Valdemar
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Joined: Tue May 10, 2011 10:32 pm
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Location: Oak Park, CA

Re: 125A Load Center, what are my options?

Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:14 pm

^^^ Yeah, that's another good idea, thanks. I like the fact that it will allow for an easier path to a future 200A service upgrade. One additional unrelated issue is that this is my new home and I haven't moved in yet, so I don't really know what my usage is which is sort of important for properly sizing the solar. But all this is good info that will help me to make a decision, hopefully later this year.

FairwoodRed
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Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 10:25 am
Location: Fairwood, WA

Re: 125A Load Center, what are my options?

Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:05 pm

A supply side tap is exactly how I wired my solar system. It wasn’t hard to do and I did it because otherwise I would have exceeded 20% of my 200A panel (55A is the max my system can produce). With a supply side tap, you won’t have to change your existing panel at all, but you will probably need a new “combiner panel” and exterior lockable disconnect switch/knife switch.

Below is a drawing that I prepared for my utility and my inspector. Notice the flat rectangle just above both meters? That is an outdoor rated wireway and I did my supply side tap there, using some GP-250 splices that can be found here http://www.elliottelectric.com/Products/Detail.aspx?v=NSI&c=GP250WC

Valdemar wrote:Of course I will double check but I don't see why a 125A panel with a 100A breaker should raise any red flags, as the utility (SCE) only cares about not overloading their feed cables that can only handle up to 125A according to them. I suspect it is a lie and they just want to err on the safe side or they may have another reason such as a transformer already running at capacity that they do not want to upgrade. They won't tell.

It sounds like it might be best to postpone my solar install, as on one hand I'm not ready to upgrade to a 200A panel yet as there is no real need for it and it will be quite costly, and while getting a 125A panel with a 100A breaker will allow me to get to desired solar power a year or two down the road I may need to upgrade to 200A so the money spent on the new 125A panel upgrade will be wasted. I don't think I can keep my old Zinsco 100A panel and add solar to it unless there is some creative way to add a supply side connection for solar.


Image

QueenBee
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Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:14 pm
Delivery Date: 20 Jun 2011
Leaf Number: 2062
Location: Bellevue (Seattle), WA

Re: 125A Load Center, what are my options?

Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:16 pm

FairwoodRed wrote:A supply side tap is exactly how I wired my solar system. It wasn’t hard to do and I did it because otherwise I would have exceeded 20% of my 200A panel (55A is the max my system can produce). With a supply side tap, you won’t have to change your existing panel at all, but you will probably need a new “combiner panel” and exterior lockable disconnect switch/knife switch.

Below is a drawing that I prepared for my utility and my inspector. Notice the flat rectangle just above both meters? That is an outdoor rated wireway and I did my supply side tap there, using some GP-250 splices that can be found here http://www.elliottelectric.com/Products/Detail.aspx?v=NSI&c=GP250WC


But what if someone rips all the solar panels off the roof and then uses the PV combiner panel for some massive grow lights?! Then the service line will melt and kill all the children. Sorry, I just find the utilities logic silly and if you start using their logic then all sorts of normal approved things are no longer allowed. Anyway, very nice solution, the exterior raceway definitely helps make that clean, seems like you'd have problems doing that inside just the meter box.

Have you already installed phase 3?

FairwoodRed
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Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 10:25 am
Location: Fairwood, WA

Re: 125A Load Center, what are my options?

Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:20 pm

The concerns about grow lights is exactly why they made me put SO MANY warning labels on the panel. Also, PSE prevented me from making that supply side tap connection inside the meter base. I’m allowed one set of wires in my meter base and that it. That’s too bad, because you can easily get dual lug meter bases and that would have cleaned my install up a bunch.

I ended up installing it all at once so I’ve now had all 60 panels up and running for 2 years (anniversary was just last week). I generate 96% of my annual electric needs, but I still forfeit some of what I bank due to when they reset the solar year (April). By the end of March, I have no banked kWh’s left and by the end of April, I’m producing more than I use. But that’s OK. I’m very happy with how it’s working out.

