Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Test

Only got about 4 hours of cutting and welding in today...but you know the drill. Headed out this morning to photograph the BAD solar installation that Ryan fixed today. Following are photos of some of the problems....can you spot them? Answers tomorrow.


Ben in Texas said...

In picture S1.jpg,, there are two wires, Red and Black ouy of the black box ( what ever it is) that are not connected to anything. The solar panel is not aimed at the sun. All 4 or the 20 amp breakers are OFF . Of course not looking at a schematic and not knowing what wire goes where, just guessing.

walter said...

Pic1: jumper bypassing fuse
pic2: if full power coming from panel it should be closer to 14volts?
Pic3: using extension cord
Pic4: post is casting shadow on panel
Pic5: AC circuit breakers instead of DC
Pic6: i don't see anything?

Spork said...

In the last photo, looks like the boxes were set up for conduit and instead they used romex, looks like the romex is probably hanging loose below the boxes (should be clamped). I don't like those dangling ground wires either...

denziel56 said...

Hey jw, I've seen worst for sure!
Its not as bad as it could be.
your first shot ,

they shunted out the in-line fuse with a # 2 N.E.M.E. cable (lol)

CHARGE VOLTAGE FROM SOURCE TO METER SHOULD BE 14.4 TO 17.VOLTS DC on a 12 volt system. the "charge arrow" should be pointing up , not down!

Solar panel ; improper alignment and on top of that it's got shade on it.

Running piggy-backs on a single phase A/C panel / need to go to 1" 15 amp A/C breakers for code . correct , Also there not fully engaged to the buss bar and / or they used other than recommended breakers look close you will see that the bottom of breaker is not " seated " correctly with the blank face. and we already know this to be true "wrong breaker's" for a small inverted . ok we will move on ,

I believe the owner has expectations exceeding his design capacity and selection of a good contractor / consultation for code correct installation on original installation. The board looks good but only a 12 X 1500 watt inverter ???

I don't have battery info but looks like a type T-105 225 amp-hour 6 volt battery configuration . questions I can't answer because of privileged information ????

how many strings and how long are they ? what are the charging amps available to charge the banks or bank ? what are the amp-hours on the bank , with this info I might give ya a good answer !


denziel56 said...


photo # 3

Poor "craftsmanship" with entry cables and service entry or diversion load , really don't know what I'm looking at ,
just more problems for the future !!!
Poor cabling skills.

czardastx said...

Dang, denziel56 took the words right out of my mouth. ;)

Just kidding, but I like his answers.

anonymous said...

Looks good to me, but my best Sgt. Schultz accent...I know nothink. Well, actually I know a lot of things, but not about this subject. LOL

denziel56 said...

Took another look at the charge meter,

It dose "not" have an arrow for reference. the V = the voltage = 13.5 volts and indicates a full charge on battery condition and status. Voltage is low, myself I would do a "specific gravity" on all of the battery's cells in the bank and make sure you don’t have a bad cell! One bad battery /cell will discharge all other batteries in the bank string to equalize down to the suspect battery. when replacing battery’s try and go with new one's all around to avoid premature battery failure and keep a log on your service scheduled .this will ensure a longer than expected life out of them .

I love a challenge!


denziel56 said...


I also see they are using CH breakers in a Square D Homeline panel. this line of panels are known to be "univerisal" they are not exactly the same . thats one reason the dead front is not seated correctly in photo 3 .

The cord cap feeder on the A.C out is fine because there are no main lugs to tap the A/C voltage.
just a N.E.M.A. straight bade 5-15 or 5-20 built in receptacle on the inverter.

Thats about as much as I can see from the pictures shown.

frann said...

I am getting nervous!! Where do you buy an idiot proof solar kit?? Am also thinking about vertical wind turbine..I like the look and not so much shiney stuff.

Jayce from Rochester said...

At first, I didn't get a bead on what's going on. Curious that pictures don't tell the whole story. But after a bunch of clues, I think I have one more: it appears that the panel frame ground is connected to the panel + red wire (charmingly, using a wire nut covered in electrical tape).

