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The Solar Homestead FamilyMy wife, Anne, and I began our off grid journey when we decided to build an off-grid home on the east coast of Canada in 2001 using a gas generator, Air 403 wind turbine, 16 golf cart batteries and a Trace 2600 watt inverter/charger. We used this system for the first few months and later added solar energy. The generator was a cheap model 5000 watt unit that charged the batteries thru the inverter. It was very inefficient and I estimate each kWh cost about $3.00 compared to $0.11 for grid power.

From the beginning the plan was to build off the power grid even though power lines were available within 600 feet of our home. We wanted to be independent and wanted to try and “do the right thing”.

We also wanted to grow our own food and raise our own animals for food. Sounds great but when both of you work full time or go to university or college, finding the time to maintain animals and veggies is a lot of work.

Our first garden. We raised hundreds of potato bugs and helped to promote tomato blight!

Our first garden… We raised hundreds of potato bugs and helped to promote tomato blight!

And with the U.S. and Canadian governments spending more money than they collect year after year we knew it was a matter of time before the “party will be over”. The creditors will want to be repaid and let’s face it, the U.S. is already bankrupt and the Canadian government is not far behind.

Building and living off the grid was not easy nor cost effective. Information was difficult to find and even harder to understand. There was no where to get accurate information on using solar energy in eastern Canada. All the figures re: expected power output etc. seemed to come from the west coast in places like California and Oregon. Regardless, in late 2001 we put our first solar energy system together.

While beginning the building our home (early 2001) we stuck to following together:

4 Trojan T 105 6 Volt Golf Cart Batteries
1 Southwest Windpower Air 403 400 watt 24 Volt Wind Turbine
1 Trace/Xantrex U2624 2600 Watt Modified Sine Wave Inverter
No fuses, no breakers and no code compliance

our AIR 403 24 volt

Our first wind turbine was an AIR 403 24 volt model with custom blades that would catch more air but turn slower. The new blades actually helped our production quite a bit. However the AIR 303, AIR 403 and AIR-X are nothing more than toys as they produce very little power in low wind and blow up in high winds. Good choice for a small cabin that is only used on the weekends.

 

I wish I had pictures so you could see how pathetic it was.

As we were only working on the house for a few days every two weeks (we were working in Maine as Therapeutic Foster Parents)  it worked like a dream and kept the noisy generator use to a minimum. We thought we were solar experts. HA! At least now I realize we weren’t experts then and we are aren’t now either!

This is the first inverter we ever used in our off the grid home. We loved it. The battery charger and transfer switch worked well and the surge power was incredible. The downside of the U2624SB is the fact it is a modified sine (square) wave inverter that destroyed a brand new Sears refrigerator, some cordless tools and one laptop. We were slow learners and we did not have the money right away to buy a sine wave inverter.

This is the first inverter we ever used in our off the grid home. We loved it. The battery charger and transfer switch worked well and the surge power was incredible. The downside of the U2624SB is the fact it is a modified sine (square) wave inverter.

The first real system (late 2001) consisted of:

16 Trojan T 105 6 Volt Golf Cart Batteries
6 BP/Solarex 120 watt Solar Modules
1 Southwest Windpower Air 403 400 watt 24 Volt Wind Turbine
1 Trace/Xantrex C-40 Charge Controller
1 Trace/Xantrex U2624SB 2600 Watt Modified Sine Wave Inverter
1 Trace Class T 300 amp Fuse
No DC Disconnect for Inverter
2 Square D Circuit Breaker Panels as they are rate for DC up to 48 Volts
2 Square D 60 Amp DC Disconnects (one for solar, one for dc generator)

It was put together very crudely and the solar modules just leaned against the east wall of the house.

The first thing someone might think is how are you going to operate a whole house on only 720 watts of solar.

The correct answer is…you cannot!!!

In fact for our first few years we could not even operate a “normal” sized fridge and couldn’t afford a decent sized propane stove. We bought a fridge and stove out of a camper trailer and those were our appliances for 2 or 3 years.

The small fridge is on the floor to the left and the stove (with oven) is on the counter.

