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41.3kW DIY Solar Panel Install on 4 houses

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  • 41.3kW DIY Solar Panel Install on 4 houses

    I'm pretty excited about getting my first solar. To make the numbers add up I really have to install it myself as much as possible. I'm starting with House A which is my primary residence. I'm definitely going to be on here asking a lot of questions .

    My goal is to get House A and B done this year. I have 4 months left so hopefully that's enough time.

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  • #2
    Wow I hope you researched how your local utility is going to treat your proposed system? In my area anything more than 10 KW connected to the utility makes it very expensive to interconnect and net metering goes by the wayside. There is a concept called community solar systems where there is one community array that virtually net meters to different accounts but you eeem to want to be the power company

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    • #3
      Originally posted by peakbagger View Post
      Wow I hope you researched how your local utility is going to treat your proposed system? In my area anything more than 10 KW connected to the utility makes it very expensive to interconnect and net metering goes by the wayside. There is a concept called community solar systems where there is one community array that virtually net meters to different accounts but you eeem to want to be the power company
      That's the next step. Unless it changed, my power company allows credit sharing within one account. I'll make some calls to the power company. They do have limitation on the size of PVs per house but I'm not sure if that applies to all the PVs in the account.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by MaxThisPower View Post

        That's the next step. Unless it changed, my power company allows credit sharing within one account. I'll make some calls to the power company. They do have limitation on the size of PVs per house but I'm not sure if that applies to all the PVs in the account.
        There is also a concept with some utilities for virtual net metering and aggregate net metering but at least in the one I am familiar with in California the properties had to be contiguous.
        9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

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        • #5
          I'm glad I listened you guys' advice on using PVWatts to calculate my PV generation. I thought that a 7.3kW system would generate 1,111kWh per month but turns out that's only for states in the south like California. Up north a 7.3kW will average out to 866kW per month.

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          • #6
            I just received my documents I need to get a permit from the vendor however they don't create the site map so I had to spend several hours learning how to create one.That was a nice learning experience.

            So far I've spent 23 hours and I haven't even ordered the panels yet. Does it normally take that long to do all the prep work?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by MaxThisPower View Post
              So far I've spent 23 hours and I haven't even ordered the panels yet. Does it normally take that long to do all the prep work?
              I spent way more time than that before ordering panels.

              * researching what type of inverter
              * researching what type of rails
              * measuring roof planes and vent locations so that I could determine panel locations
              * researching grounding requirements
              * researching wiring and conduit
              * researching potential suppliers
              * getting pricing info from potential suppliers
              * creating documents for building permit
              * learning about 3' setback rule
              * meeting with fire dept. for waiver to 3' setback rule on part of my design
              * meeting with building dept for permit review

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              • #8
                BTW - have you confirmed that the panel you have currently is a 100A busbar?
                Because there are a number of panels that are 100A main breaker and 125A busbar.
                125A * 1.2 - 100A = 50A available (which would be a 9.6kW AC system)

                While I don't know your building dept - for my AHJ, I could do all the work under 1 permit - any subcontractor I hired out needed to be licensed subcontractor, but I could pull a single permit for all the work being done, including anything I hired a subcontractor for.

                Also, I doubt you can get a Tesla solar system for $1.50/W, even after tax credit (especially with the extra $1600 for upgrading the main panel)


                PS the background music on your video makes me want to reach through the monitor and smack you upside the head.

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                • #9
                  * researching what type of inverter
                  * researching what type of rails
                  * measuring roof planes and vent locations so that I could determine panel locations
                  * researching grounding requirements
                  * researching wiring and conduit
                  * researching potential suppliers
                  * getting pricing info from potential suppliers
                  Sounds like you know what you are doing. Unfortunately I'm just a layman when it comes to solar that's why I'm going with a kit but I can see how quickly your time would add up if you researched all the equipment.

                  * creating documents for building permit
                  * learning about 3' setback rule
                  * meeting with fire dept. for waiver to 3' setback rule on part of my design
                  * meeting with building dept for permit review
                  As for the 3' setback, I read in one of the city's solar documentation that if you can't have the setback than there could be exceptions on a case by case but who approves the exception I don't know. Just to be on the safe side, I'll call the fire department and ask about it.

                  BTW - have you confirmed that the panel you have currently is a 100A busbar?
                  I couldn't find any manuals where it stated the bus bar amperage so I'm assuming it's just 100a.

                  PS Ouch that hurt

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                  • #10
                    Max,

                    You're obviously smart. Don't sell yourself short.

                    Please understand that kit is the easy part. Any dealer will sell you a turn-key package. Getting the right package for your needs is a bit harder. That's why it is important to figure out what you need.

                    The details about your house and your electrical system are also critical. The dealer and the kit won't solve that either.

                    Going to the fire department is a good idea. Another idea is to find your town building inspector. They have a more general knowledge of these things and can give you advice on electrical, setback and other requirements.

                    Each town seems to have their own standards for setback. But busbar requirements are specified in the national electric code (NEC) and specifications are in the circuit breaker box (load center, service panel). Find the model number, call the manufacturer or a stocking dealer, and ask.
                    7kW Roof PV, APsystems QS1 micros, Nissan Leaf EV

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MaxThisPower View Post
                      Sounds like you know what you are doing. Unfortunately I'm just a layman when it comes to solar that's why I'm going with a kit but I can see how quickly your time would add up if you researched all the equipment.
                      I know a lot more now, after doing a lot of reading and doing my install.
                      I also essentially "went with a kit".
                      Much of that research was part of determining which kits were good choices for my purpose.
                      And if you haven't realized it already, the "kit" these vendors have is really only a starting point. Most likely you will want to change it to suit your needs. And the vendors I've dealt with are fine with that - the "kit" is just a starting point for a list of materials - they are fine with adding/subtracting items from your BoM to fit your project. And when I was pricing things out for my build, I found that there was no discount that you get because you're buying a "kit". If you bought the same set of items piecemeal you would usually get the same price at the vendor that had them as a "kit" - and in the few cases that I didn't find that, I could get all the components at a different vendor for cheaper

                      I couldn't find any manuals where it stated the bus bar amperage so I'm assuming it's just 100a.
                      If you can find a model number on the breaker box, possibly you can look up the model and find documentation for it.

                      Personally, I had an old Federal Pacific fire hazard, I mean electrical panel as my main panel, so the solar installation was a very good time to replace it.

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                      • #12
                        My permit was approved. I think the firefighters are able to get on my roof without the needing the 3' setback. I did call the local fire department and they basically said they didn't really care where the panels are located; that's more of a city code.

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