The cabin is coming together nicely. We have been chugging through some of the tasks that we can tackle on our own like the tar paper, hurricane clips, lag bolts, collar ties, the stairway and making new trails.
We are always thinking and planning two or three steps out, however. We are trying to decide what to do for siding and windows and doors. But the big question that has been on our mind is should we go with solar energy or regular grid-tie energy.
When we first started building the cabin we thought solar was our only option since the cabin is so far from any road and tucked up in the jungle. Then we talked with the electrician who built our pedestal and moved the electricity from the old wood house to our cabana and he said he could do it. And all underground too! No unsightly wires hanging in the trees. So this gave us a second option. We have done some research online and visited some solar stores in Puerto Rico as well. But we are still having a hard time making a decision.
Each option has its pros and cons and they sort of cancel each other out.
Here are the pros for each option as we see them:
Pros for Regular Electric:
Cheaper to set up (at least half the cost)!
Can use as much electricity as needed without worry of running out
Easier to connect for expansion/building other things
Done by professional -one stop shopping and less hassle for us
Not as many parts to understand/fix if they break
No load on the roof for the panels
Aesthetics (no panels showing)
Pros for Solar:
Not dependent on the expensive energy of Puerto Rico which is currently around 30 cents KW -one of the highest costs in the U.S. and abroad
Make us more conscientious about energy usage if we only had so much
Off-grid living at its finest
Could be used in other applications as well
Never have to worry about power outages when everyone else loses power
We were actually just about set to do solar, but then we saw the price tag and how little energy it would actually generate. From Maximo Solar in Aguadilla we got a quote for about $6000 for 1.5 KW/day (assuming 5.5 hours of sunlight). This included pretty much everything including the batteries, inverter, panels, charge controller, and wires. But it did not include the mounting hardware or the battery rack and it did not include installation (which would mean a big learning curve for us).
The most energy efficient fridges use about 1 KW a day and all the other appliances (lights, fans, laptop, point-of-us water heaters, etc) would probably fall under the rest, but we would need to be very energy conscientious. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but leaves little wiggle room for a long stint of cloudy days though Rincon is sunnier than many other places on the island. We found other systems online that are slightly less costly, but the shipping to Puerto Rico is outrageous (a rant for another day!).
So we are still sort of weighing the pros and cons and thought we’d put it out there to see if there were any other perspectives we were missing. One of our friends said to do whatever it takes to get solar in order to get out from under AEE’s (the Puerto Rico Electric Company) thumb. But we really haven’t had that much of a problem with them. It’s a tough call. Hmmm. What do you think?