Monday, November 10, 2014

It's Official! We are OFF THE GRID!

The Annoying Fitness Couple of the 80s
These past two weekends have been full of major progress!

In the past two weekends we have done a plethora of stuff ranging from post-wedding to life in general to tiny house related tasks. In between, I flew out to Little Rock, AR for a busy work week. My apologies for the long awaited next post, but there has been just too much going on! And I'd rather be out DOING than in Writing. ;) I know for a fact that many of you are squirming at the edge of your seats, waiting to hear all about our solar power set up, so let me just break it to you in the first paragraph- this isn't the post. HOWEVER, I will be doing something a bit different this week- since there is so much to talk about. I will be doing some posts in rapid fire! Expect two more posts from me within the week! I have tomorrow off, which I plan to make wise use of, and also spend a little time with my favorite veteran- my older brother, Adam. I am going to break down the solar power set up in two posts. In the first post I will catalogue the components of our system so you know exactly what we have. I will also introduce some of the major items you should be evaluating when you first make the decision to go solar. I may even include some helpful resources in that one- or maybe the second one. The second post will most certainly contain a video of me showing our setup and giving and VERY rudimentary explanation of how it all connects and works.
But for this post- I will stick to the highlights and plaster the place with photos.

Halloween weekend- we did something fun and unusual for us- we made a little effort to plan costumes and then headed out to Twin River to meet some friends, take in the entertainment, a few beverages, and we even gambled a smidge. We walked out with five extra dollars. 
The gifts keep trickling in! We love it!

Saturday was a slow lazy start, then we suddenly had to help out a family member which ended up taking a good part of the day. So we scrapped the rest of it (as far as work on the house was concerned) and tended to a few errands of our own- like laundry. And we put together our new Berkey!! Thanks Lupo! :) Gotta love the late wedding gifts that keep showing up.  

Dan digging out a trench to bury our grounding rod.

On Sunday, we completed the last few connections that were needed. We realized part way through that we didn't have the additional wire and teeny weeny connector pieces for the Trimetric monitor, but we kept going. The Trimetric is not necessary to allow the system to run and produce power- it simply monitors the battery levels and a few other things. We just wanted to make sure the whole system worked at this point! We didn't turn on the inverter. It was late in the day and we wanted the batteries to get a good charge before we asked for any power. 

I'm not sure I can describe the slow steady rise of joy that came over me as we flipped the breakers at each point. First, we were at the panels, flipping the connector box breakers- and seeing the little blue lights of the lightning arrestor beam up at us was a lovely first sign. We then headed to the utility closet and began flipping those breakers too. When the charge controller powered on we were AMPED!! (See what I did there?)

It's lit up!!

By that point in the day it was getting dark and quite crisp. We headed inside and started reviewing manuals so we could start understanding what all these little monitors needed from us, and what they would tell us in return. 

This past weekend, we spent Saturday getting the materials for the heater and the Trimetric. We finished installing the battery monitor to the system and programmed both the Trimetric and our charge controller as needed. At first the charge percentage didn't display and we got a bit nervous, but after more reading we realized it would not display the first time until the batteries were at 100%. 

On Sunday, we finally saw it hit 100% within the first half hour of morning sun. We decided to go for it! We turned on the inverter and plugged ourselves in! We are now proudly, joyously, FINALLY using power from the sun!!! YYEEEEEHAAAWWW!!!
The rest of Sundays light hours were spent installing the heater. Dan's Dad came over and gave us a hand. Since I did most of the homework on the solar power, I told Dan that the heater was his homework.

 It was quite nice, just hanging back and taking photos, letting him and his Dad do the work. :) We found that we are missing just one little connector piece, which we plan to get tonight. Then we will see how our new heater works!

Marking the hole...

After these past two weekends, two major major tasks have finally been accomplished, and we are ahead of the winter weather still. I have felt this rare, remarkable calm settle over me. The entire vision is finally coming together. I am beyond proud of what we have done together, and even more so now that we can say we successfully installed our own solar power system! It can be done people!

Thanks for reading!
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Cutting the hole with a jigsaw.

Finishing the cut on the outside!
Hey there! Our pipe fits!



  1. Yeah for solar power! And yeah for Berkeys! We love ours :)

    1. Thanks! We were pumped to see someone actually pick that off our registry! :)

  2. I know you thought long and hard about the choice between wood stove and propane, but for both aesthetic and environmental reasons I weep at the sight of you cutting into that beautiful wood paneling. Oh for just a little more space in your tiny house!

    1. Ahh was a tough choice. If I had it my way, I'd say forget both! I want a rocket mass heater. Environmentally, that is the absolute best way to go! Check them out if you haven't yet. We just might be playing around with them later this winter or next season.

  3. You might be eligible for a new government solar rebate program.
    Click here to find out if you qualify now!