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Solar panels installed during home construction in 1980.

Solar panels installed during home construction in 1980.

I was an early adopter (adapter?) of solar electricity back at the end of the 1970’s during the Carter administration when there was a real push for decreasing our dependency on fossil fuels. Tax credits were given at both the state and federal level. Solar electric and solar hot water were both looking promising back then.

The panels shown above are the only picture I have from back then showing this early installation. I had to mount them on my house, a post and beam structure, in order to have them qualify as as an installed system so I could pass inspection and receive the tax credits to help pay for them. It was a modest, 36 volt system I primarily used for pumping water. The panels charged a pack of 6, 6 volt deep cycle batteries that created 36 volts. The battery pack, in turn, powered a variable voltage centrifugal pump for my shallow well – a sand point driven down next to a spring we have on our property off the Old Santa Fe Trail, 12 miles from the Santa Fe Plaza. It was a variable volt pump to allow for the drop in voltage as the pump consumed the power and the voltage decreased. I was also able to run a few lights and, eventually, a small refrigerator. The local power company had offered to bring in above ground (poles and wires) electricity to our property for free but I didn’t want to have to look at the wires! Therefore, solar electric was a great option. It also gave me the peace of mind knowing if the power grid went down, we would still be able to pump our water.

After about ten years, once the house was built, the power company dropped an underground transformer near one of our boundaries. They said if I dug the trench and supplied the wire, they would hook us up for free, so we went for it. We went for it because everything solar, at that time, was very expensive. That small refrigerator cost about $800.00 back then. Being connected to the grid was more economical and practical due to the fact that solar was no longing growing at the rate it was – the ol’ supply and demand formula.

We are now looking to upgrade our system with the end goal of selling our excess energy back to the grid and regaining the security of knowing our water source will still be there, grid or no grid. Toward that end, I decided to put this website together as a means of educating myself and, in the process, educating those who visit. I’ve identified sources for quality products, as well, that you can find links to throughout the site. As a way of defraying my expenses and to help cover the cost of my time and effort, these are “affiliate” links, meaning I will earn a small commission from any resulting sales. I hope you find the information contained herein to be beneficial and that you will find value in the products highlighted.

My wife and I live outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, in a passive solar home that we built with our own hands. Here’s a picture of it, below.

Passive solar home

Passive solar = warm!

Heating with passive solar is both economical and extremely comfortable. It can be 0˚F outside and 70+ degrees inside during the day. As part of upgrading our systems, we will be installing an evacuated tube solar hot water collector to help heat the hot water we run underneath our flagstone floors to create radiant heat. These common sense alternative energy solutions promise to make our lives more comfortable and will save us a tremendous amount of money over the long term. Won’t you join us in the movement toward renewable energy?
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