Three Pines Bed & Breakfast and Farm
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Off the Grid Details
Our home uses solar photovoltaics to produce electricity. Fourteen 120-watt (24 volt - 1.68KW) panels are located on the south-facing roof of the main house. Excess electricity is stored in 24 industrial lead acid batteries (2000 amp-hrs at 24 volts), weighing a total of 3500 lbs., located in the basement of the main house. We use a 10 KW propane generator for backup electricity, if we run out of solar power. With a fully charged battery bank we can go 3-4 days without the sun. Sine wave inverters convert the stored DC power to AC. Some items in the house run on DC while most run on AC. Most of the light bulbs in the house are fluorescent, a few are low voltage halogens. Electrical devices which have phantom loads are connected to wall switches or outlet strips which are turned off when not in use. 

Propane appliances are used wherever possible. Among our propane appliances are direct vent room heaters, water heater, stove, dryer, freezer, and backup generator. Otherwise, the most energy efficient appliances are used. We use a Staber washer (horisontal axis), and a Sun Frost 24 volt DC refrigerator/freezer. Our computer monitor is a 15" LCD which uses about 15 watts when in use. We recently replaced our 27" tube television with a 32" LCD television which uses about 33% less power. Several non-electric appliances are also in use including coffee maker, waffle maker, vegetable chopper / grater, and toast maker (doesn't work so well).

Our phone, Internet, and television services use satellite technology. Since the switchover to digital communications, we use a standard Motorola cell phone for phone service. A roof mounted satellite dish provides us with TV and two-way Internet service.

With the house facing south, and a large percentage of the south facing walls covered with windows (33%) (triple pane, double low-E), solar heat gain contributes a large amount of warmth throughout the heating season.

A masonry heater, weighing 6 tons, is our primary active heat source during the heating months. A masonry heater uses centuries old principles of wood burning to create a very efficient (above 90%), clean burning wood stove. Direct vent propane room heaters provide backup heat, if needed.

We recently added a two panel, closed loop, anti-freeze charged, solar hot water system. The two DC pumps (tank loop & collector loop) are powered by a 12 volt battery, which is trickle charged by a small 60 watt solar panel mounted below the solar hot water panels.