For the first year in this little off-grid yurt of ours, our sole light source was six small, inflatable, solar-powered Luci lights from MPOWERD. Now we’ve upgraded to two strings of LED lights, powered by a solar-charged battery. Though the Lucis were great and we still use them as reading lights in bed, we ended up wanting more light, and a power source, too. Here’s our current setup, with comments, reviews, and descriptions following:
- Power Source: A 60W rollable solar panel from PowerFilm, based and manufactured in Iowa.
- Power Storage: The Goal Zero Yeti 400 battery.
- Lights: Enbrighten Café LED string lights— one of these 18′ strings, and one of the 24′ strings.
These Enbrighten lights are our favorite. They’re LED, so have a relatively low power draw, while still providing plenty of light. We have them strung around the interior perimeter behind the kitchen and the seating area. Our Goal Zero battery is stored in between these two spaces, so the two strings branch out in opposite directions from the battery. Having the two shorter strings has worked out great, as opposed to a single longer string. Why? This way, we can just have one string turned on (using power), in a single “room” if we want—if we’re both making dinner and hanging out in the “kitchen,” we don’t need to power the nine bulbs over by the couch. Small difference, maybe, but it also helps define the spaces a bit when the lights are off in one and on in the other.
The PowerFilm solar panel collects power as it should, though we’ve found we need more than a 60-watt panel, especially since Kevin has started working from home more (using his iPhone’s hotspot for internet), and needing to keep the computer and hotspot charged more regularly. So we’re looking into expanding to a 150W panel, to see if that will meet our needs. If not, we’ll expand more. ‘Til then, we charge the Goal Zero from a wall outlet at the office every couple of days.
The Goal Zero Yeti 400 has been great for our power storage needs, though. If you’re just looking to charge phones and laptops and run lights, this is perfectly sized and relatively affordable, compared to a much larger battery bank (which you should consider if you live in a low-light setting).
We really love these lights. They’re nice and warm (see the first photo), and the spacing between bulbs is perfect. (Note, obviously, that the rest of the photos were taken in the daytime, simply to show the setup. The first photo shows the lights in action.)
Let us know if you have questions or input! thatyurt (at) gmail (dot) com
And if you haven’t already, go download our PDF Yurt Guide.