Friday, June 21, 2013

Today's progress

I arrived late last night as usual, and in my auto-pilot daze nearly ran into this!

I had been trying to get a load of crushed gravel up to the site for about a month, but it's been just too wet for the trucks to get back out and so with the weather being dry all week I was hoping to see the truck arrive today.

Much to my surprise, they delivered it yesterday!

Thatsalottagravel! :)

This will go to good use this weekend - tomorrow morning I'll get the rear tank stand set up with a frame of old railway sleepers, filled with this stuff and hit with the whacker. The rest I'll spread out and compact down around the front of the garage and the steepest section of road so I can get more trucks in next week.

So today I had both the plumber and electrician on site - Savva the plumber to finish all the little fiddly flashing details, and begin installation of the solar hot water system, and Nenad the electrician to complete the upstairs wiring rough-in and make a start on the garage.

I spent the day apprenticing for both, and managed also to assemble the frame for the hot water system's evacuated tubes:

This thing certainly isn't very subtle!! It's on the south facing slope of the roof, mainly because there are so many tall trees to the north that if we placed it on the north slope it would be shaded too much of the day in winter. Today being the winter solstice, the sun didn't hit the tin until 10:30 at the earliest! So having the tubes sited further back away from the trees means it'll pick up more of the sun in winter.

I've set it up at about 50º to the horizontal, meaning the frame is set up at 65º to allow for the 15º down slope of the roof. Our latitude is about 37.5º south so that's roughly the angle of elevation which gives the best average performance year round, but we'll need more out of it in winter than in summer so it's angled more towards the winter sun for better performance in the cooler months.

So the outcome today is that the flashing is all but finished with just one fiddly little bit left to do, underneath the window in the north face of the garage roof. The solar tube frame is installed and securely bolted down, and the plumbing up to it is in place. All we need to do now is install the tank, pump and gas booster, then run gas down to the position of the bottles. Oh, and dig 350m of trench up the hill to the header tank site...!

The electrical install is coming along - the rough-in upstairs is complete, and most of the power wiring is in downstairs. Next week we'll finish that off and get the lighting installed in the garage - I'm hoping to fit off the garage as soon as possible as it's not going to be lined - so that I can install the solar panels, inverters and batteries and actually commission the garage at least. I'm so looking forward to having power!!!

On that point I've been playing with options for siting the solar panels. With the surrounding trees we've got a serious shading problem in the morning, so it's looking sensible to split the panel array in two (easy as my chosen inverter has two MPPT - maximum power point tracker - inputs) and face one half to the north-east for morning sun, and the other to the north-west to pick up the afternoon. As a baseline however, I've begun by drawing up the array facing due north so we get an idea of how it will work with the roof space:

We almost certainly won't install them this way, but it does show at least that we can fit 16x panels in a pretty tight space!

I alluded just before about getting more trucks in next week - if the weather remains dry, Savva is going to try and get the septic system installed on Thursday. This is going to require about 180m of trenches, 1.0m wide, at least 400mm deep - that's over sixty cubic metres of gravel! It'll take at least 7 or 8 trucks to deliver that much, so I want to make it as easy as possible for the drivers to get in and out so I'm thrilled to have my crushed rock on site finally!

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