Living in the wilderness of Alaska is not an easy or cheap venture. If you live off a road system or large watershed, the only practical way of transportation is to fly materials to your site. Alaskans are “innovation champs” in the flying community. We stack full sheets of plywood under Piper super cubs, tie lumber on floats, carry fuel in tanks, barrels, belly pods, you name it. I saw a Cessna one time with a 20 foot tower strapped on it’s back. If it doesn’t fit in it, then strap it outside. Air transportation is expensive. This accounts for the few 0’s behind the price tag of a wilderness fishing or hunting trip.

At Talaheim lodge we have two diesel generator plants. Our main 8KW plant runs most of the lodge and sucks fuel for about 18 hours each day. We shut her down late in the evening for six hours to save fuel. Our fuel is flown in by Cessna 3 drums at a time for a price tag of about $900. That’s $300 for 55 gallons or $5.50 a gallon. We burn about eight gallons per day.

This fall we installed a solar/battery system that should cut our fuel costs by 2/3 and give us 24 hour power. We have eight batteries that run in series producing a 24 volt DC system. Our converter changes this power to 240 volts AC. We have solar plates that during the summer will be charging our batteries for about 10 hours each day if the sun shines, supplying us with about 2-4 hours of running time. When the voltage is low, our generator will automatically start up, charge the batteries, then shut down. I am hoping that we can run the generator for four hours, then shut down for eight, then run again for four and so forth. On sunny days less. If this system works, we’ll get more solar plates and hopefully cut our generator down to near nothing.

When they come up with solar powered helicopters, then we’ll be first in line.

Good fishing,

Mark Miller