Harnessing the Sun
By Rima Austin
“This is a man’s job, what are you thinking trying to put this together?” No, that’s not some random guy talking to me, that’s the voice in my head when I start pulling out the pieces of my solar panel kit. I have had the kit for about a month now, sitting in the corner out of the way. I intentionally left it out in the open so I always have to think about it every time I walked by it, or should I say, considering the size of my house, trip over it.
Installing a solar panel kit was not as hard as I had convinced myself it would be. Everything was going smooth until I got to the part of assembling the frame. I looked like a 5-year-old trying to assemble a complicated art installation. For a few seconds, I even thought they didn’t include enough parts but upon looking at the instructions over and over I found that they did. After it was all said and done I had four screws left, I guess these were extra for me to use on other projects as they come up. Right?
I decided to attack this particular project in steps. I thought that would be the only way to keep my wits about me. I also set aside an entire day for this and knew I was going to take my time. The first step was unloading the box and posting to all my friends and family on Facebook what I was doing. I wanted to share my excitement of finally doing the solar thing that I had been talking about for so long.
Step two was turning my phone off to stop the calls and notices from family and friends warning me not to kill myself. Several of them went on to explain the different ways one could kill themselves during the installation of solar power. I had visions of being blown out the side of my house and ending up in the garden. In step three, I sat down with a cup of coffee and read the instruction manual from cover to cover.
The instructions were straightforward and very easy to read. When I was done with that I made the fourth step going around the house and plotting where everything will go. I decided to put it directly outside my bedroom window for two reasons, one was because it was facing south and two was because I planned on running the majority of what I planned to power in that end of the house, for instance the television. I have had the same television set for a while, it is an older model television with a built-in DVD player. The gentleman who sold the kit to me said I may want to get a digital TV because the older models suck a lot of juice. Before too long I would be putting his theory to the test.
After all this was done, step five was executing the attack. The day was beautiful and sunny. I assembled the panels onto the frame in the house and carried it outside as one piece and that sucker was heavy! I have pallets lying around the farm, and I took one of these and set the panels on it. I did this because, at the time, I intended to set the power box and the deep cell battery on the pallet under the panels as a sort of protection from the elements. Turns out the cable that goes from the battery to the power box was extremely short so I decided to put the battery and power box inside the house.
When I mentioned this to a friend, he said the battery gives off hydrogen gas and could possibly kill me; more images of me flying through the air came to mind. I plugged in the lights that came with the kit and they came on. I have never been so happy to see a light turn on than right then. I called everyone to tell them that I was still alive and that I had done it, I had created fire! Well, that’s what it felt like to me anyway.
What’s left now is moving the battery back to the outside of the house and experimenting with what I can power and what I cannot at this point. In the future, I plan to add more panels and I’m sure another battery. Next time I won’t be so gun shy. If anyone has any recommendations for me, please feel free to let me know. I would love to know what others have done as far as solar too.
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