Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Monday, September 29, 2014
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Monday, September 22, 2014
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Saturday, September 20, 2014
I want to give a shout out to Tony for all the help he has given us. I wanted to give him some free advertising, but he just informed me this afternoon as he was leaving that he's giving up his own business because he "can't make a living at it with all the taxes, healthcare, etc.". Politics aside, that's a damn shame. Luckily, he's landed a really good job and will be taken care of.
Again, if you are thinking about doing a solar project, I highly recommend finding an electrician that has done it before and is willing to work with you on a consulting basis.
Friday, September 19, 2014
So we had some prep to do before Tony gets here. Perhaps the biggest thing on the list was clearing out the space in the basement where the inverters are going. We'd been storing tools in that room, so they all had to be relocated. Then we had to run some 2x4's from floor to ceiling where they screwed into the joists and then a leftover piece of plywood from the laundry room reno is what our two SolarEdge SE6000-US inverters are mounted to.
Installation requirements are that the two inverters have to be mounted at a minimum of 4 inches apart so any heat can dissipate. As you can see in the picture, we have plenty of room so there will be a "combiner box" between the two inverters where the output wires from the inverters join together and then run to the main panel.
My back is STILL screwed up, so J. did all of this by himself tonight while I sat on the couch with the dogs and watched reruns of Renovation Realities. I would rather have been helping than dealing with this back pain. It's really starting to get old.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
After our defeat last night at the hands of some stubborn wire, we decided to bring out some bigger guns. Not only did J. pick up some wire lubricant to make those wires slide through the conduit more easily, but he also snagged a chain hoist from Harbor Freight. Rather than break our backs, we'll let a tool do the hard work!
The deck is right above where we're pulling the wire, so he attached the hoist to the underside of the desk. You can see that in the pictures above. The green rope is what we are pulling through the conduit, and the wires are attached to the end of that rope.
With me lubing the wires and feeding them, and J. pulling on the other end, the wires were going through slowly. Every couple of feet, J. had to stop and reposition the rope on the hoist. We could gauge how far we were by how much rope was out of the conduit and, at about 2/3 of the way, I hear J. yell. Running as fast as I could with this bad back, I found him lying on his back on the ground. The rope had broken.
Fortunately, it broke outside the conduit and there was enough that we could continue to pull on. But that could have been disastrous! Had it broken in the conduit, we could have had to pull the wires out backwards and start all over.
Well, as you can see in that second picture, we finally have SUCCESS! Right as it was starting to get dark, the wires emerged from the conduit. We pulled it another 10 feet or so and called it quits for the evening.
This part of the project was pretty stressful and I think there are several lessons that we learned during this whole process. I'd like to share them here and maybe save someone some frustration.
- Always use bigger conduit than you need. We went by the solar company's specifications but going bigger doesn't violate electrical codes. It will only make your life easier.
- Minimize the number of angles. We had some bends in the conduit and then a 90 degree long angle near the house. The rule of thumb is that you shouldn't have more than two 90's and every bend or angle is going to make it harder to pull the wires through due to the friction.
- Invest in a bottle of wire lubricant and lube, lube, lube. It's messy, but the stuff evaporates later on.
- Don't tape the wires together before you pull them! The tape will snag on the conduit as you pull it.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
- We've got a 109 foot piece of 1" conduit running between the solar array and the house and it's now buried as deep as 24 inches.
- Each string of panels will have a red (positive) and black (negative) wire that has to run back to its respective inverter. So we need to pull 4 colored 8-gauge THWN wires through that conduit, as well as 6-gauge stranded copper ground wire.
- Our fish tape is only 100 feet long so it's not long enough.
So how the heck do we get all that wire pulled that far? The answer is to use a rope.
This is where having an electrician to call is useful. Believe it or not, a Shop Vac is again the tool of choice. Just tie a piece of plastic in the shape of a parachute and then tie that to some very light twine or string. We tried sucking it through from one of the other and that didn't work but blowing it from one to the other worked like a charm. I have to confess that I didn't think it would work, so color me wrong!
Once we had the string running through the conduit, we did a mini celebration dance and then taped a heavy duty rope to it and pulled the rope through. The wires were then attached to the rope with a liberal amount of duct tape and we pulled and we pulled and we pulled. We nearly gave ourselves aneurysms from all the pulling.
But I think we had gotten the wire maybe a 1/4 of the way to the house and we were stuck. In the dark at 10 p.m. and working by flashlight amidst the mosquitoes, we finally gave up.
We are going to figure this out one way or another! (And J. is going to take my suggestion and go get some wire lubricant tomorrow.)
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Saturday, September 06, 2014
Tuesday, September 02, 2014