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Off-Grid Home Runs On Solar, Home-Built Generator
“I live by myself off the grid in Kentucky in a small home that I built. I was able to set up a cost efficient solar-powered system with help from Backwoods Solar Company in Sandpoint, Idaho (ph 208 263-4290; www.backwoodssolar.com),” says James Coleman, Lewisburg, Ky.
“The system includes five 36-volt, 280-watt solar panels, a 4,000-watt, 30-amp inverter, batteries, and a 10,000-watt home-built generator that’s belt-driven by a 3-cyl. diesel engine. It keeps the batteries charged whenever we have a stretch of cloudy weather.”
His home measures 40 ft. long by 24 ft. wide, and the ground-mounted solar panels located in front of it are connected together in parallel series. “The panels produce 1.2 kW of power, which is more than enough for my needs,” says Coleman. “The inverter and batteries are stored in a 12 by 12-ft. shed next to the cabin. The inverter converts DC electricity from the batteries to 120 volts AC. The generator is stored in a nearby barn.”
He uses the solar panels to operate the LED lights he installed inside the home, and all electrical appliances including a washing machine and a welder.
“I’ve been living off the grid since December, 2015 when I moved here,” says Coleman. “When I bought this property I found out the electric company wanted $5,000 to set up an electric pole on my property. I didn’t know anything at all about using solar panels to generate electricity.”
Then he saw an ad for Backwoods Solar in Home Power magazine. “I called the company, and they told me about the equipment I needed and how to set it up. They also sent a catalog. I bought the inverter and charge controller from them, and called them back several times for technical help in setting my solar system up.”
He couldn’t justify the $5,000 to $6,000 cost of a 10,000-watt generator, so he made his own. “I bought a used 3-cyl. diesel engine for $1,000 and a generator head from Northern Tool for another $1,000. The engine belt-drives the generator, and both are supported by a home-built metal frame. I bought the batteries from a local golf cart service center,” says Coleman.
“My total investment was about $7,500, including the solar panels, generator, inverter, charge controller, and batteries. Well worth the money.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, James Coleman, 246 Hamilton Lee Rd., Lewisburg, Ky. 42256 (ph 270 792-7563).


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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #4