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Training Haitian Technicians to Install Solar PV Systems

USAID provided a two week hands-on training for real world installations of inverter / battery / PV systems in Boucan Carre, Haiti in September 2009. The hands-on training costs were underwritten by USAID.

Twenty-one Haitian technicians from around the country benefited from attending the training. The first three days of the training, led by USAID contractor SunEPI, consisted of reviewing basic solar electric design, discussing common problems with inverter/battery systems, and drawing out electrical schematics of the solar array and battery bank.

The hands-on training began with a thorough evaluation of facility/hospital loads. This included tracing out all circuits in the building, interviewing staff about the number of hours each load was on, and drawing out electrical diagrams. From this analysis, the electrical loads were divided into three categories:

  1. No-contact loads (sensitive loads requiring clean power, never to be in contact with the generator, but always taking quality power from the inverter)
  2. Contact loads to be backed up (critical loads, fed by generator power when available, but connected to the battery bank when no outside power is available)
  3. Generator-only loads not to be backed up (regular loads, fed by grid or generator power when available, and off when there is no outside power).

While the loads were being reviewed by one team of technicians, another group wired the modules and combiner boxes on the roof, and the third group installed the controllers, inverters and batteries in the power utility rooms. The combined system included the following equipment: a 10 kW solar array, four Outback charge controllers, 84 kWh of Rolls deep cycled batteries, and four Outback inverters.

Once the class had completed the PV installation, and connected the hospital loads to the system, the training resumed and the hospital became a "live laboratory" for the class to work with. Each day the technicians were asked to retrieve information from the PV system's monitors, and through discussions, evaluated if the system was functioning properly. The class discussed and decided what the appropriate set points should be in order for warning lights and horns to come on to indicate low batteries. They learned how to navigate the inverter and controller monitoring in order to collect information for their daily logs. And finally, through multiple days of observation, decided to change some loads from the battery backed-up panel to the generator-only panel as they were proving to be too big for the battery bank and not essential.

This training enables Haitian technicians to install, operate and maintain energy systems at health clinic facilities and hospitals in the country.

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