Monthly Archives: October 2015

Loft Electricity (10/24/2015)

We headed up early morning on Saturday, trying to give the ranch roads and our access road as much time as possible to dry out.  Waiting definitely helped, but our access road was still too swamped/muddy to make it through.  So, we took the back way in again, which turns out might be our best possible route until spring next year when more road maintenance is scheduled.

When we arrived you could tell we had some good rain.  There were traces of small streams that had flown through our home area, and some soggy areas still.  We think with the winter coming, and not much heat from the sun, it could be this way for a while.  Not terrible, but have to be a little more careful of where we walk.

Two good things from this though, first is we have about 1,400 gallons of rainwater collected over the past 5 months.  We will gladly take that.  The second good thing is with softer ground Sheralee was able to plant some trees we had been given.  She planted two Mulberry bushes and two Elm trees.  Very cool.
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Bad news here though, Sunday morning she noticed that one of the Elm trees had been a snack for some passing four legged friend.  Hmmmmm…..not sure what kind of friend though.

While Sheralee was stocking the four legged buffet, I started prepping for the loft electrical rough in.  I ran 14/2 romex to the loft for 120v AC and 12v DC.  The 12v DC will be for the bedside lamps, deck light, and entry way light, which is controlled on a 3 way switch up and downstairs.  The 120v AC is for our bedside outlets (which have USB ports), the ceiling fan, and where the TV will be mounted above the stairs.

I drilled a hole in the container roof, near it’s exit point into the entry way.  From there it goes up into the west wall and all around to where we need it.  In the container, I am routing it through the ceiling and then out through the back wall into the utility shed.

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Once I got both the AC and DC runs in, I then terminated our 12v bed lamps and the switches for those.
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Kinda hard to see, but with the lights on, it is a little easier.
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We are really happy with the way it turned out, overall.  We are trying to find some weaker LED lights, but so far so good.  I mean, we have lights!  I retired the battery powered camping latern, once and for all.

In the utility shed, we are using a Blue Sea Systems blade distribution block.

It is pretty cool.  It has room for 12 circuit runs, but I can only think of 3 or 4 we will use right out of the gate.  I mounted ours where the DC runs will terminate, and that ties into the battery. The blank spot to the right is where I will be using a Load Center to distribute AC throughout the house.
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That was about it for the weekend.  I will continue terminating both DC and AC next weekend, hopefully getting power upstairs for phones and lights!

On other notes, here is a view of our ‘compound’ from where the new elm and mulberrys are planted.
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Also, on the way out…we got to see all three of the antelop up close as they cross the ranch road right in front of us.
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Daily Visit (10/18/2015)

We had some special company in town, my brother and his wife Kerry, so we decided to head up for a day trip.

Picking them up at the airport, we then proceeded to Boulder City for brunch at the ‘World Famous’ Coffee Cup, which has been featured on triple-D.  Not bad at all.

World Famous Coffee Cup offers delicious home made favorites for breakfast and lunch.

Then it was off to the property.  Now, there has been rain throughout the week, so we knew going in it could be ugly (muddy), and once we were on ranch road heading up to our property, you could certainly tell it was going to be challenging.

There is no doubt it was challenging!  We couldn’t pass our initial route, so we tried an alternate route into our property, and we made it, barely.


Thank you!!!

Needless to say, we got muddy.  The jeep was a mess and walking around up there was a little dirty, but overall, fun trip and great to show off our progress!

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Utility Shed Build 3 & Solar Install

This past weekend I head up to the ranch alone.  Sheralee had her work seminar weekend in town, so I decided to head up Thursday afternoon.  I would work from there on Friday and still be able to get a good amount of work done.

My goal for the weekend was to finish the utility shed doors, securing the shed basically, and install the solar components.  Big  undertaking for a weekend, well turned out to be bigger than I had planned! ha   I thought I would have a ton of time left over on Sunday to do some other cool things, but that wasn’t the case.

I arrived Thursday afternoon and started digging the trench for running the solar cables from the panels to the shed.

