Solar System Installed

It’s been an interesting, sometimes frustrating week, which has resulted in me being housebound, fortunately this time not for health reasons, but I have been limited in what I could do.

I forgot to mention in previous posts, that we have an unwanted lodger, it has been running around in the roof for weeks, our roof here consists of Spanish tiles, sitting on timber 1/4″ planks, with a black tar paper in between, from all the scratching, my concern is that whatever it might be is damaging the tar paper and rain will damage the roof timbers.

Our friend and contractor, Jaime has been out, and he and Marcela believe it is bats, but I am not convinced, because at night they normally roost, and from the sounds, I believe there is only one animal, and it can move fast between the tiles and roof. It’s driving me nuts. Anyway last week, we believe we found the entrance

where Jaime removed the tiles and replaced the tar paper from an earlier leak, there is cement missing, and access for anything smaller than an elephant, which leaves a lot of options. Whatever it is has enough strength to move tiles.

The plan is for Jaime and his team, to come, strip the roof of all the tiles, clean any animal waste, repair any damage, cover the roof in poison, and also pads filled with peppermint oil, and then replace the tiles. Unfortunately shortly after that decision was made, Jaime was taken ill, at one point he had to have a Covid test, which fortunately was negative, now we wait until he can slot us in.

Last week we received a phone call to say that the Solar Team would be coming to start work on Saturday, and the installation should be complete in two days!
Saturday arrived and so did they, the Engineer along with an Assistant, who was given the title of Technician, albeit his real title was Odd-Job, I’m not decrying his work, as he did a good job whilst here, but it was an odd set-up.

The Engineer had come up the day before on Public Transport from Bogota, stayed in a Hotel in Medellin and teamed up with the local ‘Technician’ who provided transport and muscle power.

On their arrival, the equipment was unloaded, and I immediately noticed there were no energy storage batteries, I asked the question a couple of times, but received no reply.

The first job was the installation of the panels, we had chosen the Cabaña / apartment as the site, but after a few minutes Marcela called me, the Engineer was asking if they could use the carport roof instead, as our tiles were fragile… yep, you’re right he was breaking them, considering I had seen photos of their installations, and he had said it wouldn’t be a problem, this surprised me. When Jaime works on the roof he removes the tiles as he goes clearing a pathway, this Bloke was walking across them, in the process he had broken a couple, fortunately I have a supply of spares, and he later replaced them.

Work commenced in earnest, but it wasn’t a fast process, as the panels had to be adjusted to receive sufficient sun to provide the correct voltage.

Sunday, they were back, but had come on a Scooter, so Marcela and I were naturally concerned, as there were still no batteries.

They installed the Invertor which I decided to put in the washing area, as it is undercover and out of plain sight.

Apparently this is the most expensive part of the whole system, as it is the brains! While this was going on Marcela found out the truth about the batteries, when the Engineer arrived at the Hotel in Medellin, he asked the Staff if he could charge the batteries, and they said they would be secure in the Hotel car park, to be honest… this is Colombia! anyway when he came back for them, they had gone, and no one was very helpful, making it look as if Hotel Staff were behind the theft. As a result he had to source more special batteries.

Due to the delay, whilst he had tried to find the batteries, work did not move forward as hoped, and the Assistant left mid day, because he wanted a beer! The Engineer finished about 7pm, and decided to find a Hotel locally, and go back to Medellin early Monday to collect the batteries.

So I gave him a lift down to town, on my way back, I was approaching the turn to our lane, and as always I gave plenty of indication, because the turn is just after a blind bend, I stopped for a stream of oncoming traffic, the Taxi behind me stopped, then a few seconds later I heard the crash, and a motorcycle came sliding down the road past me, followed by the Rider, he had hit the back of the Taxi!

I knew I had to stay put for Transito (local Traffic Police), so I went and put warning triangles out so there wasn’t a pile up, then phoned Marcela, to let her know I would be late.

I then turned my attention to the Motorcyclist, fortunately unlike many, he had a leather riding jacket, but although he had denim jeans, he had these fashion ones full of holes, so he did have scrapes to his legs, and a sore wrist, he said a passing motorcyclist had gone over his leg, whether it did or not, I don’t know, no one else saw it. However he was more shaken up by the experience than injured.

There were a lot of people standing around with phones out, so I think we all thought someone had called for Transito, it turned out they hadn’t.

I then saw Marcela appearing out of the gloom, trotting at a fair lick, by the light of her cellphone, she hadn’t even stopped to pick up a torch, bless her! She like me, was worried, because Transito have a reputation for pinning the blame on a Foreigner if one is involved, whether they are at fault or not, however we have a forward facing camera in the car, so I could have used that in my defence.

It was pointed out to the Motorcyclist that he was at fault, and he accepted that, he offered to pay for the damage to the Taxi, and everyone was ‘happy’, 8it turned out that the bike, other than missing a couple of lights, was still rideable, so we all went on our way.

Monday came, we had a call from the Engineer to say, he had the new batteries which were charging in a secure location, whilst waiting, he had gone to talk to the Service Provider, to see what was locally required to connect to their lines, he asked if we could get hold of our Electrician to be at the house at 2pm for an onsite meeting, to establish what cables went where.

Marcela spoke with our Electrician Hugo, who said he would do his best to be here, and bless him, he arrived on time and before the Engineer, who arrived ten minutes later, in a Taxi with the batteries in the back.

The two of then spent hours trying to get the equipment to connect and work, it turned out that the problem was that from the meter in the street, they ran 220v via two cables to the house, and the fuse boxes of which there are three, one in each building all had 220v entering them, but then ran a 110v system, after they had that figured, the Engineer carried on with his work, whilst Hugo drew up a wiring diagram, which would have to be then drawn up on CAD for submission to our supplier.

Hugo eventually left, with our thanks, he said out of the hearing of the Engineer, that if the problems to continued the following day, to give him a call, he gave the Engineer a lift down town to a Hotel, again. Not the one we had recommended as he thought that was too expensive, we thought so to when he told us the price.

Yesterday, I had to go into town early, so I picked up the Engineer, firstly after buying come cable, we went for breakfast, Marcela and I were both concerned because he was like a stick insect, and even though she had prepared meals for him, he never seemed to clear his plate, he was hyper, and work obsessed, he had a breakfast, then it was back home for work.

To move things along a bit, I helped with the cabling, and clearing up, by mid afternoon, the work was done to the Engineers satisfaction, he tried to explain everything to us, but t5o be honest a lot of it was technical, and went straight over our heads, it is going to take a while, before we master how the system works, but hopefully it will be a worthwhile investment… Now we need a powercut, and you can bet it will be weeks before we get one!

Published by Phil Sale

I moved to Colombia from Spain in 2012, and I am happily married to a Colombiana.

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