Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wired Up to the Sun

I don't have access to the grid out here, but I do have access to the Sun, which is a more secure source of electricity in the long run. 

My friend George helped me wire up the outlets in the dome over the last couple of days. I have never wired up a house before, so I wanted someone with experience to be in charge of this part. 

When Emile visited last year, we installed the
 outlet boxes (the easy part). 

We decided to run both Romex wire (standard housing wire for AC outlets) and DC wiring through the same conduit that wraps around the outside of the dome. That way, I have a choice whether or not to plug in AC powered appliances or equipment directly or less energy intensive 12 volt DC versions. Once the outside of the dome is stuccoed, the conduit won't be accessible anymore, so we felt it important to have the option for both AC and DC, as they both have positives and negatives. 

We spent much of today driving to find the pieces that we need. We went by George and his wife Anita's property to get a couple of connectors that we were missing. They are also getting started here as well, and have built a temporary structure and outdoor shower (pictured here with their dusty puppy, Lulu). 

I learned a lot about wiring by watching George. And I got to install a couple of outlets, as well as the DC powered light in the center of the dome. It seems pretty easy once you've done it a few times.  The dome's power will be on two circuits.  My current inverter doesn't quite have enough power to move the current evenly through the thick Romex wire, and so until I get a stronger inverter, I will use DC power. 

Up till now, I have been running power right from the battery bank, plugging everything directly into an inverter. George pointed out that my connections were messy on my battery bank and stressed that those should all be tight so that it won't short out the circuit or fry the battery or something. He showed me some easy ways to fix those connections. 

I've spent about $500 so far for solar panels, an inverter, conduit, connectors, etc and that seems to be enough for running the basics right now (computer, internet modem and wifi, lights, radio, and rechargeables. I am sure I will have to upgrade soon. 

Other than those expenses for infrastructure, my electric bill each month continues to be $0! 


remington said...

Yay! You finally got it wired! congrats.

Keith said...

Trevor, Gavin showed me your place out in Turlingua...this is great! Would love to visit sometime! Let me know if you're taking visitors...Keith

trevor.reichman said...

Keith Wolf? Yes, come on out! And bring Gavin. He still hasn't been out here.