This afternoon George and I had a discussion of whether or not to pursue solar energy options. First, let me explain what we see as two main solar energy options available to us at the moment.
The first would be a small, portable solar panel setup that we could set out on our deck when we needed it. It’s possible to make these for not too much money, like described here, or here‘s one for sale at Overstock.com:
The second option would be the typical large solar panel array on the roof of our home.
I immediately shot down any thought of the second option, and for good reasons. For me, any discussion of options comes in the form of a cost/benefit analysis. Rooftop solar panels would come at quite a cost, and not just financially: they are against our HOA, so it would be a lot of time and effort to get that policy changed. The benefit wouldn’t necessarily be worth it, either. We don’t plan on living in this house forever, so we might not break even in terms of energy savings, and we’d rather just lower our overall energy use. Plus with the woodstove that we’ll be getting, we won’t need electricity to heat the home or cook in winter. So in an emergency, the electricity would be for more elective things, such as lights. We have alternatives to those, too. So a rooftop solar panel isn’t on our list of things to do.
Getting a smaller portable solar array is something we’d like to investigate further this summer. This is something that would would have a significantly lower cost, both in terms of money and in hassle. Plus the benefits would be better for us: this is something we could easily take with us to a new house, assuming it lasts that long. Plus it would provide enough energy for small devices that could be useful in a power outage. I was originally thinking that it would be nice to be able to charge our cell phones in an emergency, but according to here , here, and here, we can’t expect cell phone towers to have more than a few hours of battery or generator backup. (Quick sidenote: we thought about having a landline put in for emergencies, but since our current communication service is Verizon FIOS, it uses fiber-optics that require light to transmit, and electricity is needed to create that light, and the backup battery at home would only last a day or two. -According to George). If we do end up implementing a small solar array on the homestead, you can be sure we’ll detail it here!