Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Our New Grid-Tied PV System -- First Sun

The new PV system we have been working on putting in is up and running.  There are many pages of detail and a hundred or so pictures that go through the whole planning, design and installation process in mind numbing detail here...
Sections on performance and economics of the system are also included.


The system is a 2150 watt grid-tied system.  It uses the new micro-inverter approach from Enpahse -- so, each PV panel gets its own small grid-tie inverter.

The panels are ground mounted with our own mounting racks. 

We did the whole installation ourselves, and I've tried to include enough detail to be helpful to anyone who wants to install a PV system of their own.  I've tried to cover not only the details of the component installs and wiring, but also the stuff like deciding on what kind of system, locating the panels, doing a solar site survey, and going through the permiting and net metering process.  It should be enough reading to put you to sleep for a week of nights.


It was a technically interesting and fun project -- not having any previous experience with solar electric stuff, I learned a lot. 
But, the economics are also interesting.  Basically, the system cost was right near $10K or $4.65 a watt -- after rebates this gets down to $6.5K and $3 per watt.  Better than what I was expecting.  The $ saving per year if you pay 10cents a KWH would be $300, or about a 5% return on the $6,500 -- tax free and energy price inflation protected.
Not so bad, but when you compare our PV to well thought out conservation/efficiency projects, or to DIY solar heating projects its comes out a very very distant 2nd -- some examples in the Economics section.

I've fallen behind in getting other projects that people have sent in up, but now that the PV is done, I plan to catch up right after Thanksgiving -- so, keep the projects coming in!


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