Thursday, August 28, 2014
So where are we with the solar project? We've had a stretch of hot, dry weather so what better time to get out and play in the dirt. It's about 100 feet from the solar array in the backyard to our house and city code requires that the wiring be buried in 1" Schedule 40 conduit the entire way. Normally we would only need to bury it 15", but our electrician-on-retainer told us it would need to go to 24" under where we want to pour a concrete driveway.
Adding to the fun was this elevation change from the backyard to behind the garage and the really tight space between the retaining wall and garage. The Dingo has a trencher attachment and we really wanted to use it rather than digging this by hand. Had we done that, I think the neighbors would have found both J. and I lying comatose in the back yard. Not that we're strangers to hard work, but did I mention the heat index was over 100 degrees? When you can guzzle water all day while you're working outside and never have to pee, you know it's hot.
Fortunately, the Dingo fit in that tiny space with just an inch on either side. It was a tight fit! First we had take out the retaining wall that was in the way. Then the Dingo made short work of digging it out to 24" but we hit an old brick retaining wall AND a 6" concrete pad. The Hilti mini-jackhammer came to the rescue.
The it was off to the races with the trencher. The trench goes all the way to the back support for the array where we'll mount a junction box to pull all the wires together. Then it travels across the backyard under where the new driveway will go and down behind where the retaining wall was. Our plan is to put steps here so it's easier to get into the backyard.
And behind the garage. This was really hard to trench, since the dirt had nowhere to go due to the tight space. The nice thing about this part is that it was in the shade all day!
And, finally, behind the hot tub and air conditioner to the edge of the house.
There were lots of areas where we had to go back and clean the dirt out of the trench by hand to get it to the correct depth. Believe it or not, a Shop Vac is the easiest way to do this unless you want to lay face down in the dirt. I'm sure it looked funny to see us out there vacuuming - especially since it was getting dark. But we were looking skyward and hoping it didn't rain before we could get the trench inspected. Can you imagine the muddy mess that would make?
The good news is that we got it done in time to get it inspected today. We beat the rain that's supposed to happen tomorrow. And really good news...we passed the inspection! After all the drama, the city inspector didn't even pull out his measuring stick to check the depth. In fact, he spent most of the time griping about how he wants to do solar panels but his HOA won't let him. My response? Move!
Anyway, that was the green light that we needed to get everything wired up and ready to hook up to the grid. Once everything is wired, we'll have to pass one more inspection and then we can flip the switch and turn the panels on. Woohoo!
But, for now, J. and I are enjoying some much-deserved ice cream after filling that darn trench back in. It's done....so time to finally relax.
This post has been shared with this week's Homestead Barn Hop. Go check it out!