Can I get a hands-up for everyone who uses DC to power their life?  Aha! That is exactly one person.  I see you there, madam.  As for everyone else, hello, welcome to electricity.  I bet you don’t think about it very often.  I know I don’t.  It’s the most convenient thing in the world, in between indoor plumbing and ketchup.  (For serious y’all, don’t under-appreciate ketchup.)

Electricity makes my digital life go.  It lets me read e-books on kindle, and shows me pictures of long-lost relatives and feminist Ryan Gosling.  It is also hella scarce when you’re thinking about living in an off-grid tiny house.  And since we’re in the design and planning stage, that is where we’re at today: sourcing electricity.

Now as you know, I’m kind of a big deal a person with some health issues.  When you add an organic farmer to the mix, you get two people who need a full kitchen, including a decent-sized refrigerator, a stove, and an oven.  This is a departure from other tiny houses, most of which have a half-fridge and no oven.  And on top of all that, my environmental sensitivities make me susceptible to buildings with weird smells and too much moisture.  Unfortunately, propane smells bad, and it releases a lot of water vapor into the air as it burns, which is a problem when you realize that most tiny homes call for three propane appliances (a stove top, a heat source, and a tankless water heater).  I know we won’t be able to avoid propane completely, as it’s super inefficient to heat water with electricity, but we’d like to get away from using it as much as possible.

The electrical system is shaping up to be a huge part of our home. We both feel pretty strongly about living off-grid, so we’ve had to delve into the world of solar power and wiring for off-grid systems. We now know what we need: panels, charge controller, batteries, fuse block, inverter, circuit breakers, 12v outlets, and regular 110v outlets.  We also know what we need to calculate: power draw from all our appliances and lights running on DC, power draw from all outlets running on AC.

And finally we know that we’re exhausted.  Trying to find appliances and solar panels that fit all of our criteria is tiring!  My brain is fried.

Over my weekend-long, self-guided crash course in solar panels and the difference between DC and AC, I came to a realization: electricity’s not such a bad thing to know.  It will help us get the best solar setup for our needs, and it will certainly help us maintain our house once we’re living in it. I can’t help but think that if everyone took a little more interest in their electrical system, we wouldn’t be in such a mess with coal power and nuclear reactors and the keystone pipeline.  The personal is political!  Thank you feminism.

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