Solar Power (part 3)

Written by peterkienle on January 3, 2009

(continued from part 2)

Together Alex and I started digging in my front yard in early October while our supplies were on their way. There was to be a big 3×3 feet hole, almost seven feet deep.

This was where our steel post was going.

The main hole soon got too narrow for two people and I started digging the 24 inch deep trench for the electric line going from the post to the house. You want to keep that as short as you can. The longer the cable the more power you loose on the way to the inverter. These are pretty hefty cables, too.

Of course, in the pretty Fall weather our two girls wanted to have a part in the fun.

Eventually the digging was complete. Most of the supplies had arrived. The first step was to set the post. This is one hefty piece of metal. Since we didn’t have a crane we devised a way to roll the 16 foot pipe with five people off the flatbed trailer, onto a four foot pipe of the same kind – so we could roll it towards the hole (it was a 20 foot post but since we needed only 16 feet we had one four foot piece left over). After the post was in the hole Alex started to prepare it for a concrete pour.

After that there were two days of electrical installations. There are actually two separate cable pairs going from the post to the house. Only one pair will be used at first. If we decide to add on a second row of panels all the wiring will be in place. These wires go into  the basement and connect to the inverter.

Made in Germany (I am proud to say). This piece of equipment turns the ~400V Direct Current (DC) coming from the panels into 110V Alternate Current (AC). After the actual solar panels the inverter is the most expensive piece of equipment needed. It’s also the one you will have to replace after ten years or so.

Then it got cold and we had to wait for the final paperwork from our power company. We will be the first grid tied solar installation of all their customers. I think they will watch us with great interest.

Currently (January 2nd) everything is ready to go. The panels are in the basement,

the mounting brackets are sitting under the deck,

and the post is waiting for a few days break in the weather.

(to be continued)

Copyright © by Peter Kienle