8 thoughts on “Solar System for a Small Log Cabin”

  1. I have been using Harbor Freight panels for a couple of years. They are great for starting out in solar, but are a bit pricey for the amount of watts. The 3 panels combined are only 45 watts. Sometimes Harbor Freight has coupons and you can get them for $140.00 per set of 3. The box includes a charge controller and some 12 volt lights.
    These sets are good for RVs and small cabins where your just running 12 volt systems. I believe that John Wells at the Field Lab is using several sets of these to power his homestead.

    I personally like the DM Solar panels you can get for around 80 cents/watt. They have a 145 watt panel that sells in a two pack for $230.00. That is 290 watts for 230 bucks. Of course you need to add a charge controller but if you need more power or have long installs of wire, it is more cost effective.

    For those that are interested, there is a Harbor Freight Solar panel forum. You can find it at:


    It is a DIY solar board with a lot of friendly and helpful people.

  2. Seems like a good system. It’s limited but, for his use it’s fine. Harbor Freights has good equipment such as the tools etc. It’s sort of unknown in a way and that suits me fine because it keeps the cost down. What IS the price of a boat deep cycle battery? He mentioned the cold keeps them from working very good. The answer is earthbags. That might take care of that problem. There’s a site called Power For Patriots that sells an instructional DVD on how to build solar panels and I wonder if it’s better than what I have which is called Power 4 Home OR, is it the same thing just with a different name? Do you know? Is there a better DVD that covers more than these two? Thanks for the reply. I appreciate it.

    • The market for solar energy systems is exploding and there are now countless products and services available. I can’t say which ones are the best. Maybe readers can make some suggestions.

      A previous blog post had a chart that showed how solar energy is very close to the cost of energy from coal, and the cost is dropping every year. There should be a tipping point in the next few years. When that happens there will probably be an explosive growth in solar (unless some other competing energy system can match the price). Explosive growth in solar will likely drive the cost down further just like other products like computers and phones that get mass produced.

    • Cool cabin.

      I don’t know what the situation was for the guys that built this cabin. Perhaps they don’t own the open meadow land that has available sunshine?

      Whatever the case may be, this video also illustrates the importance of carefully selecting the site where to build. If the cabin were built in the sunny location, the solar panels wouldn’t need to get dragged around, and sunshine could fill cabin windows helping heat it.

      Those battery buckets, especially if they have lids that will seal, look like ideal containers to bury inside a compost pile to prevent the batteries from freezing when away from the cabin during the winter. The compost pile (assuming someone is using a simple bucket style compost toilet, and the pile has an abundance of mulch insulation around it made from whatever organic stuff is available on site) could generate enough heat to keep the batteries nice and warm through the winter.

      • Good idea about putting the battery buckets in compost.

        This is an old historic cabin in the north woods of Minnesota. Putting the panels in a distant meadow and moving them around is far from ideal, but he’s just working with what’s available.

        I think he did a very good job explaining his solar energy system, and I enjoyed watching some of his other videos.

    • The price for a true deep cycle battery is between 70-1500 bucks. Marine batteries are not really deep cycle. They are a hybrid between a true deep cycle and an automotive battery. You can get 6 volt golf cart batteries for around 100 dollars at places like Costco or Walmart. They are deep cycle. High end deep cycle batteries are expensive. The best ones are those that are made for forklifts.


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