A lot of folks not accustomed to life off-grid ask the same question. What's the story with electricity?
Currently, there is no commercial/utility option for electricity in Jasper. Most of us are grateful that there is not, some would prefer it. The reality is, if commercial power comes to Jasper, the property values will skyrocket. A lot of folks believe that the natural quality of life there will be disrupted, but that's a stretch. I personally find the buzz of generators a little disruptive to nature, but it doesn't really bother me. Regarding the when/if portion of the debate, that's another story. Keep in mind that there is already commercial power only 10 miles to the east at the Terrace, 12 miles to the south west at the Platoro and only 7 miles to the north west at Summitville. Let's not forget that Jasper did have power in the early 1900's as seen in many old photos of the area. That's the philosophical portion, now on with the facts.
Many folks in Jasper use solar and generators because they are cheap and easy to use. I personally don't like to use my generator because it is noisy but I have recently purchased a new portable Honda which is ultra quiet and efficient, albeit more expensive.
Both of my cabins and many others have a setup like this:
Batteries:Deep cycle 6V or 12V batteries, Trojan brand seem very popular.I have 4 x 6V wired 2 series, 2 parallel for a total of 12V.
Solar:I'm using the Siemens 15V panels but there are a lot of options here. A standard rule of thumb is 1 (2'x4') = 1 battery. Using this simple math, I have 4 panels tied together to make a single 4'x8' solar panel. You also need a charge controller to keep from over-charging the batteries.
Inverter:The cabins are wired for normal 110V power. The inverter does the DC to AC inversion to transform the battery power into 110V AC. The latest Xantrex (formerly Trace Engineering) are very popular but somewhat expensive. There are plenty of options on the market. A good inverter will also hook in with the generator. That way, when the generator is running it will not only provide power to the house but also charge the batteries.
Generator:You would be surprised how little power you really use. My portable Honda is very quiet and easily runs the house. I have a large Yamaha that I use to run power tools. Honestly, I rarely start the generators because the solar and batteries last an entire weekend unless it's been cloudy for a few days. Then an hour or two of the generator usually charges the batteries well enough to last for a day.
The key to electricity in Jasper is being efficient. Start by replacing all light bulbs with the new neon bulbs. They draw under 10 watts as compared to 60+ watts. That's a huge power savings when you are running on batteries. Think of it like having power for a week instead of a single day. Also, forget about microwaves, hair dryers and coffee makers. They kill the batteries and there's plenty of good alternatives.
With a little planning, your cabin can be as comfortable as any home in the city, if that's really what you want. The easy way is to use a generator and run it all the time when you want power. This isn't the worst thing, but it can become an annoyance to your neighbors when you want to watch DVDs all night.