Saturday, March 30, 2013

Unrealistic Approach to Solar

This week I participated in helping a family to work on completing their solar system. After watching and not really having anything to do, I saw this as a potentially doomed effort. These people are ill prepared for a life of solar electric. If I were in their situation, I would sell the equipment and use the money to hook into the grid.

So here's the story. Pre-retirement couple who have lived in large cities left their jobs and moved to Hawaii. Bought a house, with a mortgage. Although they have some money, they are not well especially well off. While on the mainland they attended a large solar show, where they purchased a rather pricy, high end solar system. That was one year ago. Since then the husband suffered some medical issues and can no longer think well enough to figure out how to  finish installing the system himself. Due to financial concerns, they are very reluctant to hire someone, especially since there are no permits in place. The house wiring is complete. The inverter, controller, and batteries are in place. The solar panels are mounted on a ground frame, but quite a distance from the house. They are not wired together yet and no wiring going to the house. I'm not sure why they were installed so far away.  No combiner boxes yet. And no wiring system to tie a generator into the system to charge the batteries.

Luckily they still have the complete manuals for the system. The other volunteers are reading them, working to figure it out. Since no one's willing to trust the husband's work to date, all the wiring will have to be inspected and traced.

So here's the gig......husband can no longer deal with a solar system. He can't figure it out. Has no previous experience. Never had solar before. And won't be able to deal with any problems the occur. Wife has no interest in stepping up to the plate. Has stated that she doesn't intend to learn. Plus she fully expects that once the system is up and running, it will be just like being on the grid but without monthly bills. She can't believe us that the system could fail or go offline for any number of reasons. She fully expects a house that will operate like it were on the grid, running all her appliances whenever she wishes...and including a four person spa! The system is big, but it is going to need to be monitored. And she doesn't understand the concept of system maintenance. All she knows that she wants is "to be green"!

I see a family that has too little knowledge about solar and either can't or is not willing to learn. They are not willing to give up any of their usage or dependency on electrical appliances. They currently are running things off of the generator, but not using this time to learn to live with less. They are eagerly looking forward to using more!

Once the volunteers get the system functional, I don't know how long it will keep going without maintenance. I wish them luck. They will need it, plus a miracle.

1 comment:

  1. Auwe! I can only hope they could find a tenant or two, to live with them full-time, so someone can learn how to make it work and keep it working. Otherwise, they will give up, sell at a great loss, and go live in a city apartment. So sad!