Solar Systems

What size system do I need to power a home?
That depends upon what electrical services you need. If you have an electric stove, an electric hot water tank, an electric dryer and other similar loads then you will require a very large system, especially in the winter.
How much does a solar system cost?

Solar systems for cottages range from $200 to over $5,000. It depends upon what you want to do and how often you want to do it. A home system will be significantly more expensive—from $15,000 to $75,000.

How much do I save in utilities by going solar?

That depends upon the size of the system, and what your usual loads are. A larger solar system in a home with smaller loads will replace more of the electricity than will a smaller system. In general, though, the cost of the solar system will be higher than the cost of the electricity that it can replace.

Can I still install a solar system if there is a lot of shade and tree coverage on my property?

Yes, but it will not work very well. You really need to have a clear view of the sun for most of the day in order for a solar system to be effective. Sites with partly limited views of the sun can work, but will require more solar panels.

Can I run my home off of solar in the winter?

Yes, if you can in the summer. Extra considerations for wintertime use include the reduced amount of sunshine available and the extra loads imposed by the electrical components (fans and pumps) in the heating system, and the extra lighting required.

What other forms of backup power can I use in the event that my power goes out while using solar? Could this even happen?

It is very possible to run out of battery power in a solar system. Our systems are usually designed to provide 3 to 4 days of power without sunshine, but it is possible to get 5 or 6 days in a row without sunshine. In these cases, we absolutely recommend that a gasoline, diesel or propane generator be incorporated into the system.

Do solar systems only work on warm and sunny days?

Solar systems can be used at any time. The batteries will only be charged by the solar panels on bright sunny days. However, solar panels work better on cold or cool days than they do on hot days.

How long does it take to install a solar system?

This depends upon the size and complexity of the system and of the associated electronics.  The mounting of the solar panels can vary quite a lot, depending upon whether they are mounted on the ground, on a pole, on a roof, etc. A simple installation can be done in a day while a large, complex system might take 3 to 4 days.

Can I run my entire home off of solar?
Definitely. The question is whether you can do so on a budget that is within your reach.


Solar Device Charger

What regular maintenance do solar cell phone chargers require?

The solar panel should be kept clean. Periodically, the battery in the charger should be fully charged from a computer or wall charger.

How long will it take for the sun to charge the battery in the charger?

If arranged in full sunshine, it will take 3 to 4 days of sunshine to charge the internal battery to about 80%. 

How long will it take for the charger to charge my phone?

This depends upon the charger and the phone. Typically, these chargers charge as fast as a wall jack would, so an hour will fully charge a smart phone, if the phone is in airplane mode.

Can I charge my phone while the charger is in the sun?

Yes, but the internal battery in the charger will not charge if you are charging a phone. And, the solar panels will not keep up with a phone that is in use. 

Should I put my phone in airplane mode while charging?
Yes, it will charge much faster if you do.


Solar Cooker

What can I cook in the solar cooker?

Almost anything that you can fit into the cooking tray. Examples include roast vegetables, stir fry, rice, eggs, bacon, sausages, chili, stew, porridge, etc.

How long does it take to cook different foods?

Most foods cook in about 20 minutes. Bacon and chicken will take longer.  Most fish will cook in 10-15 min. Foods with a high moisture content will take longer to cook.

Can I cook in the shade?

Not very well. We often move the cooker to the shade when we want to slow the cooking down, or just keep foods hot.

Can I cook on a cloudy day?
Yes. A light overcast sky will mean that cooking is slower (40 to 60 minutes instead of 20 for most foods). A heavy overcast, fog, or rain will pretty much stop the cooking.