Another four solar panels added to my system

I got the bug again and bought another four solar panels to add to my system.  I had to take up all the current panels and move them over, build another rail mounting system and splice together the power cables.  It took a few weeks but I finally got the first of the next four on the roof.

As you can see in the image, the new panel is the one showing 559Wh. It’s not easy for a person to accomplish such a feat when one has nobody to depend on for assistance.  Luckily, with a good brain and the right tools one man can move the mountain.

The hardest part was getting the panel itself up to the 2nd story without killing myself.   I tried using a rope to pull the 40 pound panel up the ladder but it wasn’t going to budge.  Fortunately, I still had the special hook I fabricated last time.  Using the hook made of welded steel angle brackets, I was able to move the panel up the ladder one rung at a time.  I took a break to make sure I was fresh then pushed it up onto the roof.  I didn’t really feel especially unsafe at any time so I’m going to say it is a good system.  Getting them down when I move may be another story though.  Sure wish I had a crane.

The weekend is over now and I’m out of time and energy so I’ll see about getting the other three panels up, one a day, over the next week evenings.  Best to not overexert yourself when doing something dangerous.

Solar power is awesome and especially affordable when you do it yourself.  This is something that makes life worth living.

See a live interactive view of my system.

Clean your air conditioner to get ready for the summer.

myacThe Texas summers are brutal and with global warming getting worse every year, you had best be well prepared.  Every year or so I like to disassemble my air conditioner compressor (outside unit) and give it a serious cleaning.  After all, The Air Conditioner is the most important appliance in the house.  It’s the heart of the house.  It’s the Life Support System.  Without an Air Conditioner, you could not live in Texas.  Trust me.  If the A/C had never been invented, Texas would be very empty.

The first thing you do is disconnect the power.  Don’t be brave.  It’s 22ov!

Next, take the top cover off which has the fan mounted onto it.  I just move it aside so I can get into the coil area and vacuum out the leaves and debris.  Sometimes using the shop vac in reverse will help blow all the junk out of the hard to reach areas.

Next I take off the side panel where the compressor and electrics are.  Clean those out as well. All the spider webs and other bugs have to move out!

After all is clean, I take the hose with a hand sprayer and give the coils a good cleaning from both the inside and the outside.   You’ll see the dirt wash away.  Satisfying!  Be sure to clean out all the drain holes so condensation can drip out easily.

Take a wet sponge and wipe down all interior and exterior surfaces to get off the stubborn dirt.  Looks like new!  Be sure to wipe down the compressor itself.  Clean is cooler.

Reassemble the unit and allow it to dry completely before turning on the power.

That wasn’t so bad.  Now you’re ready for global warming to do it’s worst.

Providence Strikes Again – Free Air Conditioner

WACHooray!  Once again the thing I want comes to me by itself.

For a few years now I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a window air conditioner that I can take apart and play with OR just to have on hand in an emergency.  You can get one for around $100 nowadays.

Today I was driving home when just three houses down from me there existed a 8000 BTU air conditioner sitting abandoned at the curb!  Sweeeeet!   The only thing better than buying an air conditioner is finding a broken one and fixing it.  I immediately grabbed my dolly and picked it up and brought it home.

I plugged it in and the fan came on but the compressor didn’t.  Not unexpected but better than I had expected.  I got out my multi-meter and probed around on the power connections to the compressor.  The hot wire read 110V at the overload protector but 0V on the other side!  Hmm. That didn’t seem right. (Not knowing it was an overload protector at the time.)  It appeared to be some kind of sensor because it was not actually connected to the compressor body.  As a diagnostic, I bypassed the whatchamadoodle and connected the power right to the compressor.  I plugged it back in and jumped in fear as the compressor sprang to life.  Within a few minutes the unit was cooling again!  Damn I’m good!

The thing was a proper mess.  Full of dust, dirt and covered in foam sealant on the outside where the previous owner tried to make it air-tight to the window.  I used my air compressor to blow out as much dust as possible. I scraped off all the foam and took the whole thing out to the yard and cleaned the coils with the garden hose sprayer.  Much better!

