It is often feared and now well-shown that electric vehicles are a gateway to other subversive activities, such as a drive towards energy independence. With that in mind, I started solarizing the Donnaway homestead last year. Never one to choose the simple solution or pay retail, I found an orphan, the overbuilt WattSun 1200 dual-axis solar tracker, which was discontinued after a corporate takeover, but I can hardly blame them, as the falling price of panels no longer justifies the added cost of a mid-size tracker. It's usually cheaper now to get more production with more fixed-position panels than to point them properly at all times.
This tracker was an orphan because the original owner accidentally encroached on his property line with it, which was discovered during a pre-sale survey. So, I got a bargain and learned the technology through manual dis-assembly and reassembly. Part of the deal were 18 12-Volt nominal panels, which I saved for an off-grid application and replaced those 1835 Watts worth with 2160 Watts of Made in Washington Itek 270 Watt modules. These eight panels will pay off better due to the state incentive structure. Construction didn't commence until mid-summer, and final electrical inspection was accomplished on 12/28/2014, just in time to cement my tax credit!
PapaJoe Donnaway assisted in the engineering as we set sixteen feet of 8" steel pipe into a six foot borehole, six feet deep and six feet across. The pipe was good galvanized Schedule 80, but a Boeing Surplus bargain, having spent its first 20 years as a parking stop..
We poured a whole pallet worth of concrete mix, applied in the following lifts:
First, a 6" floor with rebar threaded through the pipe base, topped by 2' of native gravel and cement mix, then another 6" of rebar and concrete, topped with another 2' of "localcrete" and another slab, then topped off with the cobblestones that I had dug out of the hole, for a natural but weed-resistant and heavy base.
In addition to two wiring conduits that I trenched in at a good 36" below the back yard, I ran a 1" water pipe to a frostproof hydrant n order to have both water and power on the far side of the yard, and all the way back to the spa house. Kind of a long round trip, but the water doesn't care.
Like many summertime construction projects, I kinda pushed the schedule on this one, and was working on it right up till the end of the year...