Solar system, 2019

So this is the year. I've cleaned out fifty years of cruft around my cabin at the lake, started some much needed repairs, remodeled the kitchen, and repaneled the bedrooms. This year, I add (drum roll, please) electricity.

OK, so it's not as dramatic as all that. After all, I've had a generator at the cottage for about a decade. But, what is dramatic is that, for most purposes, I'm about to replace that noisy, costly, polluting generator with silent, inexpensive, eco-friendly solar power.

I have talked about this change for some time; I plan to put LED lighting into the two bedrooms and the loft. This will augment the LED lighting I have already installed in the kitchen and dining area, to give the cottage some safe and convenient lighting.

Originally, we lit the cottage with kerosene lamps, but about a decade ago, my brother installed two bare lights in the great room, which ran off of an inexpensive generator. A couple of years ago, I updated these lights to LED, but still powered them (via an AC/DC converter) from the generator. However, outside of kerosene lamps, the bedrooms had no lighting of their own. So, no cabin lighting unless you run the generator or burn kerosene.

Kerosene lamps give enough light for the bedrooms, but I've always been cautious of the fire hazard. After all, this is an isolated log cabin surrounded by forest. Do something stupid or have an accident, and you sit in the middle of a million-dollar forest fire with no rescue in sight.

As I've mentioned before, the bedroom walls need repaneling. The existing cedar shake panelling is too dark, and in some places incomplete. Repaneling these walls would give me an opportunity to run low-voltage DC electrical wire into the bedrooms, so that I can replace the kerosene lamps with 12V DC LED lights.

But, that's only half the battle. I want to stop using the generator to power the lights. So, I plan to use a 12V sealed lead/acid battery, instead. And, to charge the battery, I'll use two 100 Watt solar panels, mounted on the roof of the cabin, along with the appropriate charge control electronics mounted indoors.

And I intend to install all this by the fall of this year.

So, I've got my time at the lake this year all planned out. I'll open the cabin as soon as I can in May, and start the interior work. This will keep me busy indoors, where the bugs cant get me. I'll first strip the last of the cedar shakes off the bedroom interior walls, and then install the low voltage wire and utility boxes into the two bedrooms and the loft. Then, I'll re-insulate the walls and panel them over with pine tongue-and-groove to match the walls that I renovated last year.

With that done, I'll re-insulate the kitchen side of the gable wall, and move Mike's artwork boat from the entrance side to the kitchen side of that wall. This will let me re-insulate the entrance side of the gable wall. I'll get this indoors prep work out of the way while the bugs are biting outside.

Next up, I'll install the electrical control panel at the entrance side of the gable end, and connect up the existing greatroom electrical connections. Then, fixtures and fittings in the bedrooms, followed by connecting that circuit to the control panel. I'll test all these connections from the generator, as I've equiped the control panel with a 10 Amp AC/DC converter.

By the time I finish all this work, bug season will have wound down, and I can work outdoors. So, outdoors I will go, to mount the solar panels onto the roof, and run it's electrical connections down and in to the control panel inside.

And, that should be it.