Monday, February 18, 2013

Chapter 34...Playing Jokes And All 12 Solar Panels Installed

Off Grid...Chapter 34

It is time for the adventures of Lisa and Mike.

Monday 10-27
Mike worked his butt off this past weekend to get us back on line with our wind and solar. We are living in the house and producing our own power without using the generator. Woo hoo!

We had some errands to run so we loaded the trailer with the household trash and headed to the dump. On the way we stopped at one of Jimmy's properties to pay our grading bill. Mike drove us all the way into Jimmy's property and continued up the road even when the gravel stopped. Jimmy wasn't there and there was no place to turn around. Mike says "no problem" and he starts backing up the jeep and trailer. I can't see a thing. Mike starts to pick up speed as we are traveling backwards and he starts yelling "oh no, oh no" as we are swerving. Now I am having a flashback to the day we almost got killed on the 4-wheeler when the trailer jackknifed. I'm thinking, this is it, we are going to flip this jeep over with the trailer. I am in pure panic mode. The next thing I notice is Mike turning the wheel and he is still yelling. Oh great, we're dead now. All of a sudden he stops the jeep and he is laughing hysterically. "The ass". That was so not funny. He says to me "you had to see your face". Oh yeah, I'm sure we would have won the prize in "America's Funniest Home Videos" if we had taped that. I told him "I'm not talking to you for the rest of the day". C'mon you gotta admit, it was pretty funny. Yeah Ok but you're still an ass.

The remainder of the day was less eventful and I did start talking to him within about 2 minutes. Can you all tell that I'm not quiet?. We went to the dump. post office, and library. On our way home we stopped at the building supply to get more wood to extend our solar rack for the other 6 panels.

Tuesday 10-28
Holy cow. It snowed last night.

I am so happy we are in the house. I am inside wearing shorts and all toasty warm. The FP is on low, it is freezing outside but it is so warm inside. I am very happy Mike and I pushed to get into the house. We would've frozen in the motorhome with snow on the ground and the way the winds are blowing.

Our wind generator is doing awesome. Our green light is on and it produced power all night. Woo hoo.

Mike, Niki, and I hibernated all day. We did some more organizing and "thought" about starting the ceiling. That was a short lived thought because one of us would have had to go up to the building a get the other ladder. I don't think so, lol. It's way too cold and windy out.

Mike finished the toe kicks under the kitchen cabinets. Now it is starting to look like a finished kitchen.

I tried getting Niki outside but she wants nothing to do with that. This is the dog that "held" it for 2 days during a hurricane in FL. I finally picked her up and threw her outside about 2:00pm. She was extremely confused. Where's the grass? What's this cold white stuff on the ground? Needless to say she ran back inside the house.

It's starting to get really, really windy outside. I haven't seen anything on the news about high winds.

I finally got Niki out at 6:00 when Mike and I went up to get the ladder.

Wednesday 10-29
It was a really scary night. We had sustained winds of 35MPH and gusts between 50-60MPH. I was a nervous wreck all night. Can you tell I'm the worry wart in the family? I was intently listening all night for what? I don't know. Maybe the roof will tear up, the wind turbine might take off, or the solar panels may fly off the roof. Not that I want any of this to happen, of course, you just never know-everything is new. Mike is really easy going and tells me "don't worry about it, we can't do anything until morning anyway." So he slept and I didn't, lol.

We got out of bed this morning and checked on everything outside. Everything is great. Yeah!! There was no damage to anything from those high winds.

Mike is really excited because we have new lights in our control room. The charge controller for the wind turbine light went from green to blinking red. Green means we are producing power to our batteries and blinking red means we are at "max". Woo hoo. Our charge controller for the solar panels is also displaying full charge. We only have half of our system running and we are producing at "max". Of course this will change each day depending on the weather.

We took full advantage of our power. We used our microwave for the first time and I did more laundry. Maybe I can finally use a hairdryer without the generator. I can't wait. It's the small things in life that make me happy.

We started working on the ceiling. First we have to install the tracks on the perimeter walls of the room. The metal tracks come in 12 foot sections.

Mike is putting the first one up 4 inches below our trusses.

The first two are up.

Mike installing the track above the kitchen cabinets.

Thursday 10-30
Today I left Mike to his own devices and did a stock up run to Super Wal-mart about 45 minutes away. I got to use my hairdryer today for the first time on our own power. That was so exciting. It's one thing to run the lower watt appliances like TV's, lights, and computers, but when you start running the big boys like vacuums, microwaves, toasters and hairdryers now it's time to celebrate.

While I was gone Mike worked on getting three of the six solar panels off the roof. We are going to put all of the solar panels from the roof on the rack under the other 6 panels.

He got the first 3 down and only three are left on the roof.

I got home about 4:00 and about $400.00 lighter and I didn't even buy meat. It was a long haul with all those grocery bags down to the house.

