We Have Solar, Finally! Part 2


We lucked out and actually had a place to stack the panels on the roof prior to installing them.

We lucked out and actually had a place to stack the panels on the roof prior to installing them.

This was a small section on the original porch roof where the solar water heating system wasn’t. Our Master Carpenter turned into a Solar Panel Installer (even though he’d never done this before in his life); and we were soon installing our ten rows of three panels deep across our new Fishroom roof.

In the background of this photo, you can see our Greenhouse. The new Fishroom sits under the Solar Panels that are already installed. The existing Growroom we built in late 2010, sits under the solar water heater strips and extends about 30 ft. to the left of the photo.

Our plan is to connect all three of these areas together into a single recirculating aquaponics system we’re calling our Micro Food Forever™ Farm, which will be about 1/10th the size of a full commercial-sized Food Forever™ Farm. To learn more about our Food Forever™ Farm designs, go to our new website at Aquaponics World.net.

We started the installation process by securing that expensive hardware to the Fishroom roof.

We started the installation process by securing that expensive hardware to the Fishroom roof.

Here's an up close view of that expensive hardware we realized we needed to purchase to get our Panels secured to the Fishroom roof.

Here’s an up close view of that expensive hardware we realized we needed to purchase to get our Panels secured to the Fishroom roof.

As you can see from the photo below, it requires quite a lot of that hardware to safely secure the Solar Panels especially when you live in the California desert where wind velocities can reach gusts of up to 40-50 miles per hour.

We started the installation process by securing that expensive hardware to the roof first.

The panels were then secured to the hardware starting at one end.

The above photo also shows the solar water heating system that heats our 32 x 18 ft. pool up to 104 degrees F, at which point we refer to it as a large hot tub.

The photo below shows an important piece of the securing hardware that clamps the solar panels to the rails.

The clamps secure the Solar Panels to the rails.

The clamps secure the Solar Panels to the rails.

Below is a front view of the roof line with the Solar Panels installed.

There's a breezeway between the roof and the panels that is about four inches in height.

There’s a breezeway between the roof and the panels that is about four inches in height.

Installing the Solar Panels was only one part of the job. They then had to be wired up by our electrician. The photo below shows the power boxes that were installed to facilitate this wiring process.

There are ten of these power boxes. Each box contains the wiring for three Solar Panels.

There are ten of these power boxes. Each box contains the wiring and circuit breakers for three Solar Panels.

Wiring both the Fishroom and the Solar Panels has constituted a large portion of the money this project is costing. We hired a Master Electrician who does not believe in cutting corners when it comes to wiring. We’ll be posting a Part 3 of this project in which we show photos and describe the parts of the Solar Panel system that are hidden away in our garage and home including the Inverter-Charger, the MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) Solar Chargers, the Generator Control Module and the System Control Panel.

This is an Off-The-Grid System. If the Grid goes down, we stay Up! One of the big problems with signing up for free Solar Panels offered by companies that want to use your roofs (they get the rebates) is these are Grid-tied systems. If the Grid goes down, you don’t have electricity.

We also have a Generator (photos coming in Part 3) that automatically starts and connects when the power has been off too long and there is not enough Solar (night) to keep the system going. It is all very transparent, and we only become aware that anything has happened to the grid supply when we hear the  generator start. This smooth transition is done with the support of 10KWH of AGM batteries that will keep us alive for quite a while if the grow lights in the Growroom are off but only several minutes if the grow lights are on. Grow Lights take quite a lot of power; but once you get the right combination, they work like a charm. Below is a photo of our Fluorescent T5’s growing massive amounts of veggies in this perfectly controlled environment.

Our Fluorescent T5's growing lettuce and basil.

Our Fluorescent T5’s growing lettuce and basil.

 Just as we got the final Solar Panels installed, a massive summer monsoon down pour occurred that chased our Installer off the roof.

The best Solar Panel Installer in the business. A real "Jack" of all trades.

The best Solar Panel Installer in the business. A real “Dan” of all trades.

Here’s a photo of our Greenhouse in the midst of that down pour. Just wait until you see what’s growing inside of it, which we’ll be sharing in our next post.

Every now and then wonderful summer monsoons hit the high desert of California. This was one of those days.

Every now and then wonderful summer monsoons hit the high desert of California. This was one of those days.

Thanks again for following our Blog. It’s so much fun to share the joy of being aquaponics farmers.

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