DIY solar ... or else the solar installer is going to reap the profits....

hydrodog
By hydrodog on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 - 4:32am

Just bought 30- 215 watt panels for 5200 dollars...   for myself..  6 kw inverter for about 3K...   Get a quote from the solar installer ...PM me the quote sheet ... and I'll show you how to shave about 40 per cent off the cost off his equipement/system....  give me about a week to get back to you...

If I'm helpful .... maybe  gift me a couple of silver oz ....coins .... for my effort.

Solar panels make lots of sense ... they will protect you from the large rate increases coming in the electric market ... If done with an off grid hook up or a hybrid system .... let the power go out you won't need a back up generator ... you still keep your power.

I've needed help from time to time but no one was there to help me ....  would like to see people helping each other .... action not just words....  Chris Kruger

 

 

,

13 Comments

bowskill's picture
bowskill
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 16 2012
Posts: 78
I am trying DIY solar also

Chris I bought 10 x 250 watt panels and this inverter (48v 8kW) but haven't made the time to hook it up yet. Was going to order more panels and was thinking of getting some batteries from here. Like you I recognised that the installers put a large markup on their products and services and that I could save a lot if I put it together myself. But once I started reading the standards I realised it is not quite so straight forward. Would be happy to gift you some Aussie silver coins from the Perth Mint if you can help me get it running. I will PM you.

hydrodog's picture
hydrodog
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 14 2008
Posts: 22
Help...for you...

It will be hard for me to visit you since you live in Aussie land and I'm in New England...   But think of your solar panels as batteries.... use series parallel ... to match up what you have with your inverter's import voltage...   You say you have an 8 kw inverter so I'm guessing it has a 48 Vdc input.     So if your panel are rated at 27 volts  you'd use two in series to get 54 volts to feed your inverter.  Then you'd parallel the rest of your panels which will not increase the voltage but will increase the currant.... 

Your inverter may have a battery charger and or charge controller intigrated within  .. read the instructions...REPEAT... read your inverter instructions it is the brain and an expensive item ....Inverters are not hard to set up ... input is your two dc legs.... then according to what you have for output on your ac side two three or four output terminals ... one phase or three phase ... with or without ground....Its best to be sure you have a charge controller in your system .... not an expensive item ....  

This may be helpful ... think of your panels as nothing more than batteries ...like car batteries ... put two together in series and you get 24v  put 4 in series and you get 48v ... now you could feed your inverter this ... and if you want to add ... you'd make another bank of 4 batteries so you have 48v again... put this feed to the inverter imput as well ... thats parallel....

Many system plans on Sun Electronic's site .. they are on the web and out of Miami Florida.  Site is easily googled....

This is all free help..

 

 

gyrogearloose's picture
gyrogearloose
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 8 2008
Posts: 549
off grid in nz

Hi am off grid diy...
A friend went grid tie and got burried in paper....
4 years or so ago the economics for off grid was small solar array big battery. Now days other way round.
Look at the costing of an array big enough so on a cloudy day you get enough for your daily needs and your battery only has to last the night.
I went nickel iron for their almost indestructible nature.
Do not have an inverter. Only drag is having to run the generator to do the washing. ....but that will end once I get time to put a 24v motor in it....

I am an engineer and will help with advice but have limited net time so do not expect a quick response. ...

Firstly KISS.!!!

If you dont have it, it won't break down.

Cheers Hamish

hydrodog's picture
hydrodog
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 14 2008
Posts: 22
KIss ... fully agree...

Off grid or a hybrid system is the way to go ....  Many in NJ that were only grid tie lost all there power along with everyone else during and after Hurricane Sandy....  Many are now retrofitting with batteries.

Size your system big enough so you have no need for a generator....  with how cheap the panel are now ... forget the tracker .... you can only put so many on a tracker .... then there is the cost of the tracker ... and maintenance....   With a properly operating tracker you gain about 25% more power but it isn't cost effective... since the panels are so cheap(Wholesale) just put up a few more panels....

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1988
If you have access

Grainger is a a business-to-business only supplier but they have the best prices we've found on panel kits for solar systems. Click here to see if these would work for you. If it does, they are everywhere and you can save on the shipping, which is huge.

As for the racks to install them at the proper angle, we used right-angle aluminum L-stock from our local Lowes. We used a pop-rivet tool to assemble the racks. Whatever you do, do NOT get your solar panels at a big box store. They got stuck with outdated, inefficient solar panels and are trying to offload them on unsuspecting folks.

Can't suggest where to get batteries, since we get used Uninterruptable Power Supply batteries for free.

GM_Man's picture
GM_Man
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 4 2012
Posts: 74
6Kw Yeah I would love that

6Kw is a lot of power and should do just fine for most folks,

I run a hybrid system that will always be undergoing change.  I run eight 230 watt panels that produce 47 volts/5 amps-ish.  I came up with the number by analyzing my grid-tied power use over a couple of years.  I wanted to meet the majority of my needs including two appliances (freezer and refrigerator) during the day.  Then I doubled the size of the array to deal with Winter loads and crazy weather.  I also built in the capacity to mount up to 12 panels and ran the power cables underground for that load.

KISS is important, Plan in advance.  KNOW how you are going to glue it all together.  Diagram your solution.  Ask questions!  They don't hurt.

The hardest part for me was running all that wiring through conduit.  I still have a bit to learn in that regard..  One mistake had me digging up about ten feet of the conduit to rewire.  Measure thrice and cut once!

