Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Licht 'n Stein Improvements, Fall 2008

Coming to Licht 'n Stein this fall...some long-awaited improvements: my solar hot water system and my photovoltaic system.

I've finally saved up enough energy (or converted some frustration into constructive energy) to start organizing the completion of two of my biggest still-awaiting-completion projects: My 3rd heating system (besides the Passive Solar Design and the Masonry Stove that kept me nicely warm for the past two winters) and the installation of a photovoltaic (converting sunshine into electricity)  array to complete my "off-the-grid" system.

Last Friday, September 19, Todd and DreamAcres' 2008 summer intern Andrew were instrumental in helping me to lift and install my two 40 sq. ft. solar hot water panels that had been standing in my backyard for the past 2 years. To be honest, I've been having nightmares the past two years trying to think about lifting those up...but Todd, with his great "barn raising conductor"  experience made it look and feel quite easy (except for the 30 seconds were both Andrew and I were up on the 30°/3:12 roof, trying to pull the 4 x 10 foot, 140 pound panels up onto the roof while the soles of our shoes (and we) were slowly sliding downward....but at last groaning (at least on my part) and muscle strength (on Andrew's part from a summer of farming organically) finally prevailed and the panels (one at a time) were up on the roof.

The installation on a standing seam steel roof was remarkably easy thanks to someone giving me the great tip (when I bought the panels) to buy some special clamps (S5!) that clamp on to the standing seam without pinching it (and of course eliminating the need to drill holes into my nice roof).

Although now that I think about it, the installation of the panels was the easy's what's left to do:
  • Connect the 1/2" corrugated stainless steel pipes (flexible gas piping) to a 1" copper stub
    (actually from a picture of one of the houses on the national solar tour that is coming up, I got the idea of hiding/insulating my pipes in some PVC piping that I obviously would need to paint and then clamp to the roof)
    (Jonathan Allan pointed out that I would need a special torch for 1" piping)
    (Since I haven't done much pipe sweating I'm not sure how I will actually do it...Kirby offered to help, but with his shoulder I'd hate for him to have to climb up on that roof)
  • Order and install a 20W photovoltaic panel (more S5 clamps, I guess)
  • Figure out the whole plumbing design...with expansion tanks and all...then hook it all together
  • Finish my heating manifold
  • "Build" my heat storage tank and the heat exchangers
  • ...and much more

For my photovoltaic system my steps are
  • order the parts
  • dig out the whole, install the 6" pipe and order a concrete truck to fill it back in
  • install the Rack and the PV panels
  • install the charge controller and hook everything up
It'll be a busy fall!


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