1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Solar Power

Post in 'The Green Room' started by nate379, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I had installed the panels on the roof in August, but between work, cutting firewood, building a coop for my ducks, etc and then it turning colder than heck I didn't have a chance to finish the wiring.

    Warmed up over Christmas and I had a few days off from work so I knocked it out.

    I don't have any photos of the install in progress. I had them on my phone and somehow they all got erased !!!

    I put up 16 panels in total, 8 on each side of the roof, 3840 watts total.

    Everyone says north facing panels won't work that great BUT it was either only do 8 facing south or 16 facing south and north.
    I'm going to run it this summer and see how bad the difference between the south and north facing panels. Hoping that with the way the sun is overhead in the summer that it will be ok. The online calculator is saying about 1805 kwhr for the south and 952 for the north.
    I might end up pulling them and putting them on the house roof... maybe add a few more then as well, I'd need probably another 8 to cover my electrical use.

    Some info on my setup here:
    https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/kqxA100729

    Attached Files:

    DexterDay likes this.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Screw the Panels.... what's up with the Lotus?

    Nice ;) (Sorry, back on topic)

    That's on the wish list in the next few years.. (panels, not the car)

    Very nice... Another way of getting back to the basics and relying less on others. Getting off the grid would be a dream. :)
  3. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Lotus is my racing car. I have some vids on You Tube if you want to dig through them, same username as on here.
    jharkin and DexterDay like this.
  4. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,973
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    Looks like you did the right thing using enphase microinverters. Your installation is definitely a special case and unfortunately the main stream solar media is oriented to far lower latitudes. Even at my paltry latitude, I miss out on production in the summer as my panels are not oriented north of the east west line for part of the day. I do expect that you will have a very seasonal system with the vast majority of production occurring in the summer as I expect snow cover is going to be an issue. If you have the site, a tracking pole mount array would be the best set up as it would optimize your winter angle and make a major difference in spring and fall.
  5. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I don't really have to worry about snow as it generally blows away. The pics of the building in my first thread were taken this afternoon.

    The angle of the sun during winter is very low and we only have a few hours of light. For max effectiveness I'd need to put the panels at around 85* for the winter.
  6. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,419
    Loc:
    Holliston, MA USA
    Nice setup Nate - I like the idea of panels on an outbuilding. I want to add solar, but living in an antique I don't want them on the roof of the main house. I'd love to mount an array on my garage, but it gets too much shading to qualify for financing the install, so its a non starter here.
  7. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    With me doing it all myself the cost wasn't too bad. To just write a check and have it done it would have cost me around $20k. I was able to DIY for about 1/3 that.
  8. Joe Rampey

    Joe Rampey Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2012
    Messages:
    21
    