At Terra Hill Farm, we have a power problem. We have access to grid power, but it’s not dependable. This actually a good thing because it’s kept us focused on creating alternative sources to power the farm. In the beginning we planned to work on developing alternative food sources, but never considered that our electricity may not be there when we wake up tomorrow morning.
On average, we experience a power outage every 2-4 weeks. Again, this is a good thing! Our first move was to install a generator transfer switch. These things are great as they allow you to hook up your portable generator to your house and run a select number of lights and appliances. With our two Honda generators we can run 10 separate circuits in the house including 2 full sized refrigerators, our water heater, lights and plugs inside every room and the lights and plugs in our shop. The generator was the first line of defense against the dreaded frequent power outage.
Generators are great but they do require gasoline or propane to run continuously. But what happens when you have no more fuel? Ahhh.. now we get to the second line of defense, renewable fuel sources! Solar fills the bill since we have way more sun than we can ever use. We took some time (2 years) studying about solar. There’s so much confusion out there and part of it has been due to companies that scam people promising to “Eliminate your power bill!!”. Run, don’t walk from anyone who pitches solar to you that way!
Solar has a specific use case for each individual user because each of us uses electricity differently, at different times of the day. Each of our homes may face a different direction, or be blocked by a mountain or trees. It takes an extensive analysis of your site to determine the best solar solution and even that may not “Eliminate your power bills!”
Here at THF we’ve analyzed our use and our site and developed a plan to move forward. Our ultimate goal is a farm CAPABLE of running 100% off grid on solar power. The plan will cost time and money but we think (With our specific needs and use case) that it will be a fruitful investment.
We started Phase 1 of this plan by building a off-grid solar generator that can replace our Honda generators if we ran out of gas. You can learn all about that in this video. Let us know if you have any questions and we will answer them!
Look out for Part 2 in a future post. It is going to take a deeper dive into how we’re taking the farm off-grid!