Rochester couple goes off the grid, relies on solar energy

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Last week, Ivan and Mary Idso went off the grid for a few days, relying on energy from the solar panels they installed on their roof about four or five years ago.

The couple are Rochester Public Utilities customers, but with the mass power outages in Texas last month, they wanted to see how well they would fare if they were to lose electricity for an extended time.

“Our weather is changing,” Ivan said. “If we had an ice storm here, we would be impacted by it and so we just wanted to be prepared for that.”

The solar panels charge batteries which hold 14 KW of power. Those batteries help power the rest of the home. If needed, Ivan can get help from his electric car.

“This is an inverter, a 1,000 W inverter. We can connect it to the battery here and use the battery from the car to run refridgerators, our microwave maybe or something like that,” he said.

The house is heavily insulated. The walls are 10 inches thick and sunlight that passes through the double paned windows helps keep the floors nice and warm during winter.

If the power were to shut off for an extended period, the Idsos said they could stay comfortable as long as the sun shines.

“Being able to recharge the batteries at the end of the three day test we were still at 75 percent capacity,” Mary said. “How many more days could we have gone, like that? We could go four or five more days probably.”