Solar System Harvester Control Panel 1


Solar Panels on Barn Roof

I have told you many times on this blog, my husband has put together our small solar system himself. He had to figure it all out and make sure it worked. We have never had to have someone else come and work on our system. The couple of times that someone else, that we knew, did some minor changes to it…………our solar system ended up not working. Like in having the alternator on the generator constantly having to be replaced! Twice! The guy at Backwoods Solar wanted to know what the heck happened. He helped us figure it out. Or having our inverter blow up (I kid you not)! The rule around here now, is that NO ONE ELSE Is ALLOWED TO TOUCH OR WORK ON IT!!!!


Here is the first video my husband has made show casing our solar system and some of the work he has done. As you will see, there is more to building your system than just putting a few solar panels up, and hooking them to the house. Oh no, don’t laugh! Many people have asked me this. Solar systems are not that hard to build, but there is more to it than that. This is the first video of more to come! If you’be be nice enough to go to uTube and “Like” it there, I’d appreciate it very much.

Barn with Solar Panels

Solar System on Our barn

If you are considering an off-the-grid home with your own solar system, what kind of concerns do you have? Are you afraid you won’t be comfortable living with your own system? Especially without the security of back up electric? You know, I feel more secure than I ever did on the power grid. Let me know what you are worried about, and I will try to research it and write a post about it for you. 

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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
Video Copyright © 2014 Larry G. Lupole

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Hiring a Professional Cleaning Service

House Cleaning

Houses need cleaning!

Hiring a professional cleaning service is not something you do every day. Many times the need for one arises suddenly. So you need to find a reputable company quickly. The Steam Team, who is located in Austin, TX, supports the “green” movement and has an outstanding reputation. They stand behind their work and give you a 100% money back guarantee, if you are not satisfied. Living with wood stoves and pets, and just general country living can accumulate dirt and dust in your home. Smells and chemicals have always irritated me, so I would look for a company that does not use harsh chemicals. They use completely biodegradable, non-toxic cleaners that are completely natural. Safe for the environment, as well as your pets and family.

Living Room carpet cleaning

Carpet cleaning

What kind of cleaning jobs does The Steam Team offer? Just about every kind you can think of. Fire damage for one. I have seen the damage a fire can do and the clean up afterwards can be horrendous. My best friend had her house burn, and if it wasn’t for the cleaning professionals, it would have held up the rebuilding of the house for months. Included with the smoke and fire restoration, they do emergency pre-cleaning, content cleaning, content pack-out, walls and ceiling cleaning and deodorization.

Living Room Drapery cleaning

Drapery cleaning too!

They do many other types of cleaning jobs as well. Such as carpet, upholstery, leather and drapery cleaning. Floors take a beating on our little homestead and hiring a cleaning service to do a yearly cleaning is very beneficial. The Stream Team will do Oriental rug cleaning, pet odor treatments, natural stone and ceramic tile cleaning and marble polishing. Whatever you need cleaned or restored after a disaster, they can and will do it. 

I was compensated by The Steam Team to write this blog post.

Solar Baby

Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.

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New Pictures!

Solar Panels

FINALLY!!!

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Solar Panels Make Me Smile!

5 Solar Panels - 2.050 KW

15 Solar Panels & Wind Turbine – 2.050 KW

Solar panels were needed to increase our power available. So our energy system has expanded considerably since last year. We added our wind turbine last July. Even though we bought these ten solar panels last fall, we just got them up on the barn roof and all installed. It was a job for sure. Now our energy system has increased to 2.050 KW. 

Solar Panels in boxes

Solar Panels arriving by truck!

The solar panels arrived by truck, and the driver could not drive over our little bridge, so my husband had to meet him on the other side. There they were! All boxed up and looking quite impressive. I could hardly believe that we were going to make a dent in our system, as to increasing our power. Oh boy!

Solar Panels

At least we are able to use them down here.

Our generator had died, so my husband had to get to work on fixing that. In the mean time, we had no power. So he hooked up the new solar panels on the ground, till he could get them up on the roof. Then our power coming in every day would generate from the solar panels, and not need the generator. As long as the sun was out, we were good!

Adding panels

Adding panels

As you can see, it was quite a process to get the solar panels up there. Thank the Lord, nobody got hurt doing this dangerous job. It is not for the weak of heart. One solar panel might look light, but for one person carrying it up the ladder, all the way up the roof……well, believe me, it is not an easy job!

Solar Panels

FINALLY!!!

The end to this story is…….it will never end! As we want more conveniences, such as a freezer and the power for an induction oven, we will definitely need more solar panels. I love the panels as they work for long periods of time. Never making a sound, unless you count the sound of the batteries bubbling as they become charged with more power. The wind turbine goes on and off with the wind. Though it does work during the night and during storms. It all adds up to more power and that means we can use electric pretty much whenever we chose. Now for the water system………….

Solar Baby

Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.

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I Get My Electricity From The Sun!

