Archive for the ‘Electric Vehicles’ Category

Update on Our Lighting

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Today, we addressed the collars on the Lucifer lights around the exterior of the house.  Also, Bryan saw some interesting electric car charging stations over at the Netflix buildings on Winchester Boulevard.

Lucifer Lights

We’re putting in Lucifer lights in the roof overhangs around the perimeter of the house.  These lights are part of our comprehensive lighting plan, which Randall Whitehead designed for us.  We love the flush mount of Lucifer and the clean, minimalist look.

Each of the lights are in IC-rated housings.  The IC rating means that the housings can be in contact with the insulation.  Since the overhangs are outside our thermal envelope, we can recess the lights into the SIP roof.

We ordered the housings with 1-1/2 inch collars on the housings and it looks like these collars are too long.  Bill Anderson is our contact person at Lighting Advantage Lighting Technologies and he will ensure that we have the correct collars for our lights.  Since there are 29 recessed lights around the exterior that we have received and 34 recessed lights inside the house still to order, we can get the correct collars.


The Lucifer Lighting housing in the SIP. Note how the collar may be too long when the OSB replaced and the 5/8-inch reclaimed Redwood is in place.


Housing with the collar on ...


And, without the collar. We can get the correct size collars and simply replace the existing collars that are too long.







Continuing to Work with PG&E

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Nothing is easy.  We thought we were there with PG&E and, surprise, we’re not there yet.

We did start to move the control system for our sliding glass doors at the back of the house into the permanent location in the East Storage room.

Yes, it poured rain, starting at ~3:00 am for a couple hours.  Our site handled the rain just fine.

Moving the Door Control System into East Storage Room

When the control system for the three sliding glass doors at the back of the house was set up, we were not ready to mount the control system in its permanent location, which is in the East Storage room.  Now, it is time to do so.

The control system, made by Doors in Motion, requires a dedicated 15 amp circuit and has four wires going from the DC electric motor to the control system, including the switch.  The four wires, which have multiple conductors, are for the power (the transformer to DC and backup battery are housed in the control system), the door switch (open, close, stop, lock, reset), the motion detector, and the encoder unit itself.

We decided to run the wires in a dedicated conduit containing only low-voltage wires.  The conduit is the flexible, orange corregated one-inch conduit by Carlon.  We’ve been obtaining our low voltage products from ADI in Santa Clara.  Hank Malloy and Jordan have been extremely helpful in sourcing the correct products for us.

The conduit included the four wires for the door and the CAT5e wires for the lighting control system (C-bus).  The lighting control system includes a pink CAT5e and a yellow CAT5e.  The pink wire is for the main system and the yellow wire is for a backup (redundant).  All other data CAT6, with a spline, will be blue.

When connecting the wires to the door control system, we found a problem.  Jason Cruz, who installed the door control system, helped Bryan to isolate the problem.  They didn’t solve the problem yet and should complete it tomorrow.

Installing Our Permanent Electric Meter

Although the two-person crew from PG&E installed our permanent electric meter on Monday, October 3, they didn’t have the correct meter for a 400 amp service.  Knowing that the meter would be changed again to a bi-directional meter for our solar photovoltaic generation system, they put in a 200 amp meter.  However, PG&E’s process and internal systems still show our temporary service in place as the correct meter had not been installed.

Thus, PG&E dispatched a meter technician to our job site to install the permanent meter for our 400 amp service.  The meter technician, AJ, smiled as he installed the correct meter saying, ‘I’ll be back in a couple days to install the bi-directional meter that will measure your generation and your electric vehicle consumption.’

We’re just following the process …

Motor for our sliding glass pocket doors at the back of the house. We need to have the wires to connect the control system to the motor in a dedicated conduit.


The path for the flexible conduit will go through the Dining Room, into the soffit and through to the East Storage room.


The one-inch orange conduit will join the two-inch 'smurf' tubes in the soffit going to the East Mechanical room.



The door control system will be located permanently in the wall to the left of the three lighting control system panels.


