Looking for more information on Plugged Solar
. What information I've found so far has been marketing and hype, but nothing technical about the install.
Basically, at $3500 for the 1.5kW kit, around 1/10 the cost of a typical system. This alone makes the kit massively appealing. Sure, you won't get 100% bill reduction, but it's a nice step.
My main concern is the legality of such an install. The main selling point is the fact it's an appliance, and doesn't need any permits or certifications (much like plugging in a microwave or space heater). However, specifically with solar, regulations vary state by state, and even more granular at a city by city level. This is where it becomes very grey on legality.
The information I can find from electric providers is more oriented to larger installs that can't just be connected to a standard outlet. Most of what PG&E says vaguely references "Net Metering" but doesn't go into detail about how it works on my current rate plan (EV-A). I honestly don't know if I need a new meter in order for it to actually turn backwards.
I have PG&E, and live in Milpitas, CA, a city in Santa Clara County.
Old meters (long long long ago) had mechanical gears. They only clicked one direction and prevented people from winding them backwards. Then there was a span of a couple decades where we had mixed electrical meters using sensors to dials or screens. Some of these could go backwards or forwards. But every meter in my area was replaced with meters (almost 10 years ago) that do not allow spinning backwards ("anti-theft"). In fact, they take the absolute value of the amps flowing through the sensor.
So if you pump power into the grid, they CHARGE
you for that power you freely created as if you consumed it. You need a net meter.
Now when you ask your utility company for a net meter, they are going to say no unless there is a reason. Good luck explaining that you want to hack in a grid tie system without their approval. You will most likely get put on a black list and people will be out checking your meter and property more often.
I bought 4 dented panels (they wouldn't mount in a normal roof system because the rails were deformed), mounted them on wood 2x4's in the back yard and connected them to individual MPPT inverters that plugged into the wall. I actually plugged them into the wall via a Kill-a-watt to measure my production. They are anti-islanding which is good, but you better be sure to use all that power. My 4 250W panels put out about 500W in indirect light and upwards of 1200W in the winter when it is cold. Yes, more than the max rating after conversion losses. But my servers suck up about 2KW just sitting there so I am never producing as much as I am using.
I did verify that by unplugging my server (and letting it run on battery backup for the experiment) with no house loads (turned off at the breaker except the circuit in the garage which had nothing else plugged in) my utility meter was counting UP
as the sun produced power. So in effect I was being charged for making my own power. Plug the server back in and it still went up, just not as fast as it otherwise would.
Tomorrow should be my final inspection for my 10.1KW system and hopefully the day the grid connection switch gets flipped.