Going Solar – Part 4: Installed, but still waiting

Yesterday I received a note from my solar project contractor that they had everything required for installation and would be on-site this morning to begin. I was unable to be home, but they said that it wasn’t necessary for me to be there as everything was done from outside the house.

When I arrived home this evening I found 10 panels attached to the roof right where I had expected to find them. What I didn’t expect to find was all the electrical connections made, as I had assumed that the inverter would be mounted indoors and there would be a followup visit by an electrician. Once again I found myself surprised by differences in building conventions – everywhere else I have lived all the electrical interfaces downstream of the meter (breaker boxes, main cutoffs, etc..) are located indoors, but in the high desert of southern California at least it is very common to have these items located outside.

First impressions are very positive – the panels are visible when approaching the house but are not distracting in any way. The installation appears to have been done by a contentious crew, based on the simple observation that on a day with high winds there was no sign left that anyone had been there – no footprints around the edges of the house, no leftover packaging or debris, not even any ladder marks that I could see. Somehow, though, it feels a bit of a letdown that after all the waiting it happened so quickly.

Yet there is more waiting to come. Although the final inspection is scheduled for tomorrow morning, I’ve been advised that it will take nearly a month for the utility to issue a permission to operate letter after they receive notice that the inspection has been passed. That letter is the final thing needed to be able to turn on the system; until it is issued I only have a set of fairly expensive pieces of glass and circuitry mounted as not-overly-original artwork on my roof.

So the waiting continues….

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