In our last post, we talked about the high-speed internet options available in rural areas. If you live in especially remote area, however, it may be a challenge to even get electricity to your log home. Even if utility power is available where you live, perhaps you would enjoy the freedom of generating your own power. If you are looking to go off-the-grid with electricity at your log home, here are some details on the various types of systems in use throughout the country.
Until recent advances in small scale wind and solar power, a generator was a much more common method for standalone electricity generation. A tremendous advantage that generators have over other power sources is that they are “dispatchable”; the amount of electricity generated can be changed depending upon your current needs. With a solar system, for example, you can only generate energy when the sun is shining and must buffer your system with a battery bank. Since fuel for a generator, whether gas, heating oil/diesel, or propane is so expensive, generators are seldom used alone for a full-time residence. If you have a log home that you use only occasionally, however, the reduced capital costs of a generator system may outweigh the fuel costs. In many solar and wind systems, a generator is also available for backup power.
With recent advances in solar panel technology, as well as a plummeting cost for solar panels, solar has become the preferred option for off-the-grid power in many locations. Since solar panels can be installed on a rooftop and make no noise, they are a very nice choice for a low-profile power installation. With an off-grid solar system, in addition to the panels, you will need a charge controller, battery bank, and inverter to power household appliances. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has useful data about whether solar is a good option for your area.
Wind power has been exploited by humanity for millennia, and recent developments in small wind power systems have made it an attractive option for powering your home. The Energy Information Administration has maps for each state that show the best areas for wind power. Wind turbines for home use range in size from a few hundred to a few thousand watts and will require the same additional equipment as solar for an off-grid install.
Until recently, small scale hydro-power systems were not practical for home use. The permitting process was very time consuming, and typically cost much more than the installation itself. Recently passed federal legislation, however, makes the permitting process much easier. Although this is a much less mature industry than the other options, it would be wise to watch how this field develops. If your property has a consistently flowing waterway with hydro-power potential, then a hydro-power system could deliver reliable, dispatchable power without the need for a backup generator.
So, are you ready to build your log home and get started living off the grid? Do you find the idea appealing, or not quite your style? If you are ready to get started on the design of your new log home, please call Real Log Homes today or fill out the form below for more information.