When we bought our place up here on the mountain there were already two small solar panels mounted to the south side of the house which are charging two 6 volt deep cycle marine batteries which in turn are used to power an electric motor in the basement.
Judging by the look of the solar panels they are nearly as old as the house or around 17 years and severely degraded. While the previous owner told us the panels keep the batteries charged I find that I need to recharge them about once a month, meaning the panels no longer keep up with the electrical draw.
Then again we use all the household systems more than he did so our electrical use is about 20-30% higher than he experienced. We definitely need to rethink what we leave on and what can easily be shut off if we are mindful of the need to do so. You can see the solar panels in the picture at the top of this page.
Now that we have the Generac 17kw standby generator permanently wired into the electrical system to take care of power outages up here on the mountain we want to turn our attention to more long term sustainable solar panel/battery and wind powered electricity generating systems, both to reduce our need to rely on the national/regional electrical grid, but also to move us towards a more self sufficient and self sustainable lifestyle.
We are now in the research phase and are studying various approaches to solar. Wind power will be discussed in more detail on its own page here on Two Ice Floes, but we do understand that we must think about both if we are to incorporate them into the same system either up front or at a later time.
It makes sense to go with both since up here there is always a breeze except in the middle months of the summer when the sun is strongest, and during the winter when the sun is lowest in the horizon the wind is always blowing mostly because we are located on the ridge where the Blue Ridge plateau drops off into southern Virginia and northern North Carolina. So it is obvious the solution is two pronged.
I plan to keep everyone here updated on this project of ours, but I do want and need feedback from all of you. From what I read serious mistakes are often made by novices when selecting and installing these types of systems. I would prefer we do this right the first time so fill up the comment section below folks.