© iStock/Alberto Masnovo / When installing solar panels, options include roof mounts (shown), ground mounts and pole mounts (which author Neil Johnson chose for his cabin).
Batteries are typically the most expensive part of a system. So, here’s a tip: If you only use your cabin on weekends, it may make sense to utilize your generator during peak times, like in the morning when you’re using a coffee maker and a toaster. If you don’t need as much reserve capacity, you won’t need to buy as many batteries.
When my family first went off-grid, we relied solely on a Honda EU3000 generator and shut the power down during parts of the day and at night. The next thing we added was a small battery bank and inverter/charger to store power so we didn’t have to shut everything down when the generator wasn’t running. Eventually, we added the solar panels and a larger bank of batteries. After living off-grid for awhile, I don’t think there is any going back for my family.
Originally published August 2015