RAVENSHOE PROJECT – Saskatchewan, Canada

Just north of the 49th parallel between 51 and 52 slightly north of the State of WA as far as the sun goes, is where we find Paul Ashfield and his wife’s off grid home. Their four-season home will be 2200 square feet when it’s all said and done. And this should be very soon if the weather holds out. “The weather is always tough here. We’ve lost a lot of time. I haven’t been home for a month because I had to go back to work. But I’m home for this weekend and hope to put the last 12 panels up on the pole so we’ll have all 36 in the air.”

“We bought a house where we wanted to live but it wasn’t maybe the best choice because to have grid power (a mile away) brought to the property would cost us upwards of 55 thousand dollars. So, we looked at solar and found Backwoods Solar somewhere on the internet. As far as our location in Canada goes, the best solar insulation is here. Best of the wind too but I find that solar PV is a much better bang for my buck”.

Paul and his wife started working with just about everyone at Backwoods Solar. Tom, Brian, Alan, all helped with their initial system and then their account was officially started with Shawn Boling in 2011. Impressed with Backwoods technician know-how Paul commented that, “Anytime I have any stupid question that I could look up in some manual somewhere I can just call you guys and you know the answers right off the top! Even the electrician when he had to call, because it’s so new up here, was impressed. I told him, when you talk to this guy at Backwoods Solar you are going to be very impressed, he is going to know everything about this system without having it in front of him and how to do it. He said you were right this guy knew it cold!”

They were hit with a giant flood one Spring. “While I was out at work, my wife had to canoe gas out to keep the Genset running to keep the sump pumps going so the house wouldn’t be flooded.”  They installed their little PV system soon after.

Paul says that the first little system ran flawlessly for them for those three years, “Absolutely, without a hitch. It was pretty exciting for an old hippy like me. I never thought I would be here in this situation. It supplied all the power to the construction tools as we finished off the construction on the house.”

As they had a big push last year to finish the job they decided to make the next leap forward and he said, “Spent even more money at Backwoods Solar.” They increased their solar panels from six to thirty-six. A 600% increase going from 1400W to over 9000W. The racks they used were made by General Specialties here in Sandpoint.  Paul says “The manufacturer of these solar panels racks are to be commended for their perfectly manufactured custom work. Our hat off to General Specialties, for their precision has made our rookie install very easy.”

“This system will outlive me”, he said. But he cautions that, “It used to be that people were just concerned with the price of a solar panel and didn’t think about the other costs involved. People should investigate all the soft costs to their systems, permits, insurance, installation, travel costs for the system components, electricians, really do your homework when you do your budget”.  When it is all said and done Paul and his wife will live through many stormy seasons comfortably heated, powered, and independent.

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