What’s the Story: July edition

The solar panels are being installed…

How appropriate that we talk about home technology this month.

First, I am typically the last person to ask about new technology. If there is an issue and the technology is not working, it happens to me first. I can’t count the number of times I have had a problem, only to have someone come next to me and as I explain the problem, it goes away. Also, a gentle nudge with a hammer—which is a solution to a lot of quirky problems, but is not a way to fix a computer. More of our projects are incorporating new technology. On one of our current projects, the owner controls all the lighting from their smartphone, including turning the lights on or off in rooms, and changing the color of the bulbs. It is really interesting as we see more and more technology being integrated into our remodeling projects. I remember when we installed wiring for phones and made TV cabinets that were 24 inches deep to house the depth of the TVs. Do you remember those days?

…and now they’re almost ready to power on!

But I digress. I have to talk about the new technology that we added to our home last month: solar panels! After a talk with our draftsperson Judy, and a demonstration on her phone of her real-time usage against her real-time electrical generation, my wife and I said, “Let’s do this!” The idea of having our own system began more than 40 years ago when I was in architecture school. We studied alternative energy sources, including the use of solar energy to power our homes. At that time the technology was VERY different! Now the panels weigh about 35 pounds, and the inverter that takes the DC power from the panels and turns it into usable AC power is the size of your hand, and is attached to each panel. The AC power from each panel is gathered on the roof and piped to a special electrical meter that allows you to directly use your power, or send (and sell) the excess power back to Xcel Energy. It is, however, a process. We signed a contract in January, and it took seven months to get the permits and install the system on our roof. As part of getting ready we had to replace our roof . . . and 35-year-old skylights that were a different size . . . I bet you get a sense of where this is going. But the panels were installed during the second week of July and after four inspections, we are almost ready to turn on the power. I will keep you posted.

We have been really busy finishing up our early projects and starting many new ones. It appears that staying at home has generated a lot of interest in remodeling. Making kitchens work better, creating separate, private, office spaces, and making sure bathrooms accommodate the early morning rush hour are some of the most popular projects. We are grateful to all our clients for their interest in calling us to make their homes better fit their changing life and lifestyles.

Our family remains healthy and we are living our new normal: the Covid-careful lifestyle. We had a week at our cabin and, although we haven’t had our complete family together at one time since March, we are looking forward to separate visits from all of our kids and families through the month of August.

Please stay safe and healthy. Wear masks and wash your hands.

Until next month,

John

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