Off Grid...Chapter 16
Good morning everyone. Back to July 31, 2008.
We've been living here for 2 weeks now and we haven't taken a day off. Today seemed like a good opportunity because it was dark and rainy all morning.
Of course Mike couldn't resist and as soon as it cleared up a bit he went outside and started wiring the solar panels. As you know we got all 6 solar panels on the roof but we haven't wired them yet. Each panel has 2 wires connected to them.
One positive and one negative wire.
And all 6 panels.
These wires need to be connected to longer wires and run into the house and into the combiner box. Mike made his own connections and we ran the wires through a small hole in the back of the house and then inside.
Mike went inside the house and pulled the wires through.
Each wire, 12 of them, has it's own spot in the combiner box. Each solar panel has it's own 15amp breaker inside the box.
The positive cables from each panel go to the breaker and the negative cables go to the left side of the box to the ground bar. Mike marked all the positive wires with red tape and the negative wires are black.
Here are the first 3 panels connected.
Here is the second set of wiring from the next 3 solar panels.
I went inside the house to help Mike with some of the wiring. As I was holding one of the wires I hit the metal box with the open end of my wire and there were some small sparks. That was enough for me. Mike says "the wires are live". Really? There was no problem but I want you all to know "If you don't understand electric, like me, you shouldn't be messing with it".
Mike finished connecting the second set of panels to the combiner box.
This is what the wiring looks like from the outside.
While Mike was finishing the wiring I had to go repair the curlex on the back hill. One of the cows made a mess out of it.
Thankfully it wasn't too bad.
We also had more washout on our walkway from the rain. We really need to fix that.
Friday- This morning we had to go to the dump and Mike dropped me at the library for the annual book sale.
When we got home while I made breakfast Mike called in our lumber order. After that we went down to the house to install the inverter on the wall. This simple job gave us all kinds of grief because the 2" screws would only go 1 inch into the concrete wall even after Mike pre-drilled the holes. Finally, we got the inverter on the wall and Mike hooked ALL of our wires up.
We crossed our fingers as Mike programmed the charge controller so our system would all run together. Ah, Mike did it all right and nothing blew up. That was a lot of wiring he did this past week. Now our solar set up is complete unless of course, we need to modify or make something better.
While we were in the house our lumber delivery arrived. Mike ordered "135" 10 foot long 2x4's, 25 sheets of sheet rock, and 2 more panels of T1-11. We were really dreading carrying all this down to the house. Fortunately the lumber company sent 2 young men(ah, young backs) and they unloaded all the sheet rock and some of the 2x4's for us. Mike and I helped with all the 2x4's. We were so thankful we didn't have to do all the work so Mike gave them a tip. They were also happy because most customers don't help.
This is our stack of 2x4's.
And our sheet rock.
Now we have material to work. We started working on the back wall of the house. We built 10 foot sections of wall at a time, then stood them up and screwed them in place.
This is me holding the first section up.
Mostly done with the back wall.
We are done with the back wall.
This is our process for building walls.
First we lay out two 2x4's. One for the top and one for the bottom of the wall.
Then we measure and cut the 2x4's to 114"(and no ditties ha, ha). We take those cut boards and place them between the top and bottom 2x4's.
Then we measure every 16 inches on the top and bottom boards and screw the inside boards in every 16 inches.
Then we stand the wall up, level it, connect it to any other walls sections, and screw it in place.
And that's how we build a wall.
Today we got a late start. I think we are finally getting a little worn out. It was pretty exciting today because it was the first full day we ran all our power tools off our own electric. Woo Hoo. It works!
We worked on more framing for the interior walls. Mike and I measured about 80 2x4's. We installed a total of 60 feet of walls just over 9 1/2 feet tall. We almost finished the perimeter walls and we got the kitchen/bedroom and the living room/office walls up.
Living room/office(bedroom) wall.
Now it's starting to look like a house. Of course, now that we can actually see what the rooms will look like we made some changes. We decided to put angled walls into the bedrooms. It makes the front area much bigger. We also changed our mind about the wood burning stove and propane fireplace. Now we will start out just the gas fireplace and see how that goes.
This is our floor plan. It's very simple and open. Just the way we like it.
Our layout for the angled wall into the bedroom/office.
We had a lot of rain today so we took a walk down our road to see what kind of washouts we had. Most spots are better but we still have more work to do. What else is new? On the way back to the top we picked up more rock. That was our day.
I'm going to finish this part of the story. It was a really long day yesterday and we have another one today. I will write again on Thursday morning.
We hope you continue to enjoy our story.
Lisa and Mike