solar panels

Thanksgiving and Solar Panels

by Kristie H. on 11/28/2011

For me, the Thanksgiving holiday started on Wednesday with a trip to our mountain cabin. I spent all day cleaning the off-grid cabin because although it was only my kids and husband and I that would be here for Thanksgiving, why do it in a dirty cabin? Our cabin is powered entirely by solar panels with a battery bank to store the energy so when I clean I also have to monitor our battery depth of discharge since it was a very foggy day in the Sierra Mts on Wednesday. In the middle of all that, I got some last-minute groceries, baked some rolls in our traditional wood burning stove and some pumpkin pie custards and generally exhausted myself.

Anyway, because our cabin is off-grid, I cook on a wood burning stove, so we had a very simple Thanksgiving dinner. The solar panels do a nice job of powering the batteries even during cloudy weather. Since I had drawn down the batteries the night before, I needed to get out of the cabin and let the solar panels recharge the batteries. We trimmed some trees that were beginning to shade the solar panels, but we still have to watch our power consumption.

On the big turkey Day, once I got the stove kindled that is, I took my younger kids over to my mom and dad’s place to drop off a Christmas present my husband had picked up for them. I know it sounds a little corny, but I also had T-shirts made that said “A (can’t print the full name here) Family Thanksgiving”. It was fun all of us showing up with matching T-shirts at dad’s. After that, we headed back to the cabin so I could get my bird in the oven and we could get dressed for dinner. Okay, it wasn’t really a ‘bird’ it was just part of a bird, but that’s not the point. Cooking in a wood oven can be a little tricky, but lots of fun. LED lights powered by solar panels can be as warm as any home holiday experience.

So I make my Thanksgiving meal as simple as can be while still having a pseudo-traditional meal. I cook a turkey
breast in the oven, make mashed potatoes from a package, make stuffing from a box, heat up a can of green beans, bake frozen rolls, use gravy from a jar, and make pumpkin pie custards. OK, I know its more packaged foods than anything. But there are some concessions to be made. Living off-grid with solar panels powering the cabin is heaven to me. No grid, no utility to gouge us no problem. I’ve tried making those pumpkin bar kits in the past, but they are just to tough in a wood burning stove. Thanksgiving out of instant mixes, it doesn’t get much easier than that.

Perhaps it’s not exactly what you would call traditional, but my husband and I have always been pretty good at thinking outside the box. To that end, my family thinks living off-grid with solar panels is a great way to live and would like to make it a full-time lifestyle.

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