I love conducting solar site assessments and having that first conversation with a potential client. Often we spend far more time discussing all the ins and outs of going solar with the property owner than is necessary for the solar assessment measurements. One of the questions we always spend some time on is: “How exactly is Run on Sun different than other solar companies?” Here in sunny Southern California this is an important question as there are so many people offering PV solar services. Of course I describe how the products we use are selected for their high quality, warranties, and trust in the manufacturers. I also explain how as a small company with a mission focus, we take a very honest and ethical approach to helping people green their energy. But one of the major ways we stand above all the rest is also a feature that is hard to convey in that first conversation. Hence, the theme of this blog post…
My best answer to the above question, “We have Velvet Dallesandro as our Chief Electrician.”
The work that Velvet does connecting the power of the sun to your electric meter is akin to an art form. But alas, the art of a solar electrician is often hidden behind dead plates and easy to overlook if you’re not paying attention. So here are a few examples of Velvet’s work. She may not be in a Los Angeles art gallery but her work is providing people with beautiful, safe, and emission-free energy across the county!
If you’ve ever looked behind the dead plate on your electric bus (where all your breakers are) you likely were frightened by what you saw. A mess of cables, cobwebs, and sometimes outright dangerous circumstances - like the time I saw one missing its main breaker entirely. However, if Velvet is re-wiring your service panel it may look more like something you could put on your wall with rainbows of color coded wires and perfect 90 degree bends. (Service panel shown at left by Velvet, solar AC disconnect work at right by Ralph Carillo.)
Wiring is far from Velvet’s only art form. How do installers bring solar power from the roof to the electrical service? While the most visually appealing is to hide the magic completely by going thru an attic space and inside walls but sometimes that just isn’t possible.
Velvet doesn’t just throw flex conduit around willy nilly to get the job done quick like some installers. It takes a lot of creativity to make the wiring run as attractive as possible. First and foremost, she always uses galvanized conduit for outside wiring as opposed to flex - it lasts for the long run and it is much more difficult to punch a fire axe through than flex, making it much safer. Second, Velvet avoids piecing together conduit as much as possible. Her goal is to make whatever crazy runs are necessary as seamless as possible - think avoiding possible leaky weak spots at seams. This means she has become a jedi master at bending conduit. Eight bends in one stick of conduit paralleling windows, gutters, or that pretty bush you don’t want to disturb? Not out of the question when Velvet is on the job (or her prodigy apprentice Ralph for that matter).
Beyond the art she’s also an all around rock star. Check out this classic; pulling wire for a 45kW job at Chandler School…(That’s her on the right pulling wire through at least 30 feet of conduit on a 100+ degree summer day.)
She more than pulls her weight! So if you’re looking into going solar take note, there is an art that goes into the details. And the details really do count! Velvet’s wiring is the safest you will find and truly built to last. A rarity in an industry where most companies are trying to race through projects at lightning speed. Bottom line…we are so thankful to have Velvet on our team!
Working as an installer in the solar industry is a wonderful job - you get to help make the world a better place and the work is never boring. But it is also dangerous, combining two of the greatest workplace hazards: falls and electrocution.
We had come across this video before, but it is worth sharing again. Please, if you are an installer, get trained on safety and once you know the rules, follow them. Don’t let that be you staring in the next video!
And for those of you who think installing solar on your roof is a fine, do-it-yourself project, please think again. (Short of getting yourself killed, there are lots of other reasons to leave this to the pros.)
As the Man used to say, “Hey - let’s be careful out there!”
A bit off-topic, but given the wide-spread existence of downed power lines throughout the LA Basin, we thought it would make sense to include this timely advice from LADWP:
LADWP strongly encourages the public to stay away from any downed power lines and poles as well as downed trees and limbs, and protect children home from school today from the same. Beware of traffic signals that may be affected by power outage and proceed with extreme caution. Allow access for uniformed LADWP crews, all of whom carry Department-issued identification cards, so they may service infrastructure in need of repair.
In the event of a power outage:
•Have a flashlight and extra batteries nearby. Don’t use candles in a power outage.
•Turn off lights but leave one light turned on so you will know when your service is restored.
•Turn off and unplug appliances and other electrical equipment. Unplug heat-producing items like irons and space heaters. This helps prevent circuit overloading, which could delay restoration of service.
•Call us and report your outage at 1-800-DIAL DWP (1-800-342-5397). If you encounter a downed power line:
•Report any downed power lines immediately by calling the LADWP at 1-800-DIAL-DWP (1-800-342-5397). If you or someone else is in danger, call 911.
•Do not touch a downed or dangling wire or anyone or anything in contact with it. Always assume a downed line is still energized.
•If a power line falls on your car, stay in the car and wait for help. If you must get out, make sure you do not touch the metal parts of the car and the ground at the same time. The safest exit method is to open the door, stand on the door sill and jump free without touching the car.
•Stay away from metal fences, such as chain link fence, as there may be a power line down and touching the fence somewhere beyond your sight.
•If there is damage to the connection from the power pole to your house, you should go to the electrical box and turn off the main switch or shut off the fuse switch. Again, always assume electric lines are live.
•In case of an electrical emergency, stay calm and think before you act. Don’t become a victim while trying to help others. Call 911.
•If someone is shocked or not breathing, apply cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR.) Then cover the victim with a blanket, keep their head low and get medical attention.
The public and members of the media are encouraged to check the Department’s news site at www.ladwpnews.com and Twitter page, @LADWP, for updates.
For folks not served by LADWP, you can report downed power lines by calling:
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