Category Archives: Heating

Batteries & Cat House (12/2/2016)

Hello all.  Spent some time on the property last weekend, first working from up there on Friday and then doing some ‘project’ work Saturday and Sunday.

First thing I did when I got there is start a dang fire, and break out my new EcoFan

This thing is so very awesome!  I mean to have a fan help push the hot air around, that basically runs on thermal currents…oh yeah.  It is very cool, and fits nicely on our little Hobbit stove.

That was the first thing and was helpful on a cold Friday.  I also did some battery re-arrangement once again, trying to find a configuration that will help our new batteries charge.  Well, what I really learned last week was that in winter time we just don’t have enough sun to charge our new battery bank.  Funny how you find the things you did wrong after the fact.  Hindsight, right?

What we did was buy new batteries and mix them with old batteries, first mistake, but too late now..we move forward.  Also, when batteries come from the store, they are at 6volts, but just barely, and not what you would consider full in a solar system.  They needed to be charged and adding them to another 12V battery string, there just wasn’t enough power to go around.  So, they soon died…well fell to low to be useful.  We bring in some good current to the batteries during the day, but not enough to fill those babies full.  So, I did a lot of battery configurations to try and help them.

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Another issue we have is that our battery box is outside, in a shed that only has insulation.  Being cold, these batteries struggle to charge period.  So, I bought an electric blanket to keep them warm overnight…but….

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You gotta have power to use the blanket! ha.  Oh the humanity.  So, I tried something else.  I broke the battery string (eight batteries) into two four battery strings.  One I used with our solar panels and house power, the other I added to another inverter and trying to charge them with a smaller solar panel.


This isn’t really going to work either, as the four batteries in the second string don’t get enough input current to charge.  So, we have decided to supplement our solar capacity this winter with a battery charger, run from our gas generator.  This should, and I say should because I write this on Tuesday and have yet to try our new charger, work for us this winter.  Oh how I long for the days of summer!

This is our new charger:

SOLAR PL2520 Pro-Logix 20 Amp Battery Charger

This should fully charge each bank, condition them as needed, and keep them running in tip top shape.  So, they better finish that ‘Standing Rock’ pipeline, cuz the Simpson/Wade team need more fossil fuels!

The other project I needed to get start was building out new cat house.  Now, I am sure some of you think that because I live in Las Vegas a cat house means a structure of ill repute, but I differ.  This add-on will be for the cats to have a place to ‘to the duty’ and hang out.

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This cat house will be right under the kitchen window and since I used the same footing block as the bathroom, it will be about four feet wide.  The floor is done with 2×4’s 16″ o/c.  I used foam insulation and then R13 on top of that.

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Then I used a 1/2″ subfloor.


And this is as far as I got.  I will be working on the walls and roof this weekend.  It will be about three feet tall I think and since it is under the deck overhang, it won’t really catch any rain.  I am going to still put a little sloped roof on it, but also build a small planter box frame on top of it to sit under the kitchen window.  Should work out…uh I think.  It usually takes a couple runs to get it right.  ha.

That was pretty much my weekend up there.  Oh…and it was a blistering 64 degrees on Sunday…sooooo nice!  We will be heading back up this weekend to continue our progress.

Until then!

Frodo’s Return (11/18/2016)

Hello All!

Made it back up to the ranch Friday evening, it get’s dark so early now, nothing to do but enjoy my wife and a cold beer.  This past weekend, with winter coming on quickly, we wanted to get the wood stove installed and operational.  That was the big push, and even though I knew we would run into snags, I thought it would take about half the day on Saturday. ha.  I was way off, again! hahahaha

Started out good.  Sheralee had already made our new wood stove (Frodo) table, so we confirmed the height to see what adjustments needed to be made.  Turns out, we were about a half inch off I think…so not bad.  While she cut down the table legs, I worked on the ceiling hole.

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This was the table before I started cutting.  I took our chimney ceiling box, and made a center hole, and then marked out the radius of that whole on the roof.  It was 10″ across, so drilled some guide holes and got the grinder out.