We're taking the opportunity to install the 1-1/2 inch polyisocyanate insulation against the concrete throughout the lower level (basement). We removed this insulation from the roof and stored it so we could use it again. This insulation will be covered with spray foam, encapsulating it. Note there is two inches of rigid foam insulation outside the concrete wall.


The meter technician from PG&E, AJ, installs the correct Smart Meter for our 400 amp service. This meter replaced the 200 amp meter that was installed on Monday. The next meter that will be installed is the bi-directional smart meter for our solar photovoltaic generation and time-of-use electric vehicle (E-9) rate service.



Installing Our Permanent Electric Meter

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

With our permanent meter in place, we’re a step closer to our rebate.  Every day we seem to get closer …

It rained today and is forecasted to rain through Wednesday.  We are prioritizing our activities to keep our materials dry … bone dry.

Installing Our Permanent Electric Meter

Before we can have an electric meter for our solar generation, we need to have a permanent electric meter in place.  To have a permanent electric meter, we required a ‘meter release’ from the City of Monte Sereno.  The meter release was issued by the City of Monte Sereno on September 29, which was our rebate filing deadline.

Bryan called PG&E several times this morning and learned that our permanent meter was scheduled to be installed on Wednesday, October 5.  Knowing this was delay, Bryan started to call our various contacts at PG&E.  When speaking with the scheduler, Barbara Aker, Bryan explained that if a crew was available at the last minute then we would be ready to have our meter installed.

To our delight, Barbara called and said that a crew came available and they could install our permanent meter today.

Way cool!

Portable Charger for a Nissan LEAF

While getting some parts for Al at Electrical Distributors in San Jose, Bryan noticed a Nissan LEAF in the parking lot.  Bryan spoke with the owner of the LEAF, who explained that he was assembling a portable charging station that could plug into various types of 240 volt circuits.  Further, he explained, the benefit would be to use 240 volt circuits that are available in RV/trailer parks.

For people who buy the LEAF from Arizona used Nissan Dealers, or anywhere else in the country, it can be frustrating not having many charging stations easily available when driving. The portable charging station can fix all of that.

Installing charging stations in RV/trailer parks could be done quickly and easily, which would help deploy the infrastructure for electric vehicles across the U.S.

An interesting idea …

The two-person truck arrived at our job site at ~ 11:30 am this morning.


The service entrance panel had to be secured and then sealed before the meter could go in.


Our permanent meter is in! This meter will be replaced with a 'net meter' that will measure the electricity that we generate and send into the grid.


Charging station that can be used in RV/trailer parks for charging a Nissan LEAF.


Hosting Scott and Sue’s Visit to California

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Scott Andersen and Susannah Therrien flew into San Francisco yesterday and will return to Toronto on Sunday.  Scott, from Toronto, has been involved in the design of our remodel and construction since inception.

Al, Dan and Nep continued on the rainscreen while Bryan ensured we met the remaining obligations under our indemnification agreement with the City of Monte Sereno.

Finishing the Week

Bryan had made arrangements to have yellow and black warning signs made for the two live electric panels.  This morning, he picked up those signs and put one on the service entrance panel outside the house.  The other sign was for the 200 amp electric panel in the East Mechanical room.

We completed insulating the ceiling in the Wine Cellar and Wine Dining today.  The soffit needs to be insulated and that will be completed on Monday.  Next steps with the Wine Cellar will be to use closed cell spray foam and fill the cavity and create a moisture barrier.  The Wine Cellar will be at a much higher humidity than the house and exterior, so we need to ensure that moisture remains in the Wine Cellar.  After with moisture barrier is in place, we will be able to install the radiant cooling panels in the ceiling.

Al, Dan and Nep completed the siding on the East side of the house and started on the rainscreen on the South side of the house.  They will complete the rainscreen on Monday, before the first real rains of the season are forecasted to start on Wednesday.

Spending the Afternoon and Evening with Scott and Sue

Scott and Sue arrived at the job site just after 12:00 noon today.  Bryan took them on a quick tour, during which Scott opened the sliding glass door at the back of the house.  Both Scott and Sue were impressed, with Sue noting that their sliding glass door in Panama could be improved with the controls that we are using in California.

As a visitor, Scott had to go for a test drive in a Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport, the high performance electric sports car developed by Elon Musk, which Bryan enjoyed too.  Yes, Scott had the ‘Tesla smile’ after his test drive.

Since Jo-Anne was finishing the quarter in Boston and returning to California tomorrow morning, Scott, Sue and Bryan went to Enoteca La Storia.  Bryan showed them the empty bottle of 1961 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, which we opened at the 50/50 party on April 16, 2011 at Enoteca La Storia. 

After Enoteca, Scott took Sue and Bryan to Steamer’s Grillhouse in Los Gatos, where Scott arranged for a table instantly.  It was a excellent ending to a great day.

Tomorrow, after a lighting design session on the job site, we’re hosting Scott’s 51st birthday dinner at Nick’s on Main

Scott, after pushing the button, watches as our three-panel 24 ft sliding glass door opens.New yellow and black warning sign on the service entry electric panel on the East side of the house.


New yellow and black warning sign on the service entry electric panel on the East side of the house.

Warning sign, in English and Spanish (thank you for the translation Darryl!).New yellow and black warning sign on 200 amp panel door in East Mechanical room.



Completed insulation in the ceiling of the Wine Cellar.


Completed insulation in the ceiling of the Wine Dining. Note the wine racks in the background.


Rainscreen assembly and radiant barrier on the South wall of the house.


Primed furring strips over the radiant barrier create a 3/4-inch air gap for air to flow and to allow the radiant barrier to reflect heat.


Scott, with the 'Tesla smile', after returning the Roadster 2.5 Sport to the dealership on Santa Row.


Scott enjoyed the Roadster!


Sue, Bryan and Scott in Enoteca La Storia, with the empty bottle of 1961 Cabernet from the 50/50 party held there on April 16, 2011.


Bryan explained to Scott and Sue, 'It was a great bottle of wine but ... it was a bit young.'


Everyone enjoyed dinner at Steamer's Grillhouse.


We enjoyed a great bottle of 2005 Altagracia.


Diving into the Details

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

We need to button down the outstanding details so we can move forward expeditiously.  There are a couple, ok, lots, of details to button down.

Al wants to have a decision on paint, stain or paint/stain (pain?) for Monday.  And, we need to establish the audio, video, data, security and other wiring inside the house.

March 31, 2012 is our move-in date, which is cast in stone.  Or, more accurately, carbon fiber.

Looking at Black Stained Beams at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club

Our wooden beams that extend from the outside to the inside need to be one finish.  And, we’d like that finish to be dark.  Importantly, the synthetic wood structural beams that are above the original reclaimed Douglas Fir beams should look the same.  Yeah, a tall order.  Standard on our project.

Craig Rathe, our contact at Kelly-Moore Paints in Saratoga, suggested that we go to see the wooden beams at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club to see how they look.

Bryan did just that on Saturday morning.

Reviewing the Home Theater Layout at 300 San Jose

We hosted our daughter’s eighth birthday party at 300 San Jose last Saturday afternoon (September 17).  300 San Jose is a very modern and high tech bowling alley.   (Yeah, it was fun!).  We noted that they have a great projection screen and other relevant furniture and finishes for our home theater.

Bryan returned to 300 San Jose with a digital camera and measuring tape.

Reflecting, Green Building with Autodesk’s BIM software could have been used to verify the home theater design using the software’s three dimensional capabilities

Ending the Day at the Job Site

The day ended with Paul Fulton coming to our job site to review our proposed audio, video and data wiring plans.  Paul arrived in this blue Tesla Roadster 2.5 and parked just in front of our Nissan LEAF.  During our research of electric vehicle charging stations, on April 2, 2011 we looked at Paul’s charging station for his Roadster.

Craig Rathe, our contact at Kelly-Morre Paints, recommended that we review the wooden beams at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club. So, we did.


The exposed wood beams looked striking against the natural wood of the eaves.

Beams, exposed to the weather.


300 San Jose. (It was a beautiful, blue-sky California day!)


Screen layout in the lounge area, with the projector. The screen was 120 inches wide and the projector was 96 inches back from the screen.


Not being shy, Bryan took out his tape measure to take the dimensions of the room with the seating.


