As I mentioned a few days ago I sort of let the magic smoke out of my Lair’s inverter. This was both a matter of bad timing (I really thought I was ready to bring all the cabin’s electrical on-line) and good timing (I was about to celebrate by buying a pistol.) But it has also provided an education in what things cost.
Virtually everything in The Secret Lair’s electrical system is scrounged. The solar panels came from an old cattle-watering station. The batteries are “reconditioned” from the Landlady’s old set, as is the charge controller. The inverter and (oops) breaker box came from old RVs.
I’m still looking for another breaker box, but the loss of the inverter got Landlady reaching for her Blackberry. An appallingly brief session of Amazon-fu gave her a line on a brand-new unit, half-again bigger than the old one (which was showing signs of not wanting to run power tools anyway) for less than a hundred bucks. Cool!
For a short time on Saturday night I thought I would be asking Landlady to cancel the order, because SurvivalDave told me he had an inverter he didn’t use and was willing to sell me. It had been around, unused, for about five years. When I told him what I was paying for the new one, he got very quiet. I’m afraid he’s stuck with his $500 1000-watt inverter.
But everything is coming down. Solar panel manufacturers are toying with one dollar a watt. Batteries are still high (battery technology is the great disappointment in everything off-grid) but inverters and charge controllers are far less expensive than they were when Landlady and T installed their first attempt at a system.
In more ways than one, it’s a pretty darned good time to leave the grid.