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Solar Energy
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ManyTracks' House and Home
Solar ~ Underground

by Sue Robishaw and Steve Schmeck

Getting Started
Solar Power

Homestead Articles

Alternative Energy News


Power from the Sun
Our Photovoltaic
(PV)  Electric System

solar array

We're thoroughly involved with the sun and wind on our sustainable "green" homestead in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. From PV (photovoltaic or solar) panels to a water pumping windmill; from a solar oven to a solar food dryer. Our home is heated with hot-air solar panels and a wood-burning woodstove. To say we have a close relationship with the Sun is a bit of an understatement! 

Using solar energy sources is not an abstract theory or a fad, it's a wonderfully fun way of living. Our system started small and has grown over the years but always it's provided us with power for our needs and wants. I expect it will keep growing as we do. Here we'll take you on a tour of the evolution and current state of our solar electric system. If you've read "Homesteading Adventures" (which was written in 1996) this is an update to the chapter Power for the People - The Sun and Solar of Electricity. Our system has grown a bit since then!

Above is a link to our article "Getting Started With Solar Energy" article that was published in Countryside Magazine (in 1994 and 2004). For information on other solar aspects of our homestead, check out the many articles in the Homestead section.

Things in our life sure do change and grow!

1983 - Our first solar electric PV panels!

2 panels by clerestories

1985 - Finally on the House

solar array 2 panel 1990

1987 - Homemade Tracker

1993 - The Array Grows

our "new" (used) Solar Heating Panels

1996 - and Grows

solar array 1997

1997 - the trees in front of the house grew (surprise!) so the array had to move. Might as well add a few more panels while we're at it.

solar array 2007

2007 - always room for a few more


2009 - the inverter in entryway

batteries, controls

2009 - batteries, controller and all the necessary paraphenalia


for those cloudy short days of early winter

* * * * * *

Copyright 2009 by Susan Robishaw

Our favorite sources for alternative energy information are...

Home Power Magazine, POB 520, Ashland OR 97520, 916-475-0830
email: hp@homepower.com ,   

THE print source on alternative energy; it was the first and is still the best.

Midwest Renewable Energy Association, 7558 Deer Rd, Custer WI 54423, 715-592-6595, info@the-mrea.org, https://www.midwestrenew.org/the-mrea.org/
MREA is responsible for the largest and oldest renewable energy fair the third weekend in June (Solstice Weekend). Highly recommended if you are at all interested in alternative energy or alternative lifestyles and ideas.

Backwoods Solar Electric Systems, 1589 Rapid Lightning Rd, Sandpoint, Idaho 84864, 208-263-4290, info@backwoodssolar.com , http://backwoodssolar.com/
Good folks, good information, good prices. We've dealt with them for many, many years and send people to them regularly. Check them out.

To read more about the first two decades on our homestead check out

"Homesteading Adventures -A Guide for Doers and Dreamers"  

Enjoy these articles and want to help support the website? Feel free to leave a tip!

    Thank you!

Updated 12/23/2015


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