Another early morning for the Eco Action team! Driving in to Native Land, it was so amazing to see the other installation sites that GRID had already completed through their partnership with the Spokane Tribe. So many community centers and houses gleamed with solar as we drove past. It felt so good to see what GRID had already accomplished, and I was excited to begin another work day!
Today we were lucky to be joined by the Spokane tribal high school’s physics teacher and three students, one of whom lived just across the street from our work site. We compared classed and post high school plans, and sought out the shade under the eaves together when water breaks were called.
We also wired together the micro inverters which will lie under the panels and convert each panel’s current from AC to DC to be used in the home’s outlets and lighting. In the afternoon we began hoisting the solar panels themselves! By tying ropes to one end of the panel, the ground crew was able to safely pass the panels up to two roof team members who are always attached via harness to anchors on the roof ridge line. Once the panels are placed above a micro-inverter before firmly clamping them onto the racking, the angles and spacing are double checked for clean alignment. Everything was coming together and wires were cut for the connection from the PV array to the service panel!
Today was another hard day of work, but very fulfilling! As this trip was my third solar install, I am always surprised by how much more there is to learn. Today I discovered that every part of the solar panel system that is attached to the roof must be torqued to a certain tightness in order to meet electrical guidelines. However, it should not be torqued to the fullest tightness, as the solar panels must be free to bend and flex slightly with the wind so that they do not crack. Everything that is torqued down is then marked with a silver sharpie, so that everyone on the build site knows what has been done and what still needs to be tightened. Working alongside both GRID staff and tribal members is so valuable, and allowed me to gain so much knowledge about solar installations. By the end of the day, most of the racking and wiring was done on the main roof and we had started placing the railing on the second, smaller roof.
After meeting up with the other part of our crew, we all decided to drive down to a river that we were told had a deep watering hole. After following some long dusty roads through beautiful land, we found the spot, and had some well deserved time in the cool river, looking for patterned rocks and tiny fish. We all crawled into our tents happy and sleepy that night!