The small fridge is on the floor to the left and the stove (with oven) is on the counter. This was NOT the dream kitchen my wife Anne had in mind when she married me over twenty years ago. Although these were ok for the first few years it was soon time to upgrade. Little did we know that would turn out to be such a challenge.

The second major problem with this system was the Trace modified sine wave inverter. Although the above inverter was quite powerful for it’s time, and it had a decent battery charger, it could and did destroy some electronics. But you have to remember this was 16 years ago and back then real, pure, true (and all the other words manufacturers use) sine wave inverters were VERY expensive.

Stove Tec rocket stove with one door

STOVE TEC ROCKET STOVE

I truly regret we hadn’t discovered the Stove Tec rocket stove back then (if it was even made that long ago) as we could have cooked many meals outside with scrap branches, alder bushes and firewood.

The Stove Tec (I can’t speak for the others) is an amazing little stove that uses almost no fuel. You HAVE to see it to believe it.

I will try and write a page on the Stove Tec with photos and video to show how efficient these stoves are. In developing countries these would be so useful as most people burn charcoal with some type of grill on top for every hot meal they make. They could cut their charcoal use (or use coconut shells or whatever else they burn) to a 1/4 to and 1/8th of what they are using now. UNBELIEVABLE!

We have got to get these into the hands of Haitians somehow. The air is so dirty from burning coal, animal waste, waste engine oil and anything else that will burn. Every time I go down to Haiti my lungs hurt for a week.

The most distressing of all was the brand new Sears/Frigidaire refrigerator it damaged. In the summer of 2002 we finally had enough money to purchase a new fridge from Sears.

fridgeThe day it was delivered I plugged it in only to watch it jump across the floor for about 15 seconds and then quit.

Assuming it was a “dud” fridge I called Sears and asked for a new unit to replace this “faulty” unit. About a week later I plugged in the new fridge to see it begin the dance of death. This time I unplugged it quickly as I knew Sears was good to deal with but not that good.

A few hours later I plugged the new refrigerator into our gas powered 120 volt AC generator and it worked great.

Now we either had to buy a sine wave inverter or continue using the tiny RV fridge we had been using for about a year.

We decided to go with the Trace (now Xantrex) SW4024 4000 24 volt watt sine wave inverter. It was listed on a US website for $2200 USD. By the time it arrived at our home in NB the total cost was $4797 in Canadian funds.

$2200 x 1.58 (exchange rate)=$3476 plus $400 for shipping; $120 for brokerage; $521 for tax and $280 for duty.

At the time that was a lot more than we could afford but it was also the best decision we could have made. The new inverter changed everything. It could be set to sleep when there was very little load, had an awesome battery charger and could power just about anything. The CFL bulbs stopped humming and we could run our ceiling fan without the super loud hum it used to make. WOW! Of course the new fridge ran flawlessly with the Trace SW4024.

Our power system with the Xantrex/Trace SW4024 inverter.

This is the system after we bought the SW4024 inverter but before we bought and hooked up the DC250 DC disconnect. At this point we are using Square D QO breakers as they are rated for up to 48 volts making them suitable for a 12 or 24 volt battery system. The QO breakers would not work in a 48 volt system as the voltage can easily climb above 60 volts DC.

Now our system (late 2002) was like this:

16 Trojan T 105 6 Volt Golf Cart Batteries
6 BP/Solarex 120 watt Solar Modules
1 Southwest Windpower Air 403 400 watt 24 Volt Wind Turbine
1 Trace/Xantrex C40 Charge Controller
1 Trace/Xantrex SW4024 4000 Watt Sine Wave Inverter
1 Trace Class T 300 amp Fuse
No DC Disconnect for Inverter
2 Square D Circuit Breaker Panels as they are rate for DC up to 48 Volts
2 Square D 60 Amp DC Disconnects (one for solar, one for dc generator)

Finally got the solar modules mounted to the south side of the house.

Finally got the solar modules mounted to the south side of the house. Notice the two garage doors. It was my dream to have a two bay garage. You will see later that the two garage doors turned into window seats and the garage turned into bedrooms for our children.

