For Real: Install Your Own Inexpensive Off Grid A/C Solar System

Real Estate Agent with Destination Properties

After years of research, my wife and I finally pulled the trigger and purchased and had a licensed electrician install an inexpensive, effective solar system for our cabin.  Over the past several years, I have helped many of my clients find and purchase off-grid recreational property.  The old school approach to these cabin properties is to use a generator, providing cabin owners two choices once the sun goes down: a) Noisy Option: Crank up the generator and turn on the lights, or b) Quiet Option: Wander around with a flashlight or propane lantern.  Based on the information I had, I would always tell my clients they could have an inexpensive solar system installed for as low as $4000 - $5000.  Not bad, right?

By researching and shopping both on the web and locally (both have advantages depending on the item), I found out what I needed to build a solid system that could be expanded in the future, without breaking the bank on the front end.

Below are the components and costs for each used for our system:

- * 85 Watt Solar Panel - $200 (Web Purchase)

- 3000 Watt Modified Sine Wave Inverter - $450 (Web Purchase)

- 10 Amp Solar Charge Controller - $60 (Web Purchase)

- * 2-Six Volt 225 Amp Hour (Rated at 20 Hours) Golf Cart Batteries - $260 (Local Purchase)

- PV Cable (connects solar panel(s) to solar charge controller) and Romex Electrical Wire - $150 (Local Purchase)

- 30' of 3/0 Battery Cable (15' run x 2 between batteries and inverter) plus 4 lugs (ends) installed - $180 (Local Purchase)

- Labor (Licensed Electrician) - $450

> Total: $1750

(*) Items that can be easily doubled later if needed for increased capacity

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want additional details on our system.  If you are willing to do some of your own research, an affordable solar system is within reach.  I highly recommend having a licensed electrician install your solar system.  Less risky, less frustrating, and they need the work!

Comments (3)

John Saari
Worcester, MA
"The Mortgage Buddy"

Nice green post. This is the wave of the future. As the technology gets better and less expensive more and more people will be doing this.

Jun 29, 2011 01:48 PM
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

John - I might install solar on my property with your information  help me to install Thank you for the detailed quality blog about installing inexpensive off grid AC solar system.

Jun 29, 2011 05:01 PM
Brandon Clark
UTAH INFRARED Home and Building Inspections - Ogden, UT

That's awesome to hear of you taking on such a job and having success. I would have done the exact same thing and I may still do it. I simply can't understand the huge costs involved with many of these solar units being sold. I was looking into getting a solar unit a while back and the quoted price was over $18,000. After breaking down the costs I realized a very similar unit could be purchased and built for less than $3000. 

It seems the unit costs are based far more off the return on investment factors and Governement incentive factors vs. the cost of production factors. Maybe you should consider building/producing some affordable units as a part-time/ weekend job.

Send us some pictures if you ever get a chance.


Jul 29, 2011 02:55 PM