i slept well last night but i could've slept more. i kept waking up intermittently every 2 hours, only to check the time and happily realizing i had more hours to sleep. at 6am my alarm clock woke me up. at the same time i noticed the shine of headlights outside the window in the dark early morning. i grabbed my glasses, put on some clothes, and went outside. there was a semi truck about to unload. i asked the driver if he needed me to move the car and clear out the driveway, he thanked me for my help, said i could move the car back after he was finished.
after the delivery truck left, i went outside to see what he left behind. there was a stack of panels, the invoice said "LG 335," exactly what we ordered. i was afraid they'd play some bait-and-switch and give us some cheaper panels. i was happy to see that was not the case.
i went into the backyard and set up the action camera again to shoot a time lapse video. instead of on a tripod like yesterday, i used a small flexible knockoff gorillapod to attach it to the top of a 6ft tall platform step ladder. one of the tentacles fell off but i was still able to get it to grab onto the ladder (i tried looking for the missing part in the dark with the flashlight but couldn't see it anywhere).
though the installers didn't arrive at 6:30am like they did yesterday, pat was still the first to show up, chilling out in his pickup truck while waiting for everyone else to get here. like yesterday, joe was the last to arrive. he was basically here to give pat some directions and to collect the tools he left in the garage. with that he left for another project in acton, but said he'd be back later.
i spent the morning in the living room, working off of my laptop. the blinds were closed but the bright sun was shining through, as i watched silhouettes of the workers going up and down the ladder, sometimes carrying a solar panel. as the day wore by, the position of the shadow would also change, so that by late morning, i no longer saw the silhouettes, but still heard them climbing onto the roof. i wore my jacket the whole time, zipped completely up, as it was 60° in the house. also when i go out periodically to check on the progress, i don't want to put anything on.
my father came home twice, once after visiting my grand uncle, and once before he visited. each time a few more panels were added to the roof. i was afraid the panels would be lopsided on the right of the house (the side next to the garage) (according to where they put the racks) but seeing them installed they don't look too bad. the LG 335 panels are not as black as i'd imagined; i guess those all-black panels are a different brand. at least the LG's are not the cheaper blue variety.
at noontime there was a brief lull as the workers went on lunch break. this was my chance to climb on top of the roof and check out their progress. sitting on the roof surrounded by solar panels made me feel like i was in my own personal solar farm. it seemed like such a waste though, this new roof that we just got 2 months ago, now completely covered up with solar panels.
all this talk of going green and helping the environment, that was the least reason for going solar. my father wanted it primarily because of our southern facing roof and the ability to get free energy from the sun. i'm curious to know what our backyard neighbors think, especially that one family who used to raise chickens. they're all about projects (like creating a second addition to their house, chopping down the large pine tree to give more sun for their livestock), i bet they've love to go solar as well, but they have an east-west facing roof that's not ideal for solar energy (though people still do it).
after lunch joe came back to do some heavy duty electric work (including installing a large junction box and attaching wires into the inverter), along with a new guy, alex in mirror shades, ramming two copper ground rods into the dirt in front of the house. there was some confusion as to the number of rods. as a rule of thumb, 100A systems need just one, while 200A need two. our is 100A but the company boss asked for two. alex used a hammer drill to pound the poles into the ground, and then used a sledgehammer to finish them off until they were flush with the dirt. pat snaked the wires for the solar panels into the long basement conduit that goes to the inverter. pat doesn't like to talk much when he's working (unlike joe) and i noticed he was also wearing earbuds listening to music. i missed the part where he bent the metal conduits, i've always wondered how they did that.
outside, josh was finishing up attaching the solar panels and trimming the ends off the racks (using the "saw-zo" as their nickname for the heavy-duty reciprocating saw). afterwards the members of josh's crew began cleaning while the electricians finished up. joe also instructed one of the guys to put safety stickers on all the equipment; apparently stickers is a pretty big deal. later joe was chatting about the patriots and said this was going to be an off-year because of the new alleged tension between coach belichick and brady's personal trainer guerrero; he said whenever there's internal drama the patriots don't win the superbowl.
