I will have to give you all of the detals about my home power situation in 2005 that cinched my decision to install a solar system on my home. I live in a small winding suburban community that contains mostly one story ranch style single family homes nearly all built in the mid 1960's. We are located about forty miles west of Chicago, Illinois which insures a variety of weather conditions including bitter cold winters with snow and hail and equally hot summers that include a fair share of high winds and severe storms. It is one of these severe storms whose nature was high winds and tornadoes that finally convinced me to install a solar system. You see that storm knocked out power to many homes in Northern Illinois, including mine for nearly a week. It was during a summer hot spell that was so muggy the salt from sweat would burn your eyes and your skin always felt coated by something foreign in nature that could not be washed off.
The power outage was so severe that the TV News was reporting that it could last as long as several weeks before power would be restored. The heat was making me along with my family miserable primarily because sleep was not possible in the horrible humidity. Our refrigerator and freezer were packed full of grocries with ice cream melting and the frozen meat sure to follow if we could not provide them AC power. With all of this happening I decided to rent a 8000W RMS Honda generator which provided 10,000W of peak power surge. This Honda generator had 220V output so I thought I would wire it directly into the electrical panel. I disconnected the the utility electric service so as not to cause a backfeed into the local power supplier and electrocute a lineman trying to restore the grid power. Everything worked as planned (sort of), except when I went to turn on my two ton central air conditioner which then caused the generator to growl fiercely and come to a complete stop. The air conditioner was just too much for the generator. I then came up with Plan B which was to place a small 5000BTU air conditioner in the bedroom and turn off any unecessary appliances. Success!
The power outage lasted nine days and I had to refill the noisy Honda generator twice each day. Not that a Honda generator is noisier than other generators it is just one of that size working diligently makes it sound like a construction site. The gasoline necessary to power the generator ended up costing over $400.00 for those nine days. Ouch!
With this experience behind me I was determined to never be caught in this situation again. So, I started doing some research on what was available and what appealed to me. It came down to either a larger generator powered by natural gas or propane or solar panels with battery backup or a combination of both. The generator was by far the least expensive but had its own shortcomings. Natural gas prices were unstable and my inability to control the cost for power to me was unsettling. Add to that the possibility of a break in a service line somewhere and that leaves me back at the beginning with no power. I thought of installing a large propane canister to power the generator but that is very unsightly and our local government would not permit it oun our type of property.
This left me with one choice, solar power which is freely available and a battery back up system for emergency situations.
END OF PART 1