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I got that dug, and then started the weekend long ground rod driving into the ground.  Once I got some good action on that, I decided to head into town to get some water.  Man, the tourists that flock to the old Rt. 66….still amazes me.  Got back and did a couple more rounds on the ground rod, which is basically driving an 8 foot long copper rod into the ground.  Goes ok, until you run into a rock.
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On the way back from getting water in town, I was driving up ranch road and saw these two jump off the road and head a little ways back in between some trees.
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A doe whitetail and her fawn.

Friday morning, I got up and did some work.  Once that winded down, I started on the panel install.  First had to add a cross support 2×4 and some lag bolts at the bottom for stability.
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Once this was in place, and the bolts put on, I could start the panel installation.  If you didn’t know, these suckers are not light.  Individually not overwhelming, but all four at once…man oh man.  After adding those, I started the first panel install.  Went alright actually, except I forgot to drill the hole for the grounding clamp, so I had to do that after the fact.  Not sure that was the best thing, but once it was up, I didn’t want to take it off.

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You can see by the shadows, it took me a little bit to tie the four on there, but after Installed the first two I realized I could leave room for two more panels if we ever need them.

Rebel Ranch Solar Setup (WARNING: Technical stuff to follow)
I will list out a couple things here that are relevant to the solar system build.  I had been researching solar panel kits for quite some time, well a year probably, and what I came up with was a 400 watt panel kit from Renogy, that I bought off of Amazon (Prime shipping is the best).

Renogy 400 Watt Solar Panel Kit on Amazon

Batteries:  We did four 6v golf cart batteries that we tied in series to double the voltage to 12volts and then parallel to double the amps out.  The Duracell batteries we bought will supply with 460 amp hours, meaning you can run a 1 am device for 460 hours.   Truly you don’t want to ever go lower than 50% on the batteries (lowers the life span), so 230 hours at 1 amp is more realistic.

 

We also started with a 3500 watt DC to AC power inverter.  This means that 3500 watts divided by 120 volts (house power) give us roughly 29 amps of power at one time.  Put into perspective, the coffee pot and toaster run about 8 amps each when doing their thing.  Our new refrigerator runs about 1 amp when on and cooling.  So, we have amps to spare, just like Jimi Hendrix…but not really.

I based a lot of what I did off of this guy’s solar setup at Tin Hat Ranch

Ok, back to my weekend fun in setting up our system.  After mounting the panels on their new ground mount home, I had to physically wire in the panels together, ground them, and run the cables through the conduit.  I tied my panels together in parallel so that I didn’t raise the voltage higher than my charge controller could handle, since I am just using a 30A PWM controller.  Also, since my panels are so close to the shed, < 20 feet I was not worried about the voltage drop from panels to charge controller.

Anyways, here is how they connected together.
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The left view is from our loft deck, and the right is where I ran them underground to the shed.
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This basically finished my Friday.  Took me longer than anticipated, but what doesn’t?  I have learned that everything takes longer. ha.

Saturday morning I was up early and running.  Lets say, I got to see the sun rise two three morning in a row.  My goal for Saturday was to get the solar wired in and running.  Mission accomplished.  I first started by finishing my battery box. This will house the four 6v golf cart batteries listed above.  NOTE:  Batteries are NOT light!  These guys are roughly 65 lbs each, and after I got them put in the box I created, I realized I need to raise them off the floor…so out they came again.

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I sealed in the box, air tight…as much as possible, so I can use passive venting of the batteries.  I used a 2″ hole saw for three locations at the base of the box, this will allow air intake, and the lighter hydrogen gas (by product of the led acid battery) to expel through the top hole in the box.  Passive ventilation.

After getting the batteries situated, I tied in the solar panel cables to the charge controller, wired in the batteries for series and parallel, and then tied the batteries to the charge controller.

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Then I installed the power inverter and tied the batteries to it, and this is my completed solar setup, pretty much
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Right now I have two extension cables running through the container wall, which will be the bathroom eventually, into the container to run the refer and maybe some temp lighting.

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This is with the box shut.  NOTE:  Check out the Amish hat, donated by a ranch worker a little while ago.

While daylight was winding down, I really wanted to get our new refrigerator unboxed and plugged in.  I rushed around to get this done, but finally got it plugged in.  Now, it is not in it’s permanent place, but it will definitely beat hauling ice and the big cooler each week.  Very exciting.

