AC panels and breakers



Total cost (1990 Canadian $) Total cost (converted to 1990 U.S. $)


Total cost (1990 Canadian $) Total cost (converted to 1990 U.S. $)


Propane plays a large part in our life at Bob Lake. Water is heated by an on-demand Paloma PH5 heater, and refrigeration is provided by a Sibir fridge and a Frostek freezer. All of these products have served us well and come highly recommended. We cook on a nameless propane stove we found at a garage sale for $50.

Boys and Their Toys

Everything in our system is working perfectly, but there is so much neat new stuff out there to buy. Following the dictates of my male genes, I have to keep adding to our system. In the long term, we would love to get a

Sunfrost fridge, and I am interested in building a freezer from a Nova-Kool compressor kit. We are looking at the new generation of charge controllers now available. The Trace C12 is a great example of a charge controller with three stage charging, pulse width modulation, and adjustable float voltage setting. Our present Photron charge controllers use electromagnetic relays. Although they have served us without any problems, the points in these relays can wear out and burn. They also deliver only a simple On or Off charging regime.

I plan to add a Trace C12 in line with, and in front of, our present three-panel Photron charge controller. Why not just replace the three-panel controller? I am a paranoid sort and am constantly convinced that we are going to fly in to Bob Lake only to find our battery "fried" and a failed charge controller laughing at me. I plan to set the maximum charge voltage on the C12 controller slightly below the Photron three-panel controller. If the Trace unit fails, the Photron unit will still be in line and ready to go. The six-panel Photron charge controller will, of course, be manually turned off each time we leave Bob Lake. This may be overkill, but if it lets me sleep at night, what's the harm? Besides, I am a boy and I get to buy another toy. I would also love to buy a Fluke 87 multimeter. Then I could take measurements all over our system and drive Lynda crazy with all my new found data!

True Scavengers Keep Their Eyes Open

I got lucky when I got a summer contract involving monitoring of waste water flows at an abandoned gold mine site in the area. There was lots of wire and other great stuff lying around in the bush. My employer was more than happy to let me retrieve the wire as they were going to have to pay to remove it. I got 1000 feet of 10 gauge three conductor Teck wire (an almost indestructible, conduit-covered cable which can safely be laid directly on the ground) worth $4 per foot. I also got $250 worth of waterproof junction boxes and all kinds of other great stuff! It was just what I needed to transfer AC power to our shed, guest cabin, and Jacuzzi water pump. I got my AC panels (one for the main home and one for the guest cabin) complete with breakers at a yard sale for $5 each. My shower and all of the plumbing came from an abandoned mining exploration camp. I traded a $100 metal snowmobile sled to a mining drilling company for my Paloma water heater (they needed bigger ones). Keep your eyes open, particularly around industrial sites and companies.

Eureka, It Lives!

Thinking of the little train story of my childhood, I kept chanting the phrase "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can." Somehow, I muddled my way through the installation. When I finally pulled the switch on the source center, it all worked! I couldn't believe it. There must be a solar god who looks after electrical Luddites! With chest swelled and still not believing I had done it, I told Lynda I knew all along it would work.

Seven years later, our system is still working just fine. Our guests are impressed as all get out with the things you can do with the sun's help!

If there is any message in this article, it is two-fold. Solar is a wonderful way to power a remote northern home. If I can do it, you can do it. Now, get off your butt and shut off your power plant, folks! As I now like to say, "If it ain't solar, it ain't jack squat!"


Bill Layman, Lac Du Vauture Eco Tours, PO Box 327, La Ronge, Saskatchewan S0J 1L0, Canada 306-425-2858 • Fax: 306-425-3231 [email protected]

Soltek Solar Energy Ltd, #2 - 745 Vanalman Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia V8Z 3B6, Canada 800-667-6527 • 250-727-7720 • Fax: 250-727-2135 [email protected] • Web:

Northern Alternate Power Systems, PO Box 14, Pink Mountain, British Columbia V0C 2B0, Canada 250-774-1088

Sunelco Inc., 100 Skeels Street, PO Box 787, Hamilton, MT 59840-0787 • 800-338-6844 • 406-363-6924 Fax: 406-363-6046 • [email protected] Web:

Real Goods Trading Corp., 555 Leslie Street, Ukiah, CA, 95482-3471 • 800-762-7325 • 707-468-9292 Fax: 707-468-9486 • [email protected] Web:

Ron LaPlace, Sun Direct Energy, Inc., PO Box 136, Colinton, Alberta T0G 0R0, Canada • 403-675-2586 Fax: 403-675-2634 • [email protected]

Sask Solar Systems, PO Box 444, Air Ronge, Saskatchewan S0J 3G0, Canada • 306-425-3930 Cell phone: 306-425-7410 or 7678

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