Why we considered Solar for our off grid place in the Central Cascades.
In the back ground is the power house, to the right, the Listerpowered pump house.
It was a good many years ago I met with a representative from the power company to determine the cost of bringing in power. Our property is deep, and we learned that it would cost a small fortune to run the power to our desired point of use. A transformer, a lot of buried wire, labor charges, and more.. or we could build right up front within 160 feet of a dusty gravel road. Fact is, I didn’t like any of the options they offered.
The Experience got me to thinking, Just how reliable is Solar, and what kind of investment would we need to cover our requirements? We are on the Eastern side of the Mountains, solar here is far more viable than the Puget Sound Basin, where it mostly sucks no matter what others will tell you..
After a lot of research, I decided the very best thing to do is go with a proven inverter, the Outback stuff is what I chose, and I couldn’t be happier to have made that choice. I bought five 130 watt panels Mono Crystalline , and I decided to put up only four and to use the Outback MX60.
This weekend was not so warm, and it was not so sunny, but I did see 527 watts at the MPPT, and by the time I got the camera out, I recorded 520 watts, … 130 watt panels times 4.
The reason I share this with you is the system has not degraded a bit since installed. The system is simple, fixed panels, and pole mounted to assure that they stay out of the snow, and look less attractive to thieves. I have neighbors now, and their family room window looks towards the power house, so I worry less now.
To shorten up on the story, I think we ended up with the perfect power plant, during the summer when we do most of our construction work, I can run table saws, chop saws, air compressor, and just about anything. The small fridge, our small lighting needs, the small microwave…..we don’t really challenge the system, and the battery plant barely gets discharged.
In the morning, we make coffee in an electric coffee maker, it uses thermos to keep it warm after brewing, so no juice to keep it warm. After Coffee, the sun is up a bit, and barely spilling onto the panels, it’s only minutes, and the green light on the inverter is on, and not all that long and we back in float.
the batteries are Rolls Surrettes, I think they’re S130, four large six volt batteries, and they use a little over a gallon of distilled water in a year..
There’s two generators on the property, the 6/1 ST5 at the Pumphouse (far right) has a buried drop that allows power to be transferred to the cabin or Powerhouse, so we can charge batteries from there as a back up. The power house has a 6/1 PMG that can charge batteries, and run the cabin and general purpose shed right next to the cabin.
fact is.. we have little need to use the generators for battery charing service because te batteries spend most of their time in float!
The pumphouse Lister 6/1 Generator is valuable because we do use it for irrigation, and when it’s really hot, running two or three sprinklers around the cabin make it heavenly.
DIY Outback Install, instead fo using all the expensive stuff, I use home depot breaker boxes, and do note the one on the far left with the home made interlock…. this assures that the generator and the inverter outputs never meet, and it’s cheap to make.
I’m sure the battery bank will last for years and years with the shallow discharges, and our occasional use. I think about all those minimum power bills I would have paid over the years, and that major chunk for the transformer. No need to calculate rebates, subsidies, or other Government BS, this system has already paid for itself!
So what do people do in the mountains? Ski, Hike, Snowmobile, you name it..
Here’s what Drew McNabb is doing this week! Flying with Drew… well, that’d be a lot smarter than flying with me..