Friday, June 12, 2009

More Solar - Spousal Disputes

This is a huge project that Jeff has always wanted to do. He has put many hours into the design and researching where to get things, into filling out and visiting all the agencies required to get the tax credit, etc. But projects usually require both spouses to get the best result.

He knows all the engineering/electrical technical stuff, and I come up with good alternative ideas that he maybe hasn't thought of and that generally work better in some cases. Also, having just spent endless weeks painting and spending time on the roof I am more familiar with things like "how will we paint around that bracket if it is sitting flush?" "Is this enough space to navigate on the roof if something needs repair, do you think 6 inches will work? No." "Will a roller fit under that rack when we reseal the roof?" Stuff like that. Unfortunately when retrofitting an old house for new things it isn't always how you've designed it on paper - things come up.

I am sorry, but the batteries cannot just sit in the carport on the ground. Leaves and dirt and things blow into that corner. What about geckos? I don't want geckos shorting the system. I sure would like that panel above the batteries. Sometimes he doesn't think about the geckos and sometimes I don't know the codes (panel cannot be above the batteries). How high should the panel be? Do we need to read things? Which end to wires go in and out? What are the choices? Lots of stuff to work out.

This was a source of argument. Here is the finished "better" way to do the conduit from the roof to the wiring box. It required drilling a hole through the concrete balcony. There is spacing to keep the conduit a little off the walls so painting will be easy. Unfortunately the conduit can't be white and painting it is impossible.

I came back from diving (why stay home if I can't contribute) to find this plan - conduit across the balcony, over the edge, under and then down. Why not just go through? I imagined tripping on it, leaves gathering, cats messing with it etc. and just thought it looked like crap.

It is the entry to the house and I didn't want to look at that. Jeff did go through the balcony and now the conduit is straight down and it does look better. I better not go diving and leave him alone though!

Not good. Luckily Jeff can see there is a different way and since it doesn't matter to him he did it my way.

You can see the panels from the end of the lawn, but not when you drive up or walk up. Originally he would have liked the panels to extend 8 feet up for maximum power generation, but I didn't want a row of "refrigerators" on the roof. By moving them back a little and going a little lower it'll work great, he kept me happy and you can't really see them. So there have been aggravating things but together we got things figured out so they look good, will function well and be practical for maintenance. It just seems so easy though to have all your power in these relatively small pieces of equipment. Why isn't this done more often? When I was in college (UC Davis 1978 -1982) all new residential and apartment buildings had to be solar. A lot of European countries have solar water at least. Why not in the energy hungry US? Anyway, we look forward to being off the grid for about as "free" as it gets. If the tax credit thing is 75 percent we will be paying around $4000 and be set forever. Not economical, as we only pay $41 a month now, but as electricity goes up we won't have to adjust. But mainly it is just a really cool thing to do! So he has really done a nice job, and not made too many things for me to touch up. When I painted the solar project wasn't hatched yet or I would have waited. We still haven't had rain so it has worked out for the project and hasn't been miserable for the roof work. It is crunch time though because it has to be done or we have to reapply for the tax credit. Next up is finding a gasoline motor for the compressor to fill dive tanks. It requires too much power to pull from the batteries so we need an alternative. It is always something! Fortunately Jeff is handy in that way and will conquer that problem easily! (he posted things before this post about the solar - be sure to look at that post too!)


Fran and Steve said...

This whole project is quite a feat. I hope you get your 75% credit. We're resigned to the fact that by the time we build, the credit will be down to 25%. Also Steve was hoping not to use batteries and sell back to PREPA. But I didn't find anything about net metering on their site. I can't imagine it's not available since it's a federal law that requires utility companies to allow it. We've also thought about geothermal but have found nothing about it in PR. Cost prohibitive perhaps. My niece in PA cools and heats her home with it. You'd think that for year-round AC in PR, it would be viable. Fran

Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

There is net metering but you dont want to sell power back, you wont get very much. It's better to use $3 worth a month (thats the min service charge for being connected)

My friend is doing just that. He has 18 panels and no batteries.