Follow by Email


Friday, March 7, 2014

Alternative energy upgrades

My house has a middling big solar electric system. It provides power for most of my needs: lights, water pump, computers -most things.

Grid power provided two major functions. It acted as back up power that could charge up the house batteries during a run of cloudy days. The second use was for tiny constant loads: wifi router, cordless phones, and the Vonage phone box. By running small constant loads on-grid my big home inverter could go into “sleep mode” when there are no power draws. The big inverter's efficiency plummets when powering tiny loads.

When we shut down the house in the fall I notified the electric utility to completely disconnect grid power. I knew we'd have to make some alternative energy upgrades in the spring.

That time is right around the corner. Backup power will be provided by a gasoline generator. While I'm not a huge fan of gasoline engines the generator was given to me for free. Not only that, this winter a good friend gave it a tune up. That takes care of half my problems.

I've decided to take care of the small loads by putting in a second solar electric system. I just ordered a 105 watt solar panel and 10 amp digital charge controller from Home Depot. The components are being shipped to my daughter's place back in New Hampshire. They'll be ready for me when I get home.

From here in Florida I picked up a large heavy duty 12 volt marine battery. Until I get home, the battery will be a backup for the boat's electric trolling motor. Once home, it will be the electric storage part of the new solar electric system. The small inverter that's currently on the boat will handle the small electric loads, fairly efficiently too. When we leave the house for any length of time, the inverter can easily be turned off, allowing the solar panel to top off the battery.

Two completely independent solar electric systems will back up each other. If the main one goes down, I won't be totally without power. If the small one fails, loads could be temporarily shifted to the big system.

Nothing like having a bit of redundancy.

I'll keep everyone informed on how that works out. Should be fun!



  1. T's response: "whoever hooks it up first gets to keep it, right?"

  2. try a smaller inverter to tackle "small loads" leaving your bigger one for larger loads

    could convert gas engine to propane fuel

    may you stay south for a bit longer

    unless you are nuts like a certain texan

    truely alien


    1. Sorry I didn't make it clear that I am using a small inverter on the new system. I've a couple to choose from.

  3. Replies
    1. Hope it does the job as planned. :)