Mike and Nancy, Marathon Man Leonard's brother and sis-in-law, came calling on him up in the Big Box, Californicated, Desert City of Mo-Town...said they'd like to do a light hike someplace Purdy (they're from Austin and that's how they tawlk). So ole Leon contacted the professionals at Mark and Bobbie's Guide Services of Lovely Ouray for ideas about a place to go that would knock socks off...but not put them in a casket—a place where he could maybe take an ice water plunge, preferably in a lake he hasn't seen yet, and not too far of a drive, and less than two level miles from the parking lot. Spreadsheet says....
Actually we ignored most of the parameters given and just drug them to a place we like—12,000 feet, 4 miles total, uphill both ways—but there was a lake to jump in :).
Before we get to the slide show and movie, I'd like to express appreciation for your input on solarizing Goldie. I have been working at synthesizing all the suggestions and have come to a few conclusions, the first of which is that I should pay a pro to do the installation.
So I looked into some roaming installers who could meet us somewhere in Utah in October. Bingo; found one with more credentials tagging along after his name than a rocket scientist. We emailed back and forth about the nature and scope of the project...the somewhat limited space on Goldie's roof and that I wanted at least 300 watts but couldn't afford top-of-the-line equipment. As usual, I put the cart before the horse. I could have saved him and me a lot of effort and time by asking how much he charged to do an install like mine FIRST! And now I can't find my socks, as his estimate came in at 12 to 16 hours @ $100 bucks an hour.
Don't misunderstand; I'm sure he knows electrons from photons, watts from amps, sun from shade, and would do a professional job and dot all i's and cross all t's. But...how do I say this without sounding like I'm a cheapskate?...we didn't pay much more than that for Goldie, which has nothing to do with anything except that's the way I think, you know, relative value and shit. It would be like investing $2000 dollars worth of Michelin tires on a $500 dollar car...again, flawed logic, but that's how I "do math."
So the handwriting is on my tombstone: this will be a DIY "Monkey Wench" job that'll turn Ed Abbey over in his grave.
Thanks to your advice and links, here's the way it's going to shake down:
I'm going with AM solar out of Oregon
I'm going with 3 smaller 100 watt panels instead of two 150's
I will oversize the wiring for one or two more eventual panels
I will use mounting that tilts two directions instead of one
I will splurge and use the more costly but more efficient controller
I will work again next summer to pay for so-called "free energy"
I will do it myself
I will save up to $1600 bucks by doing so
And finally, I will pray to God Almighty that I don't regret it....