Redefining the AET: meet the PET

After a lightbulb moment and a short discussion, we’re renaming our tower. The power we will get from the sun and wind aren’t “alternatives” – they’re primary. So we’re going to quibble and call it the Primary Energies Tower or PET.

Wiring the tower meant running pull lines for the electrical cables. Our retractable fish tape once again did not do the job. It’s a flat metal tape and only bends in one direction whereas this project required multiple direction bending. The tool of the hour? A plumbing snake.

Our Primary Energies Tower in the morning

The other portion of that job was creating or widening the holes near the solar panels. Then we got to work on the tabbed fittings that connect to the feet we installed a little while back.

And then…we put the whole tower together.

Our PET in the afternoon

When James told me that he was going to climb it, I blinked and grinned. I was confident that our installation could handle it and, really, it was such a total James thing to do.

Since we didn’t actually install it as a jungle gym (James?), we kept on with the project. We’d thought maybe the side solar panels would go vertically, but the tower nests inside the original aft rail. We wouldn’t have been able to get the panels well and truly down.

Start of the day...

Horizontal it is!

The side panels are on stainless steel hinges that come apart with a cotter pin and split ring. The top two are hard-fixed with rubber-lined stainless steel pipe clamps. Those things have plenty of strength and the whole system is easy to run a visual check on. Since the tower is aluminum, the fasteners and fittings are stainless, and the solar panel frames are aluminum, we used a seriously generous number of plastic washers to fight electrolysis.

One near-miss on the planning level – we nearly put the top panels far enough aft to interfere with the larger, light-air Monitor windvane. This tower takes up less physical than visual space, but it’s still a whole new set of things to get in the way.

I love these moments of achievement

You may notice that the side panels are held up by collapsible boat hooks. That’s not a temp fix – it’s actually a great system we picked up from our friends on S/V Exit.

We powered through a long, long day to get the panels wired to the terminal block and the terminal block wired to the charge controllers, but we managed to set it all up and remove the towels/cardboard covers. They started making power immediately – so satisfying!

The next step was the wind generator.


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