Solar Update 3-11-18, The New Inverter

So, it’s been a bit since I updated you on our off grid solar project, and that’s because it’s really been running flawlessly, until last week, Yes, we did have some low production time with the long bouts of rain that have been covering most of the country. Yes, we did have some low production time on cloudy winter days, and yes there’s always less production during the winter due to the reduced amount of daytime hours. However, all that being said, the system has continued to function as desired; powering our chest freezer, PC, laptop, routers, as well as several lights throughout the house. Last week, that changed.

To set the stage a little, power inverters are design to shut down the party if the batteries fall below a certain voltage. Last week, our 1500 watt inverter shut down several times under very moderate loads. The solar controller indicated plenty of power in the batteries and the inverter would seem to run normally again after being reset, we feared it was dying and it did. Yes, the old VertaMax had just outlived its 1 year warranty by about 3 months. Time for a new one of those! Continue reading “Solar Update 3-11-18, The New Inverter”


Are You Ready for Spring?

Although looking out the window today it may not look much like spring, but the fact remains that spring is just around the corner. Think back to last year and all those “next year we’re going to…” and get going on them! In some parts of the country it’s already time to start seedlings indoors, in others you may have to wait a couple more weeks, but have you inventoried your seeds and ordered any new ones you might need? Are you going to grow in buckets or raised beds or maybe a new garden spot? Think about what were your successes last year and what failed and how you may address those issues.

We surprisingly (and quite by accident) had good success growing corn in plastic bins, we plan to add a LOT more bins for this. Jalapeno peppers went so crazy that we put Continue reading “Are You Ready for Spring?”

Solar Project Update 6-25-17

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on the progress of our off-grid solar project. We originally set out with a goal to be able to run a few lights, electronics and hopefully keep our freezer and fridge from thawing during a blackout. We started with the Renogy 200 Watt complete system to get up and running quickly with the ability to expand later ( you can view that system here).

Fast forward, we’ve upgraded that with a new 80 amp MPPT controller, 2 more Renogy GEL batteries, and a 1500 watt inverter tied to eight 100 watt panels. The charge controller we purchased turned out to be quite ineffective and actually not even an actual MPPT as advertised; sometimes you really do get what you pay for.


In addition to that, we have added a 2nd smaller system by adding 2 sealed AGM batteries to our original 30 amp Renogy charge controller and 500 watt Renogy inverter. Continue reading “Solar Project Update 6-25-17”

Prepper Garden Update

Growing your own food is hard work, but can be fun and rewarding at the same time.  You haven’t tasted fresh until you’ve eaten strawberries or blueberries you picked right from the garden and what’s more self-sufficient than growing your own food? So with that being said I thought I would give you a little update on how our first real go at gardening is progressing. Continue reading “Prepper Garden Update”

Gear Review: Comparing 4 Popular Solar Panels

When you’re starting out to either build or expand your off-grid solar system, how do you know what panels to buy? You read customer reviews and Amazon ratings till you’re blue in the face, but the fact is many  of those reviews are from 1st time buyers who have nothing else to really compare the product to. I have experienced this very same dilemma over the past 10 months and decided to share my results with you.

4 mono panels

I started my system by buying a prepackaged 200 Watt system from Renogy. (Read the review here.) The system came with two 100 watt monocrystalline panels which seemed Continue reading “Gear Review: Comparing 4 Popular Solar Panels”

Saving $$$ with Solar

Just a little update on our off-grid solar project: the electric bill arrived yesterday and…drum roll please…last month was $205, this month is $122. Now, with changes in the weather from April to May this isn’t a true comparison, so when looking at our bill for the same period last year (yes, I keep all that) it was $193. That’s $6.01 per day last year vs. $3.84 a day this year: a 36% reduction or a savings of $71.00. This was a result of switching to LED lights, unplugging unused devices and running some items on solar power only. If you’ve been following the blog you know that for this period of time we were still only running 2 100ah batteries and 4 100 watt solar panels compared to the 3 100ah batteries and 8 100 watt panels that make up our current configuration. We have now added our chest freezer and coffee pot to the list of ‘solar power only’ items so next month should give us a much clearer picture of how much we can save and how quickly we can recover our costs. In case you are new to the site, we set out to create an off-grid solar back up for emergencies, the cost savings is just a bonus.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

Off-Grid Solar Project Update 5-08-17

Our little solar project just got a little bit bigger, ok, a lot bigger. We’ve been a little slow getting this latest update in place as the Solar Controller we ordered from Amazon literally took 6 weeks to arrive (slow boat from China?).

 New Charge Controller

So here it is: 4 new solar panels for a total of 8, another 12v 100ah GEL battery for a total of 3 (yes we need more) and a new 80 amp solar charge controller.

 8 panels

3 batteries

Yesterday was bright and sunny and gave us a pretty good picture of how well the system was performing. The (8) 100 watt panels (4 monocrystalline, 4 polycrystalline) produced about 677 watts during peak sunlight for an efficiency of about 85%. We ran our modem, router, PC, fan, and several lights for a full 24 hours as well as the dehumidifier for about 3 hours without draining the batteries below 70%. Today we will see if the system can run our 15 cubic foot freezer for the day under partly cloudy conditions.

If you are prepping for a bug-in situation, off-grid solar might just be for you. I’ll be posting a review of the individual panels as I have purchased from 3 different companies so stay tuned!

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!