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New System design, is Solardesigntool.com a good tool?

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  • reader2580
    replied
    I used solardesigntool.com with the free trial to do the single line diagram to get my electrical permit. The city here doesn't have any particular rules for solar due to a very small number of solar installs. I would estimate less than 20 solar installs in my city based on only 160 solar installs in an electric co-op with 130,000 members.
    Last edited by reader2580; 01-19-2020, 12:40 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • bcroe
    replied
    Originally posted by df0rster
    We won't really have a snow problem here. So is it worth the tilt feature
    for the added production in winter months?
    There are many more panels here fixed at a good summer angle. Near the shortest day, when I
    can see the sun, the inverters typically have dropped back from saturation in summer, to around
    85%. Clearly a better angle would boost the output per the angle cosign. For me these panels
    require most of the effort clearing snow. However that effort was more than double before drop
    though spaces were put between panels. Bruce Roe

    Leave a comment:


  • df0rster
    replied
    Originally posted by bcroe View Post

    This arrangement of 24 panels has been working better than anything else I have,
    rejecting snow for 2 years. Since it balanced, tilt change is easy. Each 4 panels are
    sitting on a machine bearing, and a lower brace stiffens it. One bolt (easily reached
    from the ground) must be removed from each lower brace to adjust tilt.

    good luck, Bruce Roe


    18ArrayR.JPG
    We won't really have a snow problem here. So is it worth the tilt feature for the added production in winter months?

    Leave a comment:


  • bcroe
    replied
    Originally posted by df0rster View Post

    I've been thinking about that also. Any suggestions on a mounting system that allows
    pretty easy adjustment? I'm thinking of installing around 16 panels.
    This arrangement of 24 panels has been working better than anything else I have,
    rejecting snow for 2 years. Since it is balanced, tilt change is easy. Each 4 panels are
    sitting on a machine bearing, and a lower brace stiffens it. One bolt (easily reached
    from the ground) must be removed from each lower brace to adjust tilt.

    good luck, Bruce Roe


    18ArrayR.JPG
    Last edited by bcroe; 01-16-2020, 02:49 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • df0rster
    replied
    Originally posted by bcroe View Post
    With a DIY ground mount you might consider making it easy to change tilt twice a year. That
    would allow more optimum operation for warm and cold seasons, and also very much improve
    rejection of snow. If expecting snow, mount them high enough to clear any snow accumulation
    pile below. good luck, Bruce Roe
    I've been thinking about that also. Any suggestions on a mounting system that allows pretty easy adjustment? I'm thinking of installing around 16 panels.

    Leave a comment:


  • bcroe
    replied
    With a DIY ground mount you might consider making it easy to change tilt twice a year. That
    would allow more optimum operation for warm and cold seasons, and also very much improve
    rejection of snow. If expecting snow, mount them high enough to clear any snow accumulation
    pile below. good luck, Bruce Roe

    Leave a comment:


  • df0rster
    replied
    Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

    That's a pretty low system cost/STC W before tax credit.
    Self install ?
    What do you value your cost of labor at ?
    What is your annual usage ?

    Yes it is low. I am designing a pretty basic system since I have pretty low usage, around 11,000 kWh/year. The $6k price is with low cost panels and SMA string inverter. using enphase inverters or higher priced panels and the cost goes up some of course.

    My labor is pretty cheap, since I'll just do it in my spare time after work. Almost free . Yes self install. I've done a couple of small off grid solar applications myself already.

    Leave a comment:


  • J.P.M.
    replied
    Originally posted by df0rster View Post

    My actual rates are around 10c per kWh currently. And the system I am looking at installing is around $6,000 for 6kw, minus the federal tax credit. so payback would be around 5-6 years.
    That's a pretty low system cost/STC W before tax credit.
    Self install ?
    What do you value your cost of labor at ?
    What is your annual usage ?


    Leave a comment:


  • df0rster
    replied
    Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

    Understood. Thank you.

    With rates that low, I'd wonder how to make a PV system cost effective at all and so not bother.
    My actual rates are around 10c per kWh currently. And the system I am looking at installing is around $6,000 for 6kw, minus the federal tax credit. so payback would be around 5-6 years.

    Leave a comment:


  • J.P.M.
    replied
    Originally posted by HollySprings View Post
    This is my perspective, but not from your service territory. Your local, member owned, Electric Membership Cooperatives (EMCs) generally have better NM rates and/or terms than the power generator, publicly held monopolies. In the US almost everywhere, the EMC net metering tariffs mirror the avoided cost of the generator, and that cost has dropped percipitously over the last several years. When I say "rates and/or terms" that just means to pay attention to interconnect fees and TOU rating schedules.

    Having said that, a quick google search shows Public Service Company of Oklahoma's (PSO) unrated purchases at $0.04652 per kWh, which is higher than I expected, given that PSO has low rates (up to $0.06228 on-peak) compared to generators elsewhere (NC is $0.11+ per kWh.)

    Source: https://www.psoklahoma.com/account/bills/rates/

    Regarding the SolarDesignTool.com tool, I looked at it in 2017 before doing the layout and one-liner for our small solar farm. I recall the pricing was significantly higher back then. I do not remember if I did the 14 day trial because I tried a few different tools. I settled on using an InkScape template from another project. I don't know how portable the files are between systems (I believe mine was SVG and not proprietary) or what the service agreement allows you to own/download. From a quick glance, though, I would use this tool at the price advertised if/when I get an opportunity for another ground mount project. I looked at Renvu's package in 2017 as well, but the SolarDesignTool with today's pricing looks like it potentially has more bang-for-the-buck.
    Understood. Thank you.

    With rates that low, I'd wonder how to make a PV system cost effective at all and so not bother.

    Leave a comment:


  • HollySprings
    replied
    This is my perspective, but not from your service territory. Your local, member owned, Electric Membership Cooperatives (EMCs) generally have better NM rates and/or terms than the power generator, publicly held monopolies. In the US almost everywhere, the EMC net metering tariffs mirror the avoided cost of the generator, and that cost has dropped percipitously over the last several years. When I say "rates and/or terms" that just means to pay attention to interconnect fees and TOU rating schedules.

    Having said that, a quick google search shows Public Service Company of Oklahoma's (PSO) unrated purchases at $0.04652 per kWh, which is higher than I expected, given that PSO has low rates (up to $0.06228 on-peak) compared to generators elsewhere (NC is $0.11+ per kWh.)

    Source: https://www.psoklahoma.com/account/bills/rates/

    Regarding the SolarDesignTool.com tool, I looked at it in 2017 before doing the layout and one-liner for our small solar farm. I recall the pricing was significantly higher back then. I do not remember if I did the 14 day trial because I tried a few different tools. I settled on using an InkScape template from another project. I don't know how portable the files are between systems (I believe mine was SVG and not proprietary) or what the service agreement allows you to own/download. From a quick glance, though, I would use this tool at the price advertised if/when I get an opportunity for another ground mount project. I looked at Renvu's package in 2017 as well, but the SolarDesignTool with today's pricing looks like it potentially has more bang-for-the-buck.

    Leave a comment:


  • J.P.M.
    replied
    Originally posted by df0rster View Post

    I'm considering ground mount to make it more accessible and optimize the angle, also my roof is very steep and I don't really want to screw a bunch of panels through my shingles and deal with shingle replacement, etc. Also the cost difference is minimal and I have a lot of land in which to place the array.

    I'm not sure about the microinverters yet. But reading on here it seems it makes install a little easier. And the cost difference over using a sting inverter is not that much, maybe $500 more for enphase vs sunny boy. I really could go either way on inverters.

