Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Solar Install continues; I take a hike

Sunday and Monday May 18 & 19, 2014
French Creek State Park
Elverson, Pennsylvania



Greg and Ethan return again at 8 AM.

Together they have done residential and commercial solar installs and Greg has had some training by AM Solar. We are the first of three installs he is doing in order to become an AM Solar recommended installer. David is impressed that though he is inexperienced, Greg is committed to doing things right and taking as much time as needed to get it right even if that means undoing something and doing it over because it would be better. They really don’t cut corners.

They run into a number of unexpected problems. For example, the batteries are taller than our old ones and couldn’t use the original battery hold down set up so Greg had to fabricate new ones. Our converter/charger, located behind a drawer under the stove, was about half the height of the new inverter. A new location had to be found. To full time in a 35’ motorhome is a storage space challenge so having to come up with a new spot was difficult. We were already giving up bin space to acquire 2 more batteries. The inverter ended up being a very difficult install due to its location. It was mounted on the top of the bin with the two additional batteries in order to save space.

Only two batteries will fit in here.


Sunday (2)

The other two and the inverter unfortunately will have to go in here. Lost basement space.

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Good thing Ethan is flexible.  This is the space the inverter/charger was supposed to go but the new equipment turns out to be too tall.  Relocation problem.



Greg works on wiring all the various systems.

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Before the additional monitors

Sunday (2)

   David cuts holes in Winnona………..YIKES!

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Holes ready

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  Monitors in.  This wall has become monitor central.

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Another hole!

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Obviously you have to be an electrician as well.

 Sunday (4)



I leave the 3 of them to it while I take a hike on the Blue Trail down to the biggest of two lakes in the park.  68 acre Hopewell Lake. 


It’s a lovely hike though the path is quite rocky and hilly in places.


The same wildflowers that were just ending at Greenbelt when we left are in beginning here so we’ve gone back to early spring.


Not sure what this was but there were large stands of it.  Daddy long legs checking it out.

Sunday (14)



May apple is everywhere including at our campsite.  You can see their lovely flowers blooming under the umbrella all along the path.




I recognize the bloodroot leaf.  The white flower comes up on a separate stalk and usually only lasts one day.  Easy to miss unless you hike daily.


I arrive at the lake and realize I’ve spent all the time I told David I was going to be gone.  To do the entire circle hike I had intended will put me back too late.   I know I should turn around but I’ll go just a little bit further.


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Wild geranium

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I find some false Solomon’s seal but no true Solomon’s seal with the cute little bells hanging down underneath the stems.


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It’s a lovely lake that I would sure like to get my kayak on but I’m not sure time will allow that now.  We haven’t taken advantage of all this park has to offer which is considerable.  But then that isn’t why we came here.


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Love these little butter cups.  Looks like someone else does too.



I make it as far as the dam and a short way along the beautiful outflow stream and then force myself to turn around and go back. 


Sunday (60)Sunday (63)


Since I’m not gone much longer than I said, I decide to take the most direct route along the roads.  BAD IDEA!  Those roads are straight up at a much steeper grade than the trail I just took.  I should have turned around and gone back the way I came but I thought it would take longer.  Nope!


When I return, it looks like everything is installed, but there is a hitch in the works, we have no power at all. Of course Murphy shows up just as Greg and Ethan are going to leave.  We run out and get some pizza and beer since it is now 6:30 and they are still looking for the problem.  They stay until 9:00, no luck.  We spend Sunday night Boondocking the “old fashioned way” since we have neither solar nor shore power at this point.



Greg and Ethan also have a construction company which has a job they were both planning to work on today. Our solar install was only supposed to take Saturday and Sunday with two more days for the panel adhesive to dry.  BUT……..

So only Ethan goes to the job and Greg returns to fix the problem that we had no power even when plugged in.  He did get that fixed thankfully but now the solar panels are not registering any output. 

There are a lot of components of this system.  Getting them all working together seems to be a huge task.

