Customer Stories

 
 

Randy's Solar Panel Array

RANDY'S REVIEW - I am 68 years old, retired, and possess some basic acquired electrical skills from past experience and online research. For my retirement years, I bought 40 acres of wooded property in a very rural area of East Central Missouri. I'm building a cabin on this property so I need electric power. Grid power was available but at a distance away that would have cost $20,000+ just to get the line to my cabin and then monthly bills. I chose to go with a solar electric system which I could purchase for about the same cost (after tax credit). I was extremely fortunate to find Backwoods Solar (BWS) on the internet. They intrigued me because they specialized in off-grid systems, each employee had a working solar electric system in their own home, and they offered complete tech support for the DIY person wanting to build his own system like me.  READ MORE...



Bea's Solar Powered Sewing Micro Biz - Many people choose to go off grid because of their interactions with power companies, to save money, or just to be independent. Beatrice Dorsett went off the grid for all of these reasons and because she was starting her own micro-businesses. Survival in the remote areas of the world including the United States relies on one’s ability to be a multi-talented entrepreneur. Most often this means working with your hands and diversifying your income with animals. To be successful, this business model also includes energy conservation, and renewable energy systems, in order to keep costs down.  READ MORE... 



Water - Laws of Nature and Laws of Man - Before one can confine water to pipe, for work or for sustenance, there are legal concerns that need answers. Water and the fish therein belong, pretty much, to Washington State. Manipulating the flow of any creek in Washington State requires filing for a Hydraulic Project Approval through State Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Any streams with resident or seasonal fish will trigger restrictive management, particularly salmon habitat. In the vicinity of Forks, The Quileute Nation has an interest in fish and habitat lying within their usual and accustomed grounds. State Department of Ecology manages water rights, and such will be needed to draw or divert water out from streams, lakes or the ground.  READ MORE...


Newt's Story - This is one from the history vault courtesy of our longtime customer, Newt, reflecting on his time in the very remote backwoods at Yellow Pine Bar on the Salmon River. We want to thank Newt, and Greg Metz,  as well as, the communities out on the Taylor Ranch, Grangeville, Yellow Pine Bar, and all in the Cascade HC83 or 85 location for being such loyal and committed customers after all these years. We know your inspiring story will encourage others to live the dream of an energy independent backwoods lifestyle!! 

Newt writes:  After living in the “Back country” for 30 years, we made a move to town for age/health reasons and to be closer to family. Wanted to thank all you “guys”, for always being there when anyone had a problem. Here is our story:   READ MORE...



Installing a Homestead Solar Electric System
- A few months ago, I wrote about the process of selecting a solar electric system for our tiny house.  We ordered our equipment from Backwoods Solar in late summer, and the installation was complete by early November, with my husband Brian doing all of the work himself.  Today, I welcome Brian to tell about the process of installing our homestead photovoltaic system.

We chose to install an off-grid photovoltaic system for our electrical needs, partly because we wanted an alternative to the coal-fired electricity of NE Missouri, but also because our home site is about ¼ mile from the road, and the cost of running power lines and poles would have been comparable to what we paid for our system. We had gotten a few different recommendations for Backwoods Solar, a small company based in Idaho, and decided to buy our system through them. We couldn’t be happier with our experience. They tailored our system to our needs and budget, and were always available for phone consultation and trouble-shooting along the way, which made all the difference for me. I have a limited amount of electrical wiring experience, but with their advice, some puzzling over manuals, and some help from my father-in-law, I was able to safely install this system. I would encourage anyone with similar skills to try it, or consider hiring an electrician to help you install it.  READ MORE...



How to Cut Your Electricity Bills in Half
- We live in Kaslo, a jewel of a community nestled on the shore of Kootenay Lake in the mountain forests north of Nelson, in the West Kootenays. We have a 900 square foot house, and our daughter left home in 1996.

We began looking at our household energy consumption more than a decade ago, but we were frightened away from solar when we were given an estimated cost of $70,000 for a system big enough to match our total energy needs in the summer and half in winter.

Last spring we heard about the work Bob Watters was doing helping people in our area get hooked up with solar. We contacted Bob and Bob connected us with Backwoods Solar.  The rest is history.  READ MORE... 



