Five Things You Don’t Want to Hear From the Engineers Installing A Solar Power System (which we just had done in our house):
- Is your fire extinguisher handy?
- Looks like we forgot a part. We’ll need to order it from the U.S. Shouldn’t take longer than a few weeks to arrive.
- Oh, you wanted solar power and not lunar power? Sorry.
- The only man who doesn’t break something is the man who doesn’t work.
That last one is a direct quote from the lead engineer, after I complained about all of the holes the workers put in our ceiling with their feet while climbing in the attic. He then proceeded to tell me that they dropped the ceramic fuse for our water heater and it broke, but it’s still usable and should be fine.
Some of you may have heard about our solar issues. Thanks to a generous year-end special gift, we were able to purchase and install a solar back-up power system. After doing a lot of research and calculations, we decided on the company and the specs of the system. We placed the order and the engineers came out to rig it up–starting with solar panels on the roof and continuing on with rewiring the house, installing all new (low-wattage) lights in every room, and connecting two batteries that would power the sockets and lights in the house when there was no power from the mains.
It was supposed to be a one-day job, but due to various complications, they were finally wrapping up by the end of the third day. And it worked–we could not have been happier. It was almost as if we wanted the power to go off so we could experience the thrill of still having access to electricity!
That lasted about a day.
Our first clue that there was a problem was the burning smell coming from the area of the setup, not to mention the inverter/charger giving readings that seemed faulty. After shutting down the power and calling the engineers back (for Day 4 at the Winkler house), the engineers looked all over the system and told me I was reading the numbers incorrectly and the smell was just because the system was new.
After keeping detailed records of battery levels and such over the next few days we determined there was definitely a problem and called the company again. Expecting another lecture on how I needed to be reading the machine and how the system was perfectly fine, I was strangely pleased when another spark and more black smoke coming from the thing took place as they were all looking right at it. (It wasn’t like all those times when you take your car to the mechanic and it suddenly decides to NOT make that sound that it ALWAYS makes…)
So, in the words of the lead engineer, it was back to the drawing board. Seven weeks later, we got a call that a near-miracle happened. They think they found the part needed to solve the issues with our system here in Jos, and that we wouldn’t have to try and bring something in from the U.S. They came out almost immediately, installed it, and the system has been working well for almost a week now.