When Hurricane Hugo hit the island of Puerto Rico in 1989, Homar and his family were amongst those affected. They were left without electricity for four months, and without drinking water for six months. This experience left a big impression on young Homar. In school, he would often ask why no technology was available to make the island of Puerto Rico stormproof.
Homar eventually went off to college at Colegio de Mayaguez where he joined a solar-powered car club and his curiosity for solar power was reignited. When Homar graduated as an electrical engineer and moved into his own apartment, he successfully accomplished his dream: he made his own home stormproof.
For over 17 years Homar has been working as a solar installer at his company, EcologicalAll Energia Solar, and today, Homar is making other people’s houses stormproof, just like his, through solar energy. “Everyday there are power outages [in Puerto Rico], my house is on.” Homar shares.
Photo of Homar (credit: EcologicAll Energía Renovable Solar)
After Homar first installed his solar energy system at home in 2008, he could not have been happier. “I have my system installed since 2008, so you can just imagine all the money I have saved in electricity bills.” he proudly shares. Homar even bought himself an electric vehicle.
However, one of the biggest tests came in 2017 when Hurricane Maria struck. With winds reaching 160 mph (258 kph), Hurricane Maria became the deadliest hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history. Due to his solar installation, during the storm and throughout the aftermath, Homar was able to keep operating 24/7 with no problem. Homar said that the key aspects of his solar installation that allowed him to do this were his batteries and solar inverter. At that time, solar and battery storage systems were controversial in the industry due to their high price. But, after swiftly passing the test that was Hurricane Maria, all the critics were silenced. Not only are solar batteries and inverters in high demand now, but after Hurricane Maria even past customers personally thanked him for helping them setup such a pivotal system in a time of crisis.
Photo of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria
A Robust System with History
Ever since Schneider Electric products became available in Puerto Rico in the late 2000’s, Homar has been using them because he said they are great for the conditions on the island. He specifically mentioned the XW Pro, “I have been working with the XW inverter, if I am not mistaken, since 2008 or 2009 when they arrived in Puerto Rico and since then I have stayed with the XW because it is a strong, robust inverter that withstands voltage problems.” He adds matter-of-factly, “The main advantage is that is a proven product.”
Because Schneider Electric has been so established in the market, Homar highlighted the continuous support he receives from the company. He said that Schneider Electric has a good warranty policy, and an installer is almost guaranteed that the company will still be in the market in the future as opposed to smaller, less stable businesses.
Photo of Homar making a Schneider installation (credit: EcologicAll Energía Renovable Solar)
How Installers can Keep You Safe
When asked how the effects of Hurricane Maria affected Homar’s work, Homar explained that the demand for solar installations has increased greatly. Naturally, this has led to an increase in competition in the solar installation market too. While healthy market competition has great benefits for homeowners, Homar reminds us of the importance of safety that have arose because of this as well.
Homar explained that some homeowners try to take on solar installations as Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects to save on cost. This can be quite challenging for everyday homeowners as installing solar power systems involve dealing with electrical circuits that require professional expertise to prevent serious damage or potential accidents.
Homar recalled another job, where a customer had their solar panels installed by an uncertified installer. Over time, the solar panels began to turn black which is when Homar came to inspect the system. It turned out that the system was poorly installed, which resulted in the solar panels beginning to burn. Fortunately, Homar was able to detect this in time and avoided a house fire had it been left unchecked.
For solar installations, Homar emphasized the importance of conducting your own research and find an installer who is certified and experienced to do a good job. You can also find a list of our preferred installers here.
The Future for Homar
Moving forward, Homar plans to continue what he has been doing. Homar loves his job so much, he views it as a hobby. When he wakes up each morning, he likes knowing that he is making a difference in people’s lives. This is part of the reason why he has even installed donated systems in lower income households.
Homar tells us almost philosophically, “When the last river dries up, when the last fish has been caught, when the last tree has been cut down, we are going to learn that money cannot be eaten…there are people who prefer to spend money on beer or on other things where there is no return on investment. Solar energy is not only something that recovers the investment of the money you invest, you are investing to have a better planet for you and for your children, for your grandchildren, we also have to think about that. ”
Decades down the line when all is said and done, Homar wants to be remembered as a pioneer that helped bring solar energy to Puerto Rico.
If you want to contact Homar you can send him an email at email@example.com or visit his Facebook page by clicking here.
Editors’ Note: All direct quotes have been translated from Spanish to English.