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Winterizing 2013

by on Oct.30, 2013, under porch, Security, Trim & Paint

Wow, time went fast this year.  We didn’t get up to the Ranch nearly as often as I would have liked.

With October coming to an end, it is past time to go up and winterize.  I got a late start on Saturday, and started work in earnest on Sunday.

To start off, I wanted to take take some readings on the batteries for the solar install.  Since the hydrometer that I bought on the last trip was broken when I opened it, I stopped by a Checker Auto and picked up another.  I let the batteries charge until they reached the float stage, then let them sit there in float for 1 hour.  Then I let the batteries rest for 1 hour with no charging and no load.  The hydrometer showed all cells (3 in each battery) fully charged.  So I have a good baseline reading.  IN the future, as I make the reads again, I will have something to compare against.

The hydrometer was kind of hard to read, but the line in the picture below was at 1.275 specific gravity, which represents 100% charged.  Specific gravity is reportedly the only way to be sure of the charge level of a battery.  Voltages can be deceiving.

Specific Gravity showing 1.275 = 100% charged, cell in good condition.

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Rain, Finally!

by on Sep.16, 2013, under Seasons

It has been raining for about the last month nearly every day at the Ranch.  Two of our neighbors up there said they recorded more than 10 inches of rain this summer.  That’s more than we’ve seen for a very long time.

Here are some pictures of a little greener ranch…

Black Mountain

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Water at the Ranch

by on Sep.16, 2013, under Water System

It has become increasingly difficult to get the water man out to deliver water to the LittleHouse.  Due to health issues, he is not able to serve as many customers as he had previously.

Our solution for this was to equip ourselves with the equipment to haul our own water.  Primarily, this comes in the form of a 210 gallon water tank to fit in the back of our pickup.  We purchased this from Tank N Barrel, in Apache Junction, AZ.

We fitted the tank with a shutoff valve and a filter.  It hooks up with a 3/4″ hose to a pump we purchased at Harbor Freight.

We get our water from a public well in Seligman.  It costs 75 cents to fill the 210 gallon tank nearly full, and takes less than 10 minutes at the coin operated well.  Once we got back to the Ranch, it takes about 20 minutes to transfer the water from the small tank to our 2200 gallon main tank.

It’s not ideal, but at least it puts our fate in our own hands a little more.  We also have a couple of shared wells in the Ranch development that we can access, if necessary, but they are not as convenient as the Seligman well.

Pumping water to our big tank

 

 

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Solar Installation – Part 3

by on Sep.16, 2013, under Electrical

Once the exterior of the job site boxes was complete, the next step was to bolt them to the porch deck.  I used carraige bolts to minimize the chance of someone removing them from the outside.

Next, I started work on the interior.  The equipment was set in place and moved around until a satisfactory arrangement was found.

Finding positions

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Solar Installation – Part 2

by on Sep.16, 2013, under Electrical

Once the ground wire was routed from the panels to the ground, they were attched to the ground lug in the combiner box.  This box is used to combine the outputs of the two strings of panels into a single pair of wires going to the charge controller.  There are circuit breakers installed, mostly to use as switches to isolate any problems.

Combiner box installed

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