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An evolution of off grid

My husband and I have been living off the grid since the early 1970s, homesteading in a rural community settled during the ‘Back-to-the-Land’ movement in northern California – when undeveloped land was affordable if you were willing to work hard and live simply.

We started out with candles and kerosene lamps. Later graduated to lighting fashioned from automobile bulbs that we alligator-clamped onto our truck battery that we recharged on our weekly town trips. The truck-battery also powered both the household car-radio/tape-deck and the rechargeable-battery charger, for flashlights and more.

In 1982, we elevated to 24/7 electricity when neighbor Ross Burkhardt (Burkhardt Turbines) installed his first proto-type micro-hydro turbine by the year-round creek next to our home. An ingenious, micro-waterwheel inside a large stainless-steel salad bowl! In 1983, we entered the solar-age when we bought our first solar panels from Real Goods – which, in 1978, sold the first solar panels ever sold in USA. We now have 2 trackers of panels and a battery-bank as we’re still ‘off the grid’.

Now that we also share a house in town, we contacted Real Goods Solar to see if we could afford to put a solar-array on the roof — based on system design, its eligibility for the incentives programs, and electricity-bill savings going forward. We met with Mike, a seasoned solar consultant, for the initial site-eval and were happy to hear that the initial estimates were encouraging. Mike has been very helpful in patiently answering our many questions, with no ‘sales-job’ pressure at all. We anticipate that the estimates will likely be confirmed at our upcoming site-survey as our roof install-location faces due south with little to no shading. So far so good!

We’re grateful for this opportunity to reduce our lifetime carbon-dioxide legacy, as well as for succeeding occupants of the house. An added reward for us will be knowing that if our daughter and son in-law want to take over the house after we ride into the sunset, our solar system will be covering their electricity needs on into their golden years.

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