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Need help in evaluating replacing my existing solar panels

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  • #16
    Do you happen to have the exact model number for the LG175's you have? e.g. LG200R1C-G2 ?

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    • #17
      Nope, at least not without climbing on the roof and looking. The work order from 2006 didn't get that specific.

      thx
      mike

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      • #18
        Originally posted by fresnoboy View Post
        Nope, at least not without climbing on the roof and looking. The work order from 2006 didn't get that specific.

        thx
        mike
        You might try getting the permit pack from the install at the county office. It should have some useful information on the wiring and layout as well.
        OutBack FP1 w/ CS6P-250P http://bit.ly/1Sg5VNH

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        • #19
          So just to summerize at the point:
          - If either the panels or panel wiring is USE-2 and not PV, then replacing the inverter with a Primo is not code compliant under the new rules.
          - If they both are PV, then installing a Primo is code compliant.
          - If anything in the panel wiring uses USE-2 and the the OP decides to replace the inverter with a Primo, the upgraded system will work just fine but the system will not be code compliant. Correct?

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          • #20
            I was digging around in the CSI database of installations and am guessing that the panels are actually Kyocera... KC175GT. A couple of installers liked that combination (Sun Power and Geothermal Energy [SPG]; and Akeena) show up in the list with a few 36 panel installations with this equipment at about the right time.

            The installation guide for those panels indicates that the leads are USE-2 (see section 7), which again, was typical then. It is possible the panels were "skip wired", which might mean only the panels leads are used except for the final connection to the combiner box, so there might not be much other wiring up there.

            I can see why the solar installer backed away from this. Really, the cleanest solution would have been to just swap the failed inverter with a Sunny Boy 5000 like I mentioned earlier. If the Primo can't be returned, a conversation with the AHJ would probably be the most appropriate next step.


            Originally posted by DaveDE2 View Post
            So just to summerize at the point:
            - If either the panels or panel wiring is USE-2 and not PV, then replacing the inverter with a Primo is not code compliant under the new rules.
            - If they both are PV, then installing a Primo is code compliant.
            - If anything in the panel wiring uses USE-2 and the the OP decides to replace the inverter with a Primo, the upgraded system will work just fine but the system will not be code compliant. Correct?
            The only thing I'd like to point out is that this isn't a problem with "new rules". Prior to 2005 NEC, ungrounded systems above 50 V were not allowed at all. Even if you could use a time machine to send the Primo back to the original installer, they wouldn't have been able to do anything with it. All ungrounded systems (above 50 V) require PV wire for exposed runs on the roof. 690.35 as posted earlier is the only rule that has ever existed.
            CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

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            • #21
              Originally posted by fresnoboy View Post

              Got it. So the Primo not only doesn't need the ground fault fuse between the DC- and ground, it actually wouldn't work properly if there was a fuse in the system between the DC - and the frame ground? I did notice in the wiring diagram, the Primo doesn't have an explicit frame ground connector like the IG 5100 did. It sounds like the ground would just not be connected to anything at all if it was hooked up in the normal way, other than maybe the ground coming through the conduit? The wiring diagram does indicate ground from frame and racks is connected to the Primo, just not through an explicit connector it seems.
              Yes, this is all correct. Any connection between the DC conductors and ground (through a fuse or otherwise) will trip the Primo. A ground still needs to be provided to serve as an equipment ground conductor, keeping all metal surfaces in the system at ground potential.
              CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by sensij View Post
                I was digging around in the CSI database of installations and am guessing that the panels are actually Kyocera... KC175GT. A couple of installers liked that combination (Sun Power and Geothermal Energy [SPG]; and Akeena) show up in the list with a few 36 panel installations with this equipment at about the right time.

                The installation guide for those panels indicates that the leads are USE-2 (see section 7), which again, was typical then. It is possible the panels were "skip wired", which might mean only the panels leads are used except for the final connection to the combiner box, so there might not be much other wiring up there.

                I can see why the solar installer backed away from this. Really, the cleanest solution would have been to just swap the failed inverter with a Sunny Boy 5000 like I mentioned earlier. If the Primo can't be returned, a conversation with the AHJ would probably be the most appropriate next step.




                The only thing I'd like to point out is that this isn't a problem with "new rules". Prior to 2005 NEC, ungrounded systems above 50 V were not allowed at all. Even if you could use a time machine to send the Primo back to the original installer, they wouldn't have been able to do anything with it. All ungrounded systems (above 50 V) require PV wire for exposed runs on the roof. 690.35 as posted earlier is the only rule that has ever existed.

                Thanks... The confusion was when I talked with Fronius about options to swap the old inverter. The installer I talked to (after I talked to the electrician who didn't want to do a simple swap himself) told me the Sunny Boy 5000 inverters that would be a drop in replacement are no longer in production. The TL series of inverters from them are transformerless I take it? I could always ebay the Primo if I needed to I suppose.

                Yes, those look like the panels the original installer used, and it was Akeena, so you have a very good database indeed! Thanks for looking this up.

                So your recommendation at this point is to try and find an inverter that is plug in capable, or replace the wiring and/or panels up on the roof. If the panels do have USE-2 wires coming off of them, how would that be code compliant, or is it OK if the wiring from the panels is USE-2, but any other wiring gets replaced with PV? Is it possible to replace the wires coming off the panels, or is it required to get new panels in that case?

                Thx!
                Mike




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                • #23
                  True they are discontinued but renvu has sb5000us for $1987 after coupon and there is also one on eBay.

                  How much has your output dropped over 10 years? Seems like the best two options are to replace only the inverter or start over from scratch with a higher output system and possibly a new roof. I think there was also a guy somewhere who fixes fronius inverters for around $500.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by ButchDeal View Post

                    You might try getting the permit pack from the install at the county office. It should have some useful information on the wiring and layout as well.
                    Might be county, might be city - I don't think he stated what city/area he is in.
                    If he's within a city boundary, most likely it's a city permit office.
                    But in general, getting the permit information from the building permit office is a very good idea.
                    They usually are happy to help a homeowner - but many do charge a per-copy fee so you need to be somewhat prepared for that.

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                    • #25
                      It's pretty sad that a routine inverter failure can cause someone to have to scrap their entire system and start over after only 10 years. I hope that doesnt happen with my new system. It would kind of blow my cost model.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by fresnoboy View Post
                        Thanks... The confusion was when I talked with Fronius about options to swap the old inverter. The installer I talked to (after I talked to the electrician who didn't want to do a simple swap himself) told me the Sunny Boy 5000 inverters that would be a drop in replacement are no longer in production. The TL series of inverters from them are transformerless I take it? I could always ebay the Primo if I needed to I suppose.

                        Yes, those look like the panels the original installer used, and it was Akeena, so you have a very good database indeed! Thanks for looking this up.

                        So your recommendation at this point is to try and find an inverter that is plug in capable, or replace the wiring and/or panels up on the roof. If the panels do have USE-2 wires coming off of them, how would that be code compliant, or is it OK if the wiring from the panels is USE-2, but any other wiring gets replaced with PV? Is it possible to replace the wires coming off the panels, or is it required to get new panels in that case?
                        Yes, the TL series are transformerless, same problem as the Primo.

                        I do think the cleanest solution is to track down a transformer based inverter like the SB5000-US. It might be possible to open up the junction box on the back of the panels and put in new leads, but at that point, just replacing the panels is probably better in the long run.

                        I think it would be good to run this by someone in the office that issues permits for your location. You might find them very helpful if you explain your situation, and maybe they can suggest an alternative, or at least confirm what we've looked at here.

                        As rough as this situation is... I don't know what all the early Sunpower adopters who require DC+ grounding will do as their inverters begin to fail. I guess it will be a good test of their warranty.
                        CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by DaveDE2 View Post
                          It's pretty sad that a routine inverter failure can cause someone to have to scrap their entire system and start over after only 10 years. I hope that doesnt happen with my new system. It would kind of blow my cost model.
                          I suppose, but anyone installing SolarEdge, in particular, is taking a similar risk. The communication between the optimizers and inverters is proprietary, and if SolarEdge were to get bought out or go under, there is a chance that compatible parts won't be available in the future. As inverters move toward being "smarter" about their grid interactivity, all of today's inverters will become obsolete, and it remains to be seen if wiring standards will change in a way that causes these kinds of problems in the future.

                          A decade ago there might not have been a choice, but now, an informed shopper can buy a system that should pay for itself in less than 10 years and hopefully have less heartache in the future if replacement is required.
                          CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

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                          • #28
                            Thanks for the replies. I am getting some bids to upgrade the panels, though I have never liked the idea of microinverters or proprietary technology for the reasons mentioned here. We'll see how much the bill could be and how more power I can generate with that footprint. It might be worth it to get even more power out of the system.

                            I am not so sure I'd want to go get the last model of inverter produced that is will soon be unavailable just because it's transformerless and designed to work in my type of system. I guess all the folks like me with the older wiring is not enough of a market for companies to keep producing inverters that work with them. I'd almost go ahead and use the newer Primo instead and deal with the shutdowns in case something becomes grounded on the DC side.

                            Grounding on the DC+ side sounds really weird. Sunpower made inverters that did that?

                            thx
                            mike

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