sitech
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:24 pm
Delivery Date: 08 Sep 2013
Leaf Number: 414424

DIY Solar PV Installation

Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:14 am

Just did my own solar install recently. Found many DIY websites saying here's what I did but none say here's what the rules say, what the permitted options are and how to do it right. So I wrote my own.

http://sites.google.com/site/sitechsolar/


Informational use only.

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RegGuheert
Posts: 5867
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:12 am
Delivery Date: 16 Mar 2012
Leaf Number: 5926
Location: Northern VA

Re: DIY Solar PV Installation

Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:30 am

Wow! I haven't gotten all the way through this, of course, but I want to say that is an impressive website!

It is the most thorough PV DIY walkthrough I have ever seen. Kudos and thanks!
RegGuheert
2011 Leaf SL Demo vehicle
10K miles: Apr 14, 2013, 20K miles (55.7Ah): Aug 7, 2014, 30K miles (52.0Ah): Dec 30, 2015, 40K miles (49.8Ah): Feb 8, 2017, 50K miles (47.2Ah): Dec 7, 2017.
Enphase Inverter Measured MTBF: M190, M215, M250, S280

QueenBee
Posts: 1564
Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:14 pm
Delivery Date: 20 Jun 2011
Leaf Number: 2062
Location: Bellevue (Seattle), WA

Re: DIY Solar PV Installation

Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:00 pm

Wow is correct! I nearly cried when I saw the mounts and rails just sitting on the comp. roof, then I read your comments and sighed in relief :) Same thing on the grounding pictures :)

The noalox on copper wire is new to me. Is that formulation effective on copper? Is there much benefit of even using it on copper wire? Your rooftop junction box splices are very high quality. I asked my electrician friend if I needed to do anything special here and he said no so I just used wire nuts.

This is a ton of great information. Thanks for spending the time to document this all. It'll be very helpful as a reference I can point people too that I help with DIY installs.

I didn't see any mention of anti-seize. Not the end of the world but I'd include a link to this great article on it: http://unirac.com/sites/default/files/i ... ling_4.pdf

Anyone who is venturing down the path of installing solar feel free to contact me as I love to help and can provide some additional sources for the equipment..

camasleaf
Posts: 613
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:20 am
Delivery Date: 17 Jun 2011
Location: Camas, WA

Re: DIY Solar PV Installation

Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:28 pm

Impresive work on the web site. It will take me longer to make this web site, than it took me to put my 5.7kW system up all by my self :lol: (well almost by my self, I had a lot of help from QueenBee, thanks again). I went the DC route since I still hope to make the system work with the Leaf in grid down conditions.
2011 SLe 06/17/11 Over 76000 miles 71%SOH 15.7kWh
2015 SV 09/02/14, Over 36000 miles soon to be returned for a 2018
5.7kW DC System

megalo
Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:14 pm
Delivery Date: 06 Mar 2013
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: DIY Solar PV Installation

Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:45 pm

Awesome writeup! As a fellow engineer, I love seeing these massively detailed writeups, but for some reason, I never take the time to do them myself.

Also, a big thanks to QueenBee for helping me a ton with my (nearly) completed 7.44 kW system

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TonyWilliams
Posts: 10047
Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:48 am
Location: San Diego
Contact: Website

Re: DIY Solar PV Installation

Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:48 pm

Awesome job. I'll be adding substantially more panels to my Enphase / Sunpower / Unirac system.

sparky
Posts: 686
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:55 am
Delivery Date: 08 Jan 2011
Location: SoCal

Re: DIY Solar PV Installation

Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:25 pm

Really nice work and thorough description. Great job.
Did you consider installing a j-box at each inverter, running EMT and skipping the Engage cabling?
I did a section with Enphase inverters that I got a deal on but couldn't buy the proper engage wiring anywhere.
I was about to go EMT when I found the right Engage on eBay but, EMT seemed to pencil out cheaper and still be to code.

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drees
Moderator
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Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:51 pm
Location: San Diego

Re: DIY Solar PV Installation

Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:51 pm

sitech wrote:Just did my own solar install recently. Found many DIY websites saying here's what I did but none say here's what the rules say, what the permitted options are and how to do it right. So I wrote my own.

http://sites.google.com/site/sitechsolar/

Great site! Thanks for taking the time to document and explain the logic behind everything you did!
'11 LEAF SL Powered By 3.24 kW Enphase Solar PV

srl99
Posts: 205
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 7:04 am
Delivery Date: 16 Aug 2012

Re: DIY Solar PV Installation

Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:10 am

Nice work, and bad luck you are "served" by PG&E which, as you say, has some of the highest residential rates in the US. Take a moment to calculate your electric bill under SMUD's rates. Big fan of conservation first, and the whole house fan is an excellent idea (in the right climate).

Don't neglect to bring your testimony to CPUC when PG&E's "General Rate Case" comes up in 2014. It's hard to believe that PG&E _needs_ to charge such high rates, as neighboring utilities somehow serve residential customers at ~10c/kWH. (Even Silicon Valley power which doesn't need all sorts of rate plan gaming - they charge a flat 10c/kWH. They don't even need an EV rate plan.]

Expect changes in how PG&E credits net generation during the day - this is one of the few "markets" where you can sell and buy at exactly the same price. I wouldn't be surprised to see them credit your excess daytime production at the lowest possible residential (daytime) rate or somehow otherwise take away the margin between daytime generation and nighttime consumption.

QueenBee
Posts: 1564
Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:14 pm
Delivery Date: 20 Jun 2011
Leaf Number: 2062
Location: Bellevue (Seattle), WA

Re: DIY Solar PV Installation

Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:31 pm

sparky wrote:Did you consider installing a j-box at each inverter, running EMT and skipping the Engage cabling?
I did a section with Enphase inverters that I got a deal on but couldn't buy the proper engage wiring anywhere.
I was about to go EMT when I found the right Engage on eBay but, EMT seemed to pencil out cheaper and still be to code.

Water proof junction box, 2x water proof EMT fittings, water proof strain relief, maybe a waterproof cover for the junction box, some stainless steel mounting hardware and wire is going to be add up to be very close to the ~$20 per Engage cabling section and that's only if you don't value your time at all. There is also the concern that some AHJs may not like the junction boxes not being easily accessible but that's probably an extreme interpretation. Engage cabling adds additional costs but it makes installation very easy. I'm not sure it's a huge improvement over their previous daisy chain method but I like it.

How come you couldn't find engage cables? Now they are sold pretty much everywhere...

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