After letting it dry for a few hours in the sun, I put it back on my workbench to test it again.  Yep!  Works!  Good as new.

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Overload Protector

I went on Ebay to look for a replacement overload protector where I found one for $3.45 with free shipping.  I could probably run it without one but why not make it safe for $3.45.

There’s nothing more fun than taking someone else’s discarded machine and fixing it.

Free stuuuuuuuuuuuufffff!

 

1982 Holiday Rambler – New grille and onboard inverter

grilleI found a great deal on a new front grille for my 1982 Holiday Rambler Imperial Class C RV.  It was actually on Amazon.com for $48.00.  I had considered just removing the old one, painting it and reinstalling it but a new one for $48 beats a repainted old one.

The old one came off fairly easily and the new one was a perfect match.  After moving some mounting hardware from the old grille to the new one I easily installed it.  The new one has a place for a oval Ford emblem which the old one didn’t have.  I ordered a used but good condition emblem off of ebay for around $4.00 plus a little shipping.  Awesome!

The inserts around the headlights were not included with the new grille so I cleaned them up and painted them an antique blue that matches some other highlights on the RV.

inverterI don’t really need it but I figured, what the heck.  Why not have an inverter.  I ordered a Xantrex 1500W inverter off of eBay for $155 and free shipping.  God, I love free shipping!

Mounting spots are limited on this RV but I found a nice spot in the generator compartment which is right next to the battery compartment.  I only needed a short run of gauge wire.  I bought a couple of 40 inch starter cables from Advance Auto parts and they bolted right in.

The inverter is uncomfortably close to the generator but 1)  I don’t use the generator much and 2) the generator has a good blower fan which keeps it relatively cool.  I don’t think heat will be a major issue here.  I’m good with that.

inverterremoteThe inverter came with a remote on/off switch on a long wire so I ran the cable through an existing hole underneath the dinette set bench, drilled a 1″ hole in the back and mounted the switch.

It’s not right in immediate traffic so it is unlikely to accidentally be turned on yet it is still handy right next to the couch where it will be used mostly to power the LCD TV and WDTV Live and/or a DirecTV DVR.

Well that was a fun set of projects and not too labor intensive.  Since that worked out well I think I’ll order a solar panel and charge controller next month.  Stay tuned.

Habitat for Humanity, Finally!

h4hI finally managed to get myself to go for my first volunteering at Habitat for Humanity.  I had free time on a Tuesday so I fought the early morning traffic to get to the Habitat warehouse.

On Tues-Thursday they build wall frames inside the warehouse for easy construction on Friday-Saturday.

I was joined by three other people.  Two were wounded veterans along with their physical therapist.  We were able to construct four walls before lunch time.  I had a great time and learned a few things about framing.  By 11:00 it was time for lunch and the others had to leave.  I could have stayed for the rest of the day but was already sore.  Bending over and kneeling can take a lot out of you if you’re out of shape.  Still.  It was awesome!  There’s nothing better than working on something with other people. I get so tired of being alone all the time.  It can really wear you down.

I would like to go again on a Friday or Saturday to help put up some walls to see how to do the next step.  Maybe this weekend if the weather is permitting.  It will take a day or two for the soreness to wear off anyway.

High definition windows

windowToday I took apart my kitchen window in order to repaint the exterior frame which was badly faded from the elements.

I painted the frame using an oil rubbed bronze spray paint, reassembled and cleaned the glass.  It is so clear now that it freaks me out.  It’s like looking at a high-definition picture.  4K!

Every time I see it I have to say, “Wow!”  Maybe I should clean my windows more often.

Project – Painting the North Side

pntingFinally!  After years of having this on my To-Do list, I finally got around to painting the North side of my house.  It was the last wall to do but I put it off because it was two stories high and scary.

I finally had the time and the energy to get to it and get ‘er done.  It feels so good to mark it off the list!