Aug 13, 2015

I Installed Solar with Grid Alternatives!

Location: 1948 Capitol Avenue Northeast, Washington, DC 20002, USA
The other volunteers and me posing with the finished product
August 8 was a big day for me because I did my first solar install! Since starting my blog, I've seen a lot of solar, visited numerous sites, and even watched installs. However, I've never done it myself.

Grid Alternatives--a group that offers "renewable energy technology and job training accessible to underserved communities"--organized the installation. They brought all the tools, worked with the homeowners, provided lunch, and provided the training (both on-sight and in an earlier group session). Grid began in California in 2001 and only recently expanded to Washington DC in Fall 2014. 

The single-family home we were working on was just northeast of Galludet University in Ivy City. Here are a few notes about the day:  
  1. There were nine of us total. The Grid crew (Serena, Sal, Antwon, Aaron, and Henri) and volunteers (Himali, Anna, Alex, and me). This was actually a lot less than usual, which allowed the volunteers to get a lot of training.
  2. It was a good workout. We wore hard hats and our harnesses the whole time. Taking them off at the end of the day was a huge relief. We used cable that attached to body harnesses. The cables were then attached to the framing of the roof. This whole situation is know as a 'yo-yo' and can make for some great resistance training. The roof was pitched at about 25 degrees and I felt it in my calves and quads afterwards. 
  3. We installed twelve 250 watt panels (totaling in 3000 watts capacity). Putting the panels in place was a small part of the installation. Most of the time went into the prep work (pulling wire, setting the framing, installing the microinverters, etc.). 
  4. What boosted my day the most was that the home owners were there. It was clear that they were appreciative of the work and would not have been in a position to install solar if it had not been for Grid. Their teenage boy asked a bunch of questions and wanted to show off all of his basketball and weightlifting skills.   
If you're at all into solar or want to give back to your area, see if Grid has a chapter near you. I would highly recommend it.

Below are two videos. One is a time lapse of us putting the panels down shot on an iPhone from the Grid truck across the street. I can be seen on the right and bottom at the end of the video. The second is a video I made to capture the day in photos and some short videos.