Yesterday while enjoying the walk through the picnicking/recreation area behind the Park Office, I met fellow camper Leo. He had just finished a walk with his dog through the Park’s nature trail. Leo and his wife, Suzanne, are from Ontario, Canada. They’ve had many years of camping experience. Including quite a number of trips to South Carolina’s campgrounds.
As interesting, I discovered that Leo and Suzanne had built a house in Canada that was “off the grid.” That is, it didn’t have commercial electric power. Instead, they generated their own with a combination of a wind turbine and solar panels. So, I asked Leo to join CarolinaConsidered the next day for an audio interview.
I then asked Leo for his impressions of Lee State Park, and how it compares with the other South Carolina State Parks he and Suzanne have visited. We also talked briefly about their dog, a beautiful Norwegian Elk Hound.
Leo and Suzanne have been RV camping for a long time. Through both Canada and the United States. First in a Volkswagen Van [with no flowers painted on the sides!], and more recently in the Dodge pop-top RV camper now parked across the campground. It looks quite new. So I was surprised to learn it was made in 1985. Have a listen to Leo’s description.
Leo described the wind turbine he had built for this project. Not a “windmill,” now, but a “wind turbine.” There is a difference. I was surprised to learn that the design was similar to wind turbines that were in fairly common use on farms in Canada and the United States before completion, or near-completion of rural electrification projects. Maintenance too was less of a problem than I expected it to be.
I asked Leo how their wind turbine worked. How well it provided electricity to the house. And was surprised by his response. He said he used propane to power the fridge, stove, and hot water heater. But the rest of the house electricity came from the wind turbine. He also mentions some excitement when wiring the house.
Then Leo described integration of solar panels into his off-the-grid house electrical power program, recent improvements in solar panel technology, and in wind turbine technology.
At the end of our conversation, Leo’s wife, Suzanne, arrived from across the way. And added her impressions of the off-the-grid project. Though I didn’t get to record them. Suzanne is an artist, working in water colors. And in photography. She has done some beautiful scenes of the beach at Hunting Island State Park. And kindly gave me one of them! Looking at her painting I can almost hear the waves.
Thanks again to Leo and Suzanne for sharing their camping and alternative energy expertise. And for the painting! It was a treat to meet them at Lee State Park.