Solar Power for Dos Arbolitos

Pursuing our off-grid adventure in the Big Bend Valley section of Terlingua Ranch continues to be a journey of learning and discovery. When we started this journey we knew that we would need water catchment and solar power for our cabin. Our property is located far from grid power and in an area where it is too costly to drill a water well.

We had our water catchment tank installed last month. Our tank is fed by seamless gutters. Using a water catchment calculator, I estimated that 1-inch of rain on our 420 square foot roof will capture as many as 260 gallons of water. We had a desert storm that blew through our area last month, dumping lots of rain and pea-size hail. Our tank went from empty to nearly the 300-gallon mark.

This past month we finally had our solar panels installed by the folks at Green Desert Living. We purchased six 310 watt solar panels, an inverter / charge controller, and eight 100 amp storage batteries. Our solar system will enable us to run a small window unit air conditioner during the day, our dorm fridge day and night, our LED lights, fans, and provide juice for my power tools. We also have the option of charging our batteries with our generator.

We had the solar panels installed behind our cabin on the north side of our property. Our panels face due south and are angled to capture optimum sunlight during daylight hours. The night after our panels were installed we had a pretty fierce desert storm complete with hail. Thankfully our solar panels survived both the wind and the hail. Happy about that!

In preparation for our solar installation, I framed out a closest specifically for our solar system. I lined the walls with plywood rather than drywall to make it easier to affix our inverter / charge controller and other items to the wall. Having these items in the closet will make it handy for me to monitor our inverter during the day.

Having power in our cabin is a huge step toward enjoying our little place. And getting free power directly from the sun is pretty cool. Our investment will enable us to enjoy years of free power. And on those occasions when we have cloudy skies, I can still top off our batteries by using our generator. Either way, we now have power at Dos Arbolitos.

Later on I will add a small solar system to provide power to our container. I have already purchased what I need to provide lights and to power a fan in our container. These two things alone will be a big help in making our container workshop more comfortable. And, the thought of doing this on free power makes it all the sweeter.

We are enjoying our off-grid adventure. I am thankful for the folks who have shared about their off grid adventures on their respective YouTube channels. We continue to learn a lot from their successes and mistakes. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

Every improvement that we make on our place gets us a step closer to the day we can just show up and enjoy ourselves without having to address a long list of projects. We are now several steps closer to that day. Thanks for following our journey. More to come!

8 thoughts on “Solar Power for Dos Arbolitos

  1. Omar, I’m so happy for you and Cheryl — it’s terrific that you’re doing work that you enjoy and are skilled at, on land that you love! I pray that you’ll be able to make many trips to your comfy cabin in the coming months and years. I fell in love with the area on several camping trips in the Chisos Basin a number of years ago, so it’s great fun to follow your posts and recognize areas when you refer to them! Abrazos a Cheryl!



  2. Hey Omar! I’ve been researching Big Bend Valley for about six months with the hopes of making the move to the desert and going off grid. I’m still a ways away from making that dream a reality, but would love it if you could share any of the resources you found particularly helpful in your move! In the meantime, I’ll be following along in your journey and taking notes!


    • Hey CJ,

      The Big Bend Valley is truly amazing, especially the sunsets and dark skies. We absolutely love our little slice of geography in the Chihuahuan Desert and the amazing views of mountains and mesas.

      We still have a way to go as we prepare our cabin for extended stays but are enjoying every step of the journey. As we take each step I watch a lot of DIY YouTube videos, from fencing to solar and catchment videos and more. Learning to do a lot of things as a result.

      I will continue to chronicle our journey on my blog. We look forward to the day when our cabin will be finished and we can just enjoy our time without having to build or construct anything.

      I hope you find a place to call home in the Big Bend Valley. Please keep me posted. I look forward to welcoming you to our beautiful neighborhood.

      Omar ~

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, YouTube has been a staple in my learning journey, too! There’s so much to learn when planning to go off-grid!

        While I’ve spent a lot of time in west Texas and day trips to the desert, I’m making my first extended visit to Terlingua proper at the end of the month and cannot wait! I’ve been in love with the west Texas and desert landscape most of my life and am really looking forward to digging in and spending a good chunk of time there.

        Excited to watch Dos Arborlitos take shape! Thank you for sharing your journey with the Internet. 🙂


      • Fantastic. You will also enjoy the people. Meeting others in the area who share a love for the desert and its unique landscapes has been a fun part of the adventure. Look forward to hearing more as your new adventure unfolds.


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