This is the view of our house from the north side. Note that nothing is finished...not the siding, not the landscaping...not anything. At least the Jeep looks good.

This is the view of our house from the north side. Note that nothing is finished…not the siding, not the landscaping…not anything. At least the Jeep looks good.

I was very shocked that my $2200 inverter turned into a $4800 inverter. Now (October 2010) one can buy a Magnum Energy 4400 watt sine wave inverter that is better quality and a better working inverter for about $2100 Canadian dollars. Prices have dropped a lot.

The Cadillac of all inverters in the day...the Xantrex/Trace SW4024. It was the first real sine wave inverter, with a rugged battery charger, auto transfer switch and extremely high surge power that was made for off grid and on grid applications. It truly was the inverter made for everyone. The guys at Trace really should be proud of such an accomplishment so early in the solar industry. There was nothing like it!

The Cadillac of all inverters in the day…the Xantrex/Trace SW4024. It was the first real sine wave inverter, with a rugged battery charger, auto transfer switch and extremely high surge power that was made for off grid and on grid applications. If memory serves me correctly, it would surge at 8500 watts for at least five seconds. Now we could run real well pumps and start compressors. It truly was the inverter made for everyone. The guys at Trace really should be proud of such an accomplishment so early in the solar industry. There was nothing like it!

The new inverter really did make a difference however we were always low on power. I doubt the batteries were ever fully charged. We had to run our gas generator every few days and could not leave anything plugged in like cordless phones etc…

During this time we had many folks drop in or call with questions about solar energy. Most people, like me in the beginning, did not know anything about solar energy and had many questions like…

How much does it cost?

How many solar modules do I need?

What will a solar module operate?

It was then I decided to start a solar energy business to help educate and supply renewable energy equipment to folks in Canada.

At the time we built our first system there was no where to buy solar modules in Canada for a fair price. We bought our BP/Solarex 120 watt modules for $1000 USD ($1580 CAD) each. The same module was advertised in Canada for about $2200. All of the Canadian suppliers wanted a lot more for their products than suppliers in the US. I did not think this was fair. So we started looking for manufacturers who would sell direct to us in Canada. In the beginning there were very few. But as we grew, more and more manufacturer’s would deal with us. Since we are located so close to the US border we are able to import many items ourselves to keep costs to a minimum.

The next big problem with our home system was our gas range. It was an off-the-shelf propane range from Sears. Little did I know that every gas range sold in Canada either has pilot lights or glow plug ignition.

inside upstairs and kitchen

Our home in 2004. The kitchen range was an off-the-shelf model that used a glow plug to operate the oven so we could could not bake without the generator running. We later updated to the Peerless Premier Pro Series range that has a spark ignition top and bottom. Notice the plywood and saw horse counters. We did not get cupboards until 2007.

Pilot lit ovens were only available in ugly “camp like” kitchen ranges and consume a lot of propane via the multiple pilot lights. All of the nicer propane ranges used a glow plug to light the oven and spark ignition to operate the top burners. The spark ignition consumes less than a watt and only operates while the burner is lighting. No problem. However, the glow plugs turn on with the oven, light the propane and stay on the entire time you bake….yes the entire time you bake. Most of them burn between 400 and 500 watts the entire time you bake. For an on grid home this amounts to a few dollars a month and is only inconvenient if the power goes out (the oven will not operate without electricity).

To an off grid home this amounts to not being to bake without buying a large amount of solar modules. Two hours of baking could consume up to 1000 watt hours (1kWh) of electricity. For the short term we did not bake unless the generator was operating.

Peerless Premier Stainless Range with electronic ignition

Peerless Premier Stainless Range (P30) with electronic ignition on the top burners and the oven. Power requirements of less than 1 watt. The best option (in our opinion) for the off grid or energy efficient home.

Within a year we found a perfect solution…a P30 Peerless Premier Pro stainless propane range. The Peerless Premier is the only range in North America that does not use a pilot or a glow plug to light the oven.

Instead they use the spark ignition on the top burners and their own design of a spark ignition to light the oven. They are amazing.

