We have electricity!

Thu Sep 29 2022

We've been excitedly waiting for the time when our electrical service would be installed and we'd finally have power - this was the week.

We have electricity!

Electrical service installed

Last Monday morning, our contact from the electric company came to check on the site and make sure everything was ready for the line crew to turn up and install our electric service. He gave us the green light and put us in the schedule - we were told it should be in the next week or so. It then proceeded to rain almost every day, and soon the week had come and gone with no sign of the line crew.

On Monday morning, with batteries low and a mixed forecast for later in the day, I went outside to run the generator. Coming back inside, I said to Diana: "I wonder if this will be the last time we have to run the generator to charge the RV batteries".

So, at 8:22am, I emailed our contact to see if he knew when we were scheduled. Just 5 minutes later, at 8:27am, I got a reply: "Matt, it is scheduled for today."

We knew from experience that they typically turn up shortly after 9am, so we quickly started getting ready. Sure enough, just a few minutes after 9am, the trucks started appearing - 3 large trucks and a pickup with a trailer.

Line Extension Installation
The line crew were incredibly efficient - they split up to work on different areas and within 4 hours they had our line extension installed and connected.

Over the next 4 hours, despite a 45 minute break for an intense rain shower that the weather forecast absolutely denied was happening, the crews worked in unison to install the primary service wire and transformer, and get us hooked up to power.

At 1pm the crew broke for lunch. Their work was done, we were live.

New Electric Meter Install
Our brand new electric meter installed - the last time it'll ever read 000000kWh!

I did my final tests on the electric back board I had built, confirming all receptacles were wired up and working correctly. Excitedly, we plugged our 30A RV cord into our newly working 30A receptacle - our RV was back on grid. No more generator!

Victron CCGX Screenshot
Taking full advantage of our newly connected power!

If you're interested to learn more about our decision to connect to the grid rather than go off-grid, then check out our blog post: Off-grid or on-grid?

Off-grid or on-grid?

As we're building our dream home in Vermont, there's one big question we have to answer: should we connect to power or go off-grid?

Off-grid or on-grid?

And if you want to read more about our experience with installing electric service on our property all by ourselves with no electrician, I've begun publishing a new blog post series and the first part is out now.

Electrical Service: Part 1 - Design

Kicking off our series on installing electrical service, we walk through service sizing, transformer location and primary transmission line placement.

Electrical Service: Part 1 - Design

Other blog posts in the series will follow shortly covering the installation of the primary service, transformer, electric back board and more.

Well installation blog posts

While last week's rain prevented us from getting much done outside, I took full advantage to catch up on some blog posts I've been wanting to write.

In particular, I wanted to finish documenting our entire well installation process, including the initial well drilling, installing the well pump, wiring up our temporary setup, and testing our water.

Well Install: Part 1 - Drilling

We were so nervous about drilling a well. Would we hit water? How deep would we have to go? How much would it cost? There's only one way to find out....

Well Install: Part 1 - Drilling

Well Install: Part 2 - Pump Installation

You might think installing a well pump is a job for the professionals, but we did it ourselves and added some very cool extra capability!

Well Install: Part 2 - Pump Installation

Well Install: Part 3 - Temporary Setup

How do you run a well pump manually using power from a generator? We create a temporary setup to do just that and fill our RV tank.

Well Install: Part 3 - Temporary Setup

Well Install: Part 4 - Water Testing

Before we can drink from our well, we need to test the water to make sure it's safe. After a nervous wait, here's what we discovered.

Well Install: Part 4 - Water Testing

It's only been a couple of weeks since we completed the well install and had the water test results. Now with electricity connected too, it feels like our hard work is finally starting to pay off and we're making a lot of progress all at once.

Septic progress

Our focus now is on finishing the septic installation. There is work for us to do before the contractors come back and finish the site work - the largest part of which is to construct the mound on our leach field.

Yesterday's forecast was supposed to be dry, and in the morning we were able to lay sand in the trench from the tanks up to the leach field. However, before laying the pipe we need to compact the sand so today we went to pick up the plate compactor from our contractor.

Septic Trench Digging
It's critical we have a steady positive grade in this trench so Diana pulled a string line. This made it much easier when spreading sand to make sure we didn't have any high and low spots.

However, there's still about a day's work to be done around the tanks themselves - wiring up the pump and sensors, installing the mushroom vent, connecting the tanks, and installing the inlet baffle, pipe and clean-out.

Hazelnut tree planting

Rather than starting those yesterday we instead decided to spend a couple of hours tidying up the area around the shipping container.

Should we buy our shipping container?

After renting our shipping container for 12 months, it was time to make a decision - should we buy it or keep on renting?

Should we buy our shipping container?

For a while Diana has had plans to plant two hazelnut trees in a south-facing clearing alongside the driveway. With the equipment trailer temporarily moved, it was a good opportunity to get it done so while I moved bucket loads of top soil with the tractor, Diana spread it all out and removed the rocks.

Hazelnut Planting
After clearing our the roots, rocks and general forest debris, we spread about 4 cubic yards of top soil here - brought down from the mountain near our house site with the tractor.

We finished by topping it with 3 bags of decomposing wood chips that have been sitting for almost a year. They were wet and heavy, but look fantastic! The last thing to do is transplant the hazelnut trees themselves.

Woodchips
The wood chips have been decomposing for a year and as well as adding nutrients to the soil should help retain moisture and prevent erosion down the bank.

Summary

After a drier than average summer, September has turned out to be very wet! Burlington, VT is on track for the 4th wettest September on record.

While the rain has slowed our progress on some outdoor tasks over the past week or two, getting the electric service installed is a huge milestone that has material quality of life improvements for us.

We've been taking advantage of the rainy days to get some blog posts done, and it's exciting to share a lot of the progress we've made.

Fingers crossed there's some dry weather over the next few days and we can complete what we need to do on the septic system and then get our contractor back on site to build the mound!

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