Knowing where to start with the solar stuff can be a bit overwhelming. As I mentioned in my last post, the first thing I would recommend without hesitation is speaking to a solar expert – I happened to luck out and find a total gem, if he’s in your area don’t hesitate to call Geoff at Sustainable Impact. He’s a wealth of knowledge and I even got to be solar apprentice on installation day!
The other place to start is by doing some research and a bit of energy use mapping. There are some pretty simple templates out there and the internet has all sorts of magical information on it these days, including calculators that can tell you how much energy certain appliances use. At this point in the tiny house planning I’ve got a pretty clear idea of what appliances I intend to use and how much power I’ll need. I don’t have any laundry facilities and thanks to my beautiful Nectre Baker’s Oven I also knew I wouldn’t need any kind of electric oven or cooktop. I haven’t factored in many conveniences – no microwave, TV, dishwasher or washing machine. I don’t know how much of this going old school slow living will drive me crazy in the long run, but as an upside, this made planning the electrics a bit easier.
I went with second hand batteries and two solar panels, hopefully enough to run all appliances in my house and last a few days without full sun. It’s a bit of an experiment at this stage, to figure out how much I’ll use and how quickly the panels will recharge my batteries.
But there’s definitely power coming in and as a bonus, they look fantastic!
There’s a control panel that mounts all the electrics for the system, including a power point tracker, inverter and the safety isolators. The electrics needed to be close to the batteries, out of the weather and accessible for power readings, so we put them inside on the front wall. Some people have suggested the board isn’t pretty enough to be featured on the wall the way it is, but I kinda love that it represents an important characteristic of the whole house. It might end up being covered later on, but for now I’m still trying to figure out what all the readings mean and how it works. Next step will be getting the electrician back to set up my power points and lights. So close to full power now! Very exciting.