When you turn the oven on, the spark ignition lights the pilot. After about 20 seconds the pilot lights the oven burner. When you turn the oven off, the burner turns off and a few seconds later the pilot turns off. No propane wasted…no large energy consumption. Both the top burner and oven ignition systems use less than a watt to light and then shut off after the burner has lit.

Both the oven and the top burners can be lit with a match if there is no electricity available.

The Peerless Premier ranges are difficult to find in Canada at this time.

Update late 2010: All Peerless Premier gas ranges will be sold with the GE glowplug system as of January 2011. The US DOE (Dept of Environment) is forcing Peerless to change their system as their current thermostats have a tiny bit of mercury in them. I guess they did not consider how much extra mercury would be emitted into the atmosphere by the extra electricity consumed by the glow plugs.

Update 2014: All new Peerless Premier gas ranges are made once again with the 1 watt spark igniton top and bottom. Thank you Peerless Premier.

Within a year or so we got rid of the Square D products and bought the real Trace/Xantrex SW Conduit Box (to interface with the DC250) and Trace/Xantrex DC250 DC Disconnect with a few real DC fuses, including a 250 amp DC breaker (disconnect) for the inverter. The DC250 was the first real inexpensive DC Breaker Panel made for the solar industry. It was made by Robin and boB Gudgel who later created Outback Power www.outbackpower.com and currently own and operate Midnite Solar www.midnitesolar.com although they still own a chunk of Outback still as well.

Now our system (early 2004) was like this:

16 Trojan T 105 6 Volt Golf Cart Batteries
6 BP/Solarex 120 watt Solar Modules
1 Southwest Windpower Air 403 400 watt 24 Volt Wind Turbine
1 Trace/Xantrex C40 Charge Controller
1 Trace/Xantrex SW4024 4000 Watt Sine Wave Inverter
1 Trace Class T 300 amp Fuse
1 Trace/Xantrex SW Conduit Box
1 Trace/Xantrex DC250 Disconnect for Inverter and Breaker Panel
1 250 amp DC Breaker for SW4024
1 40 amp DC Breaker for Solar Modules
1 60 amp DC Breaker for DC Generator
1 AC kWh Meter

our system 2002

Over the next few years we were able to purchase eight more Evergreen 180 watt modules. Evergreen was an amazing company located on the east coast of USA. They have since been put out of business by Chinese manufacturers of solar module’s that are receiving HUGE subsidies from their government. Very sad.

evergreen modules on ground

This tripled our solar energy and cut the generator run time by many hours per week. Now we could get through the summer without running the generator and only had to run it from November to March. However there were only two of us…my wife and I.

Now our system (early 2005) was like this:

16 Trojan T 105 6 Volt Golf Cart Batteries
6 BP/Solarex 120 watt Solar Modules
8 Evergreen 180 watt Solar Modules
1 Southwest Windpower Air 403 400 watt 24 Volt Wind Turbine
1 Trace/Xantrex C40 Charge Controller
1 Trace/Xantrex SW4024 4000 Watt Sine Wave Inverter
1 DC250 Disconnect with various fuses and breakers

In the summer of 2006 we had a lightning strike within 500 feet of our home. Only minutes before I had made a comment to Anne that there were going to be some power outages tonight and something like “I am glad we don’t have to worry about that”. Then…a large lighting strike hit and everything went dark. The lightning struck within 400 feet of our solar modules and induced enough current to cook our C40 charge controller and SW4024 inverter. After sending the inverter to a repair center in Ontario and waiting for months we decided to buy a SW4048 and also upgrade our charge controller to an Outback MX60 MPPT controller. The 48 volt upgrade was a no brainer as it allowed us to use smaller cables, wires and breakers and costs no more than a 24 volt model. It took about 4 months to get the damaged inverter repaired and cost about $1500. For that reason we have always tried to have a spare inverter in case of lighting damage again. We also added lots of Delta LA302DC arrestors although in a direct strike they will not help much. Lightning has the power to make large holes in items like wind turbines so a little plastic container filled with sand will not prevent damage every time. However they are cheap and it is silly to not add them to your system for the cost.