Very durable chairs and footstool ...


While the screen was flat against the wall, the two televisions were angled down for close viewing.

The screen was made by Da-Lite. Easy to follow up on from here.

Back at the job site, we wanted to document the low-VOC adhesives that we are using. Indoor air quality is very important to us.

Our friend, Paul Fulton, dropped by the job site to review our plans for audio, video and data layout and cabling.

Our Nissan LEAF has white carpool stickers, just like Paul's Tesla.


Completing the Installation of Our Solar Photovoltaic System

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Real Goods Solar completed the installation of our solar photovoltaic system today.  It rocks!  The team from Real Goods Solar is exceptional and we endorse them 100%.

Taking Deliver of our FSC-Certified Siding

Our FSC-certified siding was delivered today.  In following our principle of sustainability, we are using FSC-certified wood materials whereever possible.  We spoke with Robert Spalding from Roseburg Forest Products and he recommended that we use their FSC-certified Douglas Fir siding, manufactured with grooves every 8 inches, as it would be a close match to the original siding on our Eichler.  Chris Tritschler, from Channel Lumber, coordinated our order as we wanted clear siding, with no blemishes.

The 41 sheets of siding were delivered to the job site today.

Darryl Arrived Today

Bryan’s younger brother, Darryl, arrived today on a flight from Calgary.  Darryl has not visited us in California for several years and it was great to host his visit.  Bryan coordinatated a test drive in a Tesla (go figure).  While in the Tesla showroom in Santa Row, Bryan looked at one of the bodies of the Model S, which will be manufactured at the former NUMMI plant in Fremont, California.

On the test drive, they brought a color sample back to the job site.  We wanted to see how close the Fusion Red was to the color of our (powder coated) red front door.  Take a look at the photo below and let us know what you think.

Completing the Installation of Our Solar Photovoltaic System

With the spacing of the four arrays on the Upper Flat roof established yesterday, the team quickly completed installing the remaining 28 panels.  After a team photo, Liam Ryan and Bryan McFarland focused on completing the wiring connections and then configuring the system.  Matt Knobbe joined them to complete the installation certificate (CF-6R-PV).

Just as the system was being tested, Devon Kelly, from Builder’s Energy Services arrived at the job site to verify the installation for the rebate application.  Devon is a HERS rater and will verify the installation, perfor4mance and shading specifications as set forth in our rebate application.

The Enphase Envoy unit registered all 48 solar photovoltaic panels and recorded the generation of electricity through the system.  Liam, using a notebook at the job site, configured the orientation and layout of the solar photovoltaic system.  The final configuration that will be accessible via the Internet can be completed tomorrow.

So, the construction and installation team has now ‘passed the baton’ to Roseanne Provost-Morgan, who will file the applications for the rebate and all associated documentation (e.g., interconnection agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric, etc.).  After the City of Monte Sereno signs off on our solar building permit, Ro will submit our rebate application electronically.

It is a race to the finish line!

Installing the remaining 28 solar photovoltaic panels on the Upper Flat roof.

Bryan McFarland, on the roof over the Garage, directs his team.


The arrays are now in place ...

Load center to shut off the array on the East Gable and North Gable is hidden behind the post on the West side of the North Gable.

Completing the wiring to the load centers on the Upper Flat roof.

A quick photo of the installation team from Real Goods Solar!

The Channel Lumber delivery truck arrives with our 41 sheets of siding.

For the siding, we decided on 'Clear' grade.

FSC, of course ...

Al, Nep and Bryan unloaded the 41 sheets of 19/32 siding by hand into the Garage quickly ...

Our HERS rater, Devon Kelly, recording his findings on the Upper Flat roof.

Liam Ryan registered the Enphase micro-inverters directly from our job site.

The Envoy unit, located in the East Mechanical room, showing our solar photovoltaic system is producing electricity at a rate of 8,290 kW. This is one of the largest residential systems that Devon has verified.

A Tesla Model S, currently in the showroom on Santana Row in San Jjose.

Bryan's younger brother, Darryl, holding a Fusion Red color sample against our red front door. We think the color is a close match - what do you think?

Darryl enjoyed the test ride in a Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport.