I took an extended 4th of July weekend to, what I thought was to wrap this whole solar install up. Boy was I wrong. This goes back to some of my original comments about planning and researching. No matter how much you plan it is going to change.
I went with a battery “vault” for my install vice the traditional route of lead acid, AGM, Gelcell, or other type of higher maintenance batteries do to my space constraints. I looked at a lot of battery options in the lithium spectrum like; Tesla, LG Chem, Generac, Sonnen, and even thought of making a power wall myself using 18650 batteries or batteries out of a wrecked electric or hybrid vehicle. It all came down to cost and space. I took a chance and went with a newer product called KiloVault HAB. It’s not sexy (that’s not to say a HAB is not pleasing to the eye), it is not light, but it fits what I need at moment. The HAB is newish on the market and there isn’t a lot of information on the interwebs about the product so I won’t go to deeply into the details. I have included a link above to their site so you can do your own research.
The first task at hand is how does one lift 250 lbs. , transport 100 miles, offload, move into a building, then hang that 250 lbs on a wall suspended 5′ in the air all by myself? Short answer is one doesn’t, easily. I was fortunate to have a neighbor help me lift the HAB into my truck at home but it was all on me to get it out and moved to its final resting place.
The 4th of July weekend at least here was 98 degrees and around 104 with the heat index, this was the moment where I was going to demonstrate my physical prowess to the world that a 55 year old can still do the work of a 20 yr old. Yup! mostly NOT!
Knowing there was no way I was going to lift close to 300 lbs (with the pallet still attached) by myself I went the old field expediency route. Use what you have available and try to make it work! Which is kind of the theme of all these posts anyway, thinking a bit differently. Looking at the pics below, I have this large rock out cropping that is almost the perfect height I backed the truck up, made a ramp out of spare lumber I had laying around and started sliding that bad boy off the truck and onto the rock. Then from the rock to the ground. I used a tow strap to wrap around the batteries and allow me a way of pulling vice pushing all that weight.
This is where the heat begins its cruel game of seeing how much life it can suck out of a body before said body gives up. I would pull two feet, go sit down for 10 minutes, pull another two feet, go sit down and the whole time the dog is looking at me with that “what the hell are doing old man” look while she stood in the shade.
Question? what does one do when he runs out of boards to slide on? Well you use nylon furniture sliders of course! and drag that bad boy across the ground! that’s what you do! Yup!
I don’t have pictures, but in lew of steps I have a long ramp that goes up to the porch. I pulled and tugged every once of that 300 lbs. across the ground, up the ramp, across the deck and into the house using those nylon sliders while tugging on a tow strap. It was brutally hot that afternoon, I was trying to beat a large thunderstorm that was coming in like a freight train and not have the HAB get wet. I was so spent after that endeavor afterwards I had to sit down to keep from passing out, it was bad, real bad and took me until Monday to recover fully (this was a late Saturday afternoon when I pulled this stunt) But! I moved it! The dog had that “I told you so look” when I was complete, yeah she was right. Just how do dogs know?
I look at this project as a challenge that I can do this myself, I am not on anyone’s time schedule only my own. I am taking my time, trying to do it right, once, so I can have a relatively reliable source of electricity in the foreseeable future. I am only sharing with you my challenges so you can learn a bit and make your own determination what is best for you if you take on a project such as this. Ideally, yes it would have been nice to have an extra set of hands but I only have four paws with no opposable thumbs available most of time. She doesn’t like to mess her nails up much so I don’t ask.
This next section maybe hard to explain and follow, so I asked you play along with me a bit here and be patient.
The images are from the weekend after dragging a 300 lbs. battery sled across the ground, just to give you a time line perspective.
How do I get a 250 lbs. battery off the floor, and up 60″ into the air, line things up and hard mount to a wall? I looked at and thought of about 5 different ways of doing this and not cost a ton of money. Amazon has some pretty neat lifts that you can buy that can put 500 lbs. 7′ in the air for you and are made to do what I needed, I don’t have $800 to spend on a one time use product though. So my thought was buy a motor cycle jack that will get 300 lbs 34″ in the air using your foot to pump a bottle jack. Pretty cool jack that has wheels, problem is I needed at least 60″ of floor clearance and I was short 26″. So I built a box 26″ high that I was going to mount to the jack, put the HAB on the box that sits on the jack and roll it into place. That was the plan.
To get the HAB onto the jack I had to stack 2×4’s underneath the HAB high enough to roll a floor jack under then jack the HAB up and then slide the HAB over and onto the motorcycle jack, then lift the HAB up to a set of saw horses, slide the HAB on to the saw horses, build the box………..and now I am at a 16″ deficit between the level of the saw horses and the top of the box sitting on the motorcycle jack. Still with me? I’m not so you are Ok. I tried repeating the floor jack exercise on top of the saw horses to get to that magic 16″ only to realize that now, I have 250 lbs. 4′ off the ground, unbalanced on a floor jack and I now I want to move it over to another jack and roll it around? Again I looked at the dog and she gave that “if I were doing were to roll in raccoon crap would you not scold me” , look? Yeah she was right. I could see physics taking over, and that 250 lbs. HAB hitting the floor and making an escape hatch into the sub-flooring for me. So I backed off and called it a day.
Time to regroup and formulate a plan B.