Off-grid Power

Black Swan Update – Solar

As we last left our adventure the solar system control module had been declared to have some as-yet undefinable hardware failure and the unit was returned to the manufacturer for repair.  They diagnosed the problem as ants getting inside the unit and shorting out the main circuit board.  I authorized replacement of the damaged component and two weeks later the unit arrived back here.  I was about to leave for a couple weeks worth of travel but quickly reinstalled the unit just to see the system working again.

It did not.

the original installation in 2011

I double checked and confirmed I had wired in the system exactly as it had been done originally and even had the detailed photo to work from.  I spent many, many hours corresponding with the EE who designed the systems and the different EE who helped me install it.  I spent many hours on hold with the tech line and was eventually told with metaphysical certitude that the system could not have been working uneventfully for seven years because the original wiring scheme could not, would not, and did not work according to their engineers.  I sent them the installation photos and asked them to explain how the system had been working fine for all these years if this wiring schematic was as wrong as they said.  I was told that it had never been working given the wiring diagram and photos they saw.  Apparently I have been the direct recipient of a Divine miracle.

When I asked them again to explain my harvesting electrons with this system for seven years they basically hung up on me.

Then I was traveling.  On my return I made the wiring changes that the manufacturer said were necessary for the unit to function.

It still did not work.

After more hours of painstaking troubleshooting on the charge controller wiring circuits, checking everything from the solar panels through the in-line fuses, the underground cable, the system master controls all the way to the buried copper grounding rod with a meter several times to make sure all the circuits were functioning as required, the unit would not power up.  Again I corresponded and spoke at length with the EE who installed this unit and who directed my efforts (he gave me many very specific tasks to check the current between point A and point B, etc.) and in the end we were mystified.

Once again I called the manufacturer’s tech line, and after very little conversation with me but much discussion at their end they decided that my unit had not been repaired properly.  I was told it was probably something simple like forgetting to plug in the ribbon to the display module.  This makes no sense to me unless the fan is also hooked up to the same display module ribbon as NOTHING happened whenever I diverted power to the unit.  Before this episode, even when the unit would not “wake up,” whenever I threw the breaker for the unit there would be a brief burst of fan activity in the load dump function, but this time, nothing.  I remained bewildered as I had been assured the reconditioned unit had undergone two hours of testing, but how could they test it for two hours in this condition?

Whatever the case they sent me a new shipping label and I returned it to them.  Now I wait again.