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We actually ended up with the best circle hole to date, with a grinder.  Unfortunately, first snafu was here.  Somehow, our hole and inside ceiling box didn’t line up.  We really couldn’t figure that one out, but oh well.  We adjusted.  It was either cut the hold 2″ wider on one side, or cut down the ceiling box. We opted for the ceiling box.  Then we had to account for the concrete backer board we installed, so off we went.

This process took us just about all day, and were finally lighting a fire before sunset, working great. I sealed the hold around the external chimney with some LocTite Roofing sealant.  We lite a fire and ah man…so nice to have Frodo back up and working.

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This time we went with a single-wall interior stove pipe instead of the double-wall pipe we did last year.  What a difference it makes in internal heat.  We also opted to go from the back of the stove this time so we can use the top to heat up water and pans.  It really works well.

Sunday morning, first task was to seal up the roof opening and install this high temp silicon boot we got for metal roof flashing.  We purchased this boot from Amazon.

It is specifically designed for metal roofs so I thought it could work with ours, and sure enough…it did.  This thing is amazing!

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I used indoor/door silicon sealant underneath the border, which is made of the boot and aluminum to conform to your roof contours.  I then used self-trapping screws around the base and more sealant on top of that.  It is awesome…I can’t say that enough.  If you are ever going to install a chimney through any metal roofing, this is the way to go.

Sure enough, Sheralee had rain Sunday night and Monday, a good amount of rain, and no leaking!  That is another first for us! ha.  We are learning!

Sunday I had a list of things to accomplish, which I can’t quite recall what they were, but one of them was installing our new wall heater in the kitchen container.

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I got this thing off of Amazon as well, and was rated #1 small space heater in some website like ‘electric heater reviews .com’ or something like that.  I added a little Honeywell thermostat to go with it.  It will run off 120V and should heat our space nicely. This is really being added to the kitchen side as the cats will soon be living up there and thought they might need heat during the evening while Sheralee is at work.  Haven’t fired it up yet, as the new batteries will be installed this coming weekend.  I have to still terminate the circuit in the breaker box too.

That brings me to the other great stuff.  As you know we have been working on getting four acres cleared just south of our house.  Well, it is done.  The first batch of pictures was from last weekend when there were still some trees standing near us, but still it was such a shock when I saw it.

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Now, all of that is gone!

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WOW!!!  Huge difference.  So now, we have four acres cleared.  We will still have some more work done in the coming weeks.  Our man on the spot will bring his grader back up there and try and even things out and scrape off the remaining wood and rocks.  Very exciting.

So, along with that is I was able to borrow my bosses DJI Phantom 4 drone this past weekend.
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Let me just start with….this thing is AWESOME!  I was able to get it up and running Sunday, with a slight learning curve.  I will show a picture here, and then link that to the larger picture.  Also, I will post a movie that I made…quite on accident, but it turned out really really cool.


Here is the link to the larger image…(click here)  You can actually see Sheralee and I under the tree to the right…trying to shade my phone so I could see where I was flying. ha.

Here is a movie (125MB), but soooo cool!  (click here)

We want to map out the acreage using the drone…give us a better overhead view of what we want to do.  So, here is what is on the horizon.  We are putting deposits down on two puppies, that we will get in January.  That is very exciting for us!!  I will officially be working from the property Monday’s and Friday’s, every other week, starting this coming Monday!  This is huge for us.  Oh…we just had HughesNet satellite internet installed this past weekend too.  Very cool!

We will be going here and there this holiday weekend…Ranch to Phoenix, Phoenix to Vegas, and Vegas to Ranch.  Good times!  Very exciting things happening!

If we don’t talk to you, everyone have a safe and thankful Thanksgiving.
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Inside Work (11/4/2016)

So, I had a list of thing to get done this past weekend, which included some ceiling framing with the remaining 2×3’s we had on site.  Some more electrical work in the kitchen container to accomodate a soon to be installed wall heater, some more outlet wiring, and then wiring in our 12 volt fan above where the stove will be.  Also we wanted to continue with the head board shelving.

When I got there Friday, Sheralee had installed some headboard plywood right below the start of the bed.  I thought it looked pretty amazing, but in doing so we decided our outlets would be better facing away from the bed.  So, Saturday morning I removed the plywood and worked on the outlets.  I switched out our combo 120 volt/USB outlets with normal two plug 120 volt outlets.  They are easier to work with.


While doing the outlets, Sheralee thought of an even better headboard item.  She stained some 1×6 boards we had and added those, with some great spacing.  I think it turned out awesome!
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This is the final look…well not really.  We are adding shelves still, but right now it is awesome and such a solid structure.

Saturday I finished out the framing in the kitchen container, 2×4’s, and added the remaining 2×3 ceiling studs in the bedroom.

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We need a little bit more 2×3’s and then a big time insulation push!

Below you can see some wiring being done in the kitchen container.


I need to add a couple boxes, but most of the runs are done.  We will have three ceiling lights in this container, above the entry, above the table, and above the sink.  Then we are having open shelving on one side, with this great reclaimed alligator juniper wood planks, and running 12 volt multi-color LED lighting under the shelves. It is going to look great!  The electrical runs are almost done, probably two or three more runs, but then that is it!  So I say now. ha.

This coming weekend we are all about insulation.  Making a materials run into Prescott Valley to get 2×4’s, 2×3’s, and rolls of insulation.  Getting closer and closer to winterizing.  The cats only have a few weeks left in Sin City…then off to the farm with them.  Although, when I was younger a trip for the family pet to the ‘farm’ meant something completely different….right mom?

The pasture area clearing continues as I write today…very exciting.  Until next time!

Inside Work & Mobile Water Pump (12/12/2015)

We headed up to the ranch early Saturday morning, knowing that they had a dusting of snow the night before.  The ranch roads were a little wet (muddy), but nothing major.  When we arrived on the property we had a great dusting of snow, and it was already melting (into the water tank of course)

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Was just so nice to see. That was pretty much it for the snow, by Sunday there wasn’t a trace of snow.  Although, yesterday the property probably got close to 3″ with a good system moving across N. Arizona.

The wood stove definitely is working well, and came in handy Saturday night and Sunday morning.  I think it was about 20 degrees Sunday morning.  The major let down of the weekend, my Renogy solar charge controller, which takes voltage from the solar panels and charges the batteries, has taken a dump.  The batteries were not charging, and also draining too quickly.  Turns out the unit is probably defective and a short in there somewhere, causing havoc.  This meant….hold on everyone, bad news coming….that our programmable coffee maker was out of order Sunday morning. uuuggghhhh!!!!!!   We had to do it the old caveman way…light a fire outside!  Keeping with this theme though, the Renogy company was AWESOME!  They are sending me out a replacement free of charge, based on my Amazon order.  I have already purchased an upgraded replacement model, but it will be great to have a spare around, and one we can use in the future somewhere else.  Thank you Renogy!

In case you don’t know, this is what our charge controller looks like:

My new one (arrives tomorrow)
[solar charge controller]Esky Intelligent LCD 30A 12V/24V 360W/720W PWM Solar Panel Regulator Adapter Charge Controller
My new one has an LCD display that shows a lot more information about what I have coming in and going out.  Can’t wait.

Ok…enough geek stuff.  On to the inside.  Last week we got the stove working, and chimney mounted!  All good there.  This week we first added some framing inside on the walls so we could insulate and try and keep it warmer.

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We are adding R-30, 9″ thich” insulation on the West wall (opposite of Sheralee in this picture) to help with the summer West setting sun.

Sheralee then finished off the upper pieces with corrugated metal.
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It looks really good!!!  I love cutting the little logs for ‘Frodo’.

My other goal this week was to make a mobile pump box, including a deep cycle battery and our other water pump.

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As you might recall, our other little pump didn’t survive the freezing temps…something went wrong with that little guy, so I decided to make a box we can move around that will contain our other pump setup.  The box is insulated and has a hose spigot on each side for input and output.

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Sheralee tested it Sunday afternoon for compost, and man it worked out well.  We have a couple little modifications on it, and it is pretty heavy with that battery in there, but we will be getting some sort of permanent cart for it and off we go.  We can move it anywhere.

