Monday, November 5, 2012

Gathering Logs for our Cabin(s)

As an ongoing process, Grandpa and I have been making small stashes of logs that we feel would be suitable for beams for our sauna or cabin. At the moment, our plan is to have 3" wide and 4" tall beams to make up the walls of the sauna, and 5" wide and 4" tall beams for the walls of the cabin. These plans are still very much in flux, but that's what we have in our heads right now.

 

Yesterday I cut down two more trees that were shading our solar panels. One very important thing to note about solar panels, that I don't think has ever been made expressly clear enough to the public (well, to me anyway) is that the amount the panel is shaded is not at all proportional to the output of the panel. That is to say, if a tree shades 10% of a 100 watt panel, you don't get 90 watts - you get about 10 watts - if that! It basically reverts the entire panel to the lowest producing segment. So shade on your panel isn't just a nuisance, it's a downright enemy.

 

There are a few trees that I'm willing to allow to shade the panel - jack pines exclusively, and a single spruce that is already supporting our water line, but otherwise, having light and power is a fairly high priority.

 

Anyway, with that in mind, there was another spruce that had most of its branches located at the top, which was good, but those branches were shading my panels for an hour or so in the afternoon, which is bad, when we only average a bit over two hours of full-on sunlight a day.

 

I cut it through just as planned, but of course, it got hung up in another tree right beside it. It actually didn't take much work with my come-along and some straps to get it to fall perfectly where I originally intended. Even when cut right through, it came to rest on its own stump, so the come-along got it back up on just the stump where my wedge cut kicked in and toppled it in direct line with my log pile near the solar panels.

 

After bucking it up into firewood and a single log, I did the same with another spruce nearby. Then it was time to bring in the tractor and my new winch.

 

With Grandpa's supervision I was able to use the full 94' of winch cable to bring it up to within 10' of my log pile. That's where the tractor battery gave out - the winch draws LOTS more power than the old one. So, I suppose I have to look into purchasing a much larger battery for the tractor. Oh well, at least I can winch over 80 feet at a time. I have to remember to also leave enough juice in the tractor to reel in the winch cable when I'm finished - it would be hard to wind up by hand!

 

I then figured I could bring up some logs to the skidway by skidding them with the tractor - another great chance to use my gold chains on the cultivator bar. Donna kindly rushed out to take pictures as I drove by. I've really "pimped" my tractor out since first purchasing her :).

 

We went for a walk to some unexplored areas of our property later in the afternoon, but not without Kenny first checking out my growing log pile at the skidway. We still have lots of logs to go, but the hardest part of any project is starting!

 

2 comments:

  1. You probably need more electricity in the winter (when it's dark for more hours and you're indoors a little more). But solar is much weaker in the winter: fewer hours of light to collect, and it's lower on the horizon. Tilt the panels to optimize for winter.

    (When you're grid-tied, you tilt to optimize for summer, since it doesn't matter *when* you produce the power.)

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    1. If I can just make it through November, we're suppose to get more sun in December on average!

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