A Community of Solar - Four Families in Alaska
- We are four families that live in Southeast Alaska within a five-mile radius of one another. All the families live off the grid, on islands, and at least 15 or more miles from town requiring both boat and vehicle travel. Each family has over time developed its own water and energy collection systems. All the solar collection systems have the basic equipment but different site conditions and sun exposure. The families differ in the number and type of appliances, tools, customs, and needs.

What prompted our interest in solar energy was the hauling and paying for fuel oil or gasoline. Hauling fuel for a generator or stove requires that the containers be handled numerous times-to the boat, off the boat, into the truck, to town, back from town, back on boat, off the boat, and finally to the generator or oil storage tank.  In 1999 several of us began to design and install solar systems.  READ MORE...



Searching for Energy Reduction - I have been an enthusiastic reader of the “Wall Street Journal” magazine since my summer employment on a Kansas wheat farm between college schooling. In 1997 I came to the conclusion that gasoline prices have nowhere to go but up due to increasing demand and slowing gasoline production. Thus, in 1998 I purchased one of the most efficient cars of the time, a Chevrolet Metro. I became convinced that the stock market was headed for a nosedive until a solution to the energy shortfall was solved.

Taking up farm employment after my US Navy tour, I continued with my interest in the energy conflict. July of 2003 I began to take a leap towards renewable energy with the purchase of a modified sine wave inverter. Later that year I subscribed to “Home Power” magazine. Armed with a renewed certificate in electronics and a surging interest in renewable energy, I began a series of purchases aimed at developing my own home energy production. I purchased solar panels, wires, fuses, frame supports, concrete, charge controllers, inverters, efficient light bulbs, low power cooking tools, and among other things a wind turbine. Most people in my local area were skeptical and uninterested. Even my utility meter reader said that he had seen a few solar panels; however, people didn’t keep them for long before giving up on the idea of renewable energy.  READ MORE....


Ravenshoe Project - Just north of the 49th parallel between 51 and 52 slightly north of the State of WA as far as the sun goes, is where we find Paul Ashfield and his wife’s off grid home. Their four-season home will be 2200 square feet when it’s all said and done. And this should be very soon if the weather holds out. “The weather is always tough here. We’ve lost a lot of time. I haven’t been home for a month because I had to go back to work. But I’m home for this weekend and hope to put the last 12 panels up on the pole so we’ll have all 36 in the air.”

“We bought a house where we wanted to live but it wasn’t maybe the best choice because to have grid power (a mile away) brought to the property would cost us upwards of 55 thousand dollars. So, we looked at solar and found Backwoods Solar somewhere on the internet. As far as our location in Canada goes, the best solar insulation is here. Best of the wind too but I find that solar PV is a much better bang for my buck”.  READ MORE...   



James Munley
- As a young man I was stationed in many remote parts of the world as a heavy equipment mechanic with the sea breeze. Immediately I took to self-reliance, preservation and the beauty of all things natural. It has followed me throughout my life. A few years ago a boyhood friend afforded me the opportunity to watch over his 150 acre hunt camp for the summer months. It is adjacent to the Allegheny National Forest in south western Pennsylvania. Answering an advertisement in a magazine for a Backwoods Solar catalog was the beginning of my solar adventure. Pictured is the remote, totally off grid, cabin on the property that I wired. READ MORE...



Commercial Traffic Control Project
- Thanks for everyones help - This project was a success!!  I got this system going last week. I just wanted to show where your equipment ended up!   

The detection system picks out only commercial vehicles. The flasher system alerts oncoming motorists large vehicles are approaching them as a warning. We build these cabinets at Western Systems in Everett, Washington. The battery side usually holds 4 109Ahr batteries. We added a couple more batteries  for this application. The door has plug in for Generator input for using an external generator if needed. It uses the IOTA 12VDC 55AMP battery charger. We used 4 of your 250 Watt solar panels, and the Outback FM80 solar charge controller. Because the distance to the flasher was so far we needed to convert the 12VDC to 120VAC. We used two of your Morningstar Suresine 300 inverters.  READ MORE...


 A pic of Stu & Ingrid Cooper's solar array in British Columbia, Canada (no story).