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40 years ago, powering our homes with solar energy may have seemed strange or unattainable. But, for these two young visionaries, it actually made a lot of sense.

In 1984 John and Jean K. built a beautiful home deep in the woods of Hinesburg. The nearest power line was a good distance from the house site, and it would have cost $17,000 to bring it in above ground, “we’d have wanted it underground.” John says. So, they decided to become their own power company! John installed an 8×8 array of solar panels consisting of leftovers from a project in California–that replaced a nuclear power plant with a solar power plant

John then hooked up the panels to 22 golf cart batteries. John also said, Using an inverter, we were able to install both AC and DC outlets and lights throughout the house.”  And he went on to say: “The battery backup was a small rope-start, gas-powered construction generator that lived in the basement but got pulled outside when needed.”

2009 After
2009 Before

As their family grew, so did their power needs. They made several upgrades to the system over the years. In 2009 they hired Building Energy to install 4 more PV panels and a modern inverter system which doubled the amount of solar that they were able to gather, and that would power normal appliances. Satisfied with our service over the years, they hired us again in 2024 to replace their old lead-acid batteries. Most batteries of this type only last 5 to 10 years, but with careful maintenance, John was able to keep his high-quality batteries running for over 25 years! Kudos on that, John! We’re excited to see how long the next battery bank lasts.

Likewise, solar PV panels usually have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years, but the very first panels John installed over 40 years ago are still going strong! We are proud to be a part of this ongoing success story and impressed with how well the power system has performed for generations–literally! We have watched their son AND grandkids grow up in this house. We’re grateful that the couple has trusted us to help power their off-grid lifestyle for all this time. Congratulations and thank you, John and Jean!

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