Consider the installation an opportunity to understand why some things are done one way and not the other.  SAFETY FIRST!   When in doubt, check it out.

We purchased our components over five years, and didn't use credit to do so.  We have no debt and we have a system that does not go down when the grid goes down.  We'll be pretty close to off-grid by the end of this year, though we'll hold onto the grid for another year I suspect.  I need to review the best charge category to use after all my other projects come together.

Rgds,

Christopher H's picture
Christopher H
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 29 2009
Posts: 148
Check out Gary Reysa and builditsolar.com

Gary Reysa has written numerous articles for Mother Earth News on how to capture solar energy and put it to use, and his website, www.builditsolar.com, is a veritable gold mine for just about any solar project you can think of.

Here's the link to how he built his own PV system in Montana: http://builditsolar.com/Projects/PV/EnphasePV/Main.htm

One of the things I like about his system is that he used EnPhase micro-inverters on each panel.  This aided him in minimizing transmission loss (AC vs. DC), but perhaps even more importantly, meant that a bit of shade passing over one of his panels only affected the output from that panel.  Normally, if you have a shadow pass over your array it affects the output of ALL the panels.

I'm planning to start putting together my own piecemeal system, hopefully this summer, hiring a local electrician for the distribution work from the disconnect into the house, but doing all of the structural and assembly work myself.  This way I can spend what I can afford on it as I go, complete with a small battery bank for backup and a transfer switch so it can be hybrid on/off grid.  I figure that even if the initial system only reduces my electrical bill by 25%, that's a starting point, and it will be set up to allow expansion as I move forward.

MyBackAchers's picture
MyBackAchers
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: May 27 2013
Posts: 26
KISS

I just finished up the design for this place. Now it's the install but I spent the last 5 years reducing the power needs to be comfortable and will only a generator for 2 hours, 3-4 days a week to meet the high power demand needs.

the first thing to get removed was the freezer and a ice house got built. It has 8 55 gal drums freezing over winter (it's MN weather). The refrig was down sized to a large dorm size.

The house has a dishwasher and washer/dryer and I tried to switch to just clothes line but hanging clothes in mid winter can be hazardous! I plan to get a gas generator to run when I want to power the big things as money and time allows.

So the power use got down to bare bones and I hope to buy a 2.5 KW wind generator and batteries for the E-Trak (it's an antique electric tractor) and store power as the backup system when the wind is 15+mph.

Finally, what's left for the solar system is to power the things that run only during the day and year round, which is really saving the cost of the panels needed on the long run.

i do not think it is possible to KISS on future power because it has to come from a variety of resources-wood, wind, solar and even some gas power when needed. And to further complicate it, that generator may get powered from syn-gas one day. 

hydrodog's picture
hydrodog
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 14 2008
Posts: 22
Grainger is a good source but not cheap....

If you need solar cheap Sun Electronics out of Miami FL...... Do ground installations ..... uses steel angle out of Mill metals or Cohen steel ... if you are New England. Lin the steel with free cut up heavy inner tubes so steel and aluminum don't touch .... no electrolysis....
Home Depot ... Grainger .... Mc Master Car ... etc .... you will get your product but not cheaply....

GM_Man's picture
GM_Man
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 4 2012
Posts: 74
For What Its Worth...

For what its worth,

My small 2.5Kw solar system has allowed me to reduce my energy from an average of 19Kwh/day to 7Kwh.  That is from November/December figures to the end of March.  I was tuning and adjusting the settings on the MagnaSine Inverter, the Flexware 60 Charge Controller, and my lifestyle (what is on solar and when).  That works out to a better than 50% savings from the system.  Now I have to complete the solar hot water system reduce my use of propane (outrageous pricing for propane this past Winter).  Every drop in the bucket adds up to really live frugally...

Cheers!

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1988
You're right, hydrodog, but ...

But  - say we are getting a package of two 280 watt panels from Grainger at $1,118 ( minus our vendor discount of around $200, but never mind that right now). The equivalent Sun Electronics product would be five of their 120 watt solar panels (roughly the same amount of energy generation, 560 vs 600 watts). If you include shipping to our area--FL to SC--the Sun Electronics price is $100 cheaper than the regular Grainger price, but the panels are out of stock at Sun Electronics.  Shipping to further areas from FL will raise their actual price with shipping, too.

So yes, if you live near Miami, FL you can pick up really cheap solar panels at Sun Electronics because you do not have to pay shipping. Otherwise, I stand by the fact that Grainger's Grape Solar panels are a good equivalent supplier because you can pick them up. And Grainger has locations all over the place.

I am VERY interested in why you think aluminum stock is bad to hold up solar panels at the proper angle? We do not have dissimilar metals touching, if that is what you are worried about. Steel rusts horribly in our humid subtropical climate - that's why the bracing for our solar hot water and the material for our solar attic fan are made out of aluminum. Also, it is lighter and there is less of a weight load on the roof.

 

hydrodog's picture
hydrodog
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 14 2008
Posts: 22
Painted steel over Aluminum....

For ground installations .... strictly for cost .....    Sun Electronics blows everyone away if you get in on  a special ...and buy at least a pallet.  

Terry L's picture
Terry L
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 25 2009
Posts: 17
Costco sells grape solar...

Costco sells grape solar panels/systems last time I checked. Could be a better deal (but I haven't really compared.

Terry L

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