I had a lot of calls and emails from the small column I write for my community that appears in the High Desert Star where I had mentioned that my home was solar powered, so I decided to put up this web site for those folks who are interested in learning and doing their own system.                I am not a contractor or have any degree in electronics. I make no claims of being an expert and you should use this site with that knowledge. I am just a guy who out of necessity had to find alternative ways to power his home. I did a lot of reading and tried a bunch of stuff, some of them worked and some were a complete bummer. Not only will I put up on the web site what works but maybe some stories about those that didn't. One being that damn wind generator!
My Arco 55-watt with a 40-watt, and another 40-watt panel
My system consists of :
1) AIMS 1250-Watts dc to ac Power Inverter.
2) 4-Uni-Solar US 64, 64-Watts @ 16.5 vdc @3.88 amps.
3) 1-Arco 55 Watts @16 vdc @3.4 amps. (I had this one for 20 yrs)
4) 2-40 Watts @17 vdc @ about 2.3 amps (I bought these second hand)
5) For a controller, I have a ASC-12/16 Specialty Concepts 12 Volt 16 Amp and a Lyncom SR-7 7-Amp Charge Controllers (regulates the amps to the batteries so that they don't over charge)
6) 2-L16 6vdc deep cycle batteries.
7) 1-2500 watt Honda generator (for those real cloudy days and washing clothes)
My 4 Uni-Solar U.S. 64 watt panels.
The 4 Uni-Solar US 64 panels 1200.00
My old Arco 55 watt 250.00
The 2 used 40-watt panels 150.
ASC-12/16 Specialty Concepts 12 Volt 16-Amp Charge Controller 65.00
Lyncom SR-7 12 Volt 7-Amp Charge Controller 45.00
2 L16 batteries 260.00
AIMS 1250 Watt Power Inverter 130.00
Backup 300-Watt Power Inverter 30.00
2500 watt Honda generator about 700.
Home made mountings, wire, and other stuff we'll just say about 100.00 Total $2930.00
All my lights are LED 12 vdc and draw about an amp, but I could run ac lights (Compact Fluorescent) if I wanted to. The LED's give me enough light to navigate around the house and for reading. I also use them outside on a timer. I don't have to turn off the LED lights when not needed because they use so darn little energy, but I do it by habit.
I have a small freezer that I bought at Wal-Mart that opens from the top to keep the cold air from flowing out. I put "blue ice" in the freezer and only have to run it 1.5 hours a day during the winter and 3 to 4 hours a day during summer to keep every thing cold.
I have a desktop computer, but have switched to using a laptop because it is more energy efficient. I also have a: printer, scanner, and other computer stuff.
I replaced my old 19-inch tube type TV with a 17-inch LCD TV that is more energy efficient (I save about 100-watts or so).
For air-conditioning I use a Swamp cooler that I gutted the ac motor out of and replaced with an old car electrical radiator fan but left the ac water pump in because it doesn't take much power to run.
For cooking I use a countertop stove that a 5-gallon tank of propane will last about 9 months.
I just use the Honda generator to run my washing machine and to top off the batteries on really cloudy days and during wintertime when the days are short.
I do have to conserve some. I don't run stuff like electric: heaters, ovens, irons, or things that take a big drain on the batteries. I do dry my clothes with a Thermonuclear Device (Clothes line).
What about hot water? I have plans for building a Hot Water Solar Collector.
What about heat during the winter? I have a wood-burning stove and one day will build a Solar Collector for that too!
(L)Backup 12-volt Marine Battery connected to the 40-watt Panel and a 300-watt Inverter. (M)Swamp Cooler. (R) 12-volt car fan replacing Ac motor in Cooler.
About solar power
Some people will argue that Atomic energy, Television, the Internet, or whatever were the greatest inventions of the 20th century. Well now, lets take a look at solar electric power. It's inexpencive, easy to use, no moving parts, just sits there and produces electric power. Done, end of story. No not yet, it was invented in the 19th century, 1839 to be exact by Edmund Becquerel, a French experimental physicist. I am not going to write the history here for you. You can get it by going to my links at the bottom of the page.
What I am trying to say here is that "IF" solar electric power were invented today... with our energy industry in California such a mess and customers being held hostage by incressing rate hikes... and "IF" you heard about a new energy invention that you could buy and install yourself, that just sat there with no moving parts and could produced enough power to run your home and you wouldn't have to pay or depend on SCE again. What would you do? Now that's end of story! It works, it's here, use it!
Home made LED Lights
How do I get started Bob?
There are several ways to begin a solar electric system. I will tell you how I would begin one. First you have to look at all the electrical stuff you have and the power that you consume. Find ways to make them more efficient or get better ones that are.(Check my links) Remember that the less power you consume the less costly your solar electric system will cost.                Then after that and depending how much you want to spend right off you can start planning.            It's good to start off with a generator, like the Honda I have. You can power some of your home with it in an emergency.                Next step would be to get a dc to ac inverter, AIMS makes a good one, and your L16 batteries. Now what you have just done is incressed your time off the "GRID". You can charge your batteries with the generator and when thats done turn off the generator and run just off the batteries.                Now you can get your solar panels and controller. Your not sure how many you'll need? No problem. You can keep adding to it as you go along.                Thats it, you have just gotten yourself off the "GRID" and you are now your own power company.....Of course this is over simplified version, there are building codes, where to put panels, wireing the batteries, 12, 24, or 48 volts dc, sine wave or square wave inverter and stuff like that, but these are the basics. This is just what I did and it works. You should get an electical contractor if your not into do it yourself projects. If your an electical contractor send me your email or web address and I'll put a link on this page for you!                I hope to go into more detail as time goes on. Please if you have any ideas, questions or things you want to add just email me and I will get back at you as soon as I can.