The Photovoltaic Home Project - Introduction

PV Home Planning Installation Maintenance PV Links References

Introduction

If you have browsed this site you may have learned that our home on Mushy Lake derives a significant share of it’s electricity from the sun.  I’ve created this little sub-web entitled The Photovoltaic Home so that I could share my personal experience regarding planning for and living with solar power as well as fulfilling a project requirement for a college course in Biological Aspects of Conservation.

As you explore the Photovoltaic Home, you will discover that many options face the potential “home power” user. The information here relates directly to our particular circumstances. Your mileage may vary.

How did I get here?

I grew up in a rural setting. It was a quick jaunt to the woods. It was a long, arduous bike ride to town. I spent a lot of time in the woods. Furthermore, each summer I spent my vacation in the same rented cabin in the North Country of Wisconsin. The cabin was, of course, in the woods. You get the picture.

A dream crystallized and I knew at a tender age that I wanted to live in the woods. The real world intervened for a spell but, eventually, I found myself out walking parcels of woodland acreage that were on the market.

On one such foray to a remote locale, a close friend of mine started talking about how one could live rather comfortably this far away from services. “You could make your own electricity with the solar panels or a wind generator”, he’d say. “You could heat your house with wood – there’s plenty of that layin’ around. For cripes sake – you don’t even need a phone line. They got those new phones ya’ know.” Another dream crystallized.

My friend had been going to the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair since it’s inception. I was well aware of the Fair but, up to that point, I had never attended. I went. This led to an annual pilgrimage and many merry evenings camping at Lake Emily.

To make a long story short, reality once again intervened. I found that piece of woods that I’d been looking for. Unfortunately, it came with a house. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a nice house. But after I’d spent enough time at the Energy Fair I was thinking  along the lines of an earth sheltered cordwood home with critters grazing on the roof.  This house was more like a large English cottage. To make matters worse, the owners had run utility lines a kilometer to the house. The house had two redeeming features though. First, the location couldn't be beat. Second, it had an unimpeded southern exposure.

Now what?

Purchasing the property on Mushy Lake led to a personal mission to transform a typical new house into a more 'environmentally friendly' and energy independent home. This in turn led to the planning, installation, and continued care of our photovoltaic (solar electric) power system. I freely share my experiences on these pages. Thanks particularly to Amy for her support, Gene for his help, and Joe for getting me into this in the first place.

Before continuing on, I believe that it is important to point out that this was a large and fairly costly project. We were fortunate to have the financial resources to pursue it. There are many simple and inexpensive things one can do to conserve energy and become more independent. The info is out there. Go get it.