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The weakest link – components of an installation team

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Toodles
(@toodles)
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I have started a new Topic within ASHP’s as I can’t really think of a better, more relevant section.

I have had several projects I have invested in to take me along my renewable energy journey and thought it might be worth a short reflection here.

Having loft insulation was quick, easy, relatively inexpensive and very effective - no bother and just two installers who were in and out in a couple of hours, including fashioning a loft hatch insulating bag. It didn’t take a lot of research and was painless!

However, some projects benefit from a wealth of research before expending the hard earned cash -as we are all aware. Having chosen one’s installer and paid a deposit, it all falls into the lap of the gods and one is at their mercy.

I would like to say that in my own instance, the main projects of solar PV and battery and later,  an ASHP with DHW as a retrofit and doubling battery storage were placed with companies who had well trained and competent installers. However, training and competency of the actual installers also requires good ‘back room’ support.

My experience in both projects was that unfortunately, these teams were let down by a weak link - the Project Manager! Maybe I was unlucky but I found that serious delays were built in to both projects due to the inadequacies of the PM’s inexperience and or inability to realise components needed to be sourced, ordered and in stock before the installation date. I realise we live in a ‘JIT’ culture but when installer teams are sitting on-site in their cars waiting for three days for components to arrive on site, this is not a satisfactory or economic plan!

My projects both took more than twice the estimated time to complete - with substitute make of parts including PV panels and radiators too. Three sets of panel mounting gear were delivered before we had the right ones and I think the PM thought I was being cussed in not accepting the 10 degree angle mounts for the garden when the specified ones were 15 degrees. The interconnects for the microinverters were late in arriving and were the wrong ones first time round - I could go on at great length but suffice it to say, the whole group need to work as a co-ordinated team to ensure an efficient and prompt install. I don’t know whether any of these ideas are incorporated in MCS guidelines but they should be! I ended up with good installations but not without considerable extension to projected install times and considerable inconvenience to us. Regards, Somewhat Grumpy Toodles.

This topic was modified 2 months ago by Mars

Toodles, 76 years young and hoping to see 100 and make some ROI on my renewable energy investment!


   
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(@allyfish)
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I think this is far too common. A mixed bag with me, both from the same renewable installer. ASHP install pretty good, the plumbing team were exceptionally good. They were let down by poor commissioning and handover from Grant. The electrical work was of lesser quality with some shoddy and incomplete wiring to the 3kW LLH immersion back-up heater (Using a green and yellow PE in a 3 core cable as a 240V signal core is shoddy practice, especially when there are other unused conductor cores in another 5 core cable that could have been utilised.) I've only just noticed that, having had reason to pop the cover off the LLH terminals enclosure. The 3kW immersion does not energise anyway as the relay controlled by the ASHP has no neutral connection. It's sending 240V to a relay coil that's floating. I'll fix it when I can free up a couple of hours.

The Solar PV panel installers were quite young, but with a decent on-site installation supervisor. The supervisor was clearly flitting between several local concurrent jobs. The lads seemed genuinely surprised when I said I wanted to climb the scaffold and snag the work, which I did, to find scratched and roughly cut (think dog chewed) support extrusions, inadequately secured bird mesh around the array perimeter and several broken or cracked Roman pan tiles and displaced ridge tile mortar. They had the devils own job finding the tiles - they are now obsolete - and eventually got some at great expense from a reclaim yard. The ridge mortar was made good in a job very well done by the supervisor. The bird mesh was removed and completely redone.

Par for course these days? 🙂 


   
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Toodles
(@toodles)
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@allyfish That is what I feared might be the case beyond my own limited experience; my Solar PV Surveyor was very good except she neglected to look closely enough in the loft space to note the timber construction necessitating a separate survey from an independent company later. Nor did she look as closely at the flat roof as she might. The real rot set in when the PM took over though… I have found (Yes, I know I am a ‘wrinkly’ these days!) that these staff are still wet behind the aural organs, inexperienced and probably only working in the post as a stop gap after Uni. I believe that the managing staff should be supervising their PM’s more closely. In the case of one company, all the teams working here knew the PM on the project was incompetent but they were not in a position (they thought) to complain about this. The PM on the ASHP installation was sacked shortly after my installation!!

Ho-Hum, Regards, Toodles.

Toodles, 76 years young and hoping to see 100 and make some ROI on my renewable energy investment!


   
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(@jamespa)
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My solar PV experience was in 2011 and actually very good in terms of the design/installation itself.  It was done end to end by one guy running his own company.  He surveyed, designed and turned up with an assistant to do the job as promised, and it all just worked.  With my agreement he adopted a slightly unconventional way to mount it on the flat roof (no weights or fixings, just mounted on Unistrut tied back to the wall about 3m behind, angled so that wind forces it down not up).  This has worked just fine.  The system has continued working ever since.  Sometimes small is beautiful!

Where he fell down was information about the requirements for the Feed In Tarif, which resulted in me getting about half the tariff I could have got had I done the right things at the right time.  I'm still 'suffering' from this, but overall its definitely more than paid for itself so I'm no longer upset.  I wasn't actually that upset at the time, because it was fairly obvious that it was going to pay well anyway, in addition to being eco friendly.

 

This post was modified 2 months ago 3 times by JamesPa

   
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(@hughf)
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Project management is a hard task…. My sister has made a career out of in and it’s all encompassing. She works in the charging infrastructure space for a large land/property owner.

Its one of those roles where good ones are hard to find and harder to keep.

Off grid on the isle of purbeck
2.4kW solar, 15kWh Seplos Mason, Outback power systems 3kW inverter/charger, solid fuel heating with air/air for shoulder months, 10 acres of heathland/woods.

My wife’s house: 1946 3 bed end of terrace in Somerset, ASHP with rads + UFH, triple glazed, retrofit IWI in troublesome rooms, small rear extension.


   
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Toodles
(@toodles)
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Posts: 766
Topic starter  

@hughf As it is a ‘Hard Task’ (and I don’t doubt it when I see what a failure my two installer companies staff have been!) it strikes me that someone of a high calibre is required for the demanding task. In my experience (which was confirmed by the staff I spoke to including the MD of the ASHP installers) staff tend to take their eye of the ball when they outta not do so. The Surveyor for my ASHP was sacked for being so lax that he did not ensure stock was to hand and didn’t ever get round to passing on the details we had deiscussed at length, nor did he pass on his survey details to the rest of the staff at the time. Much delay and frustration was the result - I dread to think what might have been the outcome were I not on the ball and directly addressed my concerns to the MD; at this point, he took over with profuse apologies and things started to happen though the installation still took over 3 weeks to commission.

With the PV, the PM just did not care to communicate with the installers nor the customers! I had to nag, send numerous emails, and make umpteen phone calls before she would reply with a short email that always failed to answer the questions or sort out the delays in supplying components, I dread to think what the average ‘consumer experience’ must have been like. About a year after the installation, when an electrician was back (yet again) to sort out the mis-placing of a CT clamp that resulted in incorrect data being fed to the Emphase Envoy, he told me that at the time of carrying out the installation, mine was the largest domestic installation they had worked on and that they were all still learning how to do things! Would I employ that company again ….. let me think NO! Regards, Toodles.

Toodles, 76 years young and hoping to see 100 and make some ROI on my renewable energy investment!


   
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