Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ok, we are getting this worked out now

Alright, time for another update. While I was dealing with trying to order solar panels, the metal suppliers were hurling metal my way as fast as they could!

I ordered the stainless steel hardware last Monday from McMaster-Carr, it arrived on Tuesday! These guys don't mess around. Then I found out the folks at the apartment complex office were no longer accepting shipments that require a signature (the policy apparently got changed Tuesday morning). Bummer, it was too late to pick up at the UPS office, so I picked up 26 pounds of bolts, nuts and washers on Wednesday at the UPS depot. This should work quite well to hold the racks down on their footings, and should provide plenty of strength for the joints in the frames.

Next, the aluminum was shipped. This is from a company called MetalsDepot. It took them a little longer to get that order put together. UPS called me on Friday night to know when they could drop off almost 300 pounds of aluminum! I talked to my dad, and we agreed we could both make it to his house for their latest time I could schedule for Monday (I was concerned about scheduling for Tuesday, since it sounded like the excavator might start today). We scheduled that, and last night my dad and I helped the driver of a UPS semi haul the metal up into my dad's garage. They pack the metal very well, but there was still one piece with a bent corner. It shouldn't be too difficult to straighten out that one corner.

That was quite a pile of aluminum. My arms are going to ache for a couple days I think. Behind the aluminum on the floor, are the boxes with my steel.

Looking at all that aluminum, my dad and I had the same thought. How many aluminum cans did I just buy? I did a little looking, and it appears that I just bought the same amount of aluminum that would go into making over 9500 - 12 ounce cans!

Here is what the aluminum and steel will be used to construct.

This is one side of a rack. The solar panels will be attached on top of the aluminum that is angled from the floor and back toward the top of the garage door. There will be two panels on each rack, one above the other.

I also got an order put in last Monday for a bunch of miscellaneous components for the solar power system from a place in Arizona called Northern Arizona Wind and Sun where I already ordered other parts. These parts are arriving tomorrow. Finally, a delivery that I will be able to accept in person, without requiring last minute adjustments to work schedule.

Now you are probably wondering how the solar panel saga has turned out. Well, it turns out I am getting a different number of panels, of a different type than what I ordered last Monday. I talked to the rep for the company in Florida on Wednesday, and he said that I could use PayPal to pay for my order. The account I was moving money into to be able to do a certified check, is also the one that I have setup with PayPal, so that would work fine. Now I just had to wait for the money to get from one bank account to another. Friday morning, it was there, so I went into PayPal, and started to send the money. Oh wait, thats right the credit card I was trying to use on Monday, was setup as my default PayPal payment method, so I was going to pay with the credit card anyway. Alright, money was sent, PayPal said so, now I just had to wait for confirmation that they would be sending my 16 panels that I ordered.

Friday afternoon as I was dealing with trying to work out a delivery time for the aluminum, I got a call from the company in Florida. Well, they got the money, so they were going to ship my order, however there was a hitch. They sold my panels, and were out of stock now!! You have got to be kidding me. While I was arranging payment, they apparently didn't consider the order real, and so they sent my panels (which they had in stock when I placed my order originally) to someone else. I was not happy! They offered me a discount on other panels they sell. I told them that I would have to sit down and look over the specifications to decide what I was going to do.

I went down to my parents home for the weekend, and looked over the specifications for these panels with my dad. They were a different size, so the mounting holes were going to be in a different location than the panels I had ordered, but we figured that the rack design would still work for them. I had bought some wood for positioning the bolts in the concrete footers, that would no longer be the right size, but that wasn't too costly. Then I looked at the power specifications. The power output of the panels was quite a bit more than the ones I had designed for. It meant that I didn't need as many panels, I would only need 14 to get the power I wanted. However, with the way the panels need to be wired, I wasn't going to be able to divide this up into two equal arrays, and this will possibly hurt the performance of the system. This also meant that I had stainless steel and aluminum for one more rack than I was going to need. I was sorely tempted to go back to Norhern Arizona Wind and Sun and order the panels I had originaly designed the system for. However, the cost savings of going to these panels from the place in Florida, versus the panels from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun along with all the other items I would need less of, means saving over 7% on the cost of the whole system. I talked to the guy in Florida yesterday, and he said they could ship the panels out today. No word yet. I had better have a shipping confirmation tomorrow, or I am going to be very upset.

I talked to Newt today, and he says the excavator should now be starting on Thursday. So in a couple evenings time, I will hopfully have pictures of a large hole the in the ground, where I will someday reside. Hmm, time to make sure all my batteries for my camera are charged.

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