Living off the Grid: Our Solar Power

I am sure most of you know, that we do not have electricity from an electrical company connected to our home here in Panama. The electrical grid stops several miles down the mountain. Our neighbors use flashlights or candles in their homes after the sun has gone down and watch t.v. from battery operated televisions. At night we  have been using the generator for our power source (and during the days we use it to run the washer on laundry day, Vita-mix,  juicer, etc…). My Father has gasoline-powered generators. In Panama a gallon of gasoline right now is around $3.68. So this solar system has cut down greatly on the expense of running the generator.

Last week, Smith has finished putting together the solar set-up for my parents home. (Its wonderful being married to an electrician! He is always full of sparks!) It has been a project he has been working off and on for the last month. It is so nice to be able to just flip on a switch in the middle of the night, instead of grabbing a flashlight when you get up to go the bathroom and also to not have to hear the loud roar of the generator in the evenings (If you don’t know how loud a generator can be, trust me they are loud… You can hear it clear down the road! I am sure our neighbors are glad they do not have to listen to it anymore either.)

8-230 watt solar panels installed atop of the tool room

The substantial structural frame Smith fabricated and welded for the solar panels

 The Rewnewable Energy Control Board

Smith says: This board consists of a Xantrex wind turbine load controller, Outback solar charge controller and Xantrex 24v Inverter.

The Main Disconnect Panel

Smith says: I forgot to purchase a  disconnect panel so I had to make my own… No problem for an electrician!

Solar Panel Charge Controller Display

Smith says:  This panel shows a reading of 1792 watts around noon out of the 1840 w max. These solar panels are almost at one hundred percent output!

Control Board and AGM battery bank

Smith says: 2 strings of 100 amp-hour batteries connected as a 24 volt system.

AGM Battery Bank

The Diversion Load (The blue tank) has water in it and a 3000 w heating element. (Please excuse the mess in my parents garage!)

Smith says: We will be converting the diversion load into the water system for a pre-water heater soon. I thought we would have to be frugal with how much electricity we used, but right now we are dumping a lot of it into the diversion load because we are not using enough electricity!

A Sunday Drive on the ATV

We took a drive on the ATV yesterday with Scooter. As we were out and about, we found a deep swimming hole and Scooter could not wait to walk around the bridge to the water, but dove right in off the bridge! Our border collie LOVES water and LOVES to swim.

 Ready! Get Set! And…..


Updates from Around the Farm

  • Claires new baby was  very weak on Saturday and not suckling from Mama. This is what is called “Weak Kid Syndrome”, a term to describe newborn kids who do not stand and/or suckle-regardless of the cause. I intervened and had to syringe feed her for a few feedings, before she started taking the bottle.  At first she just gingerly accepted the bottle, but after a several feedings from the bottle, she seemed to revive and started heartily gulping down milk. Now that she has gotten some strength back, she has started feeding from her Mama. I am going to keep checking on her to make sure she is doing well, but I am betting she will be fine now. It is very important to make sure new kids are standing, feeding and active from the get go!
  • Annie, my filly, had her one year old birthday this week. She also has learned to walk on a lead rope the past week (instead of me having to lure her along with food or get another trained horse to go in front of her or having someone walk behind her and gently touching her behind) and had her hooves trimmed for the first time yesterday! She is really coming around the short few months I have had her. Every morning she comes up to greet me with a little whinny and nicker and lets me touch her and scratch her. You are doing great Miss Annie! I am a proud horse Mom.
  • My Father and Mother are headed to Panama this morning, to consult with the oncologist again and to discuss and start treatment. (Thank you  Mr Kent for driving them down and being such a huge support and encouragement. We appreciate you!)
  • We also are happy to report we sold all of but a couple liters of goat milk  at Mana’s restaurant in Volcan last Friday. (We had held a couple liters for a couple, but they did not show up, but we understand… Life happens!) But it was exciting to see other people are aware of the goodness of fresh goat milk and its health benefits! We are also talking with a company who sells different milk products and they are interested in our milk to make goat cheese. They will be trialing some different cheese recipes this week from the milk we bring them later this week, so that is exciting too!

We are thankful for another year and we pray each and every one you all have a blessed  and joyous one, rich in health and happiness. There is so much to look forward to.

“…May your blessing be on your people.” Psalm 3:8.

Always yours-whether near or far, Smith and Rose