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  • Solar panels - Orange County CA

    Hi!
    I'm back 2 years later on this forum, I got great help last time and realized I was clearly not ready for solar then.. and luckily I didn't go with Sungevity who is no more..!

    I've done my homework since (enough to be dangerous!) and reactivated the solar project now that I've got a real EV.

    I also did all the math for estimating my usage looking at the last 2 years worth of data and adding the new EV at 12k mi/year, 4mi / kWh (3k kWh extra yearly).
    So my estimated annual usage falls at around 7,400 kWh.

    I've done lots of quotes this time (12+), and after "getting educated" with some of those vendors I've narrowed it down to 2 competitive offers.
    Some had suggested reverse tilt on the North side near the ridge at the top, but the added cost and number of penetrations in my roof dissuaded me.
    Adding more panels on the North for the same price as reverse tilt was also not worth it, and the last thing I want to do is to overproduce.

    My utility is unfortunately SDG&E and a bit worried about their minimum bill proposal but that's a topic for later..
    I'm on EV-TOU-2 schedule and keeping the on-peak hours (4-9pm) below 3kWh total every day so far.
    My EV use (those 3k kWh) will be 100% in super off peak.

    The system I'm building is 14 panels of Panasonic 330W (VBHN330SA16), and doing a larger inverter for future expansion (SolarEdge SE7600H HD-Wave Inverter).
    All the panels will most likely fit at the same orientation:

    Roof Details
    Roof Pitch 23deg
    Roof Azimuth 152deg

    PVWatts estimate my production at about 7,500 kWh / yearly.

    Here are the top 2 quotes.
    Please note they both include a main service panel upgrade to 200Amps (currently at 125Amps) instead of doing the SDG&E Renewable meter adapter (which is $1326).

    LA Solar Group - 251 5-star yelp reviews

    14,553 before tax rebate
    (- 2000 for panel upgrade) = $2.7/W

    Semper Solaris - Less reviews in OC but 200+ in San Diego. My neighbor has used them hence getting some referral discounting

    (waiting for them to match the LA solar quote)

    Attached is a picture of my roof with a rough proposal of the layout.
    It seems that the rules for setback have changed recently, allowing for 18in clearance at the top ridge.

    Really looking for feedback, anything I'm missing, Thanks!!
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Just as a note, I just had a 10.89 kW DC array installed by LASG with the same panels and inverter (should've upsized to the 10kW but oh well).

    Overall I was pretty happy with the install, not sure if you're wanting to do a Sense home energy meter or something similar but make sure to get a compatible panel.

    They spec'd a Siemens panel and I ended up going with a SquareD as it had space for current transformers (the Siemens wasn't compatible).

    Install on the roof was clean, all conduit was color matched. Overall quite happy with them.

    I'm still waiting on 2x Tesla powerwall 2's but those probably won't be around till August.

    No real feedback on your setup but I'm happy with LASG and the gear that was installed.

    Comment


    • #3
      You should be able to do that panel upgrade for < $1000 putting you closer to $2.93/W but that's still sounds like good pricing overall, it's a bit lower than what I paid but I'm in the foothills east of Sacramento.

      If you haven't looked at the https://www.solaredge.com/us/products/ev-charger#/ you may want to look at that to have the Charger Intergrated. It is available on the 7600W inverter. It could save you money if you had to pay for 240V supplies inside the garage for EV chargers. It's programmable and can be set to charge in the Off Peak times.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by cr0ntab View Post
        Just as a note, I just had a 10.89 kW DC array installed by LASG with the same panels and inverter (should've upsized to the 10kW but oh well).

        Overall I was pretty happy with the install, not sure if you're wanting to do a Sense home energy meter or something similar but make sure to get a compatible panel.

        They spec'd a Siemens panel and I ended up going with a SquareD as it had space for current transformers (the Siemens wasn't compatible).

        Install on the roof was clean, all conduit was color matched. Overall quite happy with them.

        I'm still waiting on 2x Tesla powerwall 2's but those probably won't be around till August.

        No real feedback on your setup but I'm happy with LASG and the gear that was installed.

        Thanks for the feedback on LASG and the tip on the Sense meter and panel type.

        I didn't even think of the panel type I would want other than I want an upgrade for making space.

        Somebody told me 200A isn't that much more physical space than your 125A panel, but I guess you can run more things at the same time and add a subpanel later..

        For a couple hundred more it seems better than doing a renewable meter adapter, but my only concern at this point is the lead time it adds to the project for waiting on SDG&E planner to come out and check your service and approve the upgrade..


        Originally posted by TAZ427 View Post
        You should be able to do that panel upgrade for < $1000 putting you closer to $2.93/W but that's still sounds like good pricing overall, it's a bit lower than what I paid but I'm in the foothills east of Sacramento.

        If you haven't looked at the https://www.solaredge.com/us/products/ev-charger#/ you may want to look at that to have the Charger Intergrated. It is available on the 7600W inverter. It could save you money if you had to pay for 240V supplies inside the garage for EV chargers. It's programmable and can be set to charge in the Off Peak times.
        Thanks for the info.
        The quotes I got in the past for panel upgrades were all 2k and above, and with solar I get 30% off which is great. I guess 1k is if I were to do it myself?

        I did check the Solar Edge EV charger option and didn't really see the point. I already have a NEMA 14-50 plug installed and Tesla can set to charge after midnight and the mobile charger comes with the car (no need to buy the wall charger from Tesla).


        Now out of the 12 vendors I've been quoting another company up in LA is beating by $150 the LASG offer but using Enphase vs SE. (All other vendors were not able to beat LASG offer).

        We will offer you micro-inverters (allows you to expand your system to any needed size and has higher efficiency levels). Panasonic specifically partnered with Enphase micro-inverters in February to have the highest net efficiency in the world. Solaredge couldn't do that for them.
        I have checked these forums and searched online and it seemed both companies were a wash.
        I know people prefer to have the least amount of equipment on their roof but wonder if at the end of the day they are equivalent.
        Enphase solar vendors claim SE inverters have been failing, Enphase avoids single point of failure, easy to expand system later, etc..




        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jgd108 View Post
          Thanks for the info.
          The quotes I got in the past for panel upgrades were all 2k and above, and with solar I get 30% off which is great. I guess 1k is if I were to do it myself?

          I did check the Solar Edge EV charger option and didn't really see the point. I already have a NEMA 14-50 plug installed and Tesla can set to charge after midnight and the mobile charger comes with the car (no need to buy the wall charger from Tesla).


          Now out of the 12 vendors I've been quoting another company up in LA is beating by $150 the LASG offer but using Enphase vs SE. (All other vendors were not able to beat LASG offer).
          The under $1k was based on a friend and my father both having had professional electricians upgrade their panels to 200W panels in the past 5yrs (one in California, one in Indiana.) Maybe there's something I'm missing if everyone is quoting $2k. You may wish to call around and ask how much upgrading your panel to 200W panel and having a few open breaker slots for expansion would be. FWIW, doing it yourself is more like a $200 job, but you better know what you're doing, especially with permits and inspections.

          Having a NEMA plug already in the garage already makes that less of on issue, so is having a Tesla which you can program it as to when to take a charge. Personally, I don't have NEMA plug in the garage, but I don't have an EV yet. I didn't get one of these as I wasn't sure when I'd do it. And I figured, I'd simply use my laundry room's NEMA 240v plug as it's on the other side of the wall from the garage. I can relocate it to the garage side of the wall.

          Personally, unless you have lots of shading, I'd avoid micro-inverters, but that's me. The SE inverts have pretty good warranties IMO, 12yr default, 25yr optional warranty (can be purchased within 24mo of purchase - $357 for the SE7600HD) personally, I didn't get the extended warranty on it.
          Last edited by TAZ427; 06-25-2018, 07:45 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by TAZ427 View Post

            The under $1k was based on a friend and my father both having had professional electricians upgrade their panels to 200W panels in the past 5yrs (one in California, one in Indiana.) Maybe there's something I'm missing if everyone is quoting $2k. You may wish to call around and ask how much upgrading your panel to 200W panel and having a few open breaker slots for expansion would be. FWIW, doing it yourself is more like a $200 job, but you better know what you're doing, especially with permits and inspections.