We have 3 new 160 watt solar panels,  4 new 6 volt AGM batteries,  a 60 amp breaker, a TriStar MPPT solar controller/charger and the Magnum 2000 pure sine wave inverter/charger which weighs 42 pounds and had to be mounted upside down on the top of the bin above the batteries because of space.  Some trick.  Both the TriStar and the Magnum have remote monitors which have to be wired.  We also added a battery shunt, a solar disconnect switch, and a battery temperature sensor.  

We’re better off than last night, we do have power from the pole.  Remaining problems are: the panels aren’t charging and the solar monitoring system isn’t working.  Stay tuned for what will go right and wrong tomorrow. 


  1. Oh, boy. What a challenge. At least you will be self sufficient when it's all done and working as it should. Are you planning to go west to boon dock or do you know of places in the east, Sherry? One of my dreams is to boondocks along the Columbia River. Where do your dreams take you?

  2. I dithered about getting solar for my 5th wheel, but decided I didn't want to know about converters, inverters and all that technical stuff. Hope you soon have everything working properly.

  3. Wow, that's a top of the line system they're installing. You'll LOVE it when they get it all working correctly.


  4. Geez. Murphy did come to visit you, didn't he. When you are all done up right, you will be pleased. We are sitting here in Ohio using our solar power and our LED lights...love it.

  5. Oh, boy. Sounds like you guys are being very patient and understanding. I'd be taking LOTS of hikes!

  6. I'd be with you and go for a walk because I couldn't watch anybody cut holes in my Journey. In all the years I've owned it, I've only put 1 screw in a wall to hold something, everything else is Velcro or those Command Hooks. I get light headed at the sight of sawdust... :cO

    Fingers crossed that everything gets sorted out quickly. Thank goodness you are not paying by the hour!

  7. I sure hope everything works out the way it is supposed to. Boondocking is something I've never gotten in to.

  8. Wow -- that is just plain overwhelming. I'm glad you took care of yourself by going for a hike. Hope this will all be resolved soon -- I'm sure it will, but the process of getting there sounds painful.

  9. Going for a hike seems like the perfect thing to do both literally and figuratively. I had no idea installing solar panels was so involved.

    In spite of the many challenges, David looks quite gleefiul about the project--even when cutting holes in the wall.

    Thanks for sharing the lovely walk among the wildflowers.

  10. Hope you are close to getting things resolved. Know it is difficult to watch Winnona having surgery, but when she recovers you will have many wonderful adventures!!!

  11. We are like Judy- never developed an affinity for boondocking. I am sure you will love it when it is all fixed up.

  12. Hope it all gets worked out soon to everyone's satisfaction.

  13. Lots of beautiful wildflowers on that "get out of the way" hike:) My first teaching job was in that very area, French Creek Elementary.

  14. They say we always remember our first. Greg and Ethan will never forget Winona! The pictures will be fun for them as well. Love the delicate forest-floor-flowers - so sweet.

  15. Yikes! Sure glad you're not paying the labor :)

  16. Good thing they are trying to make everything right. I think I'd have to go somewhere else for awhile too. It would be very frustrating to sit and watch!

  17. What stressful days these must have been. The only thing worse than having someone cut a hole in your motor home wall is someone cutting a hole in the bottom of your boat.

    I hope the issues are resolved by now and you are enjoying your solar!

  18. I totally support the idea of solar, but all this installation stuff boggles my mind. Besides I park under the pines at the canyon. I to would be taking a lot of hikes so as not to have to watch.

  19. Good LOrd that is a whole lot of wires!@#@! Looks impossibly confusing and difficult! Hopefully they guys will get the kinks out and everything will work properly. Sounds like Ethan and Greg are concientous (sp...._
    and will do what is necessary to make everything work. Just that jumble of wires is intimidating to me. Good luck! Pretty water. xxxooo P.S. I am at the beach for a whole WEEK! Yippee!

  20. You always expect something to go wrong when doing a project of this size, but it seems like you have had your share and then some. Glad to see you were able to sneak away and de-stress a bit in nature.

  21. Geez - that sounds complicated. Glad you got to go for a nice hike...sounds like some good exercise too. I am thankful not to be a solar install guy! Hopefully in the end it will have been a great choice and this craziness will just be a memory blip.


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