Introduction: SolarEdge Residential PV Solar Grid Tie Installation Overview

Picture of SolarEdge Residential PV Solar Grid Tie Installation Overview

Introduction

I live in Farmington, New Mexico which is located in the sunny southwest area of the United States. Farmington is located at an elevation of 5306 feet above sea level, higher than the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado. We enjoy an average of 273 sunny days annually (Farmington Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2017) making it a prime location to utilize solar energy. The combination of improved technology and decreasing equipment costs have made the use of solar power appealing to many. My initial total expense was $13,000 with a federal tax benefit of $5,000. The annual limit of funds granted for solar credit from New Mexico was reached so I was not able to receive a state benefit. My electric bill has been reduced from $130.00 to $10.00 per month. With the annual savings of $1440.00 it will take approximately 5.5 years to recover the initial expense of the system. The estimated life expectancy of a system is 20-25 years. There are several types of systems available, determination and personal selection is out of the scope of this presentation. I selected a SolarEdge 7.6 kW single phase inverter system that utilizes power optimizers (SolarEdge, 2017). SolarEdge includes optimizer-level monitoring for 25 years at no charge. I installed 20 panels with a maximum total output of 5.5 kW.

EDIT: There have been many questions asking about batteries.

What is a Grid-Tie & How Does the Billing Work? provides a very good explanation of what a grid-tie system is and how it works. A grid-tie system does not use batteries.

Step 1: System Overview and Disclaimer

Disclaimer

  • A residential solar system is a small power plant. It produces high voltage and can KILL YOU.
  • The installation of a residential grid tied solar powered generating power plant requires proper permitting by local building and zoning as well as by your local electric utility company.
  • This presentation outlines my installation and conforms to local building and utility codes for the city where I reside. Your locality may have different requirements.
  • Consultation and the utilization of a licensed electrician for appropriate connections is advised.

Step 2: Purchase the Equipment and Materials

Picture of Purchase the Equipment and Materials

List of materials

1. SolarEdge Inverter, power optimizers and Ironridge Racking and Mounting system (GoGreenSolar, 2017), purchased from GoGreenSolar, Placentia, CA. (www.gogreensolar.com)

2. Solarworld Sunmodule Plus (Northern Arizona Wind & Sun, 2017), monocrystalline solar panels with black frame, purchased from Northern Arizona Wind & Sun, Flagstaff, AZ. (www.solar-electric.com)

3. Electrical supplies for connection of the panels to the inverter were purchased locally at Lowe’s Home Improvement (Lowe's Home Improvement, 2017)

4. Power equipment including power auger and trencher were rented locally.

5. 2 1/4 diameter pipe for framing was acquired locally.

Step 3: Prepare Your Site for the Panels

Picture of Prepare Your Site for the Panels
  • The diameter and depth of the holes will be determined by wind ratings in your location. This information will be included in the plans from the engineer.
  • Cement the poles into the holes using a string line to assure they are straight.

Step 4: Mount the Hardware

Picture of Mount the Hardware
  • Mount the junction boxes at the panels and at the entry point of the house.
  • I mounted my inverter inside my house in the utility room. It is weather proof and can be mounted outside.
  • Mount the Ironridge system to the poles and begin attaching the panels.
  • Zoning required a licensed electrician to make all of the connections at the panel junction boxes, the boxes outside the house, inside the inverter and at the meter/power shutoff which is outside my house on a pole.
  • The utility company requires a shutoff box as well as a diagram of the entire system in a weather proof container mounted at the point of utility connection.

Step 5: Final Steps

Picture of Final Steps
  • After final inspection by building and zoning, the electric utility company will come and do an inspection.
  • The primary concern is if GRID power is cut off from my home the system must stop producing power. This protects anyone working on the utility lines. The SolarEdge inverter will not go into producing mode unless there is power coming into the home from the utility company.
  • So YES, if the power goes out to my home during a bright sunny day, I will not have power from the panels into my home.There is a battery backup available but I seldom lose power and this would not be cost effective for me.

Step 6: SolarEdge Monitoring

Picture of SolarEdge Monitoring
  • My system provides continuous monitoring of the panels via a wireless connection. I can monitor my system from an app on my cellphone as well as online. This is included at no charge for 25 years. The site provides production graphs as well as real time monitoring of each panel.
  • I went live on June 21, 2016. My system produced 5.42 MWh of electricity between June 21 and Jan 1.
  • On a full day of sun, I produce more than 35 kWh daily.

Step 7: Information & Equipment Sources

Picture of Information & Equipment Sources

Farmington Convention & Visitors Bureau. (2017, February 18). Fast facts about Farmington, New Mexico | Farmington. Retrieved from https://farmingtonnm.org/news-media/media/story-ideas/fast-facts-about-farmington-new-mexico/

GoGreenSolar. (2017, February 18). 5kW ground mount solar kit - 5000 watt solar PV system complete grid tie systems. Retrieved from http://www.gogreensolar.com/products/5000-watt-5kw-solar-ground-mount-kit-w-microinverters

Lowe's Home Improvement. (2017, February 18). Appliances, tools, hardware, paint, flooring. Retrieved from https://www.lowes.com/

Northern Arizona Wind & Sun. (2017, February 18). SolarWorld 285 black monocrystalline. Retrieved from https://www.solar-electric.com/solarworld-sunmodule-sw285-mono-black.html

SolarEdge. (2017, February 18). Retrieved from http://solaredge.com/us/

Comments

gm280 (author)2017-02-20

You estimate the life expectancy at 20-25 years. But that doesn't take into account batteries that most certainly will not make it near that far. So the actual cost will be more. JMHO

colinmcc (author)gm2802017-03-02

There are no batteries!

realJeffWolf (author)gm2802017-02-20

My system is a grid tie only. There are no batteries involved, though there is a backup system available. A grid tie system makes power in real time and what you don't consume yourself goes out to the grid. The meter measures power coming in and also power going out. I gain credit while making excess power and use the credit when I'm not meeting my power requirement, IE: cloudy days and at night.

ForrestW (author)2017-02-20

can you give any information on the batteries?

colinmcc (author)ForrestW2017-03-02

There are no batteries! The inverter turns the DC voltage from the panels into AC at 220V, and synchronises the AC 'wave' with the utility's frequency. It actually measures the utility's voltage as well and generates voltage a few volts higher so the current flows 'backwards' through the meter. If the house is consuming power any generated by the panels gets used directly in the house.

realJeffWolf (author)ForrestW2017-02-20

Hello forest. There are no batteries. A grid tie system is connected directly to the power box from the utility company. Any excess power made goes out to the power grid. They buy it back from me. The meter measures power in and power out. My bill is what I take from the grid at night/ cloudy day minus what they buy back from me on sunny days. Yes if more goes out to the grog than what I receive they will pay me.

FrederickC21 (author)2017-02-26

Just run my air conditioner unit

colinmcc (author)FrederickC212017-03-02

???

AmosC7 (author)2017-02-21

This is some good information. I would really love to be able to do this but the weather in my region of Ohio would probably not have a good ROI.

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2017-02-19

Great tutorial. I wish I have the ability to setup a solar PV system.

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