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  • Which Solar Kit?

    Hi, I'm looking into buying a DIY solar kit within the next few days/weeks, depending on how quickly I can decide on a kit. I found a website called BluePacificSolar.com and I've been looking at their grid-tied kits that use Canadian Solar panels. I'm wanting to get the best bang for my buck.

    I've done the calculations and I need about a 3.3KW kit.
    I use on average about 13.4KWh/day and I live near Ft. Worth, TX. According to the internet I get anywhere from 5.2-5.83 sun hours a day, but I've done my math at 4.7 just to be on the safe side. The panels will be roof mounted, south facing and completely unobstructed.

    Watts per sun hour: 13,400W / 4.7hrs = 2,851W
    Subtracting (way low) inverter efficiency: 2,851W / 0.85 = 3,354W

    So I've found a few different kits that are similarly priced. They all use Canadian Solar, monocrystaline panelsbut they all use different​​​​​​ inverter systems. The first one uses an MPPT inverter, the second one uses micro-inverters and the last one uses power optimizers and an inverter.

    1: https://www.bluepacificsolar.com/sol...solar-kit.html

    2: https://www.bluepacificsolar.com/enp...solar-kit.html

    3: https://www.bluepacificsolar.com/sol...ono-3360w.html

    Are any of these worth getting?
    Pros and cons to each?
    Which is the best value?
    Is there something better out their for me?

  • #2
    Before you purchase any kit I would make sure you are allowed to install a pv system that is grid tied. Usually you should contact your POCO to find out what is allowed and what the homeowner can do or if a certified electrician is required for any part of the installation. Don't assume because you can purchase a kit you will be allowed to legally install it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Just to let you know your posts didn't just disappear. The forum software won't let a new member attached web-links so the post goes to an unapproved folder for the Mods to review.

      I approved this post and deleted the other duplicate posts.

      Comment


      • #4
        Yeah, I missed that link eating forum moderation thing when I first joined as well. Good luck with finding out what you are allowed to do. Research, you have to check everything, including possible inability of your roof to withstand the load.

        Comment


        • #5
          The different inverter styles are to deal with poor conditions. Great conditions, no shade, a simple MPPT string inverter is good. If you have shade issues (chimneys, vent pipes, power pole shadows) then the optimizer and micros are better at handling those poor conditions.
          Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
          || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
          || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

          solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
          gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister

          Comment


          • #6
            Before you buy anything, as Suneagle suggests, check out grid tie requirements. Then, download "Solar Power Your Home for Dummies" or get an updated version for ~ $25 at bookstores or amazon.

            Your sizing methodology gets about the same result as PVWatts, but you may get more details w/ the book and familiarity w/ the PVWatts model. Read the help/info screens first and make a few runs. The learning curve is rather steep. Given your location and perhaps relatively low POCO rates ans mostly because of your relatively frugal usage, you may be looking at a relatively long payback time.

            Welcome to the neighborhood.

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            • #7
              SunEagle - Thanks for the reply. I have already spoken to the POCO and they don't have any issues with me performing the install as long as the property has adequate insurance and there is an accessable service disconnect. I'll also have to purchase a different meter from them.

              That makes sense about the posts. Now I feel dumb. I thought there was some sort of glitch since I was posting it from my phone or something. Thank you for deleting the duplicates.

              Laspher - It's​ new construction and made sure to build the roof to withstand the additional weight to allow for plenty of solar panels. Good looking out.

              Mike90250 - Thanks, that's just the kind of information I'm looking for. Maybe the single MPPT would be a good choice for me then? Still researching them to get more info.

              J.P.M. - I'll look into that book. It is indeed a lot to learn and I've tried to absorb it all, the best I can. I live in the country and only have access to one utility company and I'm pretty sure they are capitalizing on that, because they are charging 16

              Comment


              • #8
                Animag,
                i was right where you are about a year and a half ago. Blue Pacific is a great place to do some research and see what components are needed. I was about to buy my 12.8kw system there and stumbled across a thread here where someone had used and recomended Renvu. I was able to save myself 3 to 4 thousand there for the same equipment. You can use their tool to build a system and then tweak it to add or subtract parts you need or want to source locally.

                Good luck and enjoy,
                Greg

                Comment


                • #9
                  Once you have done enough research to understand the differences in the kits, you ought to know enough to skip the kit and buy the components directly. Tandem Solar is another good resource, very competitive with Renvu.
                  CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    You guys/girls, rock! This is exactly the info I needed to make an educated purchase. Those websites are AWESOME. I will definitely be building my own kit instead of using Blue Pacific. Seems like I'll be able to save over $1000 that way, which means I can put some of that money towards roof mounts.
                    Last edited by Animag771; 05-16-2017, 08:19 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      So I'm working on piecing together a kit for myself and ran into something. Should I be using the NOCT panel ratings to size the array and pick an inverter. Also I cannot seem to find an answer on this.. If I used micro-inverters, does it matter how many panels I have?
                      ​​
                      Last edited by Animag771; 05-16-2017, 08:10 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If you live in or near Ft. Worth TX you had better do a lot of homework first or else you may likely find out you just took a voluntary huge rate increase.

                        TX is deregulated and has no NET METERING LAWS. Many POCO's will not even allow you to interconnect. Those that do allow it will only pay you Wholesale for excess you generate, and a higher rate for what you use.

                        Green Mountain is a good example and available to you and a classic scam. They will pay you 5-cents per Kwh for excess, and charge you 13-cents for any you take from them. While your neighbors using Champion pay 7-cents for all the electricity they want up to the first 2500 Kwh/month, and the rate goes down to 6-cents after the first 2500 Kwh.

                        So be careful in TX. Energy rates are dirt cheap and going down now that NoBama and dems got thrown out of office. In TX you can likely end up paying as much as you did before, and to add insult to energy you eliminate 75% of potential home buyers if you ever need to sell. Equity on solar in TX is a Net Negative 75%. Rates in TX have dropped 30% since 2007, and expected to go down even more in TX. So be careful.
                        MSEE, PE

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Animag771 View Post
                          So I'm working on piecing together a kit for myself and ran into something. Should I be using the NOCT panel ratings to size the array and pick an inverter. Also I cannot seem to find an answer on this.. If I used micro-inverters, does it matter how many panels I have?
                          ​​
                          Use what you want , but PVWatts will give you the best est. of long term average annual output. Read the help screens first. For sizing estimates,reduce your electric load as much as your lifestyle permits before you purchase anything. But before any of that, and before you buy, check and make sure you'll be able to net meter. Even w/ net metering, PV may not be cost effective for you. Heed Sunking's post well.
                          Last edited by J.P.M.; 05-16-2017, 08:52 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sunking View Post

                            Green Mountain is a good example and available to you and a classic scam. They will pay you 5-cents per Kwh for excess, and charge you 13-cents for any you take from them. While your neighbors using Champion pay 7-cents for all the electricity they want up to the first 2500 Kwh/month, and the rate goes down to 6-cents after the first 2500 Kwh.
                            The terms of the Renewable Rewards program are somewhat different than what you've described here.

                            Green Mountain will purchase up to 500 kilowatt-hours per month at the same Renewable Rewards retail rate that the customer is paying for the electricity they take from the grid. Energy exported to the grid in excess of 500 kilowatt-hours in a month is purchased at half of the retail rate, and the customer continues to pay for any energy used from the grid at the normal Renewable Rewards retail rate. The customer also gets to retain any renewable energy credits or other rebates, tax incentives and rewards they are entitled to receive for the power being generated by their system.
                            Without more detailed program information it is hard to compare the bill in this program to what the bill might be with a different electricity provider, but clearly, that is the comparison to make to determine cost effectiveness. The SolarSPARC program also offers an additional bill credit, small in the grand scheme of things, though.
                            CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Animag - be aware that TX is under NEC 2014 so you will be subject to Rapid Shutdown and that is an addon to the string inverter kit. So here is a short summary (most repeated from above) that you will want to do prior to purchasing anything.

                              - Read the dummy guide. Ask more questions. Repeat multiple times.
                              - Follow the guidelines on energy reduction. This can get into a discussion about lifestyle changes or choices with your family.
                              - Come to an understanding if solar is even worth it for you based on your usages, energy rates, lifestyle, and even the time to do it if your are DIY.
                              - Contact your local building department and ask them if they allow owner installed solar and if so what local policies they require. Some may require a electrician on your permit. Understand that if you are DIY then YOU are required to follow all state and local codes (more later on this). Be aware that many AHJ's hate owner installed solar since the inspection process for them is time consuming and/or many unsafe issues that need to be corrected.
                              - Carefully read the interconnect guidelines from your PoCo so you know exactly what they want.
                              - If you are doing the electrical yourself, purchase the NEC 2014 book (about $100 from nfpa.org) and start learning it. This is your home - you are planning on putting something on your roof that can cause fires or injury/death if you do not follow safe practices. There are code requirements you must follow to keep first responders safe if they have to respond to your home. Make this code your best friend so you are safe, your family is safe, and the home is safe. And doing this will help prevent failed inspections. Related with this, spend time reading (do not post) on the Mike Holt solar forums and grounding forums.
                              - Notice at this point nothing was said about purchasing any equipment - don't purchase anything until you know the project makes sense for you, you have the time to do it, and you are confident that you can complete it.

                              If your still with it - then you get to the fun part of permitting, purchasing, installing, inspections, and its a great feeling when you get the permission to operate from the PoCo and you know you did a quality job.

                              Good Luck

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