Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chapter 140...Finishing Our Solar Panel Mounts

Finally we are finishing installing the solar panel mounts for our new off grid system.  Woo hoo.  It has been a tough winter/spring, weather wise, to get this job done.

So on to the pictures for this chapter:)

April 1
This morning starts out good so Mike and I decide to go for another pole.  It's a little muddy but we are tired of being cooped up in the house.  Mike starts off by shoveling and clearing some of the ground before we move the pole over.  

What a muddy mess.  I hope we are able to pull the trailer with the pole over there without sinking it or having a mud bath.

We unwrap the tarp and get another one of these awkward poles onto the trailer.  From there we start to work.  Since our land goes higher at this point we have to cut down the pole so it will match the others that are in the ground.

Mike cuts the pole down:

Then he wraps painters tape on the bottom and sprays the portion of the pole that will be in the ground with a rubber undercoating:

This one has a lot of rust so we have to sand it off.  Here I am sanding some of the solar mount.

Now the fun part...sorry no pictures of this.  We are a little busy:)  Mike and I push the trailer closer to the hole.  We push, pull. shove and do whatever is necessary to get the pole into the hole.  It is in and of course it isn't stable until we get the concrete in the ground.

Mike uses a post hole digger to keep it in place:

Next we mix the multiple bags of quikrete and get it in the hole around the pole.  We have to hurry.  The weather is not looking good and we still have to get this painted before any rain comes.

Using a jack and the post hole digger we lift the pole a little to get it level with the other solar panel mounts:

Our temporary set up until the concrete hardens.  Another creative idea, lol:

Uh looks like rain.  Mike tells me to grab a tarp and wrap up this last mount.  Here is our handy work:

We went down to the house and hoped for a break.  We really have to get this pole painted.  Mike is getting antsy and pacing.  Finally he says "let's go"

We get up top and I pull the tarp off while Mike mixes the paint.  We don't like how the silver paint looked on the poles and mounts.  It had a very rough finish and really stood out so we are going back to our old standby using the same green that is on the shipping container.  We hate when things don;t blend, lol.

Mike mixing the paint:

Instead of using the big sprayer and making a huge cleanup mess, Mike bought a new little gadget.  Oh yeah...boys and their toys but hey if it gets the job done faster I'm in:)  He bought a handheld Graco sprayer from Lowe's.  Our New Paint Sprayer

Testing out the new sprayer:

Looks like fun if it wasn't so windy:

It looks great and Mike is very happy with his new tool:

Woo hoo.  We beat the rain and got the 3rd solar panel mount in the ground and painted.  Time to take a break.  It may not seem like a lot of work but when you really do it all it takes a long time.

I will be so happy when all five solar mounts are in the ground:)

April 2
Oh look....digging another hole for the 4th pole, lol.  Seriously though we "are" getting there and it is going to be awesome:)

Here I am using the bar to help break up the rock in the hole.  Just once I would like to be able to dig a hole with just a shovel.  Of course Niki has to help,  For some reason she has an obsession with holes.  Some day I fear something will jump out of a hole and bite her.  Thankfully nothing is living in this hole since we dug it:

Mike uses the tractor to try and get the spot more level and lower:

We had to stop work here and meet with our grader.  Mike and I go over to our lot and talk about getting a rock delivery in for the concrete man.  While we are there the concrete guys show up and put the form boards in for our slab:)

The next few days we couldn't work on poles.  We watched our granddaughter one day and then we had bad weather.

April 6's warm and sunny.  What a great combo.  It's time to get some work done.

This 4th hole is giving us grief.  Mike takes the electric chisel to try and help us break up the rock:

We do the same thing.  Get the solar panel mount on the trailer, Mike paints the bottom of the pole, we drop it into our hole and add the quikrete:

Nik is enjoying the weather while we work.  What else is new:)

I'm finally digging with a shovel:

It's a good day.  We also got the 5th and last solar panel mount in the ground.  Only 2120 pounds hand mixed concrete later:

This last mount is set apart from the others.  The solar panels on this one will be on their own electric breaker.  It will catch more of the winter sun for us.

Mike painting:

The first four solar panel mounts lined up:

Mike digging out the ground the add some 4x4's.  He wants to make a small garden of rock around the poles to keep the area clean:

While he does that I work on my garden a little.  I am getting really anxious for some plants to start growing but I have a long wait for that.  Here is my garden and the square foot grids:

That's all for now.  Mike and I are very happy to have the poles in the ground.  Next we will have to paint the first poles green and also re paint the side of the shipping container.  Then we can get the new solar panels on:)

My stories for the next few months will go back and forth from our "off grid" home and our new store that we are building.

I hope you enjoyed this story and I will write again on Monday:)


  1. Is that an oil based paint (green) that you are using, or a latex? I'm pretty sure the oil base will last longer and works better on metals, but clean up is a bit was the clean up with that new sprayer?

    How is Ms. Niki doing? She seemed to be enjoying your working with that hole...LOL!! I'm sure as the weather warms up, she'll start feeling better.

    Did you do anything else about the fence near the garden, to keep the cows from bothering you?
    I was thinking that maybe an additional fence about 10' in to their pasture, would help deter them....just in the area of the garden.....and probably won't need to be put in, until you've got something growing....but you don't want them pushing against the fence at the garden again!!

  2. Yes we used latex. It is so much easier to use and clean up from. The new sprayer was very easy to clean up. Much easier than out old big sprayer.

    Niki loves being outside now...just like Mike and I:)

    I am not changing my garden this year but I will no longer feed them scraps close to my garden. Hopefully they will leave it alone. If I catch them leaning over the fence than I will have to do something. Next year they won't be here.

    Thanks for writing in!!!

  3. I'm thinking hot wire! Cow's be gone.....;-)

    1. Oh yeah...don't mess with my garden, lol.

      They won't be here next year. We need new growth on the property for a few years.