John said...

I'm no expert (far from it) but here's my thoughts:

1: If everything going into those two blocks is red, which would indicate it's positive, then why would they need a fuse between the blocks? Seems a 000 jumper would be a much better solution.

2: If that voltmeter is on the output side, I'd think it would be 12-12.5V, not 13.5... which one could charge batteries with.

3: Okay, that one scares me. Electrical tape, wire nuts -- why is there a ground wire coming out of the positive lead? It's a mess and hard to determine, really.

4: Post is casting a shadow on the panel. Nice that they nibbled off the front post at an angle, but what about that rear one? Or am I missing something else obvious?

5: All the breakers are off. (Or, again, I'm missing something).

6: Holy mother of... conduit -- any conduit -- would be nice here, as well as using a proper ground instead of the 12G stuff running from box to box. God knows where that 120V out from the inverter is going, but it should certainly be hard-wired to a usable bus or 120V panel. Oh, wait -- I see -- they used a short extension cord from the inverter to the left breaker panel.

czardastx said...

I noticed on picture one that it appears that the middle wire is going from one side of the fuse to the other, thereby making the fuse useless. Also all of that red electric tape, so much and there's still bare metal on the connection parts of the wires.

The picture with the voltmeter. It's designed to be used with a car by plugging it into your cigarette lighter. I googled the product name and model and found that little tidbit of info. Knowing that I can now see that it's actually plugged into a power point plug.

The third pic, is this the back of the solar panel? Should there be a connector instead of this snake's nest of over taped and scary ground wires.

I agree with everyone about the shadow being cast over the panel and shading about 10% of it. And something I'm just curious about. Why did they cut the bottom post after it was painted and only cut a small amount off? Also, are the posts buried in the ground. Should they have put it on a movable support like John has done with his?

The pictures of the breakers. If you look closely the breaker box information is in Spanish and the breakers are in English. Obviously they can't communicate with each other and therefore don't work as efficiently as and English/English or Spanish/Spanish set up would. All kidding aside, like has been said, the breakers don't seat correctly in the opening.

Last picture, about those small wires going from breaker box to Tri Star (?) box to breaker box. Are they bare copper wires?

I may have missed it all and be way out in left field (and we're not even playing baseball). Electricity and wiring never has been my strong point.

Gavin said...

Okay, I think everyone is almost there on these but I am going to throw in my two cents worth:

Picture 1: Bridging a fuse like that doesn't make much sense. If the circuit overloads then one of the leads might melt and catch fire.

Picture 2: Like others have said if this is measuring the charge side of the circuit then it's too low, if it's on the output side then it's probably acceptable. However the meter is a piece of crap for a solar rig. Oh and are all the LED's lit?

Picture 3: Behind the Solar Panel. Okay... Positive joined to Red. Negative to Black and Ground. But why didn't they go into the junction box to install this wiring and isn't that negative lead a little small (looks like 5 amp lamp wire).

Picture 4: Again like other have said that shadow is going to reduce the output considerably... by at least 10%. If the other post was there then double that.

Picture 5: LOL. Those look to be on the feed to the charge controller from the panels. So not only do they not fit the box but they should be rated for 12v usage.

Picture 6: Ouch! As everyone else said "where's the conduit", and you have to wonder what use those ground connections are on the charge circuits? I am not terribly convinced by any of those boxes suitability to handle 12v loads.

I hope you can clean that all up.

Anonymous said...

I dont really know about electrical like denziel does, but I think he hit everyting right on. maybe because he consults for these type of installations for a living you think?

only thing I might dare to add is that the pannel is facing north it looks like from the shadow. big no no?

Baytown Bert said...

Boy, this is interesting. When I first looked at the photos, everything looked okay to me, not knowing different.

I got an education on this one. Thanks for posting it, John and all the answers everyone.

neil said...

Found lots of good articles here...,6&energyapplicationid=4