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MY ATTEMPT AT A BLOG
NEVER use Urban Green Energy Inc.
Monday, 09 January 2017 14:53
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The biggest lesson we've learned from this entire build is NEVER use Urban Green Energy Inc. (UGEI). We purchased a 4Kw wind turbine from them in 2010 and we have had nothing but trouble and major issues from the beginning. And now we they have not responded to our correspondence in over 6 months. Here is a rough count of our dealings with UGEI.

- We order our first 4kw turbine (Silver color) in 2010 which took nearly a year for delivery.

- On 12/31/11 (approximately 8 months after install) our first turbine (Silver color) totally cracked all 3 blades.

- When we finally received our second replacement turbine in August of 2012, it was the wrong color when we requested silver, we received white.

- July 2014 UGEI sent out a technician to replace all the bearings in the turbine. - We also had to replace the wind turbine Controller

- November 15, 2015 our second turbine (White color) cracked.

- May 2016, UGEI agreed to replace our second broken wind turbine with an equal 4kw equivalent in solar panels. We immediately sent in a site evaluation they requested and have NOT heard from them since.

- Throughout this entire process our turbine has never produced. On the strongest wind days (40-50 MPH winds), we would be lucky to produce 400 watts for a two day total, 1/10 of its guaranteed production power. Additionally, we continuously brought up this issue to UGEI with no solution.

Needless to say, we are extremely unsatisfied with UGEI. It has been well over ONE YEAR since our second 4kw UGE wind turbine cracked and became totally unusable. In the thirteen months since we have been without a turbine that never worked properly or a solar panel setup we were promised in exchange for your faulty equipment. In June. 2016, UGEI promised to replace our turbine with an equal solar array. We sent in the requested Solar Site Evaluation form. All we want is for UGEI to make this right, and quickly. We have waited long enough. I'll have more details to come.

Please email me with any questions. If this is UGEI, please make this right. That's all we want.

Here are a few pics of both broken turbines.

Urban Green Energy broken wind turbine 1
Urban Green Energy broken wind turbine 2
Urban Green Energy broken wind turbine 3
Urban Green Energy broken turbine 4
Urban Green Energy broken wind turbine 5

 

Last Updated on Monday, 09 January 2017 15:38
 
We're In!
Friday, 04 May 2012 12:08
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Yes. We are in. Finally! It has been a long time since I reported. So, here we go.

We have finally received our final inspection a while back. So needless to say, we have been living in the house for a while now. We have tested every aspect of the house including the fireplace and furnace. As with every new house there are always bugs to work out. And we do have a few. But nothing too major. The largest of the issues would be the heat pump system. When the temperature goes below 30 degrees the heat pump is not very efficient. It works way too hard to keep up. Which in turn, keeps the system running. So, long story short, I need to develop a way to heat the house with greater efficiency. I have come across way naturally heat up air using a solar hot air heater. Using the sun to naturally heat the air then bringing that air inside. I just need to make this system and will be testing this over the summer and early fall.

Fortunately, this winter was rather mild. And the spring has been absolutely fabulous. Since February we have only had to run the generator one time. And that was just to keep it working properly. Our battery level has never gone below 70 percent full. It's all good.

The back deck is finished, and I must say it looks pretty darn good. As you will see in the pictures below the deck wraps the entire back of the house, about 60 feet long. My metal fabricator, Accurate Metal Works, has a plasma cutting machine. I designed a piece to go into our radius section of the deck. The main section spanning 20 feet across. Notice, in the center of the deck section there is an old sawmill saw blade countersunk into the deck and bolted down. There is still a few finishing touches I need to do but all in all it is finished.

Moving on to the inside. There are a few things I need to finish. Shelving for the master closet, shelving in the pantry, desks and shelving in the office, flooring upstairs in what we call the treatment center and the sink and counter in the mud room. All these of which I need to make with all reclaimed oak and walnut, and maybe a few old cattle scale parts.

Here are a few ways to save energy. Throughout the house we have a lot of LED lights, and a few fluorescents, but absolutely no incandescents. All the can lighting, which is 15, are LED lights with the can trim included. There are very nice and admits out nice warm light. Above the beams in the living room are LED strip lights. You can buy this buy the foot and in a wide variety of colors and brightness. They are really nice because we have hidden them and unless you knew, you cannot tell they are there.

The water heater is the number energy usage unit in the house. Even with the solar water heater, it still uses quite a bit of energy. Because we generally take showers and baths in the morning, the sun has not had a chance to warm up the solar side of the heater. The sun really does not start heating up the unit until around 11:00am. So in order to conserve as much as we can we have installed a water heater timer. This timer is much like the timer on a lamp. You set it when you want it to come on and off. Since we don't need the hot water heater to overnight we have it turned off until early morning just before we wake up and take our showers. Then we have it turn off again during the day when the sun is out. Then back on again for the evening dishwashing.

