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Overhang Okay?

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  1. #1
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    Default Overhang Okay?

    Long story short my solar system was installed in 2008. Due to ongoing failures and sudden legal letters from the installer I have had reason to take a far closer look at the installation than I should need too. Amongst the items I have found, which are literally hundreds, I have been told the current installation overhanging the gutter is incorrect. Picture is attached. Can anyone verify this was not permitted in 2008 and preferably what standard or other statutory documents this may void?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails solaroverhanggutter2.jpg   solaroverhanggutter3.jpg  

  2. #2
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    It's far too close to the gutter.

    The problem this will cause is of a plumbing nature rather than electrical / solar per se. When it rains heavily, you'll have a flow of water coming off the panels which misses the gutter and ends up on the ground. It won't happen with drizzle, but will during heavy rain. Water doesn't fall straight down when it's got some momentum - just think of what happens with a garden hose. Turn it on fully and hold it in your hand pointing straight ahead, the water will travel a fair distance horizontally before it hits the ground. Same with rain coming off the panels - it will go over the gutter rather than in it.

    I don't know what the actual distance required is (I'm an electrician but I don't do solar) but it needs to be further up the roof to avoid this problem.

    Whether or not any official inspector would defect the installation based on this I'm not sure. Electrically it's not a problem, but most electrical inspectors would realise that it's going to cause a plumbing issue being that close and may well object on that basis since clearly the installation isn't right even if it's not electrically dangerous as such. At the very least, they'd spot this problem and go looking for other issues on the assumption that if there's one obvious problem then quite likely there are other things that have been done incorrectly as well. The old "you never have just one rat - only question is where the others are hiding" theory.

    As for the legal threats, who are these coming from? I can understand a power distributor (company that owns the poles and wires), electrical inspector, local council or even an electricity retailer (who you pay for electricity) making a fuss if something isn't right but it would seem rather odd if the actual installer is complaining - they did the work after all.

    As for the failures, what exactly has failed? I assume you mean the system stopped working?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
    As for the legal threats, who are these coming from? I can understand a power distributor (company that owns the poles and wires), electrical inspector, local council or even an electricity retailer (who you pay for electricity) making a fuss if something isn't right but it would seem rather odd if the actual installer is complaining - they did the work after all.

    As for the failures, what exactly has failed? I assume you mean the system stopped working?
    The system overall has suffered inverter failures.
    The legal threat was from the installers when I wrote questioning the third failure in as little time and I was not prepared to pay for it to be fixed as it failed one month past warranty expiry. The response was an email from their legal counsel. This was very odd as I have complained about all sorts of things and often had issues escalated and not once before did I have an answer from a legal person. Let alone one that started I am the legal consel for and your email has been forwarded to me. So I started looking at why the response was so 'intimidating' in the wording. What else was wrong and once I started I didn't stop as every single thing I looked at was not right. I even have an improvement notice from the Power Inspectors on the system. In the course of the investigations I have done the location of the panels over the gutter came up. Something else not correct. To put this in perspective, I think my investigation took about 8 weeks. In the 8 weeks every single day for the last 4 weeks I found something not right.

  4. #4
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    Inverter - what brand? I'm guessing it's something cheap and nasty? Or is it failing due to excessive voltage, a consequence of too many panels wired in series?

    Faulty workmanship - get Workplace Standards (or whoever is responsible for electrical licensing and inspections in your state) involved and give them full details of who supplied the system etc. In theory at least, they ought to require the installer to rectify their faulty workmanship.

  5. #5
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    That legal stuff is a bluff. Maybe I shouldn't say it but that sounds like a foreign or chinese response!

  6. #6
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    The inverter brand is Fronius. I agree the answer sounds something like a third world company not a true Australian company. I have had Western Power do an inspection and even after they saw this they sent me a letter saying nothing wrong with their work. The inverter is failing as it is cooking located in full sun nothing to do with the brand, just bad installation and I admit unclear manufacturers instructions. This has gone on so long now I am contemplating action in small claims court.

  7. #7
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    Location in sun - not a good idea especially if it's in the sun at the same time as it's under full load. Eg panels and inverter both facing the same direction. It wouldn't be so bad (though still not ideal) if the panels faced East and the inverter faced West or vice versa. At least then you don't have sun + internal heating at the same time. Still better to keep it in the shade however.

    But given the very short lifespan I'm wondering what voltage it is being fed? Are you sure that the open circuit voltage of the panels is within the inverter manufacturer's specifications? If not then you're just asking for trouble.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
    But given the very short lifespan I'm wondering what voltage it is being fed? Are you sure that the open circuit voltage of the panels is within the inverter manufacturer's specifications? If not then you're just asking for trouble.
    Good point...I'll ask my electrician brother to do a math model for me to check. Thanks.

  9. #9
    Old Chippy 6K
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    AHH OLD POST - I'll get back in my box . . .

    Your panels are already showing sign of damage at the lower edges - water is building up and that will corrode the panel frame and if it gets into the laminate then the panels will fail sooner than they should too.

    Fronius is a good solid and reliable brand - but this is about shoddy installation and poor design. All manufacturers advise not to install in full sun - even Chinese ones and the Australian Standards also require that.

    An inverter is a largely solid state device - heat is the enemy of electronics and as Smurf said no inverters should installed in any place here it will get full sun - at any time of the day. They can be shaded so long as care is taken not to block airflow in doing so.

    This is fair treading matter - so get WA fair trading involved and if their is an electricians licensing Board get in touch with them too.
    Advice from me on this forum is general and for guidance based on information given by the member posing the question. Not to be used in place of professional advice from people appropriately qualified in the relevant field. All structural work must be approved and constructed to the BCA or other relevant standards by suitably licensed persons. The person doing the work and reading my advice accepts responsibility for ensuring the work done accords with the applicable law.

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