June, July and early August were spent on finalizing many of the SunCottage's systems. Once things greened up, the crew turned it's attention to the green roof. Here Mike uses the lift to haul up the river cobbles for the drainage channels that surround the actual growing areas:
Graham and Alex Melville helped bring up the two tons of growing medium, ⅓ perlite, ⅓ compost and ⅓ clean dirt:
The three soils:
We hauled up all that stuff and here's what we got: a view of the finished green roof prior to planting:
Below are the hot tub tiles in the process of being painted black. The idea here is that they'll absorb the sun's heat during the winter. Since the hot tub room will be unheated, we figure we'll need all the warmth we can get. Black absorbs heat even if the substrate is light-colored.
Cutting the square tiles to fit a round tub:
Nest Lock is installed and connected to the internet. Each guest gets a unique code, no need for key!
We installed an inline fan in the earth tube that draws cool air from underground and at it's intake by the shaded stream. It helped cool the cottage when Vermont was hit with +90° temperatures during an early July heat wave.
Several appliances were installed in the kitchen, below is the induction stove top that uses magnets to heat the pans and is maximally efficient: https://www.subzero-wolf.com/wolf/cooktops-and-rangetops/induction-cooktops
The Blomberg fridge is small but also very efficient: https://www.blombergappliances.com/products/refrigerators/30-inch-bottom-freezer-refrigerator-brfb1812ssn.html
The countertop is leathered stone and looks great. Natural and sturdy.
The Kedron Valley Inn's pond got a lot of use this summer, a great break from the heat, beach pass included in your stay at the SunCottage!
A back trail through the woods brings you to the pond, passing your private waterfall:
The hops plants we're raising to shade the cottage are growing like the crazy vines they are. Here's a photo of them with an inset of the hops themselves. It truly is a wondrous plant.
Hot water is stored in the Stiebel Eltron heat pump that uses solar energy and the ambient heat to provide hot showers etc. on demand,. Only 55 gallons in capacity, still it should be sufficient for 2 to 4 people:
Washer and dryer for drying hot tub and sauna towels:
The Zehnder man came in in August to balance the ERV system. The Energy Recovery Ventilation unit manages air flow through out the house providing the utmost in clean comfortable atmospherics.
August saw the arrival of the wood pellet stove. With a 40 lb. hopper we're told that it should be able to heat the entire cottage in the unlikely event that power is out for an extended period. Theoretically the two Tesla batteries can provide heat and electricity for up to 3 days without solar replenishment. But it's prudent to have a back-up. We've stocked up a store of pellets that can see the cottage through a month of no power and no sun:
Two Tesla batteries provide 27 kW of back up power:
Last Thursday we had a bit of a scare when it seemed the cottage was cut off from the grid. No power was coming into the house and it was solely being powered by the batteries. All the systems were working, ERV, lights, TV and internet. But the batteries were dropping down from 100% fully charged to a low of 49%. They'd charge from the solar array when the sun was shining, but it was pretty cloudy for most of the ensuing 5 days while I tried to figure what was happening. I called the power company, they said everything looked fine, electricity was reaching the house. I sent out an email to the electricians but never heard back from them. It was an enigma, the Tesla app showed power flowing between the solar array, the batteries and the house, but no connection to the grid.
What the heck! Then I figured it out, somehow, maybe because of a butt-dial, the app was showing that its settings had changed, instead of being on 'back-up'; the batteries were set to provide ALL the power to the house. Essentially cutting the house off the grid and making it completely energy independent. By clicking a single button on my cell phone, bang!, we were back on the energy net.
It actually turned out to be a great test. The SunCottage can clearly provide all the energy it needs as long as the sun shines 50% of the time. Otherwise you cut back on the hot tub or crank up the pellet stove.
Here's a screen shot of the Tesla app once we got the batteries fully charged. At 5;22 pm the solar tracker is generating 1.8 kW; 0.2 are being used by the house, with the other 1.6 kW being returned to the grid.
Some high winds hit South Woodstock in early July, some say it was a tornado, some say a micro-burst. All I know is I thought the windows were going to blow out of their frames. We lost 5 trees including an old maple that went down squarely on my wife's new car. It was totaled.
But like most things, there was a silver lining, we got three truckloads of fresh wood chips from the tree companies chipping up ours and everyone else's downed trees. After a bit of shoveling we buried the hot tub storage tanks about 3 feet deep in hardwood compost.
My son Graham helped me apply two hundred gallons of free liquid whey from the cheese company and the magic began. Within three days the storage tank thermometer indicated a temperature of 103.5°. This is just perfect. The max temperature of the hot tub is 104°, so the spa will use zero energy! Time will tell if this can be maintained through the colder months but if last year's test is any indication, we seem to have cracked the dilemma of having an off-the-grid home WITH a hot tub.
This post began in May with the installation of the green roof. Three months later it's a living thing, thriving with wildflowers, attracting bees, hummingbirds and a plethora of butterflies. It's really a thing of beauty, I hope you can come up soon and see it in all its glory: