LYNN MOUNTAIN, N.S. â€“ If you think living off-grid would be way too difficult, think again.
â€śOur house is two and a half kilometres off the main road, and the nearest power line is about seven-and-a-half kilometres away,â€ť said Matthew Harrison.
Harrison, his wife Bonnie, and their three kids, ages seven, four, and three-months, live year-round at Hidden Mountain Maple Farms, which is two and half kilometres off the Lynn Mountain Road near Springhill.
â€śIt was just going to be a sugar camp at the time, and the wife decided we should just stay here year-round because Iâ€™m here a lot in the wintertime,â€ť said Harrison. â€śItâ€™s nice and peaceful, weâ€™re on our own land, and the kids can go out and play when they want and do what they want.â€ť
The Harrisons have taps and lines running from 13,000 maple trees, producing syrup, maple cream and butter, maple fudge and maple sugar.
Matthew and Bonnie started building the home about 10 years ago, and built about 80 per cent of it themselves.
â€śWeâ€™ve lived here six years now. We put in our sixth Christmas this year,â€ť said Harrison.
When deciding how to power the house, a combination of solar and propane was the best option.
â€śIt would have cost $350,000 to get the power line in here,â€ť said Harrison. â€śIt cost $12,000 for the solar system, and I got an agricultural grant from the maple industry that covered 50 per cent of that cost.â€ť
There are 18 solar panels in a field beside the home, which produce 245 watts per-panel, with the entire array producing 4,410 watts.
The solar panels charge 12 Rolls batteries, which are produced by the Surrette Battery Company in Springhill.
Harrison says Surrette Batteries have a good reputation throughout the world.
â€śI called California because I needed a breaker, and I was curious about batteries and what they would recommend,â€ť said Harrison. â€śThey said the best batteries on the market are Surrette batteries, which was kind of neat to know.â€ť
Those 12 batteries provide electricity for the lights, electrical outlets, and some appliances for the home, which is 3,000 square-feet on the main floor and 2,300 square-feet upstairs.
â€śI have a fridge for my maple products and a deep freeze for my maple products, and then we have our house fridge and house deep freeze as well.â€ť
The breaker switch will switch off if youâ€™re not careful.
â€śWhen the microwave is on you donâ€™t vacuum, or when the vacuum is on you donâ€™t microwave, or youâ€™ll pop a breaker,â€ť said Harrison.
Other appliances, such as the stove-top, the oven, and the dryer run off of propane.
The home has a fireplace but, propane also helps heat the home and the hot water as well.
â€śWe go through about 400 litres of propane a month in the winter but in the summertime, after the May 1, we might see the truck once until October, and itâ€™s only a couple hundred litres.â€ť
Harrison also has a generator to help power the batteries.
â€śIf thereâ€™s not enough solar the generator takes over. It only takes a couple hours for the generator to get the batteries charged.â€™
Heâ€™s is currently thinking of installing a water turbine.
â€śIâ€™m researching it. That will take the demand off the generator.â€ť
Installing an off-grid source of energy was a relatively new concept six years ago.
â€śMy wifeâ€™s father is a retired electrical engineer. He took my books and researched it for a month, and we hooked it up in a day and a half.â€ť
Harrison says new battery and solar technology makes living off-grid easier than ever before.
â€śWe were kind of skeptical at first but we figured we weâ€™re here, weâ€™re going to try it, and weâ€™re going to make it work, and so far, so good.â€ť