Our refrigerator:
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This is a Vissani 9.9 cubic feet refrigerator.  Not too small, and not huge.  Perfect I think…actually bigger than we had originally thought about, but it is going to be great.  When running to cool down, it draws roughly 120 watts (1 amp) of power.  So cool!  My power inverter doesn’t even know that thing is there.
Vissani 9.9 cu ft refrigerator

 

This ended my Saturday, time for a shower and dinner.  Sunday morning I had to start work on utility shed doors.  I needed to secure our new investment.  The doors is something I knew would not go as smooth as the video I based them off of, but what has? ha.

I used osb backing, 2×4 framing, and then siding for the fronts of them.  While I was at it, I insulated the doors with the Styrofoam that came in the solar panel boxes.  Worked like a champ.  I finally got them built, and carried over to the shed.  They were heavy, to be sure.  I first installed the left one, the inside door as you would have it.  Then the right one, which overlaps the left door.  The left door has a sliding bolt at the bottom to tie it to the floor, and then a hidden latch on the outside door to lock it.

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It turned out alright….after some frame shaving and slight modifications, but overall…..it could be worse.  They lock and everything.  It was just about time to go home, so I didn’t get all I wanted done, but got most of it done and now we have POWER!   This coming weekend my brother and sister in law come to visit, so they will have to listen to the refrigerator hum while they sleep.  Plus side is, they have mustard and mayo to keep them company.

Utility Shed Build 2 & Deck Extension (10/2/15)

Well, it has been two weeks since my last update.  We have been to the property, and very busy, but upon leaving the prior weekend, I forgot to capture our progress, so I decided to skip a week.

We are back on track now, blog wise.  After returning last night, it is time to get the blog up to date on things.  This entry will over the 10/25 weekend as well as this past weekend.  The weekend of the 25th was the Eclipse/Blood moon weekend.  When we got on ranch road, after 5pm this is what greeted us.
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You have to use your imagination, and that isn’t a great picture, but the moon was just rising and HUGE!  Unfortuantely, we would be driving back home that Sunday during the eclipse, and just about miss the whole thing.  🙂  Bummer…..well, next time I guess. ha!

When we went up on the 25th, we wanted to do a couple things, extend the deck again, install some plexiglass in the loft, and continue the shed with walls and siding.

First thing we did was extend the deck with another 4’x8′ 1″ piece of plywood.  Added some blocking and support, then installed it.

The right side of the deck, from the patio door view, is on the cantilever part, and finally we can relax in comfort.  Also notice the 2×4 bench/table Sheralee made.  Fits perfectly.  Oh, and the blue chairs…well, more to come on that later. ha.
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Next we started on the plexiglass install and continue work on the shed.  Sheralee stained the support where the plexiglass will go, and then we did this great epoxy install….what a mess! ha.
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This is a picture of the stained 2×4’s that we adhered the acrylic plexiglass to.

Work on the utility shed continued on…
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Friday, October 2nd, we drove up again.  Last weekend it was near 90, sunny, and lows in the 50’s.  Oh…a cold front came down from the North and now it was mid 70’s and lows near 40.  Oh what a difference! ha.

This past weekend we completed the trim in the loft, looks great, continued the utility shed build, created the solar panel ground mount, and oh yeah…installed our loft roof, the for-real roof panels!!  Awesome!

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This is what it looked like, a couple layers of house wrap to let the rain run off. It worked well, but a real roof was long time coming.  Sheralee did the install while I knee-knocked on the ladder when necessary.

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We also installed a gutter drip edge in preparation for the gutter install after the siding is added.  Getting closer for sure.  What a great feeling of accomplishment.

We also continued the utility shed build, but first I wanted to put the solar panel mounting posts in the ground with some concrete.
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I wanted to give it a good setting time, like overnight before I started the panel mount stand.

Sunday, I did the solar panel ground mount.  It will be a two position mount, one for summer and one for winter.  It’s current look is winter angle for better sun.
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I then finished up the siding on the shed and started the battery compartment, which is a little hard to see in the final picture.

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The solar panels came in last week, with the accompanying solar controller and mounting hardware.  We also got our 3K watt power inverter.  Finishing up a hardware list so I can start the install this coming weekend.  Can’t wait!!!  Our new refrigerator is just aching to be turned on and gobble up condiments! ha.

more to come next week…..