Solar Baby

Our road

I get my electricity from the sun, but it is not always out. We have to adjust to how much power is coming in every day. Our life here, after fifteen years, has changed often. We have gone through good periods and bad. One thing I have to say though, it has never been dull, boring or trivial. Life is what you make it and we have made our life more interesting than that day to day existence that many people experience. I am not putting your life down, if that is how you feel about your life. But I know how that is. I lived it myself! 

Guy Wire Planter

Guy Wire Planter

Building our energy system little bit at a time, made it more affordable for us. We never had much money to work with, so we found ways to do this. One panel bought on eBay would be added to our system when it could be. Or we’d save for some components to expand the system. We purchased most of those in the earlier years from Backwoods Solar. Over the years, we bought from a variety of online stores. My husband did some web work in exchange for our battery bank of 24 batteries. Soon electricity was constant and we had plenty of power for our needs.

A Homestead in the forest

A Homestead in the forest

To get electricity from the sun, many people thought we’d never generate enough power. Not enough to live off our system, since we are completely surrounded by huge trees in the state forest. Well, they didn’t know my husband! He worked hard these fifteen years to clear the area around us. Working with a crushed right arm, so it took him longer than it would have before. So little by little, we have been able to add more things to our home. To tell the truth though, some things I thought I wanted, now I feel like I don’t need them. I am used to this “off-the-grid” life the way it is right now. Well, most of it………..

Adding panels

Adding panels

Adding more panels means more electricity is being generated. I look forward to being able to bring the water inside our house, being pumped by our water pump. It will be powered by our system, powered by solar and since last August, wind. The reason we do it, is for independence. Our independence is important in these times we live in. Independence will be gone for most people in a few years, and for some, it already is.  What about you? 

Solar Baby
I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.

Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole

 

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The Sun Rises on Our Solar Panels Too!

Peaceful Forest Homestead

Peaceful Forest Homestead

The sun rises on our solar panels too! Solar panels are in the news today. This is because the president has finished a project he started in 2010, of installing solar panels on the white house roof. This is one topic I must agree with him on. All public buildings and schools too, should have their own alternative energy systems in place by now. The US is way behind other countries in this. I see the American people whining about solar panels and paybacks. They whine about electric cars. Then they turn around and get angry about electric and gas prices. I say, “do something about it………..NOW, while you can!”

Solar panels being installed

More panels going on roof.

 Now that our weather seems to be “officially” spring, my husband has been working really hard on our solar system. He wants to get the new solar panels up on the barn roof. As you may be able to see in my photos, in the morning sun, the ones on top are getting all the sun. The ones on the ground don’t get any till a little bit later. At least they are working, but when they get on the roof, our power will increase immensely.

Country Road

Solar enables us to live in the middle of the forest.

There is a lot more to installing a solar panel than just putting it on the roof. It has to be wired correctly and carefully. Remember these things are electrical devices and when the sun hits them, they can be deadly. Especially for the person doing the installation. You really need to know what you are doing, or hire someone who does. Living with your own off-the-grid system makes you really independent. You are responsible for your own power usage. You learn to frugal with the electricity you use and appreciate the new things you can add. 

Our Generator

Our generator charges DC only.

The more panels we can buy and put up, the less we need to use the generator. You should use your generator very rarely. That is our goal. I am sure this summer we will have plenty of power to spare. That means we will have our water hooked up and running in the house. In fact, a few days ago, I cooked a pot roast with my slow cooker. Now that is amazing to me!

Solar Baby

Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole

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Propane Has Nothing To Do with Being Off-The-Grid!

Utility Grid

Utility Grid


Why do people think using propane has anything to do with being off-the-grid? They are two completely different things. Off-the-grid means you are not hooked up to the electric utility grid. The last time I looked, my propane company did not have any wires to connect our house to any grid. One has nothing to do with the other. People always try to make rules………..must be the nature of people. There are no rules. I don’t follow someone else’s rules for being a modern homestead or for living off-the-grid. 

Off-The-Grid Homestead

No connections to power lines!


In fact, many of the people who write or post about this subject, don’t even live off-the-grid. Or at least not full time. They use vehicles with gasoline to get back and forth to their homes. I don’t say to them, you are not off-the-grid because you do not power your vehicle with electric generated from your alternative energy system. I don’t do that yet, but I plan to. Just like someday, I plan on getting rid of my propane stove or at least only use it for canning. But maybe I will find my system will not allow me to use any other type of stove. I need to can, more than I need to worry about someone’s interpretation of what living off-the-grid means. 

In The Middle of the Forest

No wires along our road! Off the grid!


People have the misconception that off-the-grid means you live in a little cabin and don’t have the internet or telephone, make all your own clothing, don’t ever go to a store or buy anything from the outside world. That is not what it means people! It means you are not hooked up to the electric companies’ power lines. That is all it means. Because people cannot imagine living that way. If you use propane, feel free to use it. It is not part of the power grid. Not one bit!

