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Used goods bought cheaply (PV doesn't really "go bad!") and few new materials = 375W solar electric system for under $3K in use (as the system grew) since 1995. Also: mass masonry rocket stove heater.

What You Need to Know


Completely off the grid. DC system, using appliance specific AC inverters. Root cellar for winter refrigeration / DC fridge in summer, lights, stereo, computer, DVD player, no other power appliances. Have a small, quiet generator for when I want to vacuum or use power tools.

Maintenance Requirements:

Quarterly battery maintenance, snow removal from panels.

Efficiency or Sustainability Improvements:

Have purchased a hand-cranked blender and other human-powered implements that I enjoy more than noisy machines.

My Motivation:

Self-sufficiency, to whatever extent that's possible or desirable.


Buy used, build the system as you go if you don't have a lot of money. That way you'll learn your components inside and out too, which comes in handy even if you grow beyond your capabilities and have to venture into contractor territory.

Experience with Installer:

Be careful to know and be able to articulate what you want or you will get what they think you want. Overall experience has been very positive in the North Country though.

Additional Notes:

To find contractors in our area, check out this page: /

Open House Info:

Saturday, October 5, from NOON to 3 pm ONLY. This is the home of this regional tour organizer for the Local Living Venture, FYI. Note that we don't have any responsibility for the EnergySage website, that's the folks who are coordinating the overall event! :-) Passive and active solar home with very primitive systems, we live comfortably (though not without conserving!) on next to nothing. Composting outhouse, walking water instead of running water, root cellar refrigeration, Swedish gutter rainwater collection, cooking with wood, indoors or out, and wood heat via mass masonry heater with rocket stove burner. DIRECTIONS: From Canton take Park St. until it turns in to Rt. 27 (no turns, go straight at the flashing light.) Take Rt. 27 to the Y at Waterman Hill - take the Right fork (still Rt. 27) and check the odometer -- exactly 4 miles from the Y, you'll take a Right onto Hewlett Rd. (if you come to a stop sign at Rt. 24/Russell Turnpike you've gone 1 mile too far.) The third tiny dirt driveway on your Right is just past the double mailboxes, across from a red log cabin. Please park in the driveway on the road and walk the short distance (several hundred feet) down to the house, back in the woods.

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