Solar Power

The next step in our journey is to get completely off grid.  We are trying to do this in an affordable way, so when we found a deal on some used solar panels, we jumped on it.  A friend of ours actually found it.  They sat in our basement for about a year, then we bought a prewired box and waited for the next summer when my husband had a summer break from school so we could build our angled roof tractor shed that would have space on top of it to house our photovoltaic system. We knew we were going to have a 48 volt system, and since the panels were rated for 12 volts each, we knew we would wire them in sets of four.  We had bought 75 panels at $10 each, so even though they were older and took up more space with less power, we lucked out on that deal.  Our son, who is an electrical engineer, helped us come up with some wiring plans and helped us wire the first batch of panels. We used superstruts with spring nuts as our mounting system and brought the wires up to the top for each set of four panels as we were wiring them.  From the top of the roof, they came over in conduit to our combiner box with breakers and a ground. 

Battery shed

We then brought the wiring in to the pre-wired box in the barn, to an exterior shut off outside the house, and then into the house to a 100 amp main box.  We got lots of help along the way with advice from professionals in the know.  We are finished with the exception of moving some more wires from the grid box to the off the grid box.  Just in time to take advantage of both the federal and the state tax credits, as you must have it in service to take them.  The following is a break down of the expenses.

prewired converter, charge controller, etc. $4,531.65
24 L16 E Batteries, 6v $4,995.90
superstruts for mounting $392.67
wire $264.03
10/3 wire $212.43
spring nuts $9.03
conduit $36.91
nuts, bolts, washers $61.21
circuits $42.28
fender washers $14.50
rubber washers $37.94
spring nuts $93.87
More wire $73.09
conduit $54.37
conduit $13.02
72 Solar Panels, used $720.00
Cement for battery pad $58.43
misc. parts $56.92
concrete book $11.39
fender washers $14.50
rubber washers $37.94
solar superstruts $194.33
solar superstruts $198.34
circuits $42.28
bolts nute $61.21
wire $212.43
solar $93.87
solar superstruts $9.03
conduit $36.91
photovoltaics $54.37
photovoltaics wire $264.03
photovoltaics $13.02
wire $73.09
bolts nute $14.41
battery lugs $15.46
battery lugs $60.97
photovoltaics $249.07
glue for solar $8.00
wire $42.18
bolts nuts $14.52
photovoltaics $15.24
photovoltaics $32.35
bolts nuts $10.25
photovoltaics $23.17
photovoltaics $13.15
amp meter $17.11
circuit breakers $75.71
battery shed lumber, siding $249.07
circuit breakers $75.71
misc parts $20.65
wire $90.74
battery shed vents $4.45
parts $22.32
parts $15.24
parts $2.95

Tax credits of $5,307.09 have brought the total cost down to $8750.62.