This is the fourth part of a series, check out part 1, part 2, and part 3 if you’re new to the blog.
Alright I have some pretty bad news, but first let me go back to where I left off in part three.
So I hired my electrician and he put in a plan for the permit, the city had a few questions, but a quick phone call later they approved the permit. So with a permit in hand the the city’s blessing I had my electrician install the power box. The box was installed and we notified the city that it was ready for inspections. The inspector came out and said we needed to push the stranded cable through the main lug another inch because there was some damage to one of the strands, so we did that, quick fix. He came out again and said everything looked good, but the inspector’s boss wanted me to call him first.
So I called the number and the man told me that he was going to rescind the permit because they had made a mistake. The stated reason was that if I just had power out there on this empty land, someone could mess with it. More specifically he said, and these were his words, not mine: “Junkies will break in to steal the copper and kill themselves.” I was beyond angry that they messed up and I now had to pay the electrician even though I couldn’t get power and floored he’d say an excuse like that in those words. So after talking with them, my electrician and the power company, the three people involved called me back and said “we figured out a solution”… I was ecstatic! ” and it’s only going to cost you about $10,000″… I was devastated!
I am not going to spend $10,000 for a power pole to be installed, only for them to then turn around and charge me every month. Its just not in the cards, particularly because I’m only leasing the land. So plan C…
Plan C was to get a solar power system that would run my house. Not a big deal right?
Now many people would just swing by Harbor freight and pick up a cheap solar panel kits, but those honestly are woefully underpowered. You can basically run a cell phone and laptop off that, maybe a fan for a few hours too. In my house I have the following items that use power:
- Mini Fridge – 100 watts
- Laptop – 50 watts
- cell phone – 5 watts
- LED lights – 100 watts total
- Mini Split HVAC – 500 watts on low, 700 watts on high
So if you times those watts by the hours of use, add it all up, you get 11,530 watt/hours. This translates to a pretty big system, I got a few quotes and they seem to range between $14,000 and $18,000. The system is so expensive because of the battery bank, I was looking at about $8,000 just in batteries and cable interconnects. Again, just not in the cards. What is crazy is that most of the system at that size is just for the HVAC, which currently is the smallest mini split on the market, but also the most efficient on the market at 27.8 SEER rating; compared to a standard AC unit today, most are around 13 SEER.
Before people start emailing me and commenting. I know I could live without AC, I could use a swamp cooler, I could use a cooler with ice and a fan. Sure I could, but I don’t want to and that’s my choice. I live in NC and when its 95 and ridiculously humid, I want AC on those days. I’m also thinking about next year “summer-ing” somewhere colder, as in, finding a place to rent up north during the summer months.
So now to plan D…. Without the HVAC I am looking at a system around $6,000-$8,000 which is a whole lot of money, but its more manageable… Relativity speaking. I figured that I can start with this smaller system, use my generator on the really hot days to run my AC; I already own a Honda EB2000i (almost identical to the popular EU2000i, this just has a pure sine inverter and GFCI). Running the generator with the load of my AC unit via a drop cord, I used a Kill-a-watt meter to determine it would run at a quarter load or less on the “eco-mode” and could run 24 hrs on a little over 1 gallon of gas. So the arrangement is not ideal, but I could at least have power, use fans most of the time and those days that I just want to enjoy the pure bliss of a AC cooled house, it would only cost me about $4 a day.
The Honda EB2000i is also ridiculously quite. At a quarter load at about 200′ line of sight you almost can’t hear it. If I was inside my house I doubt I could hear it 50 feet away, if the AC was running, it could be at my front door and I wouldn’t hear it. In this approach I’ve also opted to be in a different place on the property, where I am 100% shaded during the entire day, I’ve found this makes the heat much better, so all you have to deal with is the humidity and a little cooling around the hottest part of the day.
So that is where I am now. Even though the city had said yes, then changed their minds, I still owe the electrician $800 and have nothing to show for it. The lesson I’ve learned is if you have land or going to buy land, first figure out power and water. If you’re buying the land, I’d make an offer contingent on the ability to get both; in fact I’d tell the seller: “I’ll buy it, if you get the power and water running before the sale. If you can’t I walk away”