            Having a NEMA plug already in the garage already makes that less of on issue, so is having a Tesla which you can program it as to when to take a charge. Personally, I don't have NEMA plug in the garage, but I don't have an EV yet. I didn't get one of these as I wasn't sure when I'd do it. And I figured, I'd simply use my laundry room's NEMA 240v plug as it's on the other side of the wall from the garage. I can relocate it to the garage side of the wall.

            Personally, unless you have lots of shading, I'd avoid micro-inverters, but that's me. The SE inverts have pretty good warranties IMO, 12yr default, 25yr optional warranty (can be purchased within 24mo of purchase - $357 for the SE7600HD) personally, I didn't get the extended warranty on it.
            Thanks TAZ427. Love your posts on this forum, very insightful.

            Those inverters seem like a religion for the vendors. A few of them only vouch for Enphase, I have not seen the reverse though (SE).
            I did more research and still leaning on SE at the moment (for many reasons, one being Enphase financial situation a little precarious, compatibility later on when adding more panels, etc.)
            But at the same time this forum shows how many have had issues with their new SE HD wave inverter being replaced within the first year..

            My only concern now is that the side of my house where the panel and inverter are going to be located is NE, and I'm currently seeing sun there from 10am to noon.
            Heat on the inverter affects performance so I wonder if Enphase might be better with their Envoy that can be placed indoor, but then again the "inverters" are sitting on the roof ..

            Here is a picture of the side of the house and also a pic of my main panel.
            Attached Files

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jgd108 View Post
              My only concern now is that the side of my house where the panel and inverter are going to be located is NE, and I'm currently seeing sun there from 10am to noon.
              Heat on the inverter affects performance so I wonder if Enphase might be better with their Envoy that can be placed indoor, but then again the "inverters" are sitting on the roof ..
              The envoy is not an inverter just a monitoring device.

              there is zero indication that heat effects the performance of the solaredge inverter and thet have a very high heat tolerance ( operating range).
              heat on some equipment effects lingevity, particularly equioment with liquid capacitors which enohase has in the micro inverters.

              north east is a pretty good location to install the inverter anyway.
              OutBack FP1 w/ CS6P-250P http://bit.ly/1Sg5VNH

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by jgd108 View Post

                Thanks TAZ427. Love your posts on this forum, very insightful.

                Those inverters seem like a religion for the vendors. A few of them only vouch for Enphase, I have not seen the reverse though (SE).
                I did more research and still leaning on SE at the moment (for many reasons, one being Enphase financial situation a little precarious, compatibility later on when adding more panels, etc.)
                But at the same time this forum shows how many have had issues with their new SE HD wave inverter being replaced within the first year..

                My only concern now is that the side of my house where the panel and inverter are going to be located is NE, and I'm currently seeing sun there from 10am to noon.
                Heat on the inverter affects performance so I wonder if Enphase might be better with their Envoy that can be placed indoor, but then again the "inverters" are sitting on the roof ..

                Here is a picture of the side of the house and also a pic of my main panel.
                There was a discussion on the potential impact in performance do to temps and some measurements done. I'd look at the last two pages of this thread in particular https://www.solarpaneltalk.com/forum...igh-production and there doesn't seem to be any negative impact to the higher temps on this, at least not until you'd reach derating temps, which you're not going to do even sitting in full sun all day (unless you stick it in an enclosed box and paint it black...) That said, if that's a garage on the other side of that wall (looks like that may be a car to the left in the picture.) Then I'd have them mount the Inverter inside the garage, which IMO is preferable since if a kid see's a switch...

                If you're really worried about it, and want to keep the sun off of it, you could always build a little sun shield (but don't totally enclose it) HOA approving of course They are a fairly shallow depth FWIW.

                The good thing about the SE HD is there are no electrolytic caps, which are the most prone to having shortened lifespans do to heat.
                Last edited by TAZ427; 06-26-2018, 02:55 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for the valuable info TAZ427 and ButchDeal !

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi, just to update and a few questions below.

                    I've actually selected another vendor who was able to beat LASG price and throw in reverse tilt as well.

                    I've attached their preliminary site layout (just to get the HOA approval process started) and although I was hoping to maximize the back with 10 panels in reverse tilt, it appears they are doing a 5deg tilt on a 23deg roof tilt.

                    Running numbers in PVWattts using 13% system losses I get those production numbers for the back 6 panels:

                    -23 deg (basically NW, no reverse tilt): 2530 kWh
                    5 deg tilt (currently planned): 3082 kWh
                    20 deg tilt : 3265 kWh

                    I've searched online and these forums and there isn't much discussion around reverse tilt.

                    Before I go back and "fight" to get the reverse tilt higher I wonder if there is a limitation either by design/engineering or by the authorities (HOA, City, etc.) on the max reverse tilt allowed (one vendor said the tilt can't be higher than 2 feet high).

                    At the end of the day it's only 183 kWh difference I guess.. and the lower tilt might mean more kWh in the peak hours of the summer, and those panels in the front will be producing more year round.

                    Other than the tilt, thoughts on the design so far?

                    Thanks!!
                    Attached Files

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'Is the 180kWh worth of annual production worth it? Also, you've created a 'Sail' now, even with the 5deg. What's the wind load rating on the panels? Are you going to end up with wind damage, there's no obvious protection against it, and all the wind the gets shoved up the roof line will be smacking that 'sail' you've got stuck up there at an effective 28deg, now you're talking about making that 43deg effective (between plane of roof and the pane of the panels.) If 6 panels flat on the NW (-23deg) is getting you 2530kWh/yr two more panels is getting you 843kWhr more. What's the cost difference between it and the tilt install w/ custom bracketers which aren't coming for free. Also, did you calculate loss do to shading of those tilted panels late in the day. The top of your roof will shade them before the sun sets, and if that hasn't been taken into account, you may not be getting what you think with that reverse tilt.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jgd108 View Post
                        Hi, just to update and a few questions below.

                        I've actually selected another vendor who was able to beat LASG price and throw in reverse tilt as well.

                        I've attached their preliminary site layout (just to get the HOA approval process started) and although I was hoping to maximize the back with 10 panels in reverse tilt, it appears they are doing a 5deg tilt on a 23deg roof tilt.

                        Running numbers in PVWattts using 13% system losses I get those production numbers for the back 6 panels:

                        -23 deg (basically NW, no reverse tilt): 2530 kWh
                        5 deg tilt (currently planned): 3082 kWh
                        20 deg tilt : 3265 kWh

                        I've searched online and these forums and there isn't much discussion around reverse tilt.

                        Before I go back and "fight" to get the reverse tilt higher I wonder if there is a limitation either by design/engineering or by the authorities (HOA, City, etc.) on the max reverse tilt allowed (one vendor said the tilt can't be higher than 2 feet high).

                        At the end of the day it's only 183 kWh difference I guess.. and the lower tilt might mean more kWh in the peak hours of the summer, and those panels in the front will be producing more year round.

                        Other than the tilt, thoughts on the design so far?

                        Thanks!!
                        For starters, I'd suggest using 10% system losses vs. 13% or the 14 % system losses that PVWatts will use as a default. A lot of conversation here an d my own observations has shown that 10 % seems to be a better match to reality than the 14 %, at least for new(er) systems and before ant shading is considered.

                        As for pitching the panels to be south facing on a north facing roof, while there's nothing wrong with the idea, other considerations come into play. The arrangement is more commonly seen in higher latitudes for several reasons.

