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DayCreek Journal

March 28, 2004

Here Comes the Sun

Minnesota's Department of Commerce Solar Rebate Manager has approved my plans for a 4.2kW (Input) solar electric system. This gives me a green light to purchase and install the components. There's certainly a lot of work ahead of me, but it's exciting nonetheless. The system shall consist of (24) Kyocera 158 watt panels and (4) Shell/Siemen's 100 watt panels. I received the 100 watt panels in exchange for some web design work and these will be included in the system to bring the total input wattage to 4,192. By the time the PV panel and inverter performance is calculated , the total output will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.5kW/hr.

Although they don't look big in this photograph, these three Kyocera 158 panels have taken over a sizeable area of the floor in the house.

The Kyocera panels are each 51" x 39" and when strung together in groups of three, will produce a surface area of 10' x 34'. That's BIG. Now the trick is how to mount them. I did consider purchasing racks for the panels, but that wouldn't be any fun— that would be too easy. So instead I have been spending countless hours attempting to come up with a rack that can support the panels. All of that surface area makes a great sail, so there's no doubt that they must be properly secured. My first design was to hinge them somehow so they could be seasonally adjusted, but after stringing 3 of them together with 1 5/8"x 10', 12 gauge strut, I am thinking that I should just keep them fix mounted. The amount of power output is only 5% less than a seasonally adjusted mount.

Because I plan to use more than one type of panel, the Xantrex Suntie inverter won out over the Sunnyboy. The Xantrex Suntie has received a lot of bad press because of all the problems associated with its initial release, but the in latest version the problems have been corrected and in some regards, it is superior to the Sunnyboy. The Sunnyboy operates at much higher DC voltages and in doing so many more panels are strung together in series. If one of the panels in the series has a substandard output, the whole string suffers for it. This is less of an issue for the Suntie.

Click on the above image to see the actual size.

Car Update
The car is still dead and will soon be on it's way to the Big Subaru in the sky. Thanks to my brother Bill's quick thinking, it was determined that our comprehensive automobile policy covers vermin damage. (This is not the case by the way for home owner's insurance. So don't park you car in your house.)

Our insurance company had an appraiser come out last week to inspect the wire damage on the Subaru Legacy. He seemed like a seasoned veteran appraiser and wasn't too shocked by what he saw. He recently had examined a car where a mouse had eaten the wires that control the airbags. When the owner went to start the car, the airbags went off. Surprise!

As it ends up, our insurance company is totaling the car and we have elected to take the cash and have the car euthanized. We hate to see it go, but receiving a check makes the pill easier to swallow.

Just remember that if you ever have major critter damage done to your car, you should check to see if your comprehensive policy just might cover the damage. It also doesn't go against your driving record, so it won't effect your insurance rates.

That's about it for now. This week I hope to finish the railings, take down a few trees, and mark-off where a bunch of post holes will be dug for the solar panel rack.

I just can't seem to figure out where all that bird seed is going. I'm filling up that dang feeder almost ever day!