"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Off grid solar power

FCH - this posting is for you :)

Our new 5 X 135 watt solar panels were installed a week or so ago.  It was a work in progress over a period of 3 weeks.

Firstly, we had to wait for the building of the garage to be completed.

Then, RMan had to gear himself up for what he dreaded doing - a second time.
Making the frame for the solar panels - thank
goodness we had the patio to lay it all
out on
He started by preparing the frame for the panels - drilling holes in the square aluminium tubes.
RMan painstakingly fixed the panels
to the aluminium frame
Then, using the holes to secure the panels, he fixed each panel to the aluminium tube.
Solar panels ready to be hoisted onto the
roof.  Connected in series to increase the
voltage and Amp
He connected the panels in series, to increase the volts/ Amps being fed into the batteries.
Would you perch on a ladder which is propped
on scaffolding and leaning on a roof to pick up something heavy? I wouldn't.
But, bless them, the workers felt no fear...
The ever helpful builders climbed into the picture at this stage - literally.  Precariously balancing ladders on top of scaffolding...
5 X 72kgs per panel - 360 kgs in total = 4 guys
to move them :)
 ...they schlepped the ready made solar panel frame to the required spot...
Carefully lining up the solar panel structure to
facilitate it's journey up onto the roof
 ... where they carefully (actually not so carefully - I couldn't watch all the time as I was convinced that they would drop / knock the lot)...
Pushing the solar panels up from the front
 ... pushed from the front...
Pulling the solar panel array up from behind the garage
 ... and pulled from the rear...
One of the helpful workers perched on top
of a ladder, drilling holes through the roof tiles

... while another guy climbed inside the garage roof so that he could drill through the roof tiles in order to accommodate the threadbar and bolts which fix the panels onto the roof.

So, now we have 5 X 135 watt panels feeding 6 X 1188 Ah 2 volt batteries.

They generate more than enough to power our big(ger) fridge, lights and the TV with MNet decoder (and laptop and PC and printer during the daylight hours), and still charge our batteries.  It's all about spreading the load / demand.  Not everything can run at the same time, (e.g. the fridge, TV lights and decoder are run at night, and the fridge, PC and printer or laptop are run during the day), but if you plan your usage, then you'll have no worries.

Happy days :)

And the old 3 X 75 watt panels that our neighbour lent us when we had the burglary and had to install an alarm system.  We offered, and actually purchased him 3 X brand new 85 watt panels, but he declined our offer - they didn't match his existing (and remaining) two 75 watt panels.  He wanted his old ones back.

Again, the builders came to the fore - removing the old ones for RMan.  He seriously couldn't have done it by himself - or even with me helping...

Thanks Guys - we couldn't have done it without you :)

Reverse push and pull to get the old panels off
the roof
So - we have returned the new 3 X 85 watt panels to the supplier, and swapped them for another 135 watt one.  That one RMan plans to install on the roof, and use it to run a small water pump - to move the water from the rain-water tanks to the larger water storage tanks further up the property.

Damn - I feel privileged.

Now we are self-sufficient regarding our electric power, and in time, and given a few good rainfalls, we will have 37 000 litres  (just over 8 000 gallons) of rain water - more than enough to keep us going should our supply line fail, and more than enough to water our crops with.  Not to mention a permanent supply of rain water for making soap... :)

 "Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows everywhere, it's wonderful, so wonderful..."


  1. Good for you Dani (& RMan)!!!!!

    1. DFW - LOL 100% RMan - me - I just turned away - couldn't watch in case things went horribly wrong...

  2. Thanks Dani. That was educational, now if you can send those guys over here to Canada, that would make my day. lol. Actually I could probably get some guys here if I really need them. We'll see what happens.

    1. FCH - Can ask them, but I don't reckon they have passports LOL Couldn't have done it without them though...

  3. Looks great. I need to build racks for mine and get them off of pallets, but with so many sizes that probably won't happen.

    1. David - Yeah, getting them securely on your roof should help prevent them getting blown away...

  4. Dani - congrats to you and RMan! this is awesome news and you are really setting a standard for the rest of us to try and follow. congrats, congrats, congrats!!!

    your friend,

  5. Wow, how exciting that must be. Free energy from the sky (minus initial cost of course) but still it's amazing that every house in the world doesn't have a solar panel on it. It's so sad our planet still depends on fossil fuels when there could be such amazing progress with solar, wind and other alternatives.

    I can't wait to hear how it's all working!

    1. 1st Man - I'll be doing a price comparison when I explain our power storage set-up. But, I have a feeling that it won't take that long to recoup the costs... AND, from then on - our power is free!!! :)

      Solar and wind power is here to stay. Hopefully, with people sharing their experiences, the "scary" side of it can be eliminated, and therefore more "agreeable / acceptable" to the broader public ;)

  6. Dani, You and your husband are such an inspiration !

    We are not likely to have solar power at the main house anytime soon, if ever, but we are planning to have all four of the agricultural buildings solar powered eventually. Thanks for sharing all the how-to s and being an all around inspiration and encouragement.

    1. Jane - Thank you :) Your kind words are making me blush...

      Perhaps when you have the agricultural buildings under solar power you'll be inspired to use it in your main house too :)

  7. hello. first of all i would thank you for posting such an amazing blogpost. most of my queries are already explained here. also i hope lots find this post inspiring as well. keep up posting more such updates.

    Solar Power Kits

    1. sabkon wells - Welcome - and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Being in the business I'm surprised that you still have queries...? Would've been nicer if you'd left a comment without a link to your business web site. But, in the interest of promoting solar power (even if it is in Canada) I'm leaving your comment published.

      You're welcome :)

  8. So incredibly wonderful!!! Congratulations!

    We have begun the solar panel conversation, but actual implementation seems miles away! Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Sandy - Good for you :) Seriously, it is worth the (enormous) expense, and an excellent learning curve regarding what electrical appliances are really necessary in one's home :)

      On the extra plus side, just imagine how much more peaceful your home is going to be, with the reduced electrical hum of those unnecessary "seemingly" everyday electrical goods which you aren't going to have running in the background... LOL

  9. so awesome! well done!

    1. Sprig - Thanks :)

      Must say when the warning comes on the TV - "Your consumption is too high, please switch off your pool pumps, geysers, and unplug your unnecessary appliances" we don't bother LOL


Thank you for taking the time to comment - it makes my day and removes the "loneliness' of sitting at my screen blogging supposedly to myself ;) I try and reply as quickly as possible so please forgive me if sometimes my response is delayed.