Your Questions About Solar Power

Jenny asks…

How much is it to put Solar power in ? and can you run appliances off of it?

There is a home that costs $6000us to build and I want to build one and they run on solar power and I want to find out more about it and the other systems the house uses. I'm tired of paying everything out in utilities and rent to own nothing. We live in north Georgia. The website for these homes is I would really appreciate feedback from anyone that has lived off the grid. We are also SCA

ssadmin answers:

Hi, I live in Montana, I and many others are off the grid. Some have feed backup and sell excess to the utilities but many are totally spearate.

The site you mention is great but represents a whole different world and standard of convienance and comfort than most Americans are accustom to.

Yes, you can build a nice hovel or hole in the ground with strawbale insulation and a level of solor power used in the one depicted for $6K (not including land costs) usd if you have the know how, desire and time to do it yourself. But all three of those componants are key.

Understanding the process right from choosing the right piece of ground is knowledge intensive. Ground stability, moisture content, dainage, compaction, sterilization, just to name a few are critical factors in that initial process.

Solar is the same, it is not all just buying some panels and sticking them up there. Solor design, passive, active and storage of produced engery are also knowledge intensive processes. Not that they are difficult to understand but they do take study and understanding or you are left to the designs of others and $$$ associated with them.

Each step of the building process is frought with decissions that will combine to make the project acceptable and livable to the occupant or not.

If you are truly serious about, undertaking an effort to become totaly self reliant, and understand what that means, then take the time to learn about the alternate building and living opportunites, their advantages and disadvantages.

While the website you cite is cute, and the group in the UK that is actually doing these projects is repuatible, the site doesn't tell the whole story. I know, I went there, I've saw some of their projects and other ecological living projects there.

The group is filled with very capable, well informed people, engineers, researchers, tradesmen, etc. That know their craft and have chosen to apply it in this manner.

It can be fun and very rewarding for the right sort, but for many it turns into their worst nightmare. Work toward it, learn study, practice on non critical structures. See the results of your effors and learn before striking out on your self relient adventure.

We love it and have most of the convienances of standard mid level homes in America. I an others built our place but that was after a 17 year career in realestate development. Even then, I had a lot to learn.

Our home, buy the way cost over $500K in materials, and site work to achieve what I regard as comfortable off the grid living, but that is my standard. I know places here that do just fine and have under 10K invested.

David asks…

Is there a solar power charger for the Samsung Galaxy SII phone?

My friend showed me this solar power charger for his iPod nano.

I was wondering if there were any for the Samsung Galaxy SII phone. If you've bought one, could you tell me the price?

ssadmin answers:

Solio is what I would recommend. It will cost you around $60. If you need Solio Solar Charger for your Samsung Galaxy S II, mail me to

Susan asks…

Is there research or products for solar power to lighting?

We've heard CFL or other ways a light bulb can maximize its effeciency with least energy.

We've also heard solar panels improving on harnessing sun light.

BUT, are there products that directly harness solar power for the sole purpose of using the power for lighting?
(collect light during day, make light during night)

spam links will be reported.
flourescent materials? sounds fun, but how long do they last?

ssadmin answers:

Hybrid Solar Lighting is one technology that is used for direct solar lighting, it does not store the light but uses fiber optics to distribute the natural sunlight:

Also check out:

Mandy asks…

what are problems associated with alternative energy sources such as solar power and nuclear?

im doing a project for school and it asks what are the problems associated with alternative energy sources.
now, i know fossil fuels(coal, oil etc…) create greenhouse gasses but solar power, it seems there is nothing wrong with it
is there anything wrong with it?

ssadmin answers:

Hurdles in using solar power:
1. It's affected by time(day/night), climatic conditions and geographic location.
2. Initial Investments are high.
3. All technological developments are made by keeping the conventional energy sources in mind. Thus, solar energy cannot be integrated easily with these technologies involving additional cost.

Cons of nuclear energy:
1. Disposal of radioactive waste material is not easy.
2. Working with radioactive substance is hazardous and can cause genetic mutations in humans if they come in contact with such a substance.
3. Controlled reactors are required for generating energy so that the fission chain reaction does not go out of proportion.
4. Radioactive material is rare and available only in a few places of the world.

Lizzie asks…

Thinking of buying a cabin that's “off grid.” Anyone have experience with solar power living?

I'm specifically wondering what kind of maintenance is involved with solar systems that power off grid homes. We would only be at the cabin a few days a month most of the time…except during long vacations. Is it even possible to maintain a total-home solar system in this kind of situation?

ssadmin answers:

Since you said you were specifically wondering about maintenance, I will assume that you have already researched what size system you require as a result of the total power you need, the latitude of where your cabin is, the total average hours of sun available through the various seasons, etc. The primary maintenance concern is your battery status. To compensate for overcharging I will assume you are using a charge controller. During hot weather your batteries will need more water (distilled only) than in cool or cold weather. To keep rodents away, spray the wiring with peppermint oil. Make sure battery cable attachments to the batteries are coated with an acid preventative. If you do indeed have a total home system it will be quite large. I have a system I have used for 5 years to supply my requirements except heating, hot water and cooking. For that I use propane. I use my barbecue (propane) as an oven when needed (great to cook pizza…better than a regular oven…use the upper warming rack). I use a 12v refrigerator from Sundanzer… great even in very hot climates…115 degrees. I have 6ea. 75 watt panels that I tilt twice a year in spring and fall. If you have a large family, use hair dryers, microwave, basically anything with a heating element or constant use motor…then my size system would not work. But I do run my stereo or TV 12 – 16 hours a day when I am there. I generally make meals that do not take hours and hours to cook to save on propane. If your system is oversized or you do not go and use your system monthly then rig something up to use a little power so that your batteries will not always be at 100%. Any other questions, just ask. Good luck!

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