Sunday, April 22, 2018

Solar installation and referral link!

We want to do our part and transition to renewable energy. After contacting Tesla, we decided to go ahead and install a 3.9 kW solar array and will document the entire process!

If you're interested in purchasing a Tesla vehicle or getting solar, please use my Tesla Referral link! You'll get free Supercharging with your vehicle or an additional 5 year warranty on your solar installation!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

DIY: Kitchen Remodel

We wanted to redo our kitchen but we were waiting for the right time. What better time to do a kitchen renovation than right before Christmas? There were a few local deals on appliances as well as on Amazon so we decided to pull the trigger. Pricing out cabinets from a few different places, Ikea came out on top with their price and aesthetics. Suprisingly, we purchased quite a few items from Amazon to complete the kitchen. We left a majority of the linoleum intact since we wouldn't be replacing it until after the cabinets were installed.


Wall Oven: Bosche HBL8451UC (Amazon)
Wall Microwave: Bosche HMC80151UC (Amazon)
Induction Cooktop: Frigidaire FGIC3067MB (Amazon)
Island Hood Vent: KBC ISL90A-LED (Amazon)
Sink: Kraus KHU100-30 (Amazon)


USB Receptacles for Island: TOPGREENER TU2154 Dual USB Receptacle (Amazon)
E-Z Dishwasher Bracket (Amazon)
Leviton 3-way LED Dimmer (Amazon)

We planned the entire kitchen using the Ikea Kitchen Planner. For the most part the planner was pretty straightforward. As we were building the kitchen, there were a few pieces missing and a few extra pieces. Luckily Ikea is near by and I was able to return the extra pieces and buy the missing pieces over the course of a few trips.
Christmas came early!
We placed the order for the appliances and cabinets early December 2015. It took a few days for the cabinets to arrive. The oven and microwave took longer as they were special order. The old cabinets and countertops were donated to ReStore. We had to stockpile the old cabinets and countertops in the garage until they were able to pick it up.
Old kitchen
The wall needed a few repairs after we had the necessary electrical lines added for the island and wall mounted oven and microwave.
Upper cabinets removed
Installing the railings level and at the right height is extremely important. I made sure to hit as many studs as possible, drilling the railing if needed.
Testing the paint and hanging the upper cabinets
Lower cabinets and countertops being removed.

The gap between the upper refrigerator cabinet and 15" cabinet was later concealed with a piece of cover panel cut to size and secured.

E-Z Dishwasher Bracket (Amazon)
For some reason, Ikea no longer sold the Sektion Island Assembly kit so I had to get creative. I stopped by Lowes for the 19th time in a week and bought some brackets to secure all the base cabinets together.

I measured how tall the base should be in order for all the cabinets and island to match up. I had Lowes rip a few pieces of plywood and made an island frame. The 2x4s are secured to the subfloor and the frame is secured to the 2x4s.

Base mounted to subfloor
What I forgot to take a picture of was the additional 2x4s I added in the middle of the base so I can secure the cabinets.
Island mounted to base

Electrical rough-in for the receptacles and cooktop

Originally we purchased a Bosch HBL5451UC wall oven but didn't like the way you selected the temperature (up and down arrow). We ended up returning it and purchasing the matching equivalent of the microwave (HBL8451UC). I placed painters tape on the cabinet faces to mark and drill the holes for the handles.

Handles installed

Cover piece installed
I ended up removing the old track light and replaced it with 4 LED recessed lights on a Leviton 3-way dimmer (Amazon). Since the light are controlled by 2 switches, I only replaced the main switch in the hallway with the dimmer switch.
Wiring for the range hood and drywall patches running wiring for the lights
I had to cut a chunk of drywall out in order to put in bracing for the range hood (not pictured). The 2x4s were screwed into the joists. I made sure I was able to hang off the braces in order to test its weight bearing ability. Luckily it held.

