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Fixed Hot Water Heater & Built Adjustable Solar Panel Rack

Since our recent move to Mighican we have been repairing some things in our new home and taking it off the grid. The first step in going off the grid is to get our solar panels up in the air on adjustable rack mounts.


Our hot water heater did not work when we got the house so I did some work on it today. First I had to troubleshoot it to find out what was defective. I bought a heater element wrench so that I could remove the water heating elements to examine them. I was told that the bottom one often fails first so I drained the tank and checked that one.


To drain the water heater tank you simply connect a garden hose to the drain attachment, run it outside and turn on the valve. We have a 40 gallon water tank so this took some time. I also found a pressure release valve on top of the tank which I opened. This seemed to speed up the process for me.



When the tank was empty I removed the two wires on the lower heating element and used the wrench to remove the element. This one was clean and relatively new. I put it back in and, assuming the other element was also good, I filled the tank back up with water.


The reset button on the water heater was out so I pressed it back in and turned on the power to the water heater. I heard a zap and saw a flash and some smoke poured out. The upper heating element was leaking water onto the wires.


I drained the tank again and removed this element. It was horrible. This one was warped and corroded very badly. Its no wonder we had no hot water.


Replacing water heater elementReplacing water heater element. New one above, old one below


A simple $14 and some change from the hardware store got me a new hot water heating element. Now we have hot running water in our new home.


A neighbor came over and helped me work on my new solar panel rack mounts. I had already purchased the lumber on the weekend for the project. I got all treated lumber so it will last for many years. It was all on sale too so I got a good deal.


We first put two posts in the ground and leveled them off. He taught me some good tricks on putting in posts. These tricks made it easier for us. For example we clamped a 2x6 to the post in order to stabilize it and hold it in place as we tamped the earth into the ground around the post. We also used a special level made for setting posts. This straps to the post and sits there making the job so much easier.


Making solar panel rack mountsMaking solar panel rack mounts


We got our two posts in and leveled off nicely. Then we mounted two hinge points. One hinge for each post. These will be the outside framing for the solar panel rack mounts which will be adjustable for the seasons.

Next we built our frame for the solar panels. This was all made using my treated lumber. The idea was to hold four solar panels on this rack.


Solar panel rack mountSolar panel rack mount


I used screws and fender washers to hold the solar panels in place onto the frame. This keeps them secure and cost very little.


When the solar panels were up on the new homemade rack we then set an angle of 45 degrees and used two boards to secure the rack in place for now. I still need to set up boards with holes in them to allow this to be adjusted for the seasons.


Adjustable solar panel rack mountAdjustable solar panel rack mount


I connected the solar panels into pairs and checked for voltage to make sure the connections and panels were working good.


We also put some cross bracing on the posts to secure the entire structure and prevent any side to side sway.


This new solar panel rack mount is nice looking and solid.


You can watch today's video here: Repaired Water Heater & Built Adjustable Solar Panel Rack


While you are over there please subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow our daily videos as we strive to become self sufficient and off the grid on a budget.

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Troy Reid


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