Solar Power: The Elusive Goal

Lowering your bills, living off the grid, being more self-reliant; all require the ability to use less energy while possibly producing some of your own. As part of our prepper journey and desire to escape the rat race we have been researching solar and wind energy – to a frustrating end. Hundreds of sources, kits of all sizes, from small stand alone systems to recharge your laptop to whole house systems costing 10’s of thousands of dollars – confusing at best.

Setting the goal; our primary goal is to reduce our bills by lowering our use while having some energy backup other than gas/propane generators and heaters. Here in the South we get plenty of sun and wind, but finding the right way to harness it without going into the poor house is a completely different story. We are looking for stand alone power, as opposed to grid tied, which lowers the cost and complexity a great deal. We would like to be able to run a PC, wireless router, and a couple of small LED lights on a regular basis, while having the option of running a small heater in a power outage. If any of you are on this journey, your input would be greatly appreciated.

This video depicts what is probably the most basic low cost system (around $150), but its benefits are very limited. Note: this system also comes without a battery or inverter.

Here is another video installing this same unit: better use, but the installation seems a little sloppy.


We are currently debating between a couple of starter systems based on their reviews and cost. Every system we’ve looked at has something else you will need to purchase in addition to the system and of course the batteries.

Here’s another helpful video we found:

To be perfectly honest, the more I read and watch the more confused I become.

Home Depot offers several starter kits ranging from $235 to about $1300; Amazon offers several similar systems. At this point we’re leaning towards a Grape Solar 200 watt starter kit from Home Depot for $577. Amazon offers the same system for $461, but without the inverter. Batteries will obviously increase the initial cost depending on what you buy. We will update this post when the system is up and running. We will also be exploring some wind energy options in the future so stay tuned!

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

If any of you have useful links or advice we are certainly open to suggestions.

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