The Shipment in Transit

By , April 4, 2015

Our new solar panels arrived in Haines Monday evening, meaning we could pick them up Tuesday. Unfortunately, we had to pick them up—something I hadn’t counted on. The estimate announced that the quoted price included deliver in Haines, but that really means in Haines township, barely outside the downtown area.

Luckily, a neighbor loaned us his pickup, so Michelle and I got the panels and took them to the bay Wednesday afternoon.

Unlike our older array, which are composite solar, light and somewhat flexible, these are monocrystalline solar panels, covered with high impact glass (see Power Shift: The Plan in Place). They’re built to take a licking, yet somewhat fragile to move. And we intended to move them a mile and a quarter over rough ground.

When we opened the packaging, we discovered that the panels weren’t covered. Usually, solar panels come with something to block the cells from producing power. We flipped each one upside down as it came out of the package, and carried them singly across the bay. At our trailhead, we stacked them carefully against a small cliff, cushioned by packing material.

The next day, I started carrying them over the ridge to the cabin one at at time. They’re about 42 pounds each, but over 3 feet by 5.5 feet, and, as I say, fragile. Each trip left me wringing wet and worn out, mostly from the stress of avoiding running into trees along the trail. At two, I had reached my limit. On Friday, I brought in the other two, then went back for a fifth run to clean up the packing material, and lug in the pallet they came on. It’s a nice one, and Michelle has designs on it.

I’m pretty pleased with the panels. True, they’re a bit dinged up, especially on the frames. They were closeouts, and at that bargain price I should have expected some flaws. None of the damage occurred in shipment, this looks like warehouse wear to me.

But, they have black aluminum frames, which I think look pretty cool. When I read the brochure on these panels, it said that the frames would be bright aluminum, but black could be had by special arrangement. I figured that getting the sale price meant settling for the bright, but I got the black instead! That’s so insignificant, but I’m really happy about it.

Today, with the hauling finished, the real work begins: disassembling the old system and assembling the new. Much of the process will simply be switching out panels, but we’ll also install a whole new charge controller, which means having to learn how to do that right, then learning how to use it properly.

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