old power systemNow our system (late 2005) was like this:

16 Trojan T 105 6 Volt Golf Cart Batteries
6 BP/Solarex 120 watt Solar Modules
8 Evergreen 180 watt Solar Modules
1 Outback MX60 MPPT Charge Controller
1 Trace/Xantrex SW4048 4000 Watt Sine Wave Inverter
1 DC250 Disconnect with various fuses and breakers
Lots of Deltec LA302DC Lightning Arrestors

You might notice the Air 403 wind turbine is no longer on the list. As it was a 24 volt model it would no longer work in our 48 volt system. It really was nothing more than a toy anyway so I do not miss it. Our solar energy system worked very well for the next few years and with only Anne and I we were able to get by with the power we made. However by the end of 2008 our batteries were getting very weak and the Xantrex SW4048 became extinct.

evergreen modules on ground in winter

As we operated a renewable energy business we decided we should not have a system with parts that are not available. We couldn’t show our customers our system and say “here is a great system….however you cannot get one as they are discontinued.” Seeing as the batteries were worn out as well, we built a completely new system. We acquired eight more Evergreen modules, sixteen new Surrette S530 batteries, two 48 volt 3600 watt Outback inverters, FW500-AC AC breaker panel, FW500-DC DC breaker panel, a Mate and all the accessories. A two inverter system was perfect for us to give us redundancy. If one inverter fails, we can easily operate on the other until the faulty unit is repaired. The inverter on the top is the “master” inverter and the bottom inverter is the “slave” inverter. The “master” inverter is “on” 24 hours a day to keep things like clocks, cordless phones etc. operating. The “slave” inverter is sleeping most of the time. It only powers up if the “master” inverter needs support such as when we use a hair dryer or our 120 volt 1/2 hp submersible pump. Once the larger load is turned off, the “slave” goes back to sleep using only a watt or two rather than over 20 watts if it was to remain “on” all the time. This was a brilliant idea for Outback to design into their inverters.

Since we were building a new power system, it seemed like a good time to build a shop with a solar south facing roof to install our solar modules and to provide a place to put our inventory. By now our inventory was filling two small rooms that were built in the garage of our home. It was time for a real building. However, because we don’t know how to do anything normal we decided on a load bearing straw bale building. It has a conventional 8′ “foot” foundation with 16″ (inch) thick footing but above the foundation is straw.

strawbale buidling with solar modules mounted to roof.

I had seen a few straw-bale buildings in my life and thought “How hard can that be?” It turned out to be a lot more work than we could have dreamed. Stacking the bales and framing in the windows and doors in easy. Plastering is a nightmare.

The second problem is our province/state does not include straw-bale buildings in their building codes and still don’t. After many stop work orders and threats to be jailed we finally hired two engineers and got the building approved. However the money that was set aside for plastering was now spent on legal and engineering fees. To this day, the outside of the building does not have plaster. The inside does but not the outside. We are not even sure when we will be able to plaster the outside.

For now, every year the building gets a brand new layer of vapor barrier. Not the best but what we can afford in time and money. Someday we will write articles on straw-bale construction and how much work it is, but for now you will just have to believe us!

Our new system (early 2009) was like this:

16 Surrette S530 6 Volt 530AH Batteries (1060 Amp-Hours at 48 Volts)
6 BP/Solarex 120 watt Solar Modules (720 watts)
8 Evergreen 180 watt Solar Modules (1440 watts)
8 Evergreen 195 watt Solar Modules (1560 watts)
1 Outback MX60 MPPT Charge Controller
1 Outback FM60 MPPT Charge Controller
2 Outback VFX3648 3600 Watt Sine Wave Inverters (7200 watts@120 vac)
1 Flexware 500 AC and DC Breaker Panels with various fuses and breakers
1 Outback Mate
1 Outback Hub-4
Lots of AC and DC Delta Lightning Arrestors

dual outback vfx3648 system

Our new battery/inverter system inside our new straw-bale building. Behind the equipment you can see the plaster on the wall that we dyed using ferrous something??? Rust!

