Funny stories in solar
We installed a flush mount PV system for a woman’s roof that happened to be over her bedroom. Post installation we learned that she was very sensitive to EMFs. She first started complaining about the noise of the Fronius inverter that was mounted to the outdoor wall of her house. An understandable concern. The concern quickly escalated to her sensitivity to EMFs. She explained that she could no longer sleep in her bedroom due to an incredible amount of EMF radiation being emitted from the PV array. We then explained that the current does not flow at night so there are no EMFs, she simply could not believe us. She decided to have us de-install the entire array demanding that we do it free of charge. An equitable conclusion was eventually negotiated...
At one job our installers arrived very early in the morning and had no ability to use the bathroom, so ended up defecating in the woods behind the customer's house. Weeks later, while closing out the customer, he told us that his dog had sniffed it out, rolled in the feces and came back to the house. When he and his wife threw the dog in the tub and started washing it they realized it was human feces, put two and two together in terms of who must've done it, and (this is the weirdest part) said they were laughing hysterically about it!
I took a business trip to India a few years ago to prospect some solar project opportunities and also visit relatives while there. Upon touring some existing rooftop installations with my customer contact in the town of Ahmedabad, he mentioned a problem with local "Vandaro Veda" issues, which in the Gujarati dialects translates to "Monkey Business.” I thought he was referring to issues with the system host or folks in the local community messing around with the panels somehow. What he actually meant was problems with real Monkeys (not human beings) climbing on the panels (many times in large groups) and damaging them in various ways; minimally creating lots of shade too. I've come to learn this is a major problem with solar installations in India, not only with Monkeys but other animals like Peacocks, that interfere with arrays. So much so that there are "Monkey Insurance" products available now!
A hoarder with flytraps and dog hair trails throughout the house decided not to go solar because of the way it will look on the roof.
The tips you need to stand out
It's hard to tell what's funny in solar, but we had to re-drill mounting holes for 15,000 modules out in the field one time, because the project manager downloaded the incorrect datasheet from the company website, instead of double/triple checking with the manufacturer's technical team. I guess that's more sad than funny.
We had to replace 2 MW worth of module product label/stickers because they had an IEC logo instead of UL. That was out in the field, in Colorado winter weather.
One that happened two weeks ago I showed up at a farm and over the fence we were going in to rack up a system and this guy was feeding cows, goats, and a lama. I say hows the lama’s temperament, he says if you see him rear back watch out he’s gonna spit I said yep I know. He also said if he charges you take him to the ground and kick his ass, punch him a few times and he’ll never bother you again. I laughed and he said for real, he did it once beat on the thing on the ground and they’ve been cool ever since. The lama never bothered me.
The fellow wrangled the dogs long enough to get me settled at the table. He wanted me to get to work designing a system. As I cracked my computer and got up and running, the dogs were wrestling under the table to jockey for a position in front of me. Suddenly, I felt a huge wet tongue in my crotch and I looked down to see one of the dogs licking my pants as though it were an ice cream cone! After 20 minutes straight they stopped suddenly and disappeared. I was so relieved! Until I heard twin waterfalls behind me. I turned to see that the entire lanai had been converted into a giant toilet for these two beasts... mountains of poop and lakes of wet spots everywhere across 20 feet of porch.
My stomach turned. Worst part, after an hour long consultation, he signed the paperwork and said with a straight face... can I pay for it in gold!?
We were putting in a 500kw tracker and we subbed out the foundation to a foundation company, I showed up to job, the guy was drilling the second hole, 6’ 12” across, all off a sudden, oil starts shooting up from the ground. We were in the middle of farm country, not near a road or anything. We had called all the underground utility companies, and we thought we struck oil. Then I suddenly understood how that gold lust can change you from a solar aficionado to a ruthless oil barron. What had happened was we struck an underground pipeline. The farmer told us, “Oh must have been one of the pipelines that Shell abandoned in the 30’s”. We called Shell Oil in the central valley, thought it would be VM hell. As soon as I said “oil leak” black helicopters descended. Shell paid for the whole job to be put on hold, and take out 30,000 cubic yards of dirt, it was the size of a major lake, then they brought back new dirt. In the course of doing this, they destroyed the roads, then repaired them. To this day the only record of this happening is a single disclosure form - stating no fatalities.
My inexperienced crew was on the roof, while I was talking to the electrician, and I remember looking up and seeing one of the guys had a huge tube of eco flex - an incredibly sticky sealant. Our customer was an airline pilot who slept at home during the day. His wife called me, thinking it was an emergency. My installer had drilled a hole all the way through the roof, and was pumping this hole full of sealant. He didn’t realize the sealant was dripping through the roof, and covering the sleeping pilot. That’s how we glued our customer to his bed.