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January 26, 2018

Prepping for Solar - at the Beach House

When Fran’s brother, Bobby, had the beach house built it was indeed wired.  The wire was layered within the bricks to where it needed to go – kitchen, bath, etc.  However, it was all basically one wire without a circuit breaker panel.  When a short would occur anywhere the entire ‘grid’ of the ‘off-grid’ would be shut down.

And shorts were pretty common.  The wires are twisted together, when it was needed to splice, then taped and laid into the bricks.  After nearly 20 years of replacing segments and making patches it finally occurred – a short that refused to be isolated.  To isolate the shorts we would fire up the generator and let it melt down the wire, it was easy to find what wasn’t working and jumper it to something that was working.

This past Shrimp Fest that did not work, in fact it was the generator that would trip its 30 amp breaker.  We came to the conclusion that it had to be under the slab and not the in the walls.  It was time to replace the supply wires.  We’ll leave the load wires in the walls for now.

Armed with a 12 position panel and 500 feet of 14/2 Romex the goal of this past trip was simply to route the wires and terminate them on a future trip.  The Mexican version of 14/2 Romex is gray/orange/black much different than the US white/black/ground.  Since Mexican home may not use grounding the Romex provides 2 hot wires and a return.  No surprise there are no grounded sockets at the beach house.  This project will take a bit of thinking outside the ‘junction box’.
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I only finished 9 of the 12 circuits, there’s still an out let in the kitchen and the bathroom to go.  But with about a 100’ of Romex left, it was a good place to stop on this trip.  I mounted the box upside-down to allow the inverter to connect to the main breaker at the bottom.  Next trip I’ll make the last runs and do a bit of cleanup of the wires inside the panel.
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I suspect we have another 5 years before erosion takes the house.  On last day Fran and I hoped on the quad to cruise the beach and see what others are doing to keep the Sea of Cortez at bay and protect their homes  A couple homes have been leveled and the ruble used to add to the sea wall.
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A few folks are still living in homes that have been partially taken and fighting the erosion on their own.
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That’s the Beach House in the distance.  Last one on the beach.
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These folks have banded together to add a substantial rock pile to protect their homes.  This may very well do the job, but what’s the point of a beach house without a beach?
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Despite the commotion a couple of osprey adolescents are sticking to the nest.
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Many of the blogs I read are showing positively stunning sunset pictures from the desert southwest.  The sunset is early at the beach with the Sierra de San Pedro Martir in the way.   The sunsets are really pretty lame.  I do wish I had a better way to show the spectacular night sky, it is an experience on a moonless night.
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But the sunrise is spectatular and the morning sun on those same mountains gives promise to a new day.
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In a colorful protest against the ‘Trump Wall’, artist Enrique Chiu has organized the painting of friendship murals on the Mexican side of the existing border fence.  I’ve admired these murals in Tijuana and Tecate.  It’s nice to see Mexicali has also displayed the spirit.
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A word of caution – when returning to the US in an RV use the Calexico East crossing!  Calexico West will be a very tight squeeze for this 5th wheel.  BTW - at Calexico West the right lane is usually a little faster – shhh, don’t tell anyone! 
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A good question is after putting up the poor electrical for 20 years and with perhaps only 5 years before losing the battle with erosion – why bother with electrical now.  The Beach House is Bobby’s ‘happy place’ and as his Parkinson’s progresses he should be able to enjoy it, not cuss at the next inconvenience from it. 

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