Monday, October 24, 2011


Right now, I am trying to get everything done, as fast as I can, and all at the same time. I say I, but it is really we. If we run into an impasse on one of the tasks, we just jump to another, and circle around to the problem task later on.

For instance, the hydronics, keep requiring redesign. I have not had the time to sit down, find what parts are available, take their measurements, and lay out all the fitting nice and neat. I know that this pump, has to hook up to this manifold, which has to hook up to these loops, but each time I go to get parts, I find that no, they are out of the exact part I need. So I have to come up with substitutes. But then I find that they won't fit where I was intending them to, so the piping has to be re-routed, and that requires some other fittings, I don't have on hand. This is not the way I like to operate, but right now, I am just getting it done, so it functions correctly.

Mom finished the priming, with the exception of one area we want to go over a second time. We took the tape and plastic off the windows. Looking pretty nice.

We got the pex tubing corralled and connected to the manifolds.

Dad put in a drain line for the pipes that keep having leaks. These pipes carry the well line, and in the future the wires out to the communications tower, and hopefully some solar panels for heating. I have had problems with them leaking when we get rain, and I kept buckets under them. Now I have a drainage system running to the floor drain, so that I don't have to worry whether I am going to get out there and find an overflowing bucket in the utility room.

We got the structure for the columns done.

So then it was time to haul them out to the house and start putting them on the walls.

Mom helped me get some more parts connected on the hydronics, then I ran into another issue with fittings.

So, it was time to clean the utility room floor. I think that the dirt we removed could have been measured by the pound! It is much cleaner (as clean as I think I will be able to get it). It now looks much darker than it did.

Tomorrow, I plan to put down an epoxy paint in the utility room. Hopefully that goes well, and I can start installing equipment in the utility room later in the week.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Letting the batteries breath

Well, we have gotten some more work done. We finished the battery box and got the vent for it run outside. That lets hydrogen out when the batteries are being charged, rather than having it collect in the box. We got the garage and utility room painted, as well as putting primer on a majority of the other drywall. Here are some pictures.

Battery vent pipe to exhaust hydrogen gas.

Battery box is finished, unless I decide to paint it. It has hasps that I can put pad locks on, so I can prevent others (especially curious little nieces) from getting to the batteries.

House breaker box is on the wall, waiting for me to run wiring.

Garage is painted white. Still need to clean and seal the floor.

First manifolds for the hydronic heating system are mounted on the wall in the utility room, waiting for me to connect the water lines.

Mom came out to help me put primer on the rest of the drywall. We had a guest outside the front window Wednesday morning. (I need to get a camera with a manual focus, I was not concerned with having the straw in sharp focus!)

 Mom starts to do battle with the walls.

We are glad I put plastic over the windows and the door before we painted around them.

Even just the primer looks fairly finished.

Hopefully this weekend we can finish priming the walls, get the first set of lines connected to the hydronic manifolds, get more done on the gas lines, and get the columns ready to install on the walls.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Running on batteries

You are probably wondering what I have been up to since I got my batteries. Well, quite a bit actually. We have continued working on the gas piping. We still had a leak, and couldn't seem to find it, so we took down the section where we knew it must be, and put it under water.

This was very effective. We found the leaks in a few minutes after we got this set up. Unfortunately, that was not the last leak we have to deal with. However, the gas piping was put on hold, until I got my power system up and running.

Dad had come up with a scheme for attaching vertical studs to the bar joists, so I could mount the power panel on a "wall" that would support the weight without having to use concrete anchors.

After the wall was up, we started to mount equipment. The inverters each weigh about 65 pounds. These things have quite a bit of metal in them.

We also got the battery box set up. We put in a shower liner as protection from any acid that leaks. I am hoping that I never have to deal with that, but better to have a leak contained in the battery box, than spilling all over the floor.

The wiring in one of these setups is pretty involved. Even with all my planning, there were a couple things where I went "wait a minute, we need to redo that".

We got the batteries loaded into the box, and hooked up to the system. Almost ready to test.

Today, Adam came over with the Bobcat. I had been wanting to get the gravel pile pretty well used up, and out of the way. Adam started with the gravel work, and got the driveway smoothed out, and enlarged the turnaround area.

He also took some of the gravel around to the front, and we got the bottom of the walls covered, and I have a covered area outside the front door now. Eventually the area in front of the door will have some sort of paving stones set down to make a patio. But that will most likely be a project for next year at this point.

Adam also got things smoothed up around the house, so it was ready for me to put down some rye seed to keep the dirt in place, and try to make things a little less muddy.

I replaced the caps on the batteries with ones that have a pop top lid, rather than having to unscrew them when I need to check the battery fluid. That should make maintenance less of an ordeal. The battery box still needs to be finished up. There is also some additional wiring work to do in the panel, but for now, the system is functional. The work light that I had on in these pictures, was being run using the energy stored in these batteries, and the AC generated from that by the equipment on the wall.

I bought rye seed today, and put down 56 pounds of it on the areas that Adam worked this morning. Then I covered most of it with straw. I didn't have quite enough to cover all the areas that Adam graded, but I think the most critical are taken care of.