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My little solar project

By now, I think most of you know that our farm is off-grid. Meaning we have no power coming in from a power company. Our power comes from a 1kw wind turbine and/or a gas generator that we plug in when the power is low. Although it's really windy out here, it's not windy all the time and it's usually not windy during the summer. Which is when the sun is shining brightest. So the landlord has agreed to put up solar panels. I offered to install them myself to keep the costs down. Of course, I know very little about setting up solar but, like everything out here, I've been learning as I go. I had to get the water lines in but now that I have that pretty much taken care of, I can turn my attention to the solar. Here's a pretty schematic I drew of the project as as whole. It's not drawn to scale but it helped for me to see it all drawn out. Plus, I thought for sure I was going to need help and I figured I could email this to someone to give them an idea of what I was doing.

I attempted to put the panels up this last weekend, with the help of Aaron and Dave. We set everything up: got the racking hardware ready, the solar panels all lined up, one person on the roof, one person on the ground and one person going back and forth. As soon as we were on the roof, the temp dropped 10-20 degrees and the wind picked up.  No problem though, we (slowly) brought up our first panel and started to install it on the top racks. And that's when we realized that they sent me the wrong size clamps. Problem... So back down we went and put away everything we had just set up. I called yesterday and I'm going to be lucky if I can get the right size clamps by this weekend. I may have to "modify" the clamps they sent me in the meantime and then swap them out with the right ones, when they come in. Because I really want to have them up by the end of the holiday weekend.

(Max is the worst photo bomber ever...)

We needed to get the power from the panels to the battery shed, so I waited until I was working on the water lines to trench across the driveway. As you can see, above, I managed to hit two shallow waterlines in the process. Which is one of the reasons why I really wanted to get water lines put in (and a shutoff valve to the existing water lines). With our winters, I find it hard to believe that these pipes won't be frozen solid for a good bit of the winter. I'm just hoping they don't leak. I did cover these repair sections with pipe insulation.

Even after the panels are up, I still need to wire everything up in the battery shed and the granary. Although, before I can do that I need to figure out how to strip wiring when dealing with 6 gauge wires in a PVC protective casing...

This little fella should put out up to 200 watts of power. Combine that with his five buddies and we will have as much as 1200 watts of solar power to go with our 1000 watts of wind power!

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