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Small and Simple

Small and Simple in The North Woods

in The North Woods

John R. Surber & Roberta L. Corrigan ©2000 John R. Surber & Roberta L. Corrigan John and Roberta’s riverside cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin is powered by a DC-only photovoltaic system.

e’ve had a long-time desire to build “a place of our own.” I

have been interested in solar as a source of heat and electricity since the time of the original Whole Earth Catalog in the very early 1970s, and read Alternative Sources of Energy magazine in the late 1970s. Our project was shaped by constraints imposed by a limited budget and a remote northern Wisconsin site without grid power.

The project was also shaped by several years of reading Home Power. The result is a cabin with a DC power system supplemented by propane for the refrigerator, oven/range, hot water, and bathroom heater. The cabin serves as a summer vacation home and a frequent weekend retreat in the spring and fall.

River Frontage

The site is heavily wooded and has a moderately steep, south-facing slope down to the Menomonee River, which separates northern Wisconsin from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Frequent commercial hydro dams along the river produce a wide flowage, making it more like a lake than a river when viewed from the cabin. The cabin is perched about halfway between the end of the drive at the top of the hill and the river at the bottom.

The proud building crew—“Bungling Bob,” Annette, Bobbi, and John.

18 Home Power #75 • February / March 2000

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