Ben lives way up in Northern Vermont. This area is known for cold, snow, and clouds. Despite his location, Ben has made a net-zero (electric) house, with an off-grid battery back-up system.
The original 1950’s house had never been updated when he purchased it. The house had little to no insulation and an oil furnace. Practically doing a 180 on the house, Ben tackled the problems hands-on.
First, Ben updated the insulation in the basement and attic, blowing two feet of cellulose in the attic. Next Ben added a huge grid-tied solar system to off-set his electric bills. This system worked so well that it off-set all of his electric usage, and more! Since he was generating surplus power Ben replaced his fossil fuel systems with electric heat pumps. This made his house net-zero for plug loads, and for climate control. That’s amazing!
That year Ben and his family had a wake-up call. There was a 2-3 day power outage and his house was in the dark. The grid-tied solar system had no back-up. He was out of power just like his neighbors.
The new mission for Ben was to build a battery back-up system capable of keeping day-to-day life un-interrupted. He succeeded in doing this while keeping to a tight budget.
The new battery system is comprised of a used car battery from a Smart Fortwo EV. 2.65kw of solar PV, and a PIP inverter/charger. Ben installed the 2.65kw PV on his north-facing roof because he had ran out of space on the south. Amazingly, this is still working great keeping the batteries full. This truly demonstrates how fantastic the solar PV technology is.
Thank you Ben for opening up your home to all of us. I learned a great deal, and I know others will benefit as well.
Ben works for Building Energy in Vermont.
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High Voltage DC Solar Breaker:
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MPP PIP Inverter/Charger: