The checks have been made, the switches have been thrown, and WE HAVE ELECTRICITY AT THE COTTAGE!!! This is very exciting- in less than a year from the date of purchasing the property, we’ve got provisional power.
Jeff showed up yesterday to help with the final wiring at the inverter, charge controller, and all the other backbone parts of the solar power system. He was a professional solar power installer for years before retiring, but isn’t familiar with this particular system. I’m new to solar power, but did a TON of research on this system before I bought it. Our plan was to each independently figure out what should happen, and if we agreed, then it was probably right. He began by wiring the battery bank (which I was glad to avoid, after the melted wrench demo last time) while I shimmied into the crawlspace to hook up the grounding system. Those things done, he wired the main battery wires to the inverter disconnects, while I wired up the AC main distribution as well as a provisional power circuit to use for tools anD so forth. That accomplished, we took a step back, paused, reviewed the commissioning checklist… then threw the switches to turn the thing on!
It was kindof like that part in The Empire Strikes Back, where the heroes are being chased through space by a fleet of Star Destroyers bent on blowing them to bits. Han Solo looks over at Princess Lea, throws a switch, and says “watch this!”… and there is a whimpering noise and nothing happens. We looked at each other, frowned, and saw there a red light and the words “StackClock Fault” on one of the two monitor screens. But fear not, good people. As is the case with ALL computer-controlled technology, it was nothing a few hard resets of the main system couldn’t clear, and we were in business.
Although is was completely overcast and raining, we could see that the panels were producing a little bit of power, about 100W of the 3,000 total we’ll be getting in good sun. The worklights I’d plugged in were drawing some off of the batteries, which have 760aH capacity. That’s enough juice to run that single 150W light for about three weeks!
So, yay for solar power. But we get our energy other ways, too: in a less spectacular but possibly more significant advance, Sleep and I were able to get the new stovepipe in and we fired up the wood stove for the first time in about half a year. Oh, sweet warmth! Working all day in a house at 38 degrees is brutal, and we fixed this just in time for Jeff and me to wire in relative warmth as the freezing rain drizzled down outside. Brrr.