    Net metering is better in OK for me due to some new laws just passed. I haven't researched this yet but was just told it has improved. My father in law also just installed an array and the local coop told him they improved their terms so that now they allow net metering to accumulate the entire year instead of month to month as it was before. That's a huge improvement for me.

    So any input on the solardesigntool site?
    Thank you for the response.

    Never having used one, I'm ignorant about using bought out design outfits. Just trying to offer a comment or two. Take them for what they may be worth. Otherwise, scarp them.

    I'd respectfully suggest you investigate what you hear from others regarding NEM being better than in the past. It may well be, but to my experience, most folks usually do little more than repeat what they hear. What they hear may well be hearsay/gossip and in any case, spoken by someone usually less than adequately informed. Besides, every situation is different. What may be good/better for one situation may be worse for some other situation, and vice versa. To my experience, rates and POCO policies are seldom as monolithic as folks want to make them.

    On micros, or optimizers for that matter, the kiss principle applies. The install may be easier, but the probability of increased maint/repair as well as lost production and downtime is greater. Pay your money, take your choice. A simple string inverter system will have fewer components and so has less to fail. Also, check your local building code requirements for rapid shutdown requirements and other details, but a ground mount sited for min. shade may not need the one big advantage of micros - they do handle shade better than string inverters.

    Leave a comment:


  • df0rster
    replied
    Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
    Assuming you are taking advantage of a ground mount's greater siting flexibility to avoid shading, why are you considering microinverters ?

    How has net metering improved for you ?

    In many/most areas, in the U.S. anyway, net metering has become less cost effective over the last few years, not better. FWIW, in CA, by ~ 20-25 % or so. Not saying you're wrong on that but your situation, while possible, is a bit unusual.

    The U.S. fed. tax credit is also less as of 01/01/2020, 26% now vs. 30 % prior.

    What are your goals in considering a PV system ? To the degree PV cost effectiveness is one goal, has net metering improved that much for your situation so that now is a better time than in the past ?
    I'm considering ground mount to make it more accessible and optimize the angle, also my roof is very steep and I don't really want to screw a bunch of panels through my shingles and deal with shingle replacement, etc. Also the cost difference is minimal and I have a lot of land in which to place the array.

    I'm not sure about the microinverters yet. But reading on here it seems it makes install a little easier. And the cost difference over using a sting inverter is not that much, maybe $500 more for enphase vs sunny boy. I really could go either way on inverters.

    Net metering is better in OK for me due to some new laws just passed. I haven't researched this yet but was just told it has improved. My father in law also just installed an array and the local coop told him they improved their terms so that now they allow net metering to accumulate the entire year instead of month to month as it was before. That's a huge improvement for me.

    So any input on the solardesigntool site?

    Leave a comment:


  • J.P.M.
    replied
    Assuming you are taking advantage of a ground mount's greater siting flexibility to avoid shading, why are you considering microinverters ?

    How has net metering improved for you ?

    In many/most areas, in the U.S. anyway, net metering has become less cost effective over the last few years, not better. FWIW, in CA, by ~ 20-25 % or so. Not saying you're wrong on that but your situation, while possible, is a bit unusual.

    The U.S. fed. tax credit is also less as of 01/01/2020, 26% now vs. 30 % prior.

    What are your goals in considering a PV system ? To the degree PV cost effectiveness is one goal, has net metering improved that much for your situation so that now is a better time than in the past ?

    Leave a comment:


  • New System design, is Solardesigntool.com a good tool?

    I've been contemplating for a couple years installing grid tied solar. Things have gotten better in my area for net metering in general so its a good time for it I think.

    I designed a system using SolarDesignTool.com a couple years ago and it seemed pretty good. Just wondering if DIY'ers still use that tool or is there a better tool for design and permitting packages? The other option is to use Renvu's permitting package service which is about $500 when you buy all your components from them.

    I will be doing a ground mount around 5-7kw and am considering enphase microinverters currently.

    Thanks for any input!
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