Planning to Install a Photovoltaic System (Solar Panels)

Welcome to the January 2014 Natural Living Blog Carnival: Starting the New Year Off Green. This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project through the Green Moms Network. This month, our members are reflecting on the successes they had from last year, and setting goals for themselves this year. Check out all of the posts to get ideas on how you can start your New Year off green!


This last year we had some pretty big successes in our goal to live a more self-sufficient, sustainable lifestyle. The biggest accomplishment for us was moving to our new 4.5 acre homestead. Our new home will provide us a much larger space to grow our food for the year PLUS plenty of space to raise chickens and turkeys. 
We have a wide variety of homestead goals for the year like planting more fruit trees in our small orchard, putting in a large garden, building a chicken tractor and fixing the irrigation well. But the project we’re focused the most on is installing solar panels.

planning to install a photovoltaic system (solar panels)

When we started our handmade business, MontanaSolarCreations, almost two years ago we were living in a house with a 4 panel photovoltaic (solar) system on our roof. Our whole business revolves around using solar to create our handcrafts. So when we bought our house last summer, I figured it would be an easy one day project to install solar panels on the roof. Wrong!

Our new home is a “fixer upper” and my husband spent two months remodeling it before we even could move in. We knew we needed to do some electrical work on the property, but didn’t know the extent of it until we started the remodel. There were so many projects that needed to be done that we prioritized them. Installing solar panels was not a priority so it was put on the back burner.

I updated our Etsy shop banner to state that temporarily due to our move our made to order items were not made with solar power. I thought it would be up there just a few weeks but here we are four months later and it is still up there.

Why? We have some major electrical work that needs to be done at our house before we can install solar panels. This involves installing a new meter base, digging a trench, and running new wires to the shop. There is some pretty sketchy electrical work that needs to be upgraded before we can safely hook up solar panels to our home’s power system.

We’ve been busy crunching numbers and planning how we are going to tackle this project. Plus we need to make sure this big project will fit into our budget for the year. Honestly, if it wasn’t for our handmade business needing to have solar power we would be putting this project off for a few years.

We built up our small handmade business over the last two years to be one of our primary sources of income. People love the fact that our eco-friendly creations like reusable cloth pads, wood toys, cloth napkins, wipes and unpaper towels were made with a sewing machine or shop tools partly powered by solar power. Therefore we feel the pressure that we need to install solar panels this year. Even if it is just a few panels that we can add to over the years, it will be a start.

This will be a costly project but we know that installing solar panels will help to offset the cost of our monthly power bill. Since my husband used to co-own a solar business in town, he was able to calculate how much power a small solar system would offset for us each month. For example, at our old house a 4 panel photovoltaic system offset about 1/3 of our monthly power bill. That solar system would have paid for itself in about five years. If we keep this long term cost savings in mind, it makes the short term expense a little easier to swallow!

Do you have solar panels or hope to install them one day? Please share with us in the comments! 


Visit Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project to learn more about participating in next month’s Natural Living Blog Carnival! Please take some time to enjoy the posts our other carnival participants have contributed:

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  1. says

    I would love solar panels as well. As we are renting a home, I don’t think it’s possible and there’s no way I could afford the upfront cost but the long term savings is so tempting!

  2. says

    Hurray! you are part of the solar wave sweeping the nation: it’s so cool that you put this on the front burner even though it’s tough in the short run. As the price of conventional fossil fuels goes up you’ll be even happier with the investment. Alas, we have trees all around our house, so all we have is one tiny panel that powers our attic fan – but since it was installed we haven’t had the AC on.

  3. says

    I was very inspired by your post and I can’t wait to visit your Etsy shop to explore your handmade with solar power items. Good luck with your 2014 goals! All the best to you!

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