Wednesday, October 29, 2014

About To Leap Off The Grid!

We are just a couple connections away from running on sun power!

This past weekend, Dan and I spent two full days carefully reviewing, prepping, assembling, and installing our solar power system. All that remains to be done is to ground a few different items in our "power center", install the Tri-metric battery monitor, and then actually connect the line leading from the house up to the panels.

We had a fair mix of plain old labor (digging trenches and yanking wire through conduit) and the more cerebral challenges of making sure we understood and replicated the many schematics and diagrams that came with all of our parts and pieces.

We are both beyond excited to finally get this system up and running, but certainly did not want to rush through anything. With great hesitation, we packed up and put everything away for the weekend around 4pm on Sunday. After all, when you work full time, your weekend should have at least a couple hours of down time right? Not to mention my body needed a break. 

Now THAT is a tiny space.

I spent the better part of this weekend folded up inside our utility closet. Dan's a lot bigger than me, and I did the bulk of the homework on this stuff, so I wedged myself in there to put all the pieces together. When I get locked into a project- everything else seems to fall away. My awareness hones to a pinpoint, and suddenly I am unaware of anything sound, temperature, physical sensation, passage of time and so on. At some point, my legs had gone numb, and when I crawled out of that little space at the end of the day I nearly fell over! My muscles had cramped into that position, so for a few entertaining minutes, I hobbled around half hunched over like a 90 year old lady.

**Note- I began writing this post's draft before receiving some very sad news. My uncle passed away late Sunday.  For anyone who may have known Paul Belhumeur and would like to pay respects, we welcome you to his services on Thursday October 30th. More information is here. **

As a result, this post will remain brief. I had plans to begin laying out the details of our system in a two or three part series, but my mind and energy are elsewhere. I will begin doing so with the next post. 

Please send love, prayers, warmth, hugs, or any kind of support to my family- if you would.

Thanks for reading...
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If you plan on leaving your panels mounted but not yet connected-
tape the ends of the cables! Some sort of flying insect decided to lay larvae
in our male MC4 connector ends. Not fun to clean out.

He's such a hard worker :)

Lightning arrester...

Wiring the combiner box...

Lightning arrester wired.

Time to wire these panels together!

Mounted the combiner box.

Feeding wires through the conduit.

Finishing up the wiring of the panels into the combiner box. 

Working on the e-panel wiring.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Annnnnd We're Back!

One of many TH inspired pieces of decor. :)
What an amazing whirlwind!

The past couple weeks have been jam-packed with wonderfulness. Major milestones, long time friends uniting, and more. As many of you know- Dan and I GOT MARRIED on the 10th! Wooo!
It was nothing short of surreal. Every bit of it was perfect- (well I was a little late and had to rush through photos, but I have every confidence that the photographer got some great stuff!) everyone could not stop gushing about the decor, the ceremony, and I must say- I felt like some kind of celebrity. :) I was greeted with gasps as people saw me for the first time- and that elevated me to a level somewhere well beyond bliss. I wanted to look unforgettable that day, as I married the most amazing man I've ever known, and I think that was accomplished. ;)

One of the outdoor bouquets. 

Another milestone that kind of got glossed over in the chaos- October 1st marked one full year of living in the Pod! It's hard for us to believe most days. It still feels like we just got ourselves moved in. Even a year later, we are still working out different details. Where to best store things, how to manage the mess (I think we need to invoke a no shoes policy) and of course, we are still working on that dang siding. It has taken a backseat over the past few months, but we need to do something to protect and seal it before winter! 
A phone camera shot from later in the night- I'm sporting my reception dress here. 

Another, slightly less related event, after returning from my wedding, I also went back to work at our brand new office building and I LOVE IT. Not only did they purchase and renovate (not wreck) a building, but the place, like all our other offices is beautiful, inspiring, and full of art. But that's not even the best part! With this new building, they are putting their green initiative into full swing. 

No trash cans at every desk! No throw away containers in the cafeteria! Centralized recycling stations every 15 desks or so. And an AWESOME fitness center! There are some whiners already. God forbid you have to get up and walk 20 feet or so to throw something away. We all need to move more! It makes sense! Our brains, our bodies, all work better when we move more throughout the day. Not to mention we are choosing to be responsible and respectful of the ONLY HOME WE HAVE. I hope all the initiatives stick.


REAL DISHES- no more plastic salad containers!

Okay, so maybe this conference isn't so bad. Roof top pool!
I am writing to you all, as I sit in my hotel in Phoenix. Yes, not even a week after being wed, I am off on a four day conference. I thought it would be fine, and in reality it is- I'll live, but being away from my hubby the very next weekend kind of sucks. And I lose a weekend of working on house stuff.  (I left early Saturday morning.)

You can see the top right corner still unsanded.
The whole wall looked like that. :/
But Dan is still home and was very enthused about putting in some serious hours while I was away. We have plenty to do- no surprise there. We have to clean up the siding that has been weather beaten and started to gray over the last couple months. It's been a sore spot for us both, each time we pull into our driveway and see the once pretty blonde siding all mucky and black/gray. Over Saturday and Sunday, Dan was able to sand the full end wall of our house. I am elated. It was weighing on us both, and I can't wait to get home and see it myself!

Perhaps a more immediate need is to install the direct vent propane heater we recently purchased. Since we are moving to solar power, electric heat in the winter is a definite no go. There is less sun, less power, and it just wouldn't make any sense! We hee'd and haw'd over propane versus a wood stove, and although we both really love and prefer the wood stove, we had to be sensible. First- the TRULY American companies I found that produce quality stoves in a size we can use are all back ordered until the spring- second, any stoves that were available required safety dimensions that just would not work for us. If the stove has to be at least 3 feet from everything, it would be smack in the middle of our main floor! Nope. 

The second aspect of wood stoves for tiny houses is the fact that they are a lot of work. Not just cutting, splitting, and hauling wood into the house or cleaning up the ash on a regular basis, but the fact that a stove that small can only hold so much wood. Finding the perfect placement of the flue can help with how fast the wood burns, but lets face it, if you have two tiny logs that are 15 inches long, they will only burn for so long.  We would need to be able to tend the stove every hour at least, and since we both have full time schedules, that's not a possibility. I grew up with wood heat and loved it. The kind of heat produced from wood stoves is unparalleled, and I like that it was very DRY heat. We are worried about the moisture loads we dealt with last year (only two or three instances) and the idea of wood heat drying that place right out was nice. But then I thought about our lungs. My parents had two huge humidifiers going at all times, and even a cast iron kettle full of water on top of the stove. We have neither the space nor the power considerations to handle propane it is.

We still have not given up on the idea- maybe later on, if we find a great stove that can hold its own throughout the day, or one of us can be around or close enough to stop in and tend the stove, we would consider it. 

Next up after the stove install is solar power. We have set the panels to the correct angle, collected all the parts we need (I hope), dug the trench for the power line leading up to the house, and now we just need to suck it up and hook it up. I will be reviewing the schematics when I have free moments throughout this week.

Well that's all for now! I have to get ready for day two of the conference, but I promise we will get back in the swing of regular posts!

Thanks for reading!
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