One version of solar electric is off-the-grid power. This technology is most useful for homes located beyond the power lines, in a cabin, or a boat, or Amish-like, opting out of the system. The size and costs of photovoltaic panels makes it difficult to generate a lot of off-the-grid power so in addition to the solar gear, you need to modify or replace appliances and lifestyles within your home. Wiring up even a small cabin to the sun is not a simple task. The best source for current information for family residences off-the-grid, including a store that sells select gear, is Backwoods Solar. They have a large website, a paper catalog of gear and advice, and they keep up with the latest. They also run a consultancy for projects, but based on customer feedback, they will cheerfully use email and phone to help you get what you need if you ask.
REFRIGERATOR / FREEZER
Many standard refrigerators and freezers use so much power that battery charge is depleted very quickly. It is not practical to use most standard electric refrigerators or freezers with independent power unless you have a powerful water turbine generator. Super efficient refrigerators designed and tested for solar power, listed in this website, operate on less than half the usual power. Some carefully selected Energy Star rated conventional refrigerators using under 400 - 450 kilowatt hours a year may be acceptable.
All of our technical salespeople own and operate an off-grid home that is powered by the products we sell. Scott and Tracey's post and beam home is powered by a Harris Hydro system with Xantrex and Morningstar products. John powers his log cabin with Kyocera and Evergreen solar modules plus Outback products. Shawn uses a Bergey wind turbine and Kyocera solar modules as well as Outback power components. Terry has an ES&D hydro turbine plus Kyocera solar modules on a tracker with Xantrex power products. Tom utilizes Shell SQ175 modules and Outback products for the home he built from the lumber he milled from the trees on his property. Alan is currently designing his off-grid home and provides backup power to a grid-connected deep well pump with a Xantrex inverter and transformer.
SURRETTE HEAVY DUTY INDUSTRIAL BATTERIES, $378
This new generation, deep cycle, flooded lead acid battery offers high capacity and heavy duty plate grids which resist positive plate breakdown. The plates are double insulated with glass mat and polyethelyne envelope, eliminating the possibility of separator misalignment, cracked separators, and shorting.
Each 2 volt cell is built into its own lightweight container made of durable polypropylene. The cells are then assembled into a tough outer container with a removable lid. Even if this outer container cracked, acid spills are prevented and the battery still operates. The individual cells are bolted together allowing the battery to be disassembled and the cells individually removed for easy on-site installation. Free battery book and Hydrometer included with each purchase.
Rated at 3200 Cycles at a 50% Depth of Discharge. B-S models have a 2 year free replacement, 7 year pro-rated. KS, CS & YS Models 10 year warranty: three years full warranty; and then seven years pro-rated warranty.
ET 135W Poly, 12V, $319
ET Solar ET-P636135 Polycrystalline PV modules generate very reliable solar power for on-grid and off-grid applications, as well as residential and utility-scale solar power systems. These polycrystalline photovoltaic modules are designed and manufactured to comply with very strict international quality standards. Strong design, procurement and production efforts ensure that these products generate high solar power and take up small spaces. Backed by a 25-year warranty on power output, ET Solar modules bring lasting values. Made in China, UL listed for the US and Canada.