Friday 10-31
It's a beautiful day. What a difference a few days make. Mike was concerned about our solar panels this morning because they weren't charging by 11am according to our charge controller. He had to re set the system and it all seems to be fine. We'll see if there is any trouble tomorrow when we get up. He's not sure why the system had to be re set.

Once Mike got us back on line I did laundry and made a big pot of sausage and peppers using my Crockpot. Woo hoo. Life is starting to get back to normal little by little.

We started working on getting the last 3 solar panels off the roof.

Here is Niki on the roof. She can never be far from us.

And Niki back on the ground. Of course she found the most comfortable spot on the gravel.

Do you think she needs a diet, lol?

We are now going to add onto our existing solar rack. We have to dig 3 holes for 3 more poles. Two are done.

Then we have to cut the poles down. Mike using the chainsaw to cut the poles.

All 3 poles are in the ground and cut down.

Then we measure and cut the cross boards and screw them to the poles. The new addition to our rack is complete.

Tomorrow we will install the other 6 panels.

Saturday 11-1
We woke up this morning and heard a bunch of turkeys. We've been seeing a lot of turkeys lately. We went to the door and there was about 15 turkeys and a big gobbler displaying his feathers. We tried to get a picture but they are so skittish. Mike took a picture through the door but they already heard us.

Next Mike went to check our charge controller. Not good. He got the manual out and tried to re set the system again. This time I heard a small electrical pop and then smelled something burning. Uh oh! Sure enough there was definitely something wrong with the charge controller because it burnt up. We don't know what happened to it because it has been working fine for months. Mike had to disconnect all the wires, take that one off the wall, and put a new one up. This is why Mike wants 2 completely separate systems. This way if something happens to one part or component we won't be completely without power. On Monday Mike will have to order another charge controller for our other 6 solar panels.

While Mike was doing that I took our doors outside and got them ready to paint.

Mike wanted help with installing the panels but now he has to wait until I finish painting. He goes down to visit Howard at the barn. When he comes back he tells me that the man that bought 98 is very happy with him. I must have done a good job training that baby bull.

Mike spray painted all the brackets black to match the solar panels.

He also spray painted my door hinges, screws, and bolts silver because the came in brass.

After all that we started installing the other 6 solar panels. First Mike bolted the brackets onto the panel and then we screwed each panel to the rack. The first 2 are done.

We got all 6 panels added.

Now it's starting to look like a real solar set up. We have a total of 12 solar panels which should create more power than we need.

Mike connected those 6 panels to their own outdoor combiner box and they will have their own charge controller inside the house(as soon as we get another one).

All the wires nice and neat.

I finished painting the doors and Mike put all the hinges back on.

Sunday 11-2
So far, so good. We are in the green and the solar panels are charging just fine with the new charge controller. It's another beautiful morning. Mike went outside and started working on a trench for our drain pipes. He dug a 12 foot long by 1 foot deep trench for our pipe. He tied the drain pipe from around the foundation to the gutter downspout with a connector. Then he tied it into the new pipe. We still have to extend it a little farther but at least we won't get flooded if it rains really hard.

I wanted an easier day so I decided to paint the door trim inside the house. Well it took much longer than expected. First I had to tape everything off which took awhile and then I started painting. After that coat dried I decided I wasn't too happy with it so I painted it all a second time. Hopefully this will look better. The whole time I had to lock Niki outside. You would have thought she was being killed. She sat at the door on the outside just looking in the whole time. Pitiful. She can't stand to be away from me especially if she can see me. Mike says if I had a ramp going up my butt Niki would climb right up.

After I finished the painting I went up top and helped Mike dig "another" hole to re install our original wind turbine. We got the hole dug and the pipe with the concrete on it into the ground. Here is Mike on the tractor trying to hit it farther into the ground.

That was one more week in the Mike and Lisa world. I hope you all enjoyed.



  1. The coloured leaves with the snow on the ground was spectacular. I have to say that I am living vicariously through you story. Wish I was younger and I'd be starting my own "off the grid" adventure. What a wonderful time you all must be having.

    OK ... maybe one more chapter than it is off to bed. :)

    1. I'm glad you are enjoying our story:)

  2. Hi Mike & Lisa! I was steered to this blog by the man upstairs-Imean, Karsten, the guy in post just above me! :-) He sure knows how to get me in trouble! I am hooked on reading/viewing this blog!! My Dad was a builder/carpenter, and in my youth I used to tag along to his jobsites... This brings back a lot of memories!

    I have always dreamed of building a home in a sort of remote spot, from scratch, like this!So, yes, I too am living this life "vicariosly" through your experinces!

    I realize that this is all ancient history now for you guys, but for me, I'm living it one chapter at a time, your rewarding moments, or frustrations... Real life, yet so fun to follow!!

    Thanks so much for putting this up for our enjoyment!! - Dave Weber

    1. Welcome and than you so much for writing in. I am so happy you like our story. We do have a crazy life. Happy reading.