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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/1/2010

An excellent day on balance, though I fear there's more work for the solar yet to come.

The good news:

  • There were three inspectors who came up together for this particular effort. They'd all been here before and knew that Tanglewood is a bit off the beaten trail, so they (wisely I thought) combined their trips and just brought a single vehicle to the site. Very smart.

  • We passed our final HVAC inspection! Folks might recall that we'd almost passed it a long time ago except for a couple of relatively-minor venting issues for the apartment dryer (the exhaust line was just long enough that the county wanted a fan on it) and some insulation around the apartment propane fireplace wasn't complete. The fan was added and the insulation installed just before the trio of inspectors arrived to look things over.

  • We passed our final plumbing inspection! The plumbing guy had been up here before to check on things when they were in the frame walls, and now he wanted to ensure that water flowed where it was supposed to flow and that the pressure tank worked as it should. Surprisingly, he didn't look at my well at all (since it was a pre-existing installation), focusing instead on the plumbing fixtures that have been installed inside and outside the house. My understanding is that it went very quickly (I was at work so only got an after-the-fact report) and he spent a lot of time just chatting with Colleen while the other inspectors took longer.

  • We passed our final electrical inspection! This was the one I was honestly most worried about, since there are a couple of things (such as a final lights in parts of the house that haven't arrived) that aren't technically done yet, but all he cared about was that the junction boxes were wired correctly and that nothing went *pop* when he flipped a switch. I think he asked a few questions of the electricians regarding wire sizing, but it wasn't too difficult. He did spot a couple of things (grounding-related, I think) that he wanted them to clean up, and so they've got some things to do yet before they're done. He didn't even look at my laboriously-installed ground wire, which both thrilled and annoyed me.
On the minus side though we utterly failed the solar inspection. The same electrician who looked over the house went up the road to take a look at the panels and the wiring and the batteries, and immediately found several things he didn't like at all, though the main issues were apparently various grounding problems. From his online notes:
  • need plans on site
    • smw - This was entirely on us and not the solar contractor; Colleen forgot to grab the stamped plans when she went up this morning.
  • provide paperwork showing Tek screws and Al. lugs approved for bonding;
  • bond rack
  • ID grounded conductors
  • ground lugs not approved for two conductors
  • install grounding electrode for array and inverter
    • smw -We've received some different direction regarding grounding of the system during its installation, regarding whether it's supposed to be done only on one end or both. The solar guy did one; apparently the inspector wanted both. Solar LeRoy is going to have to talk to the county again about this one.
  • PVC not installed correctly
    • smw - Here they didn't like the way some of the lines coming up from the panels were sheathed in PVC, and the splices between the 6 gauge wire and the 4/0 weren't isolated in a junction box. Easy to fix.
  • not dry in equipment shed
    • smw - This was entirely my fault... I haven't gotten the shingles onto the roof yet and we had a bit of ice/snow overnight; the melt was very slowly dripping through the interior roof. Easy to fix.
  • provide venting for batteries
    • smw - My biggest disagreement, since AGM batteries don't actually vent. Basically they want me to cut vents in the shed, which will pierce my excellent insulation sheath. Can't say as I like this much.
  • incomplete positive/negative terminal labeling
  • label A/C and DC disconnects
Fortunately, while there are several issues, we are still allowed to use the solar for power, which was one of my biggest concerns. 

One might wonder why we didn't have Solar LeRoy on site to answer any questions that might have popped up--basically we didn't know the inspections were today! Turned out that the plumbers called in their inspection after getting their testing done yesterday, and the other two inspectors decided to come up and do theirs as well--so while this was all a bit unexpected, we were actually ready enough (obviously) for it to be looked at. But that's why we didn't tell Solar LeRoy--it was a surprise to us, too!

Good to have these out of the way. I'll have to pay a trip fee for the solar inspector to come up a second time, unfortunately (in our county if you fail one of the mandatory inspections you get to pay for the followup), but that won't be too onerous. Hopefully Solar LeRoy will be able to address things this weekend.

Ten days left (new schedule)! Getting close now...

Steven in Colorado Springs

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