Another day, another blackout in Puerto Rico; Wednesday’s blackout was the latest to hit the island still recovering from Hurricane Maria. But one man beat the power outages and his troublesome gas generator by switching to solar power.
“As I’m typing this, we are in the middle of a blackout and my fridge, lights and fans are running worry free,” a man named Frank told CNN.
Fed up living off his gas generator, Frank and his family decided to install a solar power system at their home in Puerto Rico.
CNN is not identifying Frank further because he’s concerned someone may try to steal his new system.
“I suffer from sleep apnea and need my machine to sleep right,” he said. “Not having to worry about things like that (running to get gasoline, generator maintenance, long lines, etc.) goes a long way for our mental health.”
After spending months without power since Hurricane Maria hit last September, Frank says he was wasting over $350 a month running a gas generator. He was done waiting in lengthy gas lines, sometimes for six hours.
So in January, he and his family made a decision to start building the solar power system they had long discussed.
It took a few months to gather all the supplies. Batteries, the first purchase, were scarce and expensive; panels, too, were also in high demand after the storm.
Frank said he put around $7,500 into his system. He looked at systems made by professionals, but ultimately decided to use his experience working as an electrician in college to help build his own system.
Other systems were too expensive, he said. He said installing a brand-name system, such as Tesla’s, would have cost him $10,000 just for the battery.
After all the parts came in, Frank spent about three weeks rewiring his house and installing the system.
“I wouldn’t recommend anyone who hasn’t had any experience with electrical to tackle this,” Frank said.
He was also adamant the system must be hurricane-proof. Frank installed custom brackets on his roof that allow him to remove the solar panels if a storm approaches, and store them safely in a closet.
He said the system can power all the 110-volt electronics in the home for 48 hours on fully charged batteries. Frank said after they pay off the new solar power system, he’ll expand it so it can power the entire house: most important, the air conditioning.
He said he expects that will cost $4,000 more.