Winter 2013

Not too much work done over the last few weeks so I've included some pictures I took yesterday of the onset of winter at the cabin, my resident rabbit, and a bunch of elk crossing the property.

One thing I have been working on is a method of keeping the utility room warm enough that the water pipes/tank don't freeze. This involves diverting excess solar power to an "opportunity load" in the form of some large resistors. The idea is that the charge controller will ramp up the current going to the resistors as the batteries reach full charge. The resistors get really hot and heat the insulated room during the day, ideally enough to keep the pipes from freezing at night. It's not quite working yet. The resistors are only getting warm so the charge controller is never giving them full power.

I also installed a meter inside the cabin to monitor the solar system. It displays current battery voltage, net amps/watts going in and out, and the current charge percentage of the battery bank, among other things. I've had it for a while but waited until the kitchen cabinets were installed before mounting.

Bed and More Solar Panels

I finished the kitchen cabinets a couple of weeks ago by installing the door/drawer handles, adjusting all the doors, permanently installing the backsplashes, and testing out the sink plumbing.

Last week I installed a new queen sized bed consisting of a basic frame I built, a futon mattress, and a memory foam topper. Much better than the twin bed.

I also installed two more solar panels. I have a total of six panels, with four now installed.

Countertops and Kitchen

Here are some pictures of the countertops I made for the kitchen. Laminate covered plywood with a bevel edge trim.

With the countertops, sink, and range installed, the kitchen is mostly complete. I still need to install the door/drawer hardware, the toe-kick for the cabinets, and adjust a few of the doors.

Though there are a few minor details that didn't work out quite right (i.e. one drawer won't open all the way because of the bathroom door trim), I think the layout works really well.

Steps and Cabinets

A couple of weeks ago I built some steps for the front porch to replace the temporary steps that I've been using the past few years. The steps are 36" wide and consist of three stringers cut from treated 2x12's and cedar 2x4's for the treads. I'll probably add some railings at some point.

This weekend I spent three days at the cabin and installed kitchen cabinets. The plain white (cheap) doors make them look like laundry room cabinets but the carcasses and hardware are actually fairly well built and I can replace the doors as finances permit. I didn't install the doors/drawers in the base cabinets yet to make it easier to install the countertop. The sink will go in the cabinet under the window and the gap in the base cabinets is for the range.

Overnight Visit

I stayed overnight at the cabin this weekend. Didn't do too much work but got a few things done. Installed blinds in the loft windows, moved the twin XL bed over from the mini-cabin (the futon a friend gave me was very uncomfortable), and did some cleaning.

I used the shower for the first time and it was great. Plenty of water pressure and plenty of hot water after running the generator for about 25 min. Took a small grill out and grilled some brats for dinner.

Pics show the shower door I installed a couple of weeks ago and a rabbit.