28 October 2008
Finally! Some time for a real update.
Yesterday and today were a whirlwind of near-OHMYGOD moments. Our cable didn't come in until after our shift was supposed to end yesterday, even though it was ordered on the 20th, promised to be overnighted on the 22nd to be delivered on the 23rd...instead, it was sent by 2nd Day on the afternoon of the 23rd, so yeah. Extra late. We had to go into overdrive yesterday late afternoon in getting those homeruns pulled, and Snow and I put in a 12-hour shift before deciding to pick it back up today. Today he pulled the rest while I went behind him and did crimping and last-minute make up, and at about 07h30 he casually said, "Hurry every chance you get, they're firing up the inverter at 09h00." So of course I panicked and tried to finish crimping with my trembling fingers. Snow had to tell me to be calm at least twice. And it's not that I was afraid of him yelling at me or anything, but the guy turning on the inverter was coming in from California and I didn't want to be the sole reason for the hold up.
So it was awesome that he showed up late. :)
I got done in time, however, and I told Snow that even though he was prolly trying to test how well I can handle stress, it was totally not-awesome to throw that on me. He effectively told me to man up and deal with it. Which, logically, makes sense and I'm learning to be calmer every day but still. I look back to even a few months ago and I'm far better at dealing with things that used to make me freak out but that doesn't mean I need help in finding extra stuff to freak out over. Luckily I recovered fully and we spent the rest of our day checking all the strings in each combiner box for correct polarity and voltage before adding zip-ties to keep the make up neat. That kept us busy til lunch.
Soon after the final combiner box was checked, I did some minor housekeeping on site and got all our tools and material ready to be transported out by the end of today. Snow, meanwhile, met with all the big-name people to get the inverter started up. (It was a group of the casino's in-house electricians and some people who came in from California under our general contractor. I'm glad he handles all that stuff, he knows all the right things to say and do.) So anyway, they all did their thing to get the inverter going and then Snow accompanied the big-name guys while the amperage was checked on each string compared to the irradiance and module temperature.
There were 3 issues, all of which basically were discovered right at the end of the day:
First, one module had no voltage whatsoever. At first it was seriously disheartening, because we had no extra modules. But some investigation showed that the negative cable had simply lost connection the the j-box on the back of the module. We cleared the fault by tucking the cable back in, all snug and tight, and it was fine after that. Second, the inverter voltage was wildly fluctuating. Granted, I wasn't right there when it was tested, so I don't know to what extent, but the changes were "not good". The voltage issue was handled by calling the manufacturer of the inverter who walked Snow through in changing some of the factory settings. Lastly, we had no amperage whatsoever in 12 strings: an entire combiner box. That took some troubleshooting. I went with Snow from area to area, cradling the ammeter, voltage meter, Dr. Pepper (very important) and our troubleshooting sheets. Once we checked all the connections and crimps to everything coming into the 5th combiner box, we traced the problem back to the DC disconnect, and there it was: the fuse was bad.
THANKS FOR THE FUSE, BILLY! (Hahahahahahahaha...no really, we're gonna chuck that fuse at you tomorrow morning so you better duck.)
Fuse was replaced, though not without injury: someone got bit with 300+ vDC. After "oh shit" was uttered, and the new fuse was properly in place, we went back to check our sad little amp-free combiner box...and lo and behold! We had amperage. :D At that moment, all was just awesome, everything was as it was supposed to be, everyone was happy. I didn't get to watch a meter go backwards like I did at the install at Snow's house, but for a project of this magnitude, I was overjoyed that it all worked, and our issues were minimal.
And so that's it. Done. The network isn't in yet for the Fat Spaniel station, so maybe I'll get to be in on that, but as far as the photovoltaic array, we've finished it. It was an awesome job. I loved it; it was fun and exciting and I must say, I love PV more now than I did before. So glad I'm in on this. Which means, of course, that I need more...I'm a solar whore after all...so I think I'm going to make plans to take my NABCEP exam by the end of the year. Maybe early next year, but still, in the next few months. I just have to figure out where and when.
Yay for PV!! :D