This Fall Wes Kennedy is teaching an incredible course called “Comprehensive Solar + Storage“. Consider taking it if you want to level-up your energy storage knowledge and earn a bunch of NABCEP credits. I asked Wes what kept him busy over the summer and his answer was unsurprisingly cool.

Here’s What Wes Has Been Up To

With the COVID lockdown, I suddenly had time on my hands. I decided to build a shed in my backyard.  Not just any backyard, but my tiny urban Denver lot. When I purchased this home, I knew I had some southern roof exposure for a PV system, but I knew I didn’t have enough room to approach net zero.  My garage is in the shade of neighboring trees, so that was out. I dreamed of a south facing, unobstructed, shed-pitch structure to beef up my solar real estate.

So, I leveled out a 20 foot long, 8 foot wide patch of the northern most edge of backyard, right up against my allowable property set backs . For a foundation, I used  high strength foundation concrete I salvaged from my neighbors project where he cut egress windows for his basement bedrooms. Strong stuff, blocks that are 14” x 14” x 20”. 8 blocks set under the perimeter, leveled in beds of gravel.

The floor is 2 x 10 dimensional lumber, held together by strongtie metal fasteners. Insulated with Poly Iso, tyvek underneath, topped with plywood. Walls and roof are 2 x 6 on 24” centers.All held together with strongtie fasteners. Interior insulation, second use polyiso foam board, r30. For sheathing, I chose a composite product called Zip System, R-Panel. Integral vapor barrier outside, dense USB body, ½” poly interior for thermal break.  Windows and door, high quality second hand salvage. Siding is corten steel that will rust over time, up to the beltline, ShipLap Cedar for the middle, and still to be installed tile mosaic at the top section.

Inside all this space? Man cave, of course. The back one third is a Finnish style dry Sauna, another long time fantasy of mine. 6 KW vintage second hand heater. The rest is a studio/workshop.

On the shed roof I was able to fit 2.4KW PV, Tying into the second mppt channel of my vintage SMA Sunnyboy 5KW inverter with my 3 KW PV rooftop system.

With the extra solar capacity, I was finally able to take the plunge and purchase an Electric Vehicle. I needed strong range, but not luxury, so I chose the Chevy Bolt. 260 mile range, and with GM and local incentives, was able to purchase for around 50% the price of a Tesla. (Unfortunately, now there is a battery recall on the Bolt, but it will eventually get sorted out). My calculations show I will be able to drive approximately 10,000 miles per year within my solar production budget, on top of my full home electrical loads. With net metering and no residential demand charges here in Colorado, I am using the grid as my battery. Once tariff changes justify it, I will add batteries to this home system. I have a vintage Sunny Island in my parts stash. In the mean time, the Bolt can drive a 1300 watt  inverter from its internal DC:DC converter that maintains the 12 volt starter battery. I figure my 66kWh Bolt battery can run my emergency household loads for a looooong time.

Photos: Wes Kennedy