Always check your contractors' work

Scott SV Tengah

Like many, I have used contractors to do work on our A54 that we either don't have the time, skills nor tools to do ourselves. This is simply delegation and leveraging our time because we don't want to spend our lives working on the boat full time. We bought the boat to go sailing, not become boat technicians!

However, as I've been reminded again and again, always know what they are doing, why they're doing it and check to make sure they did it right.

This is a bit of a venting post because I had some electricians work on Tengah in southern Spain and they literally did almost everything wrong. And the work was far from free. I won't name them publicly, but if you're in southern Spain and considering electrical work, feel free to private message me and I'll let you know whether you should avoid that particular electrician.

A partial list:

1) They refused to read posts from this forum that I provided to them about the Amel isolated ground system. Their response, "I've been doing this for years, I don't need to read that." Well, installing the solar panels, they connected the solar panel negative to the arch, causing the Amel electrical leak detector to go nuts. Luckily I caught it before too much corrosion occurred.

2) From the MPPT controller, they connected both positive and negative directly to the batteries. For negative, this bypassed the shunt, so the battery monitor completely ignored the solar power output! Worse, for the positive, they wired it to ONE of the batteries. At the time, I had no idea you're supposed to connect charger positive to the load and not the batteries, and especially not one of the batteries. Luckily I caught that before too much damage occurred.

3) Yesterday, I noticed significantly reduced power output from my panels. I have a nearly 1kw array and the MPPT controller was outputting around 250w at midday into lithium batteries that were at 50% SOC. I spent a few hours checking everything, frustrated as hell because solar is just supposed to work without much maintenance. Turns out the culprit was that the electricians put bare wires into and out of the MPPT. So they either were too lazy or did not have the tools to put ferrules on the bare wire ends, which then slowly corroded enough to eventually limit power output. Moreover, one of the positive wire strands was very very close to shorting out!

4)  I asked for a neg/pos pair of wires on the arch from the 24v batteries so I could install a wifi extender in the near future. They provided those wires and two weeks later I was ready to install my wifi extender. For kicks, I put the multimeter to the wires and saw 35 volts! Turns out they connected those wires to the panels and not our 24v battery system. If I didn't check, the panels would have fried the wifi extender. And if they didn't, the wifi extender would have mysteriously turned off at night.

5) Finally, they put the MPPT into the enclosed space where the main battery switches are. With nearly 1000 watts flowing into the charge controller, it certainly heats up. By 4pm, that enclosed space gets over 50c! Now I have to find a way to move and re-wire the MPPT to a location with more ventilation.

I'm sure you have all either had or will have this experience. It almost seems that it takes more time to hire someone to do work on your boat than to do it yourself. But it's a necessary evil, so going forward, I generally educate myself about what they're doing before they're doing it and watch every step of the way to make sure they do it right. Easy for those of you with engineering backgrounds, a bit harder for those of us from the business world. :)

/End Venting

2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah

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