This blog is about the design and construction of an off-grid system in Upper Michigan. The purpose of the offgridcabin is to contribute to the off-grid community by basically saying, “well, that worked out pretty well” or, “well, that wasn’t such a good idea. I think next time I’d… ”

The quick statistics on the system (as of July 2011)

  • 3000 Watt Xantrex MS3000 inverter with control panel
  • 14 x 225 Ah deep cycle lead-acid batteries (Johnson Controls)
  • 810 Watts of solar (6 x 135 Kyocera LPU 12V panels)
  • 3000 Watt Honda EU3000 generator with RF remote starter
  • 4 x 350 Lumen 12V LED security lights with motion sensor
  • Victron BMV 600s battery monitor (meter 103′ from shunt)
  • Liquid propane refrigerator
  • Gas heater in garage and cabin
  • Free-standing wood burner in cabin

And one more thing…

My parents are retired Wisconsin elementary teachers. They are both very intelligent and quite sharp. My mom is well read and the ol’ man has the patience of a saint. So when I was given the task of building an off-grid system I was a bit surprised – at the time my collegiate background was in chemistry, with some physics… and though I knew battery chemistry pretty well, I was out of my league with off-grid system design. I read everything I could find, took notes, and took my time.

And yet another thing (2014)…

I’m now an alumni of UW Oshkosh and UW Madison. I have two kiddo’s separated by 15 months (boy and girl), and spend 40 hours each week at a certain corner drug store attempting to pay back the debt incurred by my education and fund my hobbies of photography, wood working, and camping.

Cheers, Sam

10 thoughts on “About

  1. ALR

    Enjoyed the read on the power systems and projects. I like the simple cabin design. Did you build the house from scratch, of did you use a timber home kit?

    1. offgridcabin Post author

      The cabin was contracted out – the shell, utilities, cabinets and such. Dad and I worked on flooring and finishing the basement and some other things here and there (including things on the garage – insulting and sheeting).

  2. Bryan Severance


    So cool what you are doing!

    I am a development TV producer at Crybaby Media in NYC always on the hunt for new TV shows. Currently I am developing a show called Bare Hand Builds which would feature people that have or are planning on building their very own off the grid cabin. Think Dick Proenneke in “Alone in the Wilderness”. Anyway, I”d love to talk to you and hear what went into this!

    Please email or call anytime.

    Bryan Severance

  3. Jerome Kunze

    Have you thought about updating to more solar panels with more output since they are getting a lot cheaper now since you built the cabin? 270 watt panels can be had for like 77 cents per watt now or even less from Solarblvd online.

    1. offgridcabin Post author

      We’ve considered it, but since winter is often so heavily overcast and summer hardly ever sees the use of the generator, the gain from extra panels would not offset the extra cost. If we regularly stayed more than 5 consecutive days it would be worth considering.

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  6. Robin

    Thank you for this equipment list. We are not off grid but do lose power fairly often because we’re remote. We need to replace our generator this year so I’m looking for recommendations. Very helpful.

    1. offgridcabin Post author

      I’m a bit late on this one… by now you may have purchased a generator. I’m actually in a similar situation since taking on home ownership. I’ll be wiring in a transfer switch this fall and looking for a generator soon after. I’m considering the Honda EM5000s or EM6500s. In the event of a power failure I really only need a few lights, the well pump, and the heat pumps for our in floor heat. I’ve had good luck with Honda and have found that the reliability and engineering they put into their engines also finds its way into the rest of the product (why I bought a Honda lawnmower… not a lawnmower with just a Honda engine).


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