In 2010 we had a problem with our Surrette S530 batteries. They would not hold a charge and consumed massive amounts of water. We treated them well, kept them topped off with distilled water and equalized them every few months. They were defective. Surrette finally admitted this but not until wasting many months of our time. We had sold hundreds of batteries for Surrette but were still unable to get decent service. While we waited for things to get sorted out and our warranty replacement batteries we purchased 16 Trojan L16 batteries. We had to do something or run a generator 24 hours per day. They have performed flawlessly since and outperformed any Surrette battery we have used or installed. So far no complaints.

Another change to our system occurred in early 2011. We had a customer who was desperate for 10 Evergreen 195 watt modules to add to their existing system. They were willing to purchase our used Evergreens for the full price making us able to replace ours with Canadian Solar 230 watt modules. It helped that we were a distributor of CSI and bought them at the lowest of wholesale pricing.

The last changes to our system were the addition of an Apollo T80 MPPT controller and a FX240 balancing transformer to balance the VFX3648 inverters and give us the ability to produce 120/240 volts with either or both inverters. Keep in mind we own a solar business making many components affordable and available to us that would be harder for others.

Our new system (mid 2011) was like this:

16 Trojan L16 6 Volt 370 AH Batteries (740 Amp-Hours at 48 Volts)
6 BP/Solarex 120 watt Solar Modules (720 watts)
8 Evergreen 180 watt Solar Modules (1440 watts)
8 Canadian Solar 230 watt Solar Modules (1840 watts)
1 Apollo T80 MPPT Charge Controller
1 Outback FM60 MPPT Charge Controller
2 Outback VFX3648 3600 Watt Sine Wave Inverters (7200 watts@120 vac)
1 Flexware 500 AC and DC Breaker Panels with various fuses and breakers
1 Outback FX240 Balancing Transformer
1 Outback Mate
1 Outback Hub-4
Lots of AC and DC Delta Lightning Arrestors

Finally we had the system we always wanted. We were able to put together 4000 watts of solar modules. We now had enough power to operate our fridge, freezer, washer, dryer, dishwasher, various computers, internet, cordless phones, printers, air conditioners and even an electric kettle and toaster oven. The last three items we only operate in the summer as we would be short of electricity in the winter. This system has worked well for the two of us, however lately our needs have changed.

As of June 2009 Anne and I had been married for 15 years and were unable to have children. We decided to adopt two children from Haiti in January of 2006 and were still waiting three years later. Unexpectedly, Anne became pregnant in the summer of 2009.

In late September 2009 we were able to visit our two adopted children (Jeffson and Rihanna) in Petionville, Haiti. Petionville is a village about 5 miles from the center of Port Au Prince. It is one of the nicer areas in Haiti however the living conditions are far worse than any conditions one would experience in Canada. Below you will see a photo of Anne and I while we meet our children for the very first time on the balcony of God’s Littlest Orphanage in Haiti. This photo was taken about one minute after we met each other.

First family meeting 580 wide

If you would like to read more of our experience adopting in Haiti or would like to learn about the process of adopting internationally please click here.(this page will be ready by the middle of November…sorry for the delay)

On January 12 of 2010 the big earthquake happened in Haiti. The home/orphanage our children lived in was spared major damage. On January 27, 2010 Jeffson and Rihanna flew from Haiti to Canada to live with us forever. Three weeks later, February 17, 2010 our baby girl Ava was born.

graham family 580 wide

We had three new arrivals in three weeks. It has been very chaotic however it is a good chaotic. With all the extra people in our home our energy needs have increased dramatically. I’m not sure what we’ll do now as money is tight but we will hopefully buy more modules sometime next year. In the meantime we will just run the generator more.

Update: We have acquired a Southwest Windpower Skystream Grid Tie wind turbine as of 2012. It should produce 2 kilowatts in a good wind storm and might be the addition we need to eliminate our diesel generator. It is not installed yet but we will update when it is.

