Tuesday, December 22, 2015

(Dec 22) Christmas

Our 1st real Christmas in our Tiny House. :) Very exciting. Kim was a bit disappointed that we hadn't had time to decorate our house at Arlington and we'd been busy working every day we were at the Cabin so I took some time to decorate when I came out this week by myself. She was coming the next day with the grandson and I knew it would make her day. I hung some lights, put up a tree, stocking and some decoration. My cell phone had died that day so she couldn't call me to let me know she was on her way or had arrived. Since our driveway is no longer a driveway, more like a swamp, she would have to park up at the road (600 ft away) and walk down to the house in the dark by themselves. As they got closer and closer to the house, she kept mentioning to the grandson how bright the house looked tonight. As they cleared the trees, she could see that it was lit up with christmas lights. There was also the tree sitting in the window, all lit up. They both started squealing. I stepped out when I saw them with a big "HO! HO! HO!" After they got settled in, we just sat around for a while soaking it all in. Christmas in the woods in our own Tiny House. What could be better!

House as you approach from the road

Gotta have a tiny tree in a tiny house! :) Included as ornaments are a deer, hummingbird, owl, fox, squirrel, butterflies, dove and chickadee. 

Pick your favorite decorations and rotate them out each year. 

Couldn't resist the woodland stocking!

Nativity scene Kim had given her to her mother a couple of years before she passed away. Great to find a place for it here so that she's with us. 

The wreath seemed to beg to be put on the bathroom door. LOL It actually looks great with the iron hardware. I hung it with some fishing line and a tack as I didn't want to put a nail into it.
Happy Holidays to all. May your dreams be filled with Tiny Houses, friends and family. We wish you the best!!

(Dec 22) Solar Panels

Finally got started installing our solar panels. We've only got until Dec 31 to get them installed and inspected to get our rebate from the electric company. It's going to be a race!

We got 6 panels, 260 Watts each for a total potential of 1560 Watts. Our hope is that these will offset the majority of our electric use, at least while we're only here part time. We may have to add additional panels as we stay out here more. Time will tell.

Couldn't really afford to purchase a $1,500 rack system so I headed to Home Depot to start improvising. Came up with a pretty workable system for about $200. :)

First, we built a support system out of treated 4x4s. There was a little slope in the the location so one of the pole is longer than the others. I'll cut them all off trim to the same height after all the smoke has cleared. Then we mounted a support pole across the top. After we mount the panels, we'll work on the bottom bracing that will hold them up at the right angle for the season. Then comes the charge controller and batteries. Good thing I'm off work 'til after New Year! :)

Cemented in the support posts

Got all of the posts square and plumb 

Got the top rail mounted to the posts

View of the hardware on the back of the panels

1st set of panels mounted to the support rail

Front view of bank of panels

Ready to crank out some electricity. I can't wait!

Panels mounted

Inverters and cut-off installed

Enphase inverter. One for each panel. 

Moved the cut-off and installed warning labels on everything

Electric co-op came out and put in a meter for the solar panels to measure output

Final configuration after we moved the cut-off and installed the meter. Good to finally be producing some juice! :)

(Dec 22) Power Systems

The power company finally finished with their part in getting us hooked up to the grid and we got started on getting power run to the house. They were kind enough to run us a trench so we headed to Home Depot and got all of the conduit and supplies. We decided to also run a water line from the meter area to the house for future projects. Might as well since we had the trench there already.

Trench from meter base to house

Kim attaching some conduit 

Power conduit running from meter to the house

Meter with water and power run to the house

Driveway after the rain

The good news is that we finally have power in the house. The bad news is that our driveway is unusable for quite some time. The power company backfilled best as they could but after we got 4"-5" of rain over the past week, the trench has compacted and caved in down most of the drive. The dirt that's on top now is also too soft to drive on. I got stuck a couple of times in the go-kart. I can't imagine bringing a 5000 lb truck down the road. :(  Maybe it will continue to fill in with additional rain and then harden as it dries. Either way, I'm sure glad we did the power first instead of laying road base which would have been a total waste of time and money. Hopefully, we can look at road base this summer when it has had a chance to harden up.

Jump to Solar Panel entry.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Power System Photos

Trench from meter to house

Meter base and breaker box

Meter base

Breaker Box

Meter base and breaker box wired

Meter in place and wired

Drive after trenching for underground power lines

Building stand for solar panels

Building stand for solar panels

Building stand for solar panels

Mounting bracket on back of panel

1st bank mounted on top rail

1st bank of panels mounted

Starting on 2nd bank

All 6 solar panels mounted

Power specs on Solar Panels

Monday, December 7, 2015

(Dec 6) Power Pole & Meter Base Set

What a pleasant surprise when we headed to town on Saturday morning to find out that the local electric company had come by and set a power pole at the corner of our property. Fitting that I finished the wiring on the meter base and the cut-off box.


Cut-off and breaker box. We'll run power from this to the various buildings - the house, the storage shed and the workshop (once built).

The meter base. I color coordinated the wires from one box to the next. Absolutely don't want anything crossed or wired incorrectly.

I ended up going with 2/0 copper for this. It was a little more than the aluminum 4/0 and I'm suspecting it was easier to work with though this stuff is extremely stiff. I grounded with #4 bare copper. Not sure which was harder, driving the grounding rod 8' with an undersized hammer or digging 3 holes for our our poles and conduit in the mud. Either way, glad it's done. Now, we're waiting for the electric company to bury the power lines to the meter base. Next week, we trench our own line from the cut-off to the house, about 100'. Not looking forward to that either. It will be VERY nice to finally get to enjoy the quiet that we moved to the country for. :)

Still no sign of our Solar Panels. "They're on a truck" and should be hitting the Metroplex any day now. I've got 3 weeks to get them hooked up and verified to qualify for our $1,000 rebate from our electric company. Good thing I'm only working 8 more days this month. Really looking forward to spending some extended time off out here between now and the end of the year. I guess that's a funny statement considering that I work a lot harder out at the property than I do at my desk job.

As if to protest, our generator had a minor meltdown on Sunday. I've got 5 parts to order today to get her back up and running. Hopefully, we get to move her to backup duty pretty soon.

Saw lots of fresh deer tracks on the back part of the property when we took a walk yesterday. We took some corn and hopefully the raccoons will leave the deer some.

I checked with the local weather bureau. There's a weather station close to our property so we get pretty accurate readings. They listed 23+" (of our 63" this year) of rainfall for the combined months of September and October. I'm still fascinated (and in Awe) at the magnitude of this. I've gone through this exercise before but here it is again with current numbers:

Our 12 acres = roughly 500,000 square feet
2 feet of rainfall over 2 months x 500,000 sf  = 1,000,000 cubic feet of water on our property alone
1 cubic foot of water  =  7.48 gallons
1 gallon of water  =  8.34 pounds
1,000,000 cubic feet of water  = 7,480,000 gallons
7,480,000 gallons  =  62,383,200 lbs!

Hard to fathom that we had 62+ million pounds of water fall on just our 12 acres. Our neighborhood started as a 380 acre property. It got 236,000,000 gallons of water in that same period. The 100 square miles (10 miles x 10 miles) that's within a short drive of our place got almost 40 Billion gallons of water. It's no wonder that we've had almost 10 straight months of overflow at the lake just a mile from our house. It's something to see. Day after day, month after month, it just keep pouring over the dam. I guess this wipes out the "drought" of only 29" of rainfall we got last year.