Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Susan Ross’ Story: Living Off the Grid with Solar

The modules of the new array are larger, but slimmer than my previous one. All photos: Susan Ross.

Susan Ross

In 2001, we built a home in New Hampshire where power was an afterthought. I didn’t go into my lifestyle to live off-grid, but solar was the only option. A 48-volt system was installed with eight 120-watt modules, a Trace Inverter, eight Rolls batteries, and a Honda Generator.

I had faith and trust in the people who surrounded me. Little did I know for the next eighteen years I would live off a generator because the system couldn’t power my home. Three charge controllers, two battery banks, two generators, one divorce and seven solar professionals later, I’m finally in good hands.

Dave Bonta, from Sundeaver, is a name I remembered from when we built, but I only met him in January 2019 when my charge controller quit. My batteries were old, and my Kohler generator decided not to start one cold morning. Dave was the only person to immediately help. He came to the rescue and brought his Kohler expert, Jeff.

I cried with relief the first time we spoke, and he probably didn’t know what to think! By afternoon the Kohler was running and a new Outback charge controller was installed within days.

Susan with her beautiful modules after installation; she was super excited and loved their color.

Life was good, or so I thought. Dave recommended a module upgrade, eight modules at 315 watts each. He was the only solar person to mention replacing modules. After their installation, life became great, because they were beautiful and blended into nature. I had power, so much power, for the first time. Within a day, Dave had to disconnect two modules so the Outback’s cooling fan wouldn’t run as much.

We had talked about me being the perfect candidate for a RELiON battery, so he visited Nancy Rae Mallery, publisher of G.E.T., to see her RELiON set-up that she had been encouraging him to look into. I could tell Dave was impressed and excited about the RELiON, so he ordered mine.

While waiting for the new battery, life couldn’t get any worse, right? Wrong. Less than two weeks later, while waiting for the new battery, my battery meter started counting down on a full-sun Sunday morning, no less.

When Dave and Jeff arrived, I stress-cried again. This was my last straw, the point I never wanted to reach. I was done with this crazy lifestyle and needed significant change to stay. The six modules were too much for my existing system, so the batteries fried and the excess power went to the Outback which shutdown.

For the first time, my inverter wouldn’t turn on, and everything was dark. For three days, I ran off the inverter’s bypass switch for a direct feed to my generator while waiting for my RELiON battery.

The day the RELiON battery system was installed I was excited, and it’s been amazing since! Average reading: 53.2 volts. Laundry, showers, filling a 70-gallon stock tank, night or day, the RELiON maintains 53 volts. It’s crazy amazing. I’m in love with my new battery storage.

Dave said I would forget my generator, and I have almost. Life is changing dramatically with reliable, consistent, strong power – it’s phenomenal.

I’m not one to push the energy envelope, I still use my icebox, but the possibilities are opening up, and it makes me smile. Every day I’m grateful for all Dave and Jeff have given me, the circle is complete eighteen years later, and life is just beginning with my beautiful modules and RELiON!

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