Mar
23
2014

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Building the Solar Shed, Part Five: Wiring & Insulation

by Tara

We made more progress on the solar shed today. First, we nailed the sill plate to our foundation using a ".22 nailer". It's basically a tiny rifle with bullet-like charges that you set off with a hammer. The resulting blast shoots a nail straight into concrete. I didn't know such a thing existed until Tyler showed up with one the other day. It's loud! KA-POW!

Tyler Firing .22 Nailer .22 Nailer Smoking

While Tyler was busy attaching the shed to its foundation, I got to work on the insulation. I initially considered using sheep's wool (we'll be installing it in the pony wall of our straw bale cottage) but eventually decided to go with regular old fiberglass batting. Neither of us is thrilled to be using the substance, but Tyler and I have agreed that it is important for us to try as many different styles of construction as possible so we can decide for ourselves what we think about each one.

Tara Cutting Fiberglass Insulation

On the plus side, pink fiberglass insulation is readily-available, inexpensive, and easy to install.

Tara Stapling Fiberglass Insulation

While I was busy stapling the batts in place, Tyler started wiring outlets and light fixtures.

Tyler Drilling Hole for Wiring Tyler Wiring First Light Fixture Tyler Wiring Solar Shed Light Fixture

Before this project, I'd never given much thought to what lies behind the walls of a building (much like I'd never considered how a foundation was built before last summer). I never realized outlet boxes, for instance, were nailed to studs in the wall, or that the wires which bring them power them are run through holes drilled in the same. This project has been a huge learning process and I am loving it!

Tara Affixing Outlet Box

By the time the sun started to slip behind the mountains, I was nearly finished with the insulation, and Tyler was done running the wiring. It's incredible how quickly these activities helped turn our shed into a "real" building. It is noticeably warmer inside (despite the lack of a door), and on the outside, our first official light fixture is now mounted!

Solar Shed Light Fixture

That lantern fixture makes me ridiculously happy. Thinking about it gives me the same feeling as getting an address and mailbox did, or watching the first glug of water gush from our new well. These improvements have been simultaneously simple and monumental, making life on our land feel somehow more legitimate.

Our neighbor Becky often talks about how she loves leaving the lights on so that her house looks warm and welcoming to passersby. Though we sometimes tease her about all of that wasted electricity, in a way, she's absolutely right. Her home does look and feel utterly inviting. It's neighborly. Now, I smile whenever I see her lights on at night, and if we're driving by, we'll often drop in to say hello.

Some evening in the near future, once our solar panels and batteries are installed and operational, we'll turn on our very first (LED) light fixture and invite our friends over. Though it's just a shed, and it's just a small lantern, the thought of them walking up our driveway with a welcoming light to guide their way warms my heart.


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