Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Solar: It's All About Location, Location, Location

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Welcome to the sixth post in the series related to our solar energy project.
 Click here to start at the beginning!

According to our figurin' from the last post in the series, we know we need 32 panels rated at 305 watts each for our system.  That's not quite 10 kW (32 x 305 watts = 9,760 watts or 9.67 kilowatts). 

32 panels is ALOT.  And they'll take up a lot of space:  each panel is about 18 square feet, for a total of 576 square feet.  In fact, if we stack them in 4 rows of 8 panels per row, we'd have a rectangle that was 14 feet by 44 feet (on average). 

Most importantly, your solar panels need to point at the sun.  Here in the Northern Hemisphere, that means we point our panels DUE SOUTH to capture the best sunlight.  In the Southern Hemisphere, their panels would point DUE NORTH.

So where the heck are we going to put these at?  
Our complicated roof

Certainly not on the roof of our Victorian house with all its peaks, valleys and dormers.  To the right, there's a Google satellite picture of our roof line and I've highlighted the lines in green.  Yep, no place to put 32 panels up there.  Not only that, but we just had our roof replaced also.  Even though the solar industry claims to have leak-free roof mounts available, it would make me nervous to have all those screws through the roof to hold the panels down.  Lots of people do roof-mounted solar arrays but we can't....so we need to find somewhere else to put them.

So what other options do we have?

Well, we've got a detached garage that we built 5 years ago.  But it's shaded by our neighbor's tree in the morning and our tree in the afternoon\evening.  It's also not big enough to hold 32 panels, so that won't work either.

What we do have is the vacant lot behind us that we affectionately refer to as "Cranky Puppy Farm".  That's where our raised garden beds and chicken coop are located.  As you can see by the larger Google satellite image below that was taken at about 10 a.m. during the height of summer, there's a large amount of space that's clear from shade all day.  I've indicated where the panels could go with the red box.  Note that we'll probably have to move the chicken coop, so I'm glad that we were smart enough to build it on skids in case we needed to move it in the future. 

North at the top, South at the bottom
Placing the solar panels on a racking system on the ground is referred to as a ground-mount solar array.  As we'll see in later posts, there are specially designed racks to accommodate this kind of installation.  Whether you're doing a ground-mount or a roof-mount, you'll need to include the cost of the mounting equipment in your total costs for the solar project.

Whew!  Now that we know we have a location for our panels, in our next post we'll look at solar panel choices and talk about the system we've decided to install.

If you're interested in more on our solar project, please check the "Solar Project" section on the bar to the right.


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