X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • My 6.27kW system in Orange County, CA

    Already gone thru the whole process, but figure I'd document it for others

    Started out getting quotes from Semper Solaris (Sunpower) and Petersen Dean. Also went thru EnergySage to get some more quotes. Wound up pursuing detailed quotes and negotiation from Semper, Petersen and LA Solar Group (found via EnergySage)

    Quote from Petersen Dean was the most ridiculous (surprisingly since Sunpower was in the mix). They quoted $29.9k (with an electrical panel upgrade) for a 6.8kW system. As he started running numbers at the house, I could see the despair on his face as he realized that in no way would this system would be practical. It was a 20x340W panel system with Solarworld panels and Enphase micros.

    Went on to site evals with LA Solar and Semper.

    LA Solar proposed a 19x330W Panasonic system with Solaredge P400 Optimizers and SE6000 Inverter and interconnect via a GMA (line side tap) so no panel upgrade was necessary. Quote was about 20.7k

    Semper proposed a 6.4kW 20x320W Sunpower system with SolarEdge optimizers and inverter, and a 125A panel upgrade. Quote was about 22.5k, so actually not that obscene

    My house is older (built in 1972) and the panel is center fed 100A. There was quite a concern that the panel couldn't be upgraded to 200A without running new cables (due to the unknown gauge of the current feed in from SCE) which would have involved trenching and a lot more cost. Thus, the line side tap was attractive, though Semper was pretty confident in the 125A upgrade as well

    In the end I went with LA Solar Group. I liked their site plan better and just generally seemed far more competent. I really didn't like that the initial person sent by Semper didn't seem to know anything about the product. I'd ask questions and I'd get a blank stare. Not even an offer to get back to me with the answer or put me in contact with someone technical. I also had to have them revise their site plan because they ignored the timelapse video I did that showed significant afternoon shading on a portion of my roof and they went and planned to put panels there anyways... The final nail was actually after I made my decision and cancelled the contingent contract with them. I got an immediate call from the sales guy trying to persuade me and giving me a really hard sell to change my mind. After I finally got him off the phone I got an email with an obviously pre-canned document bashing Panasonic panels and their production guarantee and warranty. Of course the information was out of date as Panasonic had recently changed their warranty and now have a better production guarantee than Sunpower was offering. The email even ended with "Be prepared to sell against this at the kitchen table."

    So, I made my decision on May 3. LA Solar had actually already started pulling permits and had gotten approval from SCE for the GMA. System installation was done on May 19. SCE GMA interconnect was done on May 26th and system was turned on "unofficially" at that point. City inspection occurred on June 9 and passed the first time around. Final install was actually done on that day (placards, stickers, etc). He also installed an additional grounding rod that while not technically required made the inspector feel better about the grounding with the GMA. PTO was granted on June 13 without a follow up visit from SCE (unexpected, but possibly because they did the GMA interconnect and had already seen the system). This means that I am in under the wire to be grandfathered into NEM1.0 for the next 25 years.

    System is set up with 25 year warranties on the panels, inverter, optimizers, other components, and labor. System came with the 12 yr GSM comms kit, but I recently installed an Ethernet cable to get high rez data.

    Panels are in a string of 8x at 255 degrees azimuth and 11x at 165 degrees azimuth. Tilt on the roof is 17 degrees. pvwatts modeling shows 9539 kWh per year (modeled as two separate arrays and then combined)

    I've also had a Rainforest Eagle hooked up to my meter for over a year. That helped me understand my usage and optimize things, like replacing my pool pump with a variable speed. I also had 2 years of electricity usage history so I had a very good handle on how much electricity I was using, including 1 year after installing the new pool pump. SolarEdge and Eagle data is aggregating on pvoutput

    I'm currently on the standard rate plan (not required to be on TOU due to NEM1.0). Still trying to figure out if (and which) TOU rate would work best. Biggest problem is that my wife does work from home which means I do have an electricity draw during the day for her, including AC if necessary.

    Unfortunately, my inverter does seem to already have a problem and I am getting error code 153 every morning. I have to flip the inverter on and off every morning to get any production. LA Solar is working with SolarEdge to determine the problem and has already authorized a replacement inverter. My guess is infant mortality, at least that is my hope and that something more serious isn't wrong.

    That's probably more detail than people really want, but l'm and engineer and detail is what I do Let me know if anyone has questions, I'm pretty much an open book. I'm still working on tweaking my pvoutput setup. I need to look into setting up the tariff rates so I can get cost info from there. I'm also seeing a weirdness on the "% of peak calculation" calculation. It seems to be dividing the highest AC power output by the 6270W DC capacity of the system which isn't correct. Unless it's really trying to show peak efficiency? Maybe someone can clear that up

    PVOutput is here:
    https://tinyurl.com/yclffo62
    Last edited by jasonvr; 06-22-2017, 10:14 AM.

  • #2
    Congrats on getting in before the deadline. NEM grandfathering is 20 years, not 25.

    Even with some usage during the day, many SCE forum members have found that TOU-D-A or TOU-D-T improve the return on the system if it is not sized to offset 100% of consumption. There were a few spreadsheets floating around, but I haven't maintained mine.

    Generally, most performance numbers have the DC rating at STC as the denominator. Systems with the same DC rating and similar orientation generally perform about the same, despite what those who try to upsell panel selection might say.
    CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by sensij View Post
      Congrats on getting in before the deadline. NEM grandfathering is 20 years, not 25.

      Even with some usage during the day, many SCE forum members have found that TOU-D-A or TOU-D-T improve the return on the system if it is not sized to offset 100% of consumption. There were a few spreadsheets floating around, but I haven't maintained mine.

      Generally, most performance numbers have the DC rating at STC as the denominator. Systems with the same DC rating and similar orientation generally perform about the same, despite what those who try to upsell panel selection might say.
      Yep, you're of course right about the grandfathering. Had that number mixed up with warranties. I've seen some of the spreadsheets on the TOU vs standard tiered rates. I've even tried some of them but it always seemed that some sort f error cropped up when I imported my data into Excel. IIRC, part of it was because the fidelity of my data changed part of the way thru the year and was 5 minute instead of 5 minute (or maybe 15 minute instead of an hour...) I'll have to look at it again

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by jasonvr View Post

        Yep, you're of course right about the grandfathering. Had that number mixed up with warranties. I've seen some of the spreadsheets on the TOU vs standard tiered rates. I've even tried some of them but it always seemed that some sort f error cropped up when I imported my data into Excel. IIRC, part of it was because the fidelity of my data changed part of the way thru the year and was 5 minute instead of 5 minute (or maybe 15 minute instead of an hour...) I'll have to look at it again
        FWIW, my experience on POCO rates, tariffs, schedules and fee structures puts the devil in the details, w/ the POCO's under no strain to make things understandable. Most accurate, but drudge way of doing it I've found is to dig deep into the POCO and PUC published information, get the details, understand what it all means and construct the spreadsheet. Then, run it against actual, prior usage and iterate/correct using any discrepancies between the spreadsheet and actual billing as sort of a road to iterate the method and scour the POCO published data again, looking for things missed/misunderstood - and there were many, and maybe still are a few. But, I got my current tiered rate spreadsheet pretty much to the penny.

        On the spreadsheet I'd be using if I ever go to T.O.U., I found it of more use to treat the array as an income generator as well as a power generator, and treat the income and the generation as separate from consumption and cost.

        The Small PITA now is to catch rate changes and update the sizing cost analysis stuff I've got, both tiered and T.O.U. tariffs.The work associated with the task is sort of a put off for doing it for different tariffs, and even more so for different POCO's which is why I haven't done it extensively for tariffs other than the one I'm on or might be on.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jasonvr View Post

          Unfortunately, my inverter does seem to already have a problem and I am getting error code 153 every morning. I have to flip the inverter on and off every morning to get any production. LA Solar is working with SolarEdge to determine the problem and has already authorized a replacement inverter. My guess is infant mortality, at least that is my hope and that something more serious isn't wrong.
          For what it is worth, there was another forum member back in 2015 who used the same installer as you, and had their inverter replaced shortly after install for the same error code.