The location of the island and range hood made it impossible to route the air outside the house. Luckily the range hood has carbon filters and a re-circulation mode. The range hood instructions were sub-par but it was pretty straightforward. Secure the mount to the ceiling. Measure and secure the metal support brackets. Slip the stainless steel covers on and mount the range hood.
Just need to install the range hood

Range hood (Amazon) install complete
The original lights were very bright. Only issue was they hung below the actual range hood and blinded anyone in the room. I removed them and replaced them with 4 LED lights from Lowes that sat flush with the range hood.
Makeshift countertops
We weren't able to get the countertop company out to measure until all the cabinets were in place permanently. This added about another 2 weeks to the remodel. For two weeks we didn't have a sink or any counters to prep food on. It was definitely interesting. We originally picked out one slab of granite which our countertop contractors told us was enough. When they were cutting it, we were informed we needed another slab for the island, an additional $400. Thankfully everything turned out great and now we have countertops!
"Steel Grey" 3cm Granite
Frigidaire FGIC3067MB (Amazon)
Over the next few weeks, we ordered bamboo flooring from a local shop and installed it. It took 3-4 weeks to install all the cabinets and flooring. 2 of those weeks were due to the countertops. We went a little over budget by buying mid-to-high end appliances but as much as we use our kitchen, I think it was worth it. The island has two 4 amp USB receptacles on both sides of the island.

Newly installed sliding door.

While repairing the flooring and installing the sliding glass door, I noticed a random cut wire in the floor. It didn't have any voltage but to be on the safe side, I updated the closest receptacle and capped the wired in the box. Better safe then sorry.
Random wire capped off the box.

Ripping out all the old living room flooring.

Completed kitchen with USB outlets in use.
We started the project in December 2015 and finished it mostly by March 2016. After some procrastinating, I finally put the finishing trim pieces in this month (August 2016). The kitchen has been lived in for a few months now and we really enjoy the added storage and counter top space. One of the bad thing we noticed and knew going in was no having a black splash for the cook top. Frying food can get a bit messy. We love the bamboo flooring and it is holding up well to a full family with animals. The next purchase is going to be a robot vacuum because hardwood floors get noticeably dirty quickly.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

DIY: Wall mount that monitor and hide those cables!

I recently purchased the Dell U3415W when it went on sale and I must say it is only beautiful monitor. Only thing missing, or not missing, was the wires. I decided to wall mount the monitor just like our TVs and hide the wires behind the wall.

Shopping List

Ultra Thin Monitor Mount - Amazon
Toggler Drywall Anchors ( up to 143 lbs.) - Amazon
5/16 Drill Bit - Amazon
Wiremold Wall Grommet Kit - Amazon

First thing I did was to make sure the mount actually fit into the U3415W. The VESA mount for the U3415W is a little bit recessed into the monitor. I had to use 3 washers per screw to get it offset enough so that mount attached to the wall doesn't scratch the back of the monitor. I used the screws attached to the monitor to secure the mount.

Now that I have that taken care of, time to move onto securing the mount to the wall. The wall didn't have studs right where I needed it so I used the plastic drywall anchors to secure the mount. I measured where I wanted it and drill a 5/16" hole for the anchors. For the anchors to work you need to collapse the tabs, insert the anchor, then pop the tab with an include red plastic tool. Super easy and secure!

It was sitting a little too low for my liking so I moved it up.

Test fit. Perfect!

 Time to hide those wires. I used the Wiremold kit instead of the old work boxes I used before. It seemed way simpler than cutting the drywall with a saw. Plus, it includes everything you need to install it!

I attached the include hole saw to my drill. The hole saw and arbor include in the kit sucks. I started drilling my hole and the hole saw kept getting jammed! Finally, after constantly re-tightening the arbor, I finally got the two holes cut. I ran my wire and popped the covers on. I must say I am not a big fan. Once the plastic white covers are on, there is almost no way to get it out besides unscrewing the green plastic mount. I had to run my DisplayPort cable and unscrewed the bottom mount and lost one of the clips. Boo.

Time to mount the monitor!
As you'd expect from an ultra thin mount, there is not much room to work with to install the cables. I layed the monitor face down on the desk, installed the cables and backplate, then mounted the monitor. Overall, took about 1 hour to get everything drilled, mounted, and pretty looking. I think hiding the wires and wall mounting everything gives the overall office a clean, sleek look.

Update: 5/25/2015

After some major scolding from reddit about having the power cable tucked into the low voltage boxes, I decided to stop being lazy and install a recessed outlet.


Cooper Wiring Recessed Outlet - Amazon
Old work box - Amazon
14/2 Romex - Amazon
Low-profile power cable - Amazon

Check your local electrical code before attempting the install. The receptacle was easy to install since I already had wires running behind the wall. All I had to do was tap off the existing power outlet under the desk and run wire up. Only issue so far is there is no room for a regular power cable because it hits the back of the monitor. I ordered a Low-profile power cable and will update once it comes in.

Update: 5/25/2015

The low-profile cable finally came in! With the monitor up, there is about 1-2mm of space. I couldn't even take a picture of  the fitment that's how close they are. Now that this project is complete(and up to code), time to think of something else..