The solar power system installers from Real Goods finished up our new PV system last week and now I’m waiting on Xcel Energy to get their buts over here and install my new meter so I can flip the switch.
Below are a few pictures of our new system, which has 12 Sharp modules mounted in four arrays on the East and West sides of our garage. I wish the garage had been facing North and South, but you had to work with it since the roof on our house was heavily shaded.
This solar power system is about 3kWH in size, but it’s all we need for our small 1940′s bungalow in sunny Colorado. The inverter is a Xantrex and we had it mounted on the North side of the garage where it would stay shaded almost 100% of the time.
No, we’re not living off the grid just yet, but we’re working on a more sustainable life one thing at a time. Half of my backyard is now a vegetable garden; the front yard is getting xeriscaped in a few weeks; we now dry our clothes on a line instead of using a dryer; I use a rain barrel to water the garden; we have two large home-made-from-skids compost bins and one plastic worm composting bin; and now we have solar electric. Our next project (which should have come first, in hind-sight) is a solar hot water heating system. Also, we’re going to start using a manual, old-school lawnmower next year, as this year we don’t really have a lawn due to all of the projects going on.
We’ve been doing a lot more than that to be as sustainable as possible here in the suburbs of Denver, but there is so much more we can and will do as we get closer to our dream – solar inch by composting inch. Right now we are scouting out property in rural Oregon and North Carolina on which we are going to build a passive/active solar home with stone walls and a metal roof designed to maximize water flow into a custom-designed catchment system. We plan on designing into the house features that will make us as off-grid and self sustaining as possible, including a greywater system, solar power, solar hot water, a cow, chickens, fish pond, large garden, sheep…
Speaking of cows, i’ve been learning how to make cheese (pictures to come soon!) using whole, unpasteurized milk that we get from a local farm. My first attempt failed – miserably – as I thought I could use citric acid instead of rennet. But now I’ve ordered the rennet from Amazon.com and have also managed to procure a cheese press. I digress…
When you aren’t a millionaire these things have to be done as you go – as money and time permit. We’re just doing what we can while living where we live because it is all practice for the day when we really do go Off The Grid. Until then, I’m thinking about moving over to another blog so as not to confuse people. If ever I write content about true off-grid living, I’ll do that here. But for the rest of this stuff, as we journey toward our homestead goal, I have registered www.livingasimplelife.com.