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Archive for Sunday, July 15, 2001

7-15 Solar Power Man

July 15, 2001

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Anderson, 59, lives in a small A-frame house he built near Ozawkie, about a half mile from Perry Lake. His home does not have central air conditioning or heat.

In his words, Anderson lives completely "off the grid," which means he doesn't use electricity or gas from utility companies to light, heat or cool his home. Instead, he produces the power he needs with homemade solar-energy collection panels and wind generators.

His only departure from complete energy independence is to buy kerosene to fuel a space heater, which helps keep things toasty in cold weather.

"I haven't ever been uncomfortable," said Anderson, who works for Cottonwood Inc. in Lawrence. "I don't give up anything except the electric bill."

He uses 110-volt outlets throughout his home to run a CD player, a TV, his computer and printer, a few lights, an electric shaver, small fans and electric drills. But he does his laundry in town, because a washer and dryer would require more electrical current than he can produce.

He receives telephone and Internet service through a standard phone line to his house.

Everything in Anderson's home is powered by the energy -- captured from the sun and wind -- stored in eight Trojan 6-volt batteries.

He builds his solar collection panels himself at a cost of about $170 apiece. He also largely improvised his own wind generator -- three big turbine fans perched in a tree behind his house.

"Doing this is a hobby, and it's interesting. I just like to play around with things," Anderson said. "People need to know that it works, and that it's simple."

He says he would be able to run everything at his house for one to two weeks with the energy stored in his batteries.

"So many people are going solar -- it's catching on," he said. "Solar power is hot -- no pun intended."

-- Staff writer Jim Baker can be reached at 832-7173.

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