by then my parents had already returned home. my father and i were both in the basement when they fired up the inverter for the very first time. there's an LCD screen with diagnostic information. they could see that 13 panels were online and generating electricity (it's working!), but the remaining 11 (those mounted on the sunroom) were still inactive, so there was something wrong with the wiring. but by then it was already 3:30pm and everyone was itching to go home. joe made a judgement call ("watch this," he said), put the cover back on the inverter, and told everyone they were done for the day.
i was a bit stunned, as i figured they'd finish the installation by today. it's not a big deal to have them come back and fix whatever was wrong, but with the christmas long weekend coming up and tomorrow friday being a possible rain and snow day, realistically we wouldn't see them back until tuesday at the earliest. and when i asked joe, he couldn't give me a definite answer either, since he had to ask his project manager as to his schedule for next week. so with that i walked him out. everyone else had already left except for pat who was still sitting in his truck. i waved good bye to him and joe and i wished each other happy holidays.
i only found out that today was the official first day of winter (solstice) when it was mentioned during the noontime weather forecast. performance-wise, this would be the worst case scenario in terms of solar production as we'd experience the least amount of sunlight. but judging from the time-lapse video i shot, it was still pretty good, the roof was still lit for a good chunk of the day, with shadows in the early morning and late afternoon. during the longer summer days, i expect these panels to perform like a champ.
i called lucas immediately after joe left, to give him a status update and to let him know the panels were functioning correctly, and to ask him about the schedule. he said it was normal for panels to have hiccups, but that it was an easy fix, most likely a loose wiring somewhere. as for the schedule, he'd get in touch with the project manager and call me back.
we spent the rest of the afternoon anxiously waiting for lucas to call back. as the electrician turned off the inverter before leaving, we didn't know how to turn it back on to check. it also wasn't online yet. finally close to 5pm i heard back from lucas. he said even with the missing panels, the system was ready to be inspected. he and his project manager were calling belmont electricity today to schedule the inspection. bad news, the inspector went on vacation and won't be back until january; good news, somebody else is taking his place while he's gone. unfortunately they weren't able to get in touch with the backup inspector. lucas said he'd personally go down to the inspection department tomorrow morning to get a ahold of this guy. inspections are from 1:30-4pm, so if he's able to schedule one, he'll let me know. as for fixing the other panels, they'll get a crew to come back next week, exact date to be determined. that means i can go home today and wouldn't have to stay another night at my parents' place. i'd been wearing the since clothes since tuesday and i hadn't fed my fish in 2 days.
originally we thought everything had to be working before the inspection, but if we can pass the inspection beforehand, that's even better in terms of officially dating our installation to 2017. an inspection is probably more important to the solar company because only then can they submit the paperwork and get paid for their work. if anything, lucas is probably more eager to get the inspection than we are. either way, whether it's through an inspection or dated documentation of the panels coming online, there would be proof that installation work was finished this year.
my father left for sancta maria after 5pm to feed my grand uncle for dinner. they have caretakers there to do that, but my father still doesn't know who to ask yet, and in the meantime his constant presence there will ease my grand uncle's transition to the assisted living facility.
while my father was gone, i helped my mother buy a set of takumi interchangeable circular knitting needles. they were selling at $103 on amazon.com, but i found a 3rd party seller through walmart that had them for only $74 plus $15 for shipping (still cheaper than amazon), so we ordered through them. my mother wanted to get them after losing 3 circular needles recently, and don't like the quality of some of the cheaper circular needles i got her a while back (string too thick).
my father came back with burger king takeout for dinner. i was prepared to bike home, but my mother talked me into getting a ride instead, so that we could all stop by the porter square michael's and help her buy some new circular needles with individual coupons. she also bought some yarn as well. they had the takumi interchangeable circular knitting needles for sale, but at $170 not including taxes. only afterwards did i go home. a package was waiting for me on my doorstep (since yesterday). first thing i did was to feed my fish before turning on the heat and taking a shower.
the package was the samsung EVO select 64GB memory card i ordered a few days ago. this will be my new daily memory card for the dSLR (since it's faster) while i swap out the old 64GB card to some other device. i also have a spare unopened 32GB sandisk card.