Thursday, March 10, 2011

We've Gone Solar

10 March 2010
It is nearly 9:00pm and I am typing this on a netbook that I have plugged into our new solar power system.  My son-in-law, JR, hooked it all up today and I charged up the netbook battery before sundown.  At this moment, I am still plugged into the inverter and using the netbook off the battery the solar panel had charged.  If the inverter's digital display begins to show the battery is getting low, I can unplug the netbook and still run it another 4 hours off the netbook's battery.  I put my netbook on the charger 5 hours ago and have also charged a cell phone.  Even after that usage, the battery is still showing 12.4 volts coming out of the battery.  It has held at that level since I first began using it this afternoon.  JR tells me that I could run a small inexpensive printer off the system also.  Not a large 4-in-1 machine, but a simple basic printer.  What a blessing!  It would sure save a lot of time and fuel costs to not have to go to an office supply or library to print out homeschool worksheets.
I walked to the back field today with JR to show him where we are wanting the house built.  He has a lot of construction experience and is helping with the build.  We are wanting to do as much as possible ourselves.  The trees that need to be removed have been marked and the layout noted.  Tomorrow, the field will be cut in that area to help get the ground ready for clearing the turf, compacting the soil, and framing/prepping the foundation for concrete to be poured.  It is exciting to know that the house is becoming a reality.  It will be a work in process for some time to come, but we will be moving into it before summer's end. 
The house design is very simple and basic.  The outside dimensions are 32' wide by 30' deep for a total 960 sq ft.  We are planning 3 bedrooms (10'x10' each) along one side.  The bathroom/laundry, kitchen, and pantry (10'x10' each) along the opposite side.  Down the middle will be a large 12'x30' multi-purpose room.  The multi-purpose room will have a dining area at one end with a family room/study area at the other end.  The kitchen will be open into the multi-purpose room.  I am planning to have an open doorway (no door) between the kitchen and pantry.  The bathroom/laundry and kitchen will share a wall to make the plumbing easier and all in one area.  I love the simplicity of the design.  It will be easy to build as well as cost efficient.  The design is loosely based on the layout of my Grandma's house.  I loved the idea of having bedrooms & bathroom on the sides of the house with the main family areas in the middle. 
There is a lot of thought going into the house design.  The rooms are sized for efficiency.  We believe in having a well stocked pantry.  With that in mind, we are allowing a good sized room just for that.  With the walls lined with shelving and some freestanding storage in the center of the room, we will have more than ample storage space. 
In our home, the kitchen is where everyone seems to gather throughout the day.  An open design that has only a worktable in between the kitchen and main room makes the kitchen a part of the family area.  Whether we are homeschooling, gathered as a family, or have guests, I can work in the kitchen and still be available & take part. 
The large bath/laundry is a convenience.  All plumbing is in one area.  It is also nice in the winter to have a dryer near the bath area.  With the proper venting attachment, you can have the hot air from the dryer heat the bathroom.  If we placed an outdoor entrance to that room, it would make a convenient mud room also.  Still considering whether to add that extra door or not.
The bedrooms are sized to be comfortable.  We don't spend much time in those rooms, so they don't need to be very large.  The rooms are just large enough to meet our basic needs, but still large enough to allow the kids room to play a bit. Most of our time is spent as a family outdoors, in the kitchen or family room.  With that in mind, the main room is comfortably sized, but a bit large.  The dining and family/study area is one shared space.  Only the furniture layout will define the separate functions of the space.
I am looking forward to seeing how this will all evolve and come together.  It is an exciting time.  We know that there will be challenges.  Like Rome, our house will not be built in a day.  It will take time to complete.  The fun is in the journey.  The level to which it becomes a challenge is determined by your attitude.  I think it will be most exciting for my beloved.  Once construction starts, he will be seeing big changes each time he returns home.  He can actually come home one time to a house in process and the next time to us being moved in. 
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Linda said...

WOW! How exciting for you Paula! Perhaps you will stop by The Journey again now... It's not mine anymore, but it's still there.

Robin E. said...

We are also in the process of building our own small home in SW Oklahoma! We have been living in the 30 x 36 home for 2 years now, trying to finish it as we go. It has been an experience---truly blood, sweat, and tears!! Our design is similar to yours--it was a Sutherlands garage package that we added interior walls. We use a wood burning stove for heat, propane stove & hot water heater, the rest is electric. You are an inspiration to me, as I would like to be alot more self reliant. We also homeschool our 3 children and wouldn't have it any other way. The Lord is good!! Have a blessed day.