With oil prices climbing, it’s time for me to climb, too…..climb trees and remove limbs to install a solar system.  As you remember, two years ago, I tried to harness the hydro capacity of our creek only to be met with thousands of dollars of fees, federal and state permits and annual assessments just to take water out of my creek and return it back 300′ downstream.   Not worth the hassle.  But, the government can’t tax the sun (although I’m sure they’ll try) so we’re off and running…..  And, man, this is not how I remember the rock climbing of my youth–this was hard work.

After precariously climbing three ladders lashed together, I re-cut these  spruce limbs with our 14″ Stihl chainsaw (beautiful little saw, by the way) and repaint the ends to camouflage the mess.

My first attempt to prune this massive spruce was entitled:  “Chainsaw on a stick,”  which was a total failure leaving the running saw stuck in a partially cut limb 20′ in the air.  To solve this dilemma, I crafted  “The Great Ladder Pyramid,” which ended in utter disaster with me waking up on the ground with the chainsaw stuck vertically right beside me….still running…..don’t ever do this.   Well, at least now we have photons streaming to our site….

I’ve designed the frame to change the panels tilting towards the sun at various times of the year.  This is summer solstice mode.  The formula for tilt is simply the angle of the the tilt from horizontal is equal to your latitude but this during the equinox.  Given that the earth tilts on it’s axis another 23 degrees, I move this up 11.5 degrees in winter and down the same amount around the summer solstice.  We live at:  Lat = 56.803, Lon = -132.993.  Plug these values in on this website which is better than Google Earth for Alaska, and you will find our solar site.   I’ve installed 12 panels of Kyocera KD135GX-LPUs hooked in series/parallel (2 circuits of 6 panels yielding about 132 V at 16.5A in an ideal situation.

One of the engineering challenges was to transport this power 250 feet (underground in #2 aluminum wire) to our battery bank in our well house.   To achieve this, we experimented with different configurations and finally came up with the 6 X 2 wiring which maintains resistance loss under 2%.  On a clear summer day, I’ll pack in over 7 KWh–enough to run our home without supplemental generation.

Interestingly, the colder it is, the more efficient yet dangerous this system becomes with voltages climbing–hence the 6 X 2 configuration.  With a 1 X 12 configuration we could only operate down to 20F but our winter temps can get down to -10F.  The only charge controller that can handle this current is the Midnite Solar Classic 250.   I didn’t know this was so complicated.

Manna from Heaven…..This is sweet!

Speaking of solar energy, here our Puget Sound guests bask in the afternoon sun in our back yard over G&Ts–more Manna from Heaven.  Summer is here!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email