Alternatives to Powerlessness

Our friends Dale Sorensen and Sandy Nicholson live in an area of Prince Edward Island that was hard-hit by the ice storm this week, and thus have been, in theory, “without power” all week. Except that Dale and Sandy live “off the grid” so they’ve been as “powerful” as they regularly are. I asked Sandy to write a little bit about this; she replied:

Living off the grid can have its challenges at times, but when the provincial power system fails it makes me wonder if there isn’t a better way. Today is a bright sunny day and we have been getting free, clean energy pouring into our batteries all day from our solar panels. If only all those who are without power on PEI could have access to that same energy. I would love to see more discussion about options for people to have energy independence.
Although I don’t think that our system is necessarily the answer for everyone on PEI, we have been very happy with it. I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I do think that it is a good time to start talking about having a different delivery system for our power.
Our solar power system contains the following components:
  • 8 — BP Solar BP85 — 85 Watt Laser Grooved Solar Modules (generates electricity when exposed to sunlight)
  • 8 — Surrette 6 volt, 460 Amp Hour Deep Cycle Batteries, with Hydrocaps (store electricity and provide energy)
  • Trace PS2524 — 2500 Watt Sine Wave Inverter, 24 volt (converts DC (battery) power into AC (utility) power)
  • Trace C40 — 40 Amp Load Controller (protects the batteries from being overcharged)
  • Trace DC175 — 175 Amp Disconnect Box (over current and short circuit protection between the inverter and batteries)
  • Kohler 8.5RMY — 8500 Watt Propane Generator Set (provides back-up or supplementary power)
Our power system was designed by Kevin Jeffrey, Avalon House, RR1 Belfast, PEI.

Sandy and Dale have a page on their website with more details about their house.