Casa de Tortugas - Stories

Solar Power

There is no power on our island, so we will be using a solar power system.

We are working with Rick, a local expat who has been in the area for many years. He has become quite the local expert on solar power systems. We started chatting on WhatsApp to get general information back in mid 2021. When we visited in 2022, we were able to meet with Rick at his property not too far from ours on Isla Popa. He showed us around and explained how his system worked. We worked our our basic needs and he drafted a rough estimate of what we would need.

As we started getting serious about our needs and possible future needs, Tina and I decided that it is better to spend a little more money up front to make sure we don't have to do any major upgrades in the next few years. We also decided that we would be going with some quality lithium batteries to reduce the maintenance needed to keep the system going. These batteries also offer better performance over lead acid batteries. 

We will be creating a "picnic shelter" that the solar panels will sit on. We decided that trying to place them on our roof was far too difficult and rather dangerous to maintain. So the shelter will keep the panels 8-10 feet off the ground for easy maintenance and give us a place to relax out of the sun and enjoy nature. Because we are 9 degrees North of the equator, the panels need to tilt 9 degrees to the South. That means that the low end is going to be 8 feet off the ground and the high end will be 10 feet since the two posts are 13 feet apart.

Here is a list of the main equipment components.

We could have gone with a slightly less expensive system by using lead acid batteries instead of lithium and by using fewer panels. But we don't want to build for the power need we have today and in a couple years find out we need to replace major portions of our system or dealing with the pain of maintaining the cheaper batteries. We are starting with 12 panels but if we need, we can expand the shelter and add up to 4 more panels without changing any other equipment.

The current plan is to order the equipment at the end of 2023 and start installing it in early 2024 as the main portion of the house is being built. We will update you and add images once the system goes in.

Update 7/26/2023: Due to extended back-order on the Big Battery, King 2 battery packs, the company decided to discontinue them and push us to the newer model. These were a lot more expensive for only a small improvement so we decided to switch to the Condor Elite 2 battery packs as they had almost the same spec as the King 2 and have a similar reputation.

Update 6/30/2024: It took some time but we finally have our home built and the solar has been installed. The crew came and installed the panels and set up the base equipment. I installed the circuit breaker box and all the wiring for the house. It was a bit of a process, and there is still some more work to do, but we are well on our way. We are easily able to make coffee in the morning, run our main fan all day and night, watch TV easily, charge our devices and even do laundry. Each morning, our batteries are at about 82%, and within 90 minutes of the sun coming up, the batteries are at 100% and they idle the rest of the day. So far, so good.

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