We have also installed a product call EMonitor. It is a system that allows you monitor every breaker in your house and lets you know exactly how much energy is being used. We can monitor our usage online anytime and anywhere. You can view how much we are using by clicking this link. This is a real time look at what we are using at any given time. You can see our water heater uses the most, followed by our hot tub. Yes, a hot tub. Not exactly energy efficient, but it is not bad. And I really like using the hot tub. Especially after all the crap I have to make.

Let me know what questions you might have about being off-grid or anything on energy efficiency and I will try to answer as many as I can in the next post. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

I have a lot of pictures to show so let us get started.

 

Here is the main section of the deck. It is a radius with a span of about 20 feet. This piece of railing was plasma cut by Accurate Metal Works.

Notice the saw blade in the center of the deck.

I made this this for our living room. We bought the star light and I made everything else from the light above.

Those are LED strip lights above the beams. They make nice ambient lighting. And yes that is a St. Louis Blues Game on that there television.

This is the master shower. I made this gradient tile work. It was a long cold road. And my hands cramped.

This is where it all happens. To the left our battery bank. And to the right the brains.

This is the brain part. On the right is the controller for the wind turbine. Underneath that is the turbine power shut off and turbine break in case there is way too much wind. To left of those are the four charge controllers. The energy from the solar panels enters the charge controllers as DC power then is paired down and sent to the battery bank. The other four stacked black boxes are the inverters. These take the DC power and converts them to AC and sends it to the house. It is that simple.

Our battery bank consists of 80 NorthStar Battery NSB170 Blue Batteries, for a total of 3,000 amps.

This is our water softener and our solar hot water heater.

This is the EMonitor system.

This is where we can monitor and change any setting in our entire system. It is the real brains in the house.

This is a screenshot of the Emonitor system. It tells us where every bit of energy is going. It allows us to find that phantom power and shut off anything that is using power that really does not need to be on.

This is a custom sink and counter I made for the powder room. The sink is just a galvanized tube where I cut out the center and attached the drain. Works just like it should. The counter is all wood from a barn I tore down.

A bonus shot of me welding the railing together. Shorts in March, who would have thought.

Here are some other bonus shots I took.

This is what I will be doing more of when all is said and done. Enjoy the view.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 May 2012 11:34
 
Almost There
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 10:02
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We are almost ready to move in now. Just a few minor things before we try to get a temporary occupancy permit. This will allow me to slow down a little. A few weeks ago mi hermano, Brad, came down to help with starting the deck building process. We started on the tallest part of the deck. The deck post we are using are the same 10x10 oak post we used inside the house. We set up half the deck. The following weekend my other three brothers and my nephew came down to help set up the other half of the deck. We also lifted up the hot tub on the deck platform.

We also started laying some of the guayacan decking. We didn't get very far because we are using a hidden deck fastener system. Needless to say it is time consuming.

I moved back inside to finish up what we need to get done to move in as soon as we can. I have finally finished making all the trim and baseboard. I used oak I reclaimed from a barn I tore down a couple of years ago. I pulled all the nails out of the boards, however, I did miss a couple and ruined a few blades. I then cut them in half to utilize both sides of the same piece. Planing them was next, then sanding, then varnishing. This was no easy process by any means, and took forever.

Now I am trying to finish up the tile in the shower. I am trying to create a color gradient using four colors, black, dark blue, light blue and white. This is another painstaking process. I have to cut and cut each piece of 1 inch tile and hand place each one to make it look like it is blending or melting together. I have one wall left then the final grouting. Hopefully be done with this be the weekend.

So we are hoping by next weekend we could be ready to move in or at least get a temporary occupancy permit. But this is up to the Christian County inspectors. Here are few pics of where we are today. Plus a new video of the wind turbine that was spinning pretty good the other day.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 October 2011 11:08
 
As The Wind Turbine Turns
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 10:30
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Here are a couple of videos we shot the other day of the wind turbine spinning. We got some much needed rain over the weekend and with it came some wind. Then Terri shot the other from her phone. We still cannot tell whether or not it is producing. It certainly should, but our controller is not telling us it is pulling in anything from this. So there is still some testing to do. (UPDATE) We have had two different versions of this Urban Green Energy wind turbine and both have cracked and become unusable. Now Urban Green Energy has yet to make this right after 13 months. More details to come.

Sometime this week I will take more pictures of the house and where we are to date. We have the cabinets in, with the kitchen appliances. We also have running water, with most of the sinks in and functional. I have to make the base boards and install them, but all the door and window trim is in. Plus some other little touches I will share so stay tuned.

Last Updated on Monday, 09 January 2017 15:19
 
Still Working
Saturday, 03 September 2011 23:02
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It has been a while since we last chatted. I am still working on it and no we are not in there yet. Sorry I have to get back to work. I will have some more pics soon.

 
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