Considerations When Selecting Appliances
for Off-Grid Living:
Incandescent lamps produce 98% heat and only 2% light. Not a good
use for your expensive solar power. Compact Fluorescent bulbs are
much more efficient - a 23W CF bulb produces as much light as a 100W
incandescent lamp but requires less than one-fourth the power. Plus, a
CF bulb will typically last in excess of
10,000 hours. That is over 5 years at 5 hours per day.
Even more efficient is to power your most commonly used lighting loads
directly from a 12VDC battery pack. Special electronic ballasts are
available that permit CF bulbs to be operated from low voltage DC. Many
of these ballast/lamp combinations use the common Edison base, so it is
entirely possible to use conventional lighting fixtures.
Of course, this will require that your home have dual wiring runs.
One set of wires for conventional 120VAC appliances and another, much
heavier, for your 12VDC loads (mostly lighting). If you are building
a new custom home, this is a good option to explore with your
electrician. For a pre-existing building the options are more limited,
but creative solutions can often be found.