Update #2: Due to a fall carrying a stretcher and patient down icy stairs in 2004 while working as a paramedic part-time I damaged a disk and nerve in my lower back. As a result of this I was forced to shut down (lose) the solar business and try to find my new normal. In 2011 I was fortunate enough to have a spinal cord simulator implanted with 16 leads going to my spinal cord. This sends electricity to parts of my spinal cord that are causing the pain and allow me to get out of bed and have some resemblance of normal. As long as I am careful I do not end up in bed vomiting from pain and unable to do anything.

I only tell you this as I get asked from time to time why I do not operate Renewable Energy New Brunswick when it was grossing close to a million in sales in 2010 and providing a very good living for my new growing family. Everything happens for a reason and being in pain has given me the time I need to build and maintain SolarHomestead.com which is providing a decent amount of income without any heavy lifting.

Update #4: On September 19, 2013 we had a fourth addition to our family…a baby girl named Tesia. For a couple who was unable to have biological children for over 16 years we now have the big family we always wanted. However four children require a lot of electricity and we will definitely need to upgrade our system again when we can afford it. For now we will have to work with what we have.

HAITI:

Haiti is still in very bad shape. The streets have not been repaired, most buildings have not been removed and replaced, and most Haitians have no where to live. Fixing this is very difficult. So many homes cannot be repaired as they are in the middle of groups of homes that have not been damaged. It is hard to justify damaging and moving a good home to get to a damaged home. As well there are no roads in a lot of these communities. No way to get materials in and out. The other issue with houses is that most of the damaged homes were rented and not owned. If you own your own home and property you can tear it down and rebuild. If you were renting the home you can do nothing. If the landlord does not want to or cannot replace your home, you are left outside. This is the case with most Haitians. Not only that…if you have a relative trapped in the destroyed home you are responsible to pay a company about $200 for removal. This is about 2/3 of a years salary. So you are left with the sadness of leaving your loved one under a pile of rubble. It is very sad.

We at SolarHomestead.com have a strong connection with Haiti and are doing everything we can to help the good people of Haiti. We have been to Haiti (mostly Jacmel area and east of Jacmel toward the Dominican Republic) many times and will keep going to try and help as much as we can. When you make a purchase with us you are not only getting a good quality product for a good price, you are also helping the people of Haiti. We are always looking for folks to join us and help.

The average Haitian makes about a dollar a day. By giving very little money you can help a lot. One great organization to support is Compassion International. For $41 a month you can sponsor a child in a community in Haiti. Compassion uses this money to provide medical care, nutritious food, life skills training and vocational training….for only $41 per month. They are able to do this by getting support for a whole community of children and pooling the resources. Check them out at http://www.compassion.ca/index.asp . Please pray for people of Haiti and consider giving of your time and money to help the Haitians who are just as deserving of a good life as we are in Canada….

Of course you can always get in touch with us and we will be glad to have extra help on our next Haiti trip. We prefer folks with hands-on skills like carpentry, electrical, plumbing, solar energy etc. but we also need others that will come to bring the message back to others in their own communities about how bad it is and how they too can help.

We cannot help everyone but for everyone we help it can mean the difference between misery and happiness or even life and death…

Take Care,

Jody

Leave a Comment

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin November 15, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Hi Jody – wonderful work and I am inspired by your talents. Cousin, Kevin

Reply

Jody Graham November 16, 2016 at 7:31 pm

Thanks Kevin,

I appreciate it. Haven’t had a lot of time with four kids to work on the website in between trips to Haiti and Zimbabwe but I do my best. It is great to hear from you and I appreciate your positive feedback a lot.
Jody

Reply

Jude August 26, 2015 at 6:36 pm

Great work in Haiti. Another great project in Haiti is S.O.I.L., a wonderful grass roots org. which makes and distributes composting toilets https://www.oursoil.org

Reply

Jody Graham August 26, 2015 at 7:29 pm

Thank you for commenting Jude. I will check out S.O.I.L. right away. I am very familiar with the fact that Haiti has little to no top soil thanks to France taking it all before the Haitians got their independence. S.O.I.L. is a great way to make otherwise useless ground fertile and useful. Very exciting. I love Haiti and can’t wait for every trip. The people are amazing and the need is great. Thanks again…maybe we can touch base again…Jody (jody@jodygraham.com).

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