          https://www.solarpaneltalk.com/forum...ter-manuf-date

          https://www.solarpaneltalk.com/forum...-4-6kw-systems

          CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by sensij View Post

            For what it is worth, there was another forum member back in 2015 who used the same installer as you, and had their inverter replaced shortly after install for the same error code.

            https://www.solarpaneltalk.com/forum...ter-manuf-date

            https://www.solarpaneltalk.com/forum...-4-6kw-systems
            Interesting - how do you know their installer? I looked thru the thread but didn't see it mentioned (unless I missed it). I think I stumbled across that thread when searching for a solution to my problem

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jasonvr View Post

              Interesting - how do you know their installer? I looked thru the thread but didn't see it mentioned (unless I missed it). I think I stumbled across that thread when searching for a solution to my problem
              newe70 confirmed their installer in a different thread. I could go chase it down again, but don't have it in front of me right now.
              CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by sensij View Post

                newe70 confirmed their installer in a different thread. I could go chase it down again, but don't have it in front of me right now.
                Found it by looking thru his other posts. Interesting. My gut says coincidence, but still odd

                Comment


                • #9
                  Well, my problems have gotten worse. I noticed that my production went to 0 at abut 2:30. I got home from work a bit before 5 to find my inverter in a boot loop. So I turned it off and watch the voltage VERY slowly drop below the safe point. I'm talking upwards of 10 minutes to get below 50 volts. When I turned it back on, it came back up to voltage, I heard the relays click a few times like normal, but then I got error 2x17 "Common Voltage Too High".

                  So I shut off the inverter again, waited a long time for the voltage to go all the way down, then shut off the DC disconnect, then the AC disconnect so the inverter was all the way off. Then turned it back on in the reverse order and got the same error 2x17. Now the inverter won't turn on at all. It's just in an endless boot loop. I'm going to wait for the sun to go down a bit further and try it again (i.e. when irradiance is lower). I can't find any documentation on error code 2x17

                  Contacted installer again. The reconfirmed that the replacement inverter had been ordered. No status beyond that. Really annoyed as we're in a heat wave and I'm actually having to use the AC quite a bit. I've probably lost about 13kWh of production today and each day it is down is another 41kWh of production lost

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Did you figure out your problem with your system.

                    I'm looking at a 5k system consisting of 16x320w at 223deg azimuth 18deg tilt (with some shading at startup) and Solaredge that I will self install with the help of an electrician buddy. I like the Solaredge stuff because of the technology and the individual panel monitoring capabilities. I'm a retired aerospace EE so this stuff is a no brainer.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jasonvr View Post
                      Already gone thru the whole process, but figure I'd document it for others

                      Started out getting quotes from Semper Solaris (Sunpower) and Petersen Dean. Also went thru EnergySage to get some more quotes. Wound up pursuing detailed quotes and negotiation from Semper, Petersen and LA Solar Group (found via EnergySage)

                      Quote from Petersen Dean was the most ridiculous (surprisingly since Sunpower was in the mix). They quoted $29.9k (with an electrical panel upgrade) for a 6.8kW system. As he started running numbers at the house, I could see the despair on his face as he realized that in no way would this system would be practical. It was a 20x340W panel system with Solarworld panels and Enphase micros.

                      Went on to site evals with LA Solar and Semper.

                      LA Solar proposed a 19x330W Panasonic system with Solaredge P400 Optimizers and SE6000 Inverter and interconnect via a GMA (line side tap) so no panel upgrade was necessary. Quote was about 20.7k

                      Semper proposed a 6.4kW 20x320W Sunpower system with SolarEdge optimizers and inverter, and a 125A panel upgrade. Quote was about 22.5k, so actually not that obscene

                      My house is older (built in 1972) and the panel is center fed 100A. There was quite a concern that the panel couldn't be upgraded to 200A without running new cables (due to the unknown gauge of the current feed in from SCE) which would have involved trenching and a lot more cost. Thus, the line side tap was attractive, though Semper was pretty confident in the 125A upgrade as well

                      In the end I went with LA Solar Group. I liked their site plan better and just generally seemed far more competent. I really didn't like that the initial person sent by Semper didn't seem to know anything about the product. I'd ask questions and I'd get a blank stare. Not even an offer to get back to me with the answer or put me in contact with someone technical. I also had to have them revise their site plan because they ignored the timelapse video I did that showed significant afternoon shading on a portion of my roof and they went and planned to put panels there anyways... The final nail was actually after I made my decision and cancelled the contingent contract with them. I got an immediate call from the sales guy trying to persuade me and giving me a really hard sell to change my mind. After I finally got him off the phone I got an email with an obviously pre-canned document bashing Panasonic panels and their production guarantee and warranty. Of course the information was out of date as Panasonic had recently changed their warranty and now have a better production guarantee than Sunpower was offering. The email even ended with "Be prepared to sell against this at the kitchen table."

