The Urban Farm goes Off-grid on January 10, 2018

We have taken a long time to share the story about our urban farm going off-grid. At first it felt like not many people would be interested in hearing about our journey, but after having nearly 100 visitors to our farm this year we know it's a worthy topic.

After hurricane Irma & Maria struck Puerto Rico in September of 2017, we found ourselves without electricity and water just like many others on this beautiful island.  We lost power on September 5 and our area did not get electricity back until early March of 2018.  During the same time frame we were without consistent running water. The city water was eventually restored thanks to mobile generators in November 2017 but since they often ran out of fuel, we were left with intermittent water service.

Before the installation of our solar system we would get by with a Honda 2k silent generator during the day & with a solar generator at night.  Both of these generators would power our freezer operating as a refrigerator, 3 fans, tv, internet router, laptops and would also allow us to charge our mobile devices. 

Our off-grid solar system was installed on January 10th and we have been off-grid ever since.  This decision helped us shape our goals for 2018 as we began to transform our urban farm into a center for education & self sustainability. 

Our Solar Setup

Sonnen Solar System We decided on an offgrid setup that would allow us to power many appliances simultaneously, both home appliances and appliances used for our urban farm.

The big winner for our setup was the Sonnen off grid system. Coming in at  a distant second and third place were LG & Tesla.  The Sonnen system allowed us to power all the appliances we needed to power then and add additional appliances as needed in the future.

Here are the details of our system:
  • Twenty two 330 watts panels
  • 16,000 watts of energy storage
  • 7,000 watts SMA inverter (collecting sun energy)
  • 8,000 watts Outback inverter (inside the Sonnen)
  • Web & app to monitor & manage our solar system
  • Ability to charge batteries with a generator in the event of no sunny days
  • System learning capabilities to distribute only the required energy to appliances
  • Excellent customer support from the folks at Sonnen

The system has been running without any major issues since January 10, 2018. We have had the system shut down on occasion due to our lack of understanding of our energy usage.  But our installers Ion Leed were able to help us out & get us back up and running.

100 gallon propane tanks

Our Propane Gas Setup

In order to take some load off our solar system we decided to replace our stove with a gas stove and our clothes dryer with a gas dryer.  This made our system a lot more efficient and we were always wanting to get a gas stove anyways. 

We had Suarez Gas install two 100 gallon tanks with one line going to our gas stove & one line going to our clothes dryer.  Both tanks will last close to 6 months which is very good at the cost of $170 total.  The tanks belong to Suarez Gas & are free of charge to us, they just come & swap them out with full tanks when needed.

The installation of the gas lines was done privately by a professional installer who really knew what he was doing.  The final result was just what I wanted.

Our Solar Water Heater

Solar Water HeaterThe last part of our setup was to disconnect the electric water heaters & add the solar water heater which is nothing more than panels with copper pipes that heat up the water with the sun & moves the hot water into a hot water holding tank.

Here are the details:

  • 3 panels for heating water
  • 120 gallon hot water holding tank

The solar water heater works great on sunny days.  On days of too many clouds or rain, then we use a propane water heater which serves as a backup.  Our solar water heater was installed by Solar & Water Solutions, the system worked as expected from day 1.

Together the 3 systems helps us remain off grid comfortably.  We are reaping cost savings of nearly $600 per month on electric bills but most importantly we harness our main source of energy which is the abundant sun we all have available here in Puerto Rico.

We will be doing a quick video tour or our entire off-grid setup to show you in more details, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Chanel to watch it & all the other videos we will be releasing.

Thanks for reading & we appreciate you sharing this with friends. If you have any questions please leave them on the comments section or on our fan page at Rossi Naturals.  






Helpful that you put this all down in digital for people to find for their own off-grid systems research.

I am sitting here in my San Juan apartment with a blown transformer having knocked the power out (again). Grateful for the building generator but that still doesn’t help with the $300-$900 electrical bills we get from AEE. Wish we could be off grid.

Franco Colomba

Franco Colomba

Amazing article, love the setup!

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