<edit> You *could* take power from the main panel, use a transformer to raise the voltage a couple percent, then feed it into the production panel to rack up the state production credits! Of course, they might wonder how your solar was producing power at midnight 8)

JasonA
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Location: Sylmar, CA

Re: 125A Load Center, what are my options?

Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:35 pm

Valdemar wrote:
wwhitney wrote:What's your present main breaker?


I have an old 100A Zinsco panel.
LOL The staple of the San Fernando Valley!! :lol:

I kept mine because my friends here locally still have theirs in place!!

This is true reading all this.. while we're in the midst of our upgrade.. our 100a Zinsco got yanked out for a 200a unit..

Almost everyone I know has these old breakers!!
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Splittinglanes
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2011 5:34 pm
Delivery Date: 11 Dec 2011
Leaf Number: 16050
Location: San Jose, CA

Re: 125A Load Center, what are my options?

Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:46 am

For what it's worth... I have a 100 amp zinsco panel, and I kept mine and went with 17 M215s on 250w panels. I'm really pleased with the output I'm getting from the enphase system.

It would have been a significant additional cost to replace my main panel and all of the breakers. Note that you won't be reusing zinsco breakers in a non-zinsco panel....

Anyways, I thought I'd share my similar issue & my solution, and my satisfaction with my choice.

Good luck with your decision. I'm sure you'll be happy when you are watching the meter run backwards! :D
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QueenBee
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Re: 125A Load Center, what are my options?

Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:13 am

Splittinglanes wrote:For what it's worth... I have a 100 amp zinsco panel, and I kept mine and went with 17 M215s on 250w panels. I'm really pleased with the output I'm getting from the enphase system.

It would have been a significant additional cost to replace my main panel and all of the breakers. Note that you won't be reusing zinsco breakers in a non-zinsco panel....


It's not the panel/breakers that cost very much it's the labor. A new GE panel with a sampling of breakers is under $150.

Valdemar
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Delivery Date: 09 Sep 2011
Location: Oak Park, CA

Re: 125A Load Center, what are my options?

Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:23 am

You also get 30% back on your taxes if the panel is done for solar, so you''re looking at about $1500 out of pocket or less for a new panel, so not too bad overall.

Splittinglanes
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2011 5:34 pm
Delivery Date: 11 Dec 2011
Leaf Number: 16050
Location: San Jose, CA

Re: 125A Load Center, what are my options?

Sat Aug 31, 2013 12:02 pm

Valdemar wrote:You also get 30% back on your taxes if the panel is done for solar, so you''re looking at about $1500 out of pocket or less for a new panel, so not too bad overall.


It's a separate permit and approval, plus power out for a day, plus $3k cost. Yeah, 30% back... But it's a lot of expense for a house that tops out at 40 amp load, and it cuts in to the payoff of the solar.
Blue SL 2012 - picked up 12/11/2011 from Stevens Creek Nissan
EVSE upgraded charger, home built circuit combiner for a portable 3.8kw solution
Blink charger installed
7/12/2013 4.25kw Solar Array installed. Running on the sun, baby!

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Boomer23
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Location: Orange County, CA

Re: 125A Load Center, what are my options?

Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:11 pm

Valdemar wrote:
It sounds like it might be best to postpone my solar install, as on one hand I'm not ready to upgrade to a 200A panel yet as there is no real need for it and it will be quite costly, and while getting a 125A panel with a 100A breaker will allow me to get to desired solar power a year or two down the road I may need to upgrade to 200A so the money spent on the new 125A panel upgrade will be wasted. I don't think I can keep my old Zinsco 100A panel and add solar to it unless there is some creative way to add a supply side connection for solar.


Is there a risk in waiting so long? I read somewhere that the current law (or CPUC agreement, whatever) calls for a pause in approving new NEM agreements to allow time for an evaluation of the costs vs societal benefits of residential solar. IIRC that pause was scheduled for the end of 2014, but I could be very wrong there, and it could be triggered by the number or percent of homes with solar.

Anyhoo, please take this as a prompt to inform yourself on this matter.
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