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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole

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Our Solar Energy System Needs Monitoring Daily

Sunshine

Sunshine

When you live with a solar energy system long enough, you get used to weather reports being an important part of your life. Don’t dwell on it though. If the sun comes out, I know I will have plenty of power to work on my computer. That is the main use of my system at present time. Using the SunDanzer refrigerator, we know we need to have the power to keep that running. We hardly notice the power use of it, since it uses so little. We do not watch television, so our main entertainment is our computers. My husband enjoys watching movies on his computer in the evening. I like to read on my Kindle Fire. Using our power system to charge our cellphones, my camera, the Kindle and in summer, our lawnmower and garden cart batteries. Non of these items use a lot of power so our system handles it all easily.

Generator

Our Generator

Do I find it hard to live under these circumstances? Not at all. The main thing is that since we are completely off-the-grid, we never have a power outage. No matter what happens, because my husband does a top-notch job of maintaining our solar energy system. We are always able to have power. Recently our panels were having a problem and we had limited power.  The power stored in our batteries was enough, and it never affected our refrigerator. I was still able to be on my computer, just not as long as usual. It meant we had to charge the batteries with the generator. No outages though.

Solar Baby's meter

Tri-metric Meter

One of the most important tools to monitor our solar energy system is the Tri-Metric meter. It is a meter that we have on the wall in our living room. I can see it right from my computer. It measures how much power we are using constantly. It also measures how much power we have coming in. By monitoring our usage we are aware of what we are using, or if our power system has developed a problem. Many times if there is not enough sun, that is when my husband starts the generator to charge the batteries.

Weather Station

Our Weather Station

If we keep an eye on the weather forecast for the next few days, we can keep our energy system charged. We can limit our usage if the weather forecast is clouds, rain and gloom for a number of days. Most of the time though, even if there is no sun, the panels will still charge a bit. It’s not hard and I find it very easy to live this way. Easier than paying an electric company for my energy use! 

Solar Baby

Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole

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Solar Panels Don’t Break………….Or Do They?

Solar Panels needing repairs.

Checking Panels for problem.

Solar panels don’t break very often. You can use the same panels for years and never have a problem with them. Then again……….your system could stop working and you have to discover what is the cause. Is it the wiring? Is it the batteries? It can’t be the solar panels, can it? 

Working on solar panels on roof.

Long way up there…….and back down!

Yes, in fact, it can be the solar panels and it was one of our panels. My husband checked everything possible. He was so frustrated trying to find out why our system that had worked flawlessly for close to fifteen years stopped. He took off the first panel on the barn and was sure it was that one with a problem. Nope. That would have been too easy. That meant he now had to go up onto the roof and take down each of the panels one by one and check them. 

Back of solar panel

The 2nd panel off the roof.

After he removed the second solar panel from the roof, he opened the box on the back. A broken diode fell out onto the ground! There was only half of it. That was the culprit! That was the whole cause of the solar panels not working for months. He is so glad it was on the second panel and not the ones further up on the roof. 

Box on back of solar panel.

Broken diode rolled out when opened.

One little tiny diode made all the difference! For the time being, we now have 13 solar panels and the wind turbine generating power. After the new diodes get here, there will be 14 panels. One of the new ones we bought seems to have some kind of a problem. Hopefully that will be fixed and it can join the others. They will all be going on the barn roof with the others very soon. 

Solar Baby

Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole

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Our Solar Refrigerator Has Made Our Life Easier

SunDanzer Solar Refrigerator

SunDanzer Refrigerator

SunDanzer’s DC refrigerator, referred to as a solar refrigerator, has been working great for us. Through out the whole winter, I haven’t heard the motor run once. Yes, that’s the truth. No turning on and off like conventional refrigerators. I have to admit that it was a good buy and we are happy with it. It has made our life here so much easier. Believe me, it is not easy living without refrigeration, if you cook from scratch and eat low carbs. That means that a good share of our food is the type that is fresh, and needs to refrigerated. The Sundanzer Solar-Powered Refrigerator uses less power than my laptop. Can’t beat that.

Wind Turbine Spinning

Wind Power

Adding the wind turbine to our alternative energy system was not as easy as it sounds. It took us awhile to see the power coming in from it. Now we see it pretty regular, due to the fact, that this year has been pretty windy here. Usually November is windy too, but not this year. So we didn’t know what to expect in the cold winter. I think the only thing we would have done differently, would have been to buy a turbine one size bigger than the one we have. We can live with it though. 

Winter Time in NY

Winter Weather

Between shoveling, firewood work, feeding the horses and cleaning the barn, my husband tried to squeeze in working on our system. He couldn’t get up on the roof to add the new panels. But he was able to set them up so we could use their power for the time being. Winter is almost over and when it is, we have a lot of projects to begin working on. I can’t wait! My husband comes up with new ideas constantly. 

Firewood Delivery

Firewood Delivery!

Solar Baby

Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole

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