Living completely off grid can s


by Reba Daniel and Claire Whipple, Solar Unlimited, Inc.

Living completely off grid can seem a risky proposition for most city folk, but Gerald and Claire Whipple and their two children have lived completely off the grid for over 7 years, and have never once experienced a power failure. They have all the accoutrements of a modern home, (dishwasher, televisions, washer and dryer, water heater), but none of the modern interruptions like brownouts and downed lines. Their system includes twelve 75-watt panels on a tracker and ten 75-watt panels on a fixed array, along with a backup propane generator.

The decision to live independent of municipal electricity originated from the exorbitant costs associated with bringing power to their home, several miles outside the nearest point of connection. The charge for the connecting to the grid would have amounted to $125,000.00, whereas the total cost for the Renewable Energy system was $25,000.00 - a savings of $100,000.00!

Deciding what type of system would work most efficiently was a matter of personal research and diligent study, since, at the time, there were no Renewable Energy experts in the area. The process became an integral part of Gerald's day. As a licensed General Contractor, the vision of a company that could provide expertise, service and installation to others who, like him, wanted reliable alternative energy, turned into a personal goal for both him and his wife, Claire. Using his extensive background in construction, numerous training courses, trial and error and unlimited persistence, that vision would eventually become reality.

"The best source of information we found was a solar catalogue. "We started with two solar panels and six golf cart batteries. Our biggest obstacle was finding qualified, knowledgeable, licensed and insured sources for design and installation." Once the process was complete and the couple had one project 'under their belt', their incentive to initiate their dream Renewable Energy company, Solar Unlimited, Inc., was on its way. Gerald's construction company built a home and installed an off-grid system to be presented at the Iron County Parade of Homes. Ultimately, the home took the Special Feature - Energy Efficiency Award, and provided an excellent marketing avenue for Solar Unlimited, Inc. Some of the Parade of Homes visitors had never seen a house powered exclusively with Renewable Energy, and were astonished when they realized how unobtrusive the system's appearance was, and how efficiently it ran.

Since that time, Gerald and Solar Unlimited, Inc. have installed close to 100 renewable energy systems, and see a steadily increasing demand for both off-grid and net-metered systems. Solar Unlimited, Inc., once just a dream, is now a profitable reality. The company is founded upon sound knowledge, experience, and a lot of hard work - work that has resulted in the area's most asked for alternative renewable energy sales, service and installation.

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