Friday, July 25, 2008

Welcome To The Living On Solar Blog

Welcome to our first post. I am new to blogging and have never attempted to join a group. So I start my own. Go figure!

My wife and I live in an all solar home in Northern California. We created a website in December of 2007 telling about our use of solar energy including videos showing how we do it. We have received a great response and many questions about our solar adventure and have gladly tried to share our knowledge. We hope that this blog will allow people to ask questions and allow others who may know some answers to respond. We will try to give our two cents worth as well.



  1. I've never posted a comment on a blog either, so here goes. I'm interested in solar and thus this site. Since it's a new site, I'll start by saying I like the way it's laid out, but I have a hard time reading the sources for the various articles, like Newsday USA, under Solar Energy News. How's that? More later. Retsel.

  2. Thanks retsel. I really appreciate you joining our blog. I also appreciate your comments about the visibility of the Solar Energy News section. I had already noticed the same problem and went into the preferences section to see the colors per the template I used. I knew I needed to change some things, but didn't. I will change some settings and see how everyone likes it.

  3. Thanks livingonsolar. Good luck with the new blog.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. retsel made a post about a great story in Ashland Oregon but only the info and none of the pictures showed up. Here is the link to the story from ZDNET.

  6. Thanks, livingonsolar, for fixing my post about Ashland, Oregon. (You'll have to forgive me. I'm still new to blogging, not to mention I have the I.Q. of a crowbar.) I'd also like to commend you for the changes you made to your site. It's much easier to read now.


  7. I am new with solar. I have a small panal on my trailer roof and like how it keeps the battery charged. I live in Lake Havasu HOT. I want to start with making my garage cool with a solar cooler but there is soooo much out there about different panals. I also picked up free a trace 24 volt 2000 watt inverter and plan to start with it. Have no idea what I'm doing but want off the grid. I don't want to waist money by making foolish mistakes. Hope the learning curve is fast.


  8. Solar is almost as simple as the small panel on your roof, just bigger. If you understand it, doing things on a larger scale is not too much more complicated. The idea of cooling your garage using solar is a great start. Get a couple of deep cycle batteries or even a marine battery and see what you can do with the inverter. That is how I started.

  9. Hey Jim, congrats on your Blog and site. I have been in Jim and Debbies home many times.......I've never really thought about it being totally solar, although I always knew it's just like our home, "on the grid"......Jim, you and Deb always amaze me, especially since I have just started to dabble in solar. I plan to pick your brain as time goes on.

    Congratulations again, your site is informative and I've learned a lot already.

    Mike F.

  10. Thanks Mike. I look forward to you picking my brain.

  11. How far is you solar panel array from your house? Does that distance cause a loss in power through the transmission lines because the closest area that my array would get good sunlight is about 150 to 200 feet from the house. What type and size wire did you use from the array to your controller? I am trying to avoid putting my array on my roof.



  12. Hi Ken,
    My panels are about 25 feet from my charge controller and are on the ground. They were originally wired 20 years ago to be a 12 volt array. Given that distance, I had to use #4 cable which is about the size of auto battery cable. This allowed for for about a 96% effeciency. I now wire my panels for 24 volts which reduces the cable size requirement(#6) although I still use the same #4 cable. Each system is different since there are a number of factors that need to be known in figuring out what size wire to use. It is generally considered best to have the panels as close to the charge controller as possible.
    As an example, if you have 10 - 110 watt panels that are 12 volt nominal and generate 17 volts at 6.5 amps, if wired all in parallel at 12 volts nominal, they would generate 65 amps. If your panels were only 75 feet from the charge controller, you would need to use 0000 size cable (very big stuff). If you wired the panels to be 24 volt nominal, you would need to use #3 cable since the current would be 32.5 amps at 24 volts nominal. The wattage is the same in both instances (17x65 = 1105) and 34x32.5 = 1105). If you need to be 150 to 200 feet away, you will have to consider wiring panels even higher to 48 volt nominal. It all depends on your size system. If it is smaller, you will possibly not need large cable. The other possibility is to build a power house next to the panels where the charge controller, batteries and inverter are all located and then run the 110/220 volts AC to the house. There is little loss using AC voltage to transmit the power. What size system are you planning?

  13. Hi Jim;

    I just found your site and appreciate you sharing your knowledge. We will be building a solar house on 33 acres on Ontario, Canada next year. We have incorporated many features to make it an efficient, off grid house. I'm sure I will have many questions as we progress through this project.
    Thanks again for producing your web site and sharing your experience.

  14. Sounds like fun. I will certainly look forward to hearing about your progress. Pleas ask any questions you might have.

  15. Hi Jim
    Thanks for taking the time to share your videos and your web site! Also good to hear you doing better health wise!!!
    I've had an article written in my local newspaper, about my solar project; upgrading and modifying my present earth bermed home.
    Since then, my father-in-law passed away. We’ve abandoned our original plan for a chance to build a brand new home next to my wife's mom place. She is giving us 5 acres on a south facing gentle slope in SW Missouri overlooking Table Rock Lake near Branson MO in the town of Shell Knob.
    This is a perfect opportunity for us to build a solar (passive and active) home from the ground up! I plan on doing most of the building myself. I've worked for a contractor and helped build 3 houses (non solar) and have most of the tools and building experience to do the job. Plus Missouri does not have too many crazy codes or goofy inspectors to deal with.
    I've collected a lot of stuff; garbage picked some, bought other stuff off Craig’s list and enjoy recycling stuff. I will buy retail only when necessary. Some call me a cheap skate, I call it being frugal and a good steward of what the Lord has blessed me with! I'd also like to use "Papercrete" and "Earth Tubes" as well! I plan on lots of south facing windows and maybe even an attached solar room or greenhouse.
    I enjoyed watching your videos and looking at your web site. In your video... Passive Solar Home - A Perfect Use of Solar Energy, you flash a photo of your floor plan. I stopped the video and studied it and think it is a great layout!
    I was wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing it with me, so I can use some of your ideas in my design? If you have a file that you could send me I would appreciate it!
    If you have any suggestions on improvements that you wish you would have incorporated please let me know as well.
    If you don't have the time or don't care to share your plans, I understand. In any event thanks for sharing your work on the web.
    Keep it up; you are an inspiration to all us solar geeks and solar wannabees.
    Jim J
    Oak Grove, AR

  16. Hi Jim,
    Great to hear from you. I enjoyed reading the article in your local paper. I will send you the floor plan in a separate email. I suppose I should possibly make the floor plan available on the livingonsolar website so others can download and see it as well.