That was about it, besides watching some Sunday football in by the wood stove.  On our way out we were treated to an incredible sunset.
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Just beautiful!  Of course the top picture is mine, and Sheralee clearly topped my poorly taken picture! haha

Since Christmas is upon us, we are not sure when we are getting up to the ranch again, before or after the new year…not sure yet.  I know for us, we already miss it, but it is going to be down to 8 degrees tonight…soooooooo…who knows. ha.  If we don’t make it up there this weekend, and post again next week, this will be our final post for the year.  What a year it has been….the progress we have made is unreal, and our future is ahead of us.  Very exciting year so far, and next year will be even better!!


Wood Stove (“Frodo”) Installation (11/21/2015)

Hello All,

We headed up Saturday morning with the intention of doing nothing but installing our new Hobbit SE wood stove, now nicknamed ‘Frodo’.  Our first stop early Saturday morning was hitting the HD store in Kingman, where our Duravent ‘through-wall’  chimney kit, and chimney section awaited us.

We were there early, and picked up our items…then continued our 1 1/2 hour drive to the ranch.  Well, one thing to always remember when picking up ordered things from either of the big box stores…check your damn order!!  We learned the hard way.  Our through-wall chimney kit was missing a key item (9″ chimney second that goes through the wall) and the 6″ Duravent chimney section…which they somehow mixed up with a 4″.  So, this led to our slow progress installing the stove, and the early morning drive back to Kingman to retrieve the correct parts.

In our “ideal” planning, we wanted to be sitting around that stove when the sun set.  Well, we ought to know, projects always take longer and things don’t always go to plan.  Of course, our stove install was no exception.  Let’s begin with Saturday and how we progressed.  The plan was for Sheralee to burn in our stove, lighting several small fires in it to prep it for long term burning.  Of course it was windy windy outside, so adjusting the stove to the right angle took some time, and for the stove to burn properly.

Recall how Frodo looked prior to his paint job.
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This is the first fire raging in our new wood stove.
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While Sheralee was getting Frodo warmed up, I started the through-wall installation.  First step, cutting through the skin of Rusty…sounds worse than it is.
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Finally had a nice 14 1/2 inch hole for the thimble section of the kit.  Next I had to frame in where the thimble would attach.  You can see where we attached the cement backer board on once side.  We then had to insulate the wall before adding the cement backer board on the stove wall.
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You might notice some shelving brackets on the studs, and in the opposite wall.  Sheralee found this great site where she got this idea.  When possible, we are going to pre-mount shelving brackets behind any wall covering.  This will give us a floating shelf, and we are doing 3 of those types of shelves above the wood stove.

I believe this portion ended our Saturday, as the sun starts to go down between 4:30p and 5:00p.  It was windy and cold, so fires were started and bed was soon to follow….and as you can see, no sitting around a roaring fire in the wood stove.

Sunday, we were up and gone before the sun came up..heading to Kingman to retrieve the items that HD messed up.  All of that process went well, but just took time.  When we got back to the ranch, we started right away in installing the chimney parts so we could proceed inside.

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You can see in the above pictures we installed the Tee section, and then a 36″ chimney section with the cap.  Now, here is where we think we ran into ‘operational’ issues in burning.  Now, after more research we believe that having the chimney this low, being blocked by Rusty, is causing a downdraft in our chimney, hence blowing smoke into the container and not burning correctly at all.  If anyone has thoughts on this, please let me know.  We have a plan to change this, but just wondering about personal experiences.

Once we had the chimney in place, we could work on sealing up the inside and making it the way we want.  We wanted to add galvanized corrugated metal on the cement backer board.
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Sheralee came up with sitting the stove on a concrete base, and we decided to add ‘used’ bricks as the foundation to lift it a little of the floor.  Our floor for that is a 24×24 sheet metal piece that the bricks sit on.  Then the concrete base.
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It really looks amazing!  Remember the shelving brackets….well this is what they will eventually look like.

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This will look amazing once we add sheet rock and more wood planking!  So nice to see something that came from our heads come to fruition.

While Sheralee was working with the burning phase, which created the aforementioned smoke in the container, I was adding some insulation in our entry way.  Because one wall faces West, and the afternoon sun in the summer is pretty intense, we went with R30 9″ thick insulation in those walls.
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Things are coming along nicely.  Now it is time for a Turkey day break and re-assess what we need for chimney parts.

Happy Thanksgiving All!!!