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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 1/21/2011

Well, at least I know how long 100 pounds (or about 23.6 gallons according to this hand reference) of propane lasts--not really very long! 

Honestly that's to be expected, and it's no huge surprise. Once I ran the main tank down, I was resigned to bringing up the 100-pound bottle every so often to fire up the system so the radiant can heat up the house, and I knew that the 23.6 gallons I put online a few days ago wasn't going to last all that long. By my estimate, the 500-gallon tank (which was filled to about 400 gallons; they leave a 20% margin to account for gas expansion) lasted 82 days, making for a usage of around 4.9 gallons/day. The 23.6 gallons I brought up five days ago was exhausted today, so assuming it lasted until sometime after I left, that makes for about 4.7 gallons/day... just about spot on with the previous usage.

Once we're living up here full time and cooking, using the dryer, etc. I would guess that we'll average around 5.5 gallons/day, more or less. That's about in line with what my neighbors down the road are seeing (they're up here full time now, but this is their first full winter) and it "feels" about right. Of course these numbers mean that my plan to get a full 2,000 gallons (in reality, about 1600) on hand for the colder months ought to be just about right.

So my trip today in the snow and ice was mostly about checking on the house and seeing if the propane had run down. I also took the opportunity to clean off the solar panels, which were completely covered in snow; I found it amazing that they were producing any power at all while covered, but it was a very bright and sunny day.  Once I knocked the snow off, they really went into overdrive though--their production was one of the highest numbers I'd seen so far! Very impressive.

After cleaning off the panels, I got another rack of the hard blue insulation under the solar shed. All that's left now is to insulate under the uphill, very cramped section of the shed and for that particular effort, I think I'll use a batt of the fiberglass insulation. I have a couple of thinner batts left over from Wyrdhaven's upgrade a few years back and they have virtually the same insulating value as the hard insulation does, with the added advantage of my being able to work them into the narrow gap under the uphill side of the shed with much greater ease. That'll be tomorrow's effort, I think.

Once I was done with the shed and had loaded the propane tank back onto Blackie, I spent some time cleaning up the garage and putting on a few more doorknobs, getting the half bathrooms completed and the knobs for the guest rooms into place. It's still fairly cold up there right now, and I had some things to do in town, so I didn't spend the night this time around--most of the bedding was back at Wyrdhaven for washing and replacement. Probably tomorrow night, though.

I'm still frustrated that the Punch List work is going so slowly; at this rate I've got more list than days by a long shot. The biggest problem though is the temperature more than anything else, and that's slowly getting better as the house comes back up to heat and winter begins to very very slowly turn into spring. Once I get the satellite service (going with DirectTV) up and running, it'll feel a bit more "homey" too, (hey, I'm a computer geek--what do you want?!?).

Until then, there's a lot to get done and I'm still learning how Tanglewood works. Amazing place.

Steven in Colorado Springs


The solar system was actually producing SOME power with an inch of snow on them... amazing...
...but boy the production took off once I cleared that snow away!

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Posted by Neil in New Albany, OH on 2/17/2011

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Cold panels are happy panels! Ours out-produce rated spec on cold clear sunny winter days. That is to say that even after inverter losses, the amount of delivered power exceeds the panel ratings.
Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 2/17/2011

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Howdy Neil!

You put your finger exactly on it.

I was moderately surprised that the panels were making anything at all when they had an inch of snow on them, but given the brightness of the day, either there was light infiltrating through the snow or it was reflecting off the snow beneath the panels and hitting them from the back. I believe that's why this increase in production (around 15% or so if memory serves me right) has to be factored into the wiring calculations when they're hooking everything up.

My neighbors down the road do nothing to clear off their panels, and they are suffering a lot of generator (and propane) usage as a result. At least one advantage of having them out on ground mounts is that I can clean them off...

Steven in Colorado Springs

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