Welcome to the
Run on Sun Monthly Newsletter

Run on Sun - the source for Pasadena Solar Power

In this Issue:

August, 2019

Volume: 10 Issue: 8


We came to work on August 15th, expecting to spend a busy office day. We had lots to do - proposals to get out the door, site evaluations to schedule, blog posts to write, and the usual crush of emails that always awaited us once we got off the roof. But this day was to be different, because on this day we discovered that our domain for over ten years, runonsun.com, had been hijacked!

What exactly did that mean? Well for one, it meant that we could no longer send or receive email from that domain - so prospective clients who were trying to communicate with us, got bounced emails for their troubles. For another thing, it meant that our website, including our blog, vanished from view, without a trace, as if it had never been there at all! And the final blow - our client relationship management system, which we built ourselves from the ground up and which held all of our information about prospective, present, and prior clients - was inaccessible! Talk about a four-alarm fire to kick off your morning!

So how could this happen?

That's a darn good question. It appears that someone, somewhere, had access to our login credentials at Network Solutions (our former domain registrar), as well as an old, abandoned Yahoo email account that was used when the NS account was established. With that combination of information, they were able to transfer control over the domain to a registrar in China - the notorious bizcn.com - where the domain was parked, pointing to nothing.

Presumably the point of this exercise was to demand a ransom, but if that was the intent, the hijackers were two clever by half. Once the domain no longer pointed to our hosting servers, any ransom demand bounced just as hard as those erstwhile client emails. So there's that.

We contacted both NS and bizcn and found both of them to be remarkably blase about what was to us nothing short of a disaster. Hits to the website went to zero (and so did requests for site evaluations), the phone stopped ringing, and keeping up with email was no longer an issue. Finally we convinced NS that the swap was fraudulent, and they conveyed that to bizcn, who then insisted that they needed a court order or a formal domain dispute proceeding before they would turn the domain back to its rightful owner. (We still have no idea who was behind the hijacking - bizcn knows, but they aren't talking.)

With the realization that this could be a long process, with no guarantee that bizcn would ever turn over our domain (they have made a name for themselve by, among other things, hosting illegal online pharmacies that have helped fuel the opiod crisis), it became clear that we needed a plan B. Enter, stage right, runonsun.solar!

Going forward…

So who knew that there was even a .solar domain? Well the clever people who work for me did, and so we registered runonsun.solar. That was the easy part. Next came modifying the website and blog so that they would work with the new domain—we think we are good, but if you see a glitch, please let us know. Then trying to convince Google that our content, even on a new domain, is worthy of ranking highly in search results. (We cannot simply tell Google to treat us as if we are runonsun.com since without control of the domain, we cannot provide the redirection codes that Google requires - rightfully - to do that. Grumble.) And then there was getting all of our email addresses to work. And getting the CRM to work. And trying to track down all those places that point people to us, to change those links.
Yeah, exactly, a nightmare.

So, we are dragging ourselves back from the abyss. Google Analytics reports that we had about 15% of normal site traffic in the last couple of days - we even received a site evaluation request! One, woot!! - but all of that is better than zilch, which is where we were a couple of weeks ago. With some luck, this Newsletter will actually make it to most of your inboxes, though I fear it will become spam filter fodder for many. Sigh.

But rumors of our demise are premature. The last two weeks turned a promising month into a tumultous disaster, and special thanks to our clients for their understanding as we had to prioritize our ability to function going forward, even if it took our installment schedule and threw it into a cocked hat.

To the jerk(s) who are behind this hijacking, know this: You Failed. (I'm guessing this failure is not a first for you.) Run on Sun, thanks to my valiant colleagues and exceptional clients is alive and well and we will be better than ever.

Everyone else, tell your friends. Run on Sun is back! Watch this space!

“Everyone else, tell your friends. Run on Sun is back!”

Free Run on Sun Solar Site Evaluation - Click here

Get your copy of
Commercial Solar:

from Run on Sun
Founder & CEO
Jim Jenal
Purchase Commercial Solar: step by step
Now available on Amazon.com
in both Print & Kindle versions.

Help Us Spread the News!

Like Run on Sun on Facebook

Follow Run on Sun on Twitter

Return to Newsletter Archive | Return to ROS Home

Headline for Story 2

FIRE! Walmart Sues SolarCity/Tesla Over Rash of Solar Fires!

On August 20th, Walmart sued Tesla Inc, alleging "widespread negligence" in the installation and maintenance of systems on something like 240 Walmart stores across the country, resulting in 7 fires!  Is this a uniquely SolarCity/Tesla problem?  Are rooftop solar installations invariably unsafe?  Or is there a design difference that can make systems safer, particularly for residential solar clients?  Here's our take...

Fire at Walmart store allegedly caused by Tesla solar installation

Fire damage at Walmart store allegedly caused by Tesla solar installation.

The 114-page complaint is a pretty damning set of accusations, saying that the installations were rushed, that faulty materials were used during the installation, and that the maintenance provided by Tesla did not meet "Prudent Industry Practices."  For example, after one Tesla maintenance team left a Walmart site, a DC combiner box, which could involve DC voltages of as much as 1,000 volts, was found left with the cover off!

Other problems involved multiple solar modules with "hot spots" possibly caused by micro-fractures of the cells, as well as mismatching cabling connectors (connecting MC4 connectors to Amphenol connectors) such that excessive resistance in the connections could occur, resulting in overheating, and potentially fires.

While the lawsuit is specific to SolarCity, and its now parent, Tesla, the types of conditions described are going to be potentially present in any string inverter system - which all of these were.  Since you are dealing with strings of solar panels, you are dealing with higher string operating voltages, with more power running through those strings.  If you use mismatched connectors, or stand on solar modules (one of the best pictures in the complaint shows the foot of a Tesla maintenance inspector standing on a solar module!) you can have the potential for fires.

A Safer Way...

DC arcing at 240 volts

DC arc at 240 volts.
Video by John Ward 6:20 in.

Which leads us to yet another reason to prefer the Enphase microinverter approach - no high DC voltages involved!  When a DC circuit opens under load, it is possible to get significant arcing, like you see at the left - ouch! 

But since each solar module plugs directly into the Enphase microinverter, there is no additive effect leading to those crazy high DC voltages.  Open a DC circuit with a voltage of 40 volts or so and guess what? No arcing!

While human error is never going to be eliminated in the solar industry -- those are human beings doing the work after all -- the Enphase microinverter system is inherently safer.  And if you are going to put solar on your home, school or business, isn't safer what you want?

Return to Newsletter Archive | Return to ROS Home

Say Hello to Jenni O'Neil

We are excited to introduce the latest member of the Run on Sun team, our new Office Manager and Social Media Guru, Jenni O'Neil.

Jenni joins the Run on Sun team with ten years of customer service experience, four of which were spent as a social media coordinator for a Strategic Solutions company. In her early work experience, Jenni spent time on Capitol Hill working for a Representative from the great state of South Carolina. 

A woman of many skills, Jenni's work experience encompasses many areas with a focus in politics, social-media marketing, sales and management - all of which will be put to use here!

In her spare time, Jenni is a singer-songwriter who composes music and enjoys singing both Jazz and Blues.  She also enjoys the written-word, and when not working on music, is pen-deep in the historical-fiction novel she is writing.

We are looking forward to Jenni spicing up our social media content, particularly on Twitter!  Expect things there to be far more lively going forward!

Jenni O'Neil

Please join us in welcoming Jenni aboard!

“Please join us in welcoming Jenni aboard!…”

Return to Newsletter Archive | Return to ROS Home