Living in the Future with Solar Power
Share this post
Matt Thomas has wanted to live in a house powered by solar energy since he was a kid, when science fiction stories like Star Trek got him to dream of a futuristic, self-sustaining world. Flash forward to today, and Matt’s dream is within reach for all of us!
In 2015, as the parents of a 5-year-old son, and living in the home where they planned to raise their family, Matt and his wife, Carrie, decided it was a good time to make the investments for the long-haul, and start reaping the rewards of a transition to a 100% solar-powered lifestyle. It was a chance to “live in the future,” he says.
Solar-Powered Transition Begins
Carrie and Matt called ReVision Energy and arranged a site visit to their home in Bowdoin, Maine. Matt felt that there was a good, professional connection. “I didn’t even bother to get a 2nd or 3rd opinion from other companies,” he says, “I liked what I saw with ReVision so I hired you guys to do it.”
Matt and Carrie did the “Trifecta” – combining a 26-panel solar array with a heat pump and heat pump water heater to meet nearly 100% of their homes electric, space heating, cooling, and water heating needs. They didn’t stop there, though! They are proud drivers of a Chevy Volt, a plug-in electric vehicle that will drive on solar power exclusively for its 40+ mile battery range.
Now that they’re powered on solar, Matt continues to convert gas-powered appliances to solar power – he has a full suite of lithium-ion battery-powered lawn equipment, and even a fully-electric home-brewing system. Their abundant solar power goes to good use every day. Matt remarks, “I figured I have it, I might as well use it!”
Solar Powered Transport as Well as Household
Since they began using the solar array to charge their Chevy Volt they have noticed substantial savings. “For my commutes and getting around it’s been great,” Matt says, “I’ve noticed a lot of savings. I would’ve spent at least 100 dollars in gas last month, and if I didn’t have solar it would cost me about 25 dollars in electricity, but because I have solar it costs me nothing!”
“The last time I remember filling up on gas was sometime last winter,” he adds. When they conclude their lease on the Volt, Matt expects they will invest in a fully-electric such as the Tesla Model 3, a Chevy Bolt, or maybe the next-generation Nissan Leaf.
Battery Backup Gives Ultimate Flexibility
This fall, the Thomas’s, their son, Wesley, now 7, and 1-year-old daughter, Eva, will take another big step forward in energy independence with the addition of a 15.9 kWh Pika Harbor Plus Smart Battery to their home. Pika Energy is a Maine-based manufacturing business (headquartered in Westbrook) who are creating world-class smart electronics for the grid of the future.
The Thomas’ will be taking advantage of Pika Energy’s signature product – the Pika Energy Island, which enables instant communication between multiple renewable energy power sources and one or more battery banks. The result for Matt’s family is a system that is able to more efficiently consume their on-site produced solar electricity, hedge against utilities gaming net metering policy, and offers instantaneous (and silent) home backup power in event of a grid outage.
Matt is thrilled to be partnering with two of Maine’s leaders in the renewable energy space. “Pika has great, responsive customer service and worked closely with me on an ideal setup,” Matt attests. “They have the best system anyway, but I also like supporting local businesses.”
Self-sufficiency is also important to Matt and his family. “I don’t like relying on somebody else,” he says, “In the wintertime I don’t want to be waiting for someone to come plow me out of my driveway. I don’t want to have to be reliant on an oil tanker coming up and filling up my tank for hot water and heat, either.”
He pauses and adds that before their upcoming Pika installation he’ll be removing their oil tank and boiler altogether. “The boiler’s been off for over a year. Time to get rid of it!”