                        As for any "sail" effect, while it's probably correct that design wind forces of a larger absolute magnitude for compressive, tensile and shear loadings will probably (but not undeniably or always) be encountered by higher tilt angles, to my experience, what the racking is attached to (often a roof) and the fixation methods are what causes problems. ASCE - 7 etc., is the usual design criteria to establish forces and moments and their various combinations. The wind doesn't always come from the same direction, nor are the loading combinations always the same. To say that a higher tilt will create a bigger "sail", while perhaps easier to visualize, is a bit simplistic. So is saying something can't be higher than 2 feet. That by itself, without some explanation is B.S. that probably started from some vendor not knowing WTF they're doing and trying to talk you out of something because they don't want to do it.

                        Many AHJ's may either pay more attention to reverse tilt situations (as, IMO, they ought to do) or ignore it (as they just might). Whatever their response, for safety, good design and common sense, the reverse tilt, or any other orientation/arrangement does need some different considerations and calculated estimates of imposed loading for array configurations that are different from the common orientation on a flat roof with the array horizontal to that roof with 6" or so of clearance.

                        There have been discussions of such things here in several contexts. One such context is with respect to HOA approvals. Just like dealing with any authority (like the AHJ), HOA's can be your best friend or your worst enemy. usually the choice of which one, or anything in between is yours. Getting them on your side by keeping them informed, being aware of the particulars in the CC & R's and treating them respectfully helps. Cop an attitude with them and that's what you'll get back.

                        My guess is your HOA knows little about reverse tilt orientations, and if it's different than what everyone else has (and that's likely), they won't like it for a couple of reasons having mostly to do with ignorance and fear of the unknown on their part. Not surprising them and educating them will help. CA has solar rights laws that pertain to HOA's, and while they are generally favorable to homeowners, like it or not, you will not necessarily be able to do anything you want under existing law and how it's been adjudicated, at least so far. I've been on an HOA board as the guy who reviews/recommends solar installs to the Arch. Rev. Comm. Seen most all of it, but no reverse tilts yet.

                        I'd compare your estimated electric bill after all array configurations, using 10 % system losses. Then compare how much each configuration will cost you - including BTW any extras for insurance premiums for a reverse tilt if they take off in the wind from a poor design (insurance companies are not wind designers but probably quick to deny a claim or look for a reason to).

                        All that will perhaps take some additional homework on your part to get a reasonably good understanding of how you're billed for power before you will be able to make a reasonably good estimate of differential savings vs. differential cost for the various arrangements.

                        FWIW, I think reverse tilts can result in a good, safe and workable design, but they do take some different and additional engineering considerations. Those extra considerations usually involve additional engineering, calcs. and sometimes some structural modifications as a result of imposed loadings not anticipated when a home was built, more so than an array in the same plane as a roof. All of that can come at additional cost.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks TAZ427 and J.P.M. for your replies.

                          I understand there is a max reverse tilt allowed and for my system it seems 5 deg is what they can do as per my installer..

                          Using JPM's advise on observed % of losses, and also the "marketing" fact that Panasonic HIT panels and Enphase (IQ7X) have partnered for best production etc. I hope 10% is close to actual.

                          Running the numbers for a single panel (330W) I get only 28 more kWh:
                          Front: 560kwh
                          Reverse: 532 kWh

                          So at this point I'll let it go for sure, and not worry about a bigger reverse tilt due to all those considerations.

                          Using the 10% losses, I ran the numbers (they say the tilt is indeed 18% even though previous vendor measured 23% and my phone also measured that ..)

                          ---
                          18 deg
                          153 azimuth
                          10% losses

                          6 panels reverse tilt at 5 deg 153 = 1.98KW
                          3189 kWh

                          8 panels at 18 deg 153 = 2.64 KW
                          4483 kWh

                          7,672 kWh yearly
                          639 kWh monthly avg
                          21 kWh daily

                          7,845 if all front (97.7%) at 18deg

                          ---

                          Good tips on dealing with HOA. Right now I'm getting the run around, their main architectural review person is out until tomorrow so will know more if my package is fine.
                          There are some reverse tilt homes in my HOA so hopefully that will be fine.
                          More concerned about delays from SDG&E for the panel upgrade at this point, trenching shouldn't be an issue since I saw many solar homes with 200amps panels and can't imagine they would've done trenching!


                          Last edited by jgd108; 07-11-2018, 03:08 PM.

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