Installation of the Month – August 2015
Interview with Jorgen H.
How long was the full installation process from receiving your equipment to flipping the switch? How many people did it take?
It took me two weeks. But I could have done it in 3 days if I wanted. It was very hot on the Island and it was a holiday. I did not want to work on it every minute so my wife would not complain, haha.
I had my nephew with me. He helped me lifting the panels up. My gardener trenched a line from the panels to the generator shed and another guy made the 8 concrete piers prior to my arrival. But most of it was done by myself.
Did you have any previous construction experience?
Not in construction. But I am comfortable with tools and I like to work and learn. This is more of a hobby than stress for me, and I like to fool around with new stuff.
What was the most confusing or difficult part of the installation?
The most difficult part is the language. I am Dutch, and English is sometimes very hard to understand when it gets technical. Here we use metric, and besides that, I never worked with electricity before. I hardly know the difference between Volt, Watts and Amperage, haha!
With a bit of common sense and knowledge of your tools, even my mother-in-law could have done this. It’s plug and play.” — Jorgen H., Installation of the Month Winner
Actually, I’ve never replaced a breaker. I spent lots of time on YouTube, and emailing (Wholesale Solar System Designer) Anna and (Lead Technician) Josh before I started to make sure everything was the way it should be. The other thing was that people warned me that DC power is more dangerous than AC power so that scared me. I was very afraid that I would launch myself to the moon or burn the entire island down.
Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?
None. I have plenty of tools on the island because we do not have stores there. Wholesale Solar shipped literally everything I needed to mount and install this system.
The only thing that went wrong is the 3″ pipes. I ordered the 8 piers with 8 pipes so I could mount the rack. When they arrived, the rack did not fit. Why? Because a 3″ pipe is not 3″ outside diameter … but inside. I did not know that because here in the Netherlands everything is measured OD. I could not blame my guy who put them in, but it cost me an extra $2500.00 to order new hot dip pipes. Big bummer.
The other thing that happened was I blew up one inverter. Afterwards we found out that [it] was my own fault because I did not follow the shut down sequence, flipping breakers. Wholesale Solar shipped a little computer board to me and I fixed it myself. So let this be a lesson to everybody: Make a list how to startup the system and how to shut [it] down.
How did you choose to self-install?
On our island in the southern Bahamas we have about 240 natives. Nobody would have been capable of doing this for me, and flying people in would have cost to much.
Besides that, with a bit of common sense, knowledge of your tools, and two right hands, even my mother-in-law could have done this. It’s plug and play. Just read the wire diagram and follow the steps, and more important…take your time and use a voltmeter.
The only thing is you need 3 VERY strong guys to hold the pre-wired power center up to the wall. This thing ways a ton!!
What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?
Because we are very remote, we have a small, totally outdated power supply on the island. Most of the time the diesel generators are offline, or in maintenance. And if they run … it’s crap. We know surges from 90-130 volts, and a fluctuation in MHZ from 50-60hz. I thought I was smart to buy mechanic timers because they are sturdy. But sometimes you wake up and notice that they are 30 minutes out of range … even with grid power on.
If you look at our dump you see so many appliances that broke down cause of this, and I also lost a fridge this trip. I hope this system is strong enough to keep all running during day and night. I noticed that I run short when turning on AC but these things draw lot of power.
Maybe in the near future when batteries or Tesla Powerwallls get more cheap to store energy I will be 100% of the grid. For now its about 100% when I am not on the Island, and I use about 10-15kW extra at night (on grid) running AC when its real hot.
Thanks Jorgen, and congratulations on your new solar system!
Unfortunate News Update
One week after installing his brand new solar system, Jorgen’s island was pummeled by Hurricane Joaquin. The photos below indicate the extent of the damage.
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