E=mc/2 + 100 volts/230X67 + 6 batteries +8 solar panels, times the total amount of appliances you have divided by 50 percent of the watts needed to power Las Vegas – 10,000 liters and cubits divided by the number of hours in a typical day in Antarctica; Divide that number by whatever parallel you live at and reduce that by another 50 percent and add in the number of teeth your dog has and that’s the formula to follow to estimate how much power you’re going to need from your DIY solar power system.

Unless you want to use the washer/dryer on Tuesdays rather than Wednesdays and in the spring and not winter. If your preference is winter, redo your calculations and add one.

My head would start to spin when I cruised the websites searching for information on setting up a solar power system.

I looked at charts of average watts and amps used by various appliances and read about how many watts a solar panel produces and tried my damnedest to figure out how many batteries we should have (depending on what size) and how configuring them differently would produce more volts or amps or something and less of something else.

I finally gave up and ordered the basic four-panel starter kit from Windy Nation, a wind and solar power company. Of course it wasn’t enough so we ordered four more panels and I redid the calculations. This time I came up with a number that clearly showed we were now at about a third of what we would need to produce one-hundred percent of our own power.

Progress.

Regardless of the math involved to start, I love having solar power. After the initial cost it’s free! I’m chomping at the bit for more panels although I have yet to figure out for certain, how many batteries we need for the number of panels we have. I think we’ll need a larger inverter, also. For the time being, we have a solid compliment to our generator.

You really do learn as you go. The best calculations can’t teach you what real world experience can, like if something has moving parts, it uses more electricity.

To cut down on energy usage, we switched out all of the regular light bulbs with LEDs and replaced the electric water heater with a propane model. We need to get a propane fridge.

So initially setting up is a pain in the ass but I totally recommend solar.

Hopefully your learning curve won’t twist into knots like ours did.