Customer Stories: Off-Grid Farm in Northern Arizona Utilizes Solar Power

Comfortable off-grid living is achieved by many, thanks to solar electric technology. Joel and Amy who reside in Northern Arizona, not only live comfortably using solar power but they thrive by raising their own food, pumping their own water and sustaining a homestead that provides organic food to their very own customers. Without solar power, it would have been nearly impossible to realize their dreams of being self-sufficient.

Joel and Amy wanted to escape the rat race and the mundane ritual of commuting into work for 8 hours then going home in the evenings only to wake up and do it again. This lifestyle not only become old, but also created unhealthy eating habits and lethargic way of life. Without health, you really have nothing. They quickly realized growing their own sustainable food source was the answer to their problems, so they focused their attention to rural properties in Northern Arizona.

First, they needed a piece of property that not only would give the privacy they desired, but also could sustain crops and feed animals. Finding that type of environment in Arizona can be a challenge due to the scarcity of water. After securing a large-acreage property, Joel and Amy set out to mark their first milestone in achieving a self-sustaining property. The heartbeat of a homestead is water. Nothing lives or grows without water. Luckily, their first attempt at drilling a well was a successful one. They drilled to nearly 300’ deep and measured a flow rate of 100 gpm, which is amazing for any location, but especially Arizona.

After hitting water, Joel and Amy needed to find a way to pump water since grid-power was too expensive and not close by. Solar power was the correct solution to their problem and aligned perfectly with their plans for a gravity fed water supply down to their home. Their property was sloped enough to take advantage of a gravity flow water system. Their plan was to use solar power to pump water during the day to several high capacity cisterns located at the apex of their property for water storage, then allow gravity flow to create water pressure for in-house water and irrigation for their crops and animals.

James at Northern Arizona Wind & Sun designed a solar power system to specifically meet the needs of their plan. While water was a huge part of the solar design, they also needed to power appliances that an ordinary household would have, which included a mini-split AC system for cooling their home. The solar system design included two separate solar arrays - a solar array specifically for pumping the water from the well to the cisterns and a separate larger solar array for powering everything else they need for their home.

As far as batteries are concerned, James recommended they use (2) Discover AES 6.6kWhr batteries. These batteries are no joke! Two lithium batteries will provide energy storage for everything they need on their homestead without missing a beat. James recommended them to go with a pre-wired Schneider Electric Conext Quick Fit system which contains the inverter, charge controller and battery monitoring. As for the solar panels, they were mounted on an IronRidge Solar Ground Mount System for maximum support.

We took a trip out to their homestead (Fort Rock Farms) a few weeks ago and saw the system performing perfectly first-hand. The farm was thriving with life - complete with gardens and animals. Open range chickens were feeding on green grass thanks to the irrigation system. It’s everything Joel and Amy expected and more. Not only are they thriving in a self-sustaining environment, but Fort Rock Farms is providing organic veggies and meat to their customers.

Check out the videos below to watch Joel and Amy’s story about Fort Rock Farms and how solar power helped them realize their dreams.

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Solar Power System Components

Below is a list of components that were used in this system.

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