                      So, I made my decision on May 3. LA Solar had actually already started pulling permits and had gotten approval from SCE for the GMA. System installation was done on May 19. SCE GMA interconnect was done on May 26th and system was turned on "unofficially" at that point. City inspection occurred on June 9 and passed the first time around. Final install was actually done on that day (placards, stickers, etc). He also installed an additional grounding rod that while not technically required made the inspector feel better about the grounding with the GMA. PTO was granted on June 13 without a follow up visit from SCE (unexpected, but possibly because they did the GMA interconnect and had already seen the system). This means that I am in under the wire to be grandfathered into NEM1.0 for the next 25 years.

                      System is set up with 25 year warranties on the panels, inverter, optimizers, other components, and labor. System came with the 12 yr GSM comms kit, but I recently installed an Ethernet cable to get high rez data.

                      Panels are in a string of 8x at 255 degrees azimuth and 11x at 165 degrees azimuth. Tilt on the roof is 17 degrees. pvwatts modeling shows 9539 kWh per year (modeled as two separate arrays and then combined)

                      I've also had a Rainforest Eagle hooked up to my meter for over a year. That helped me understand my usage and optimize things, like replacing my pool pump with a variable speed. I also had 2 years of electricity usage history so I had a very good handle on how much electricity I was using, including 1 year after installing the new pool pump. SolarEdge and Eagle data is aggregating on pvoutput

                      I'm currently on the standard rate plan (not required to be on TOU due to NEM1.0). Still trying to figure out if (and which) TOU rate would work best. Biggest problem is that my wife does work from home which means I do have an electricity draw during the day for her, including AC if necessary.

                      Unfortunately, my inverter does seem to already have a problem and I am getting error code 153 every morning. I have to flip the inverter on and off every morning to get any production. LA Solar is working with SolarEdge to determine the problem and has already authorized a replacement inverter. My guess is infant mortality, at least that is my hope and that something more serious isn't wrong.

                      That's probably more detail than people really want, but l'm and engineer and detail is what I do Let me know if anyone has questions, I'm pretty much an open book. I'm still working on tweaking my pvoutput setup. I need to look into setting up the tariff rates so I can get cost info from there. I'm also seeing a weirdness on the "% of peak calculation" calculation. It seems to be dividing the highest AC power output by the 6270W DC capacity of the system which isn't correct. Unless it's really trying to show peak efficiency? Maybe someone can clear that up

                      PVOutput is here:
                      https://tinyurl.com/yclffo62
                      I don't know if I should bring this up but decided to do so even though I might make you not feeling too happy. First I am pretty sure you can get a lower price with La Solar if you negotiate more. My pansonic proposal from them was a better value. 2nd, if you add a 20th panasonic panel, it will only cost you less than $300 more. I found out about this when their engineer find out i only have space for 18 cs panel instead of 21, so they proposal 18 panel instead of 21 and it costs only 1711 less and I asked them why because when I went up a panel from 20-21, it cost me 730 so it should be 2190 when i go down 3 panels. So the sales rep play with his excel sheet while trying to figure out. It turn out that it only costs 255 more from going 19 panel to 20 panel. He asked his supervisor for me and his supervisor told me it is because of inventory thing, a pallet of panel is exactly 20 panels so going less than 20 panels, they will see have storage. I find out that it costs less $300 more for the 20th panasonic panel. 3rd thing is, you can use coupon from yelp and group to save another $200- $300.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mike7381 View Post

