Back up power system/power station for a farm

Hola from The Republic of Panama!

Friends, I approach you with humility in my heart and openness in my mind: my family has a beautiful (IMHO) 20 acre farm in the mountains of Panama and while it does have the foundations of a self-sustaining property (plenty of grazing land, fruit trees, vegetable fields, multiple clean water wells, etc) I feel the one thing that constantly eludes us is an efficient power system that could help us keep the juice flowing during a lights out SHTF. Our KWh a month ranges from 180 to 196. We have about two acres free for use in such a project…but what CAN we do? We tried solar panels…it did not end well. Your thoughts?


  • Comments (13)

    • 4

      Vertical Axis wind turbines used to be popular in Belize, people often used to make them for themselves out of old barrels and a vehicle alternator. Vertical axis turbine in preppers garden

      Homemade Vertical Axis Wind Turbine, Made From Household Scrap

      Simple DIY 200 Watt Wind Turbine Built From Household Materials

      • 4

        Hola Bill!

        That looks interesting! Though I imagine we’ll need quite a few to power the whole farm. Could make for a groovy experiment. Thank you!

    • 3

      Unfortunatly I don’t have an answer for you, but was curious as to why the solar panels didn’t work? I thought they are pretty much a no-brainer if you have enough sun light.

      • 2

        Hola MP!

        I’m afraid that what Red said is true: we do get some cloudy days down here. That, and the difficulty of getting solar panel parts (I tell ya: if someone opened up an alternative energy generation equipment supplier/repair shop in Chiriqui and focused on the agricultural businesses, they would make bank. ) 

    • 4

      Hola.  I’m considering retiring in Boquete.  You in that province? 

      I assume solar didn’t work because of all the clouds, especially in the rainy season.  That is a price you pay for everything being so green.  I too would suggest wind power,  From my understanding, the mountains are windy year round.

      • 2

        That answers my question, thanks Redneck! I had not realised that the rainy season would be affecting solar so much.

      • 2

        Hola Red!

        Pretty close actually! We are in Cochea Arriba which is about half an hour from Boquete. Stop on by sometime, we’ll leave a pot of coffee on for you. 🙂

        As for the Solar panels, yes it was a matter of cloudy days, but also we ran into endless problems with parts and service. Getting the parts down here from the states was a real bugbear! 

      • 3

        Not certain if we will retire there or not.  I too live on a 20 acre homestead and it is all paid for, so we just might stay here.  Who knows?  The great weather around Boquete, that never gets too cold or too hot sure sounds nice.  Having the beach close by would be nice for my wife.  It would be nice to never run air conditioning again.  🙂

      • 2

        The breezes in the mountains of Panama are lovely and nothing quite beats that early morning smell in Boquete: a smell of lavender and coffee beans freshly roasted. The quiet mornings, the mist drifting down the mountains….wonderful.

        But you are quite correct: leaving a fully paid for homestead is one heck of a leap. 

        By the way, the stream turbine idea you mentioned:  Can you tell me a little more about that? Sounds like an avenue worth pursuing. 

      • 2

        Sorry, I’m no expert.  I’ve just seen some articles about folks using them for power generation.  I’m sure if you Google it, you will find some info.  Probably a discussion forum out there for water turbines.

    • 4

      Another option would be water power, if you have a stream running thru your property.  With the mountains & rain, many of those streams move pretty fast & could turn a water turbine.

    • 2

      Paul Gipe at windworks.org knows wind as good as anyone.

      Here is his small wind turbine section.


      I’m pretty rusty on micro size turbines. Most of the ones that I’m familiar with (3 to 10 kilowatt)  will over produce  KWHs compared to your current KWH usage

      • 1

        Hola IG!

        This looks promising. Thank you!