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Green Power in Rural PA

Hello, this is Gene Angel, and this picture is where Kaycy Ruffer and I live in rural Crawford Co. PA. I’ve been growing my own vegetables hydroponically for a couple years, but this year I added solar panels to power In Light of Us. Below I’m going to share a piece of my story in the hopes that you will see that building a small or large solar installation is a very doable project for the average person at a modest cost!


When I first envisioned my concept of In Light of Us, I knew I wanted to power it in alignment with our mission. So I decided to see if I could run it by solar power. The two big questions in my mind at the time were “could I afford it” and “would it work”. Using part of my stimulus check and my finely honed skills for looking for great deals, I bought a solar bank, batteries, a charge controller, an internet modem/router, and a very power efficient computer.

How I Did It

The Hardware:

The solar panels you see below are two 350 watt panels for a total of 700 watts. I knew when businesses buy solar panels for their roofs, it's cheaper to buy them by the crate. So they often have leftover panels you can buy at a "discount". I paid $150 each for the two 350 watt panels.
The local store Batteries and Bulbs had Deep Cycle batteries on a really good sale. Combined with an online coupon, I got 4 brand new 6V 235Ah deep cycle batteries for $100 each. I bought an efficient EPever 40 amp MPPT charge controller for $89 from ebay.
The Server:

I am using a very powerful, yet low cost ($75) educational Linux computer, called the "Raspberry Pi 4B 8GB". This computer contains a very powerful quadcore 1500Mzh 64bit ARM processor and 8Gigs of DDR4 RAM running at only 3.5 watts of power!!! For storage I am using two Samsung Enterprise SSDs hard drives ($200). I am also using a Kenetic internet connection with a static IP at 100MB down and 50MB up. I use a very efficient DC2DC buck converter that converts the batteries 24V (V=volts) down to 12V for the modem and 5V for the Pi computer. Combined, the computer and modem both efficiently use .6 amps at 24V of the batteries!!! I have a 24V to 110V inverter connected to the batteries as well, that I can use in case of emergency to power medical equipment/lights/etc here at the house. Over night the Pi and modem use less than 5% of the battery power. So even on DARK cloudy/rainy days the solar panels STILL top off the batteries in 2-4 hours or MUCH faster time in full sun.

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Web page hosting and 'In Light of Us' are provided to the community by:
Gene Angel and Kaycy Ruffer