                        I don't know if I should bring this up but decided to do so even though I might make you not feeling too happy. First I am pretty sure you can get a lower price with La Solar if you negotiate more. My pansonic proposal from them was a better value. 2nd, if you add a 20th panasonic panel, it will only cost you less than $300 more. I found out about this when their engineer find out i only have space for 18 cs panel instead of 21, so they proposal 18 panel instead of 21 and it costs only 1711 less and I asked them why because when I went up a panel from 20-21, it cost me 730 so it should be 2190 when i go down 3 panels. So the sales rep play with his excel sheet while trying to figure out. It turn out that it only costs 255 more from going 19 panel to 20 panel. He asked his supervisor for me and his supervisor told me it is because of inventory thing, a pallet of panel is exactly 20 panels so going less than 20 panels, they will see have storage. I find out that it costs less $300 more for the 20th panasonic panel. 3rd thing is, you can use coupon from yelp and group to save another $200- $300.
                        good info but too late- OP is in production since end of June if I understood him correctly. I believe his inverter was giving him grief, @427cobraguy seems to be in the same boat and resurrected thread for that reason.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          OP here

                          Never did figure out the problem with the inverter. Replacement arrived from SE and LASG installed it. Haven't had a problem with it since (knock on wood).

                          As far as the better deal, yes, I have been in production for a while now. And adding a 20th panel, even if it is cheap, doesn't necessarily mean it is a good idea. As it is, I may already be oversized. Adding another panel would just make that worse and increase my payback time. I don't think the Yelp coupon existed when I started, and even if it was, it is really only about $140 (or less) in savings (139 for 278 or 147 for 294 or 100 for 150)

                          I should also mention that since I found LASG thru Energysage, I got a few kickbacks from Energysage. $250 rebate for installing Panasonic panels and $100 for having used an Energysage contractor. I'm counting those towards my payback calculations.

                          I've also generated a spreadsheet to compare various rate plans and changed over to TOU-A starting in August. My first month generated a $95 credit (though I also got some credit via Save Power Days). Currently running a $170 credit since PTO. This month has already been a little crazy due to a week long heat wave. But, due to TOU, even though I have used 125 kWh net (net consumer), I am still running a $4 credit

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Jason / OP,

                            I just signed the agreement with LA Solar Group myself, for a system in the Bay Area, CA. I also got quotes from the same companies as you did. Peterson Dean was the lowest with Mission Solar panels. LASG in the middle with Panasonic panels, and Semper Solaris highest with Sunpower. I got LASG to price match PD, signed the agreement, and had a site evaluation this afternoon.

                            LA Solar Group is doing business here as Bay Solar Group and both have great reviews on Yelp and Solarreviews.com. Has your experience been similar? Is there anything I should particularly look out for? Thanks for your input.

                            One thing I noticed was that in the agreement, LASG's stated performance warranty is much lower than Panasonic's number. My sales rep issued a change order to note they will honor Panasonic's warranty of no less than 90.76% after 25 years.
                            Last edited by maximus96; 09-12-2017, 07:22 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by maximus96 View Post
                              Jason / OP,

                              I just signed the agreement with LA Solar Group myself, for a system in the Bay Area, CA. I also got quotes from the same companies as you did. Peterson Dean was the lowest with Mission Solar panels. LASG in the middle with Panasonic panels, and Semper Solaris highest with Sunpower. I got LASG to price match PD, signed the agreement, and had a site evaluation this afternoon.

                              LA Solar Group is doing business here as Bay Solar Group and both have great reviews on Yelp and Solarreviews.com. Has your experience been similar? Is there anything I should particularly look out for? Thanks for your input.

                              One thing I noticed was that in the agreement, LASG's stated performance warranty is much lower than Panasonic's number. My sales rep issued a change order to note they will honor Panasonic's warranty of no less than 90.76% after 25 years.
                              That's 90.76 % of what ? Most warranties have such a low bar you'll be lucky you don't trip over it. How will that number be verified ? And how will that be adjusted for weather variation ? Does the warranty state how often you need to clean the array ? Does the cleaning need verification ? How about shade clearing from shrubs/trees ? What record keeping is necessary by you for them to consider a claim on a performance warranty ? Is that 90.76 % only after 25 years or perhaps a lower % if sooner ?

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X