc 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.

I hope you get alot of feed back on this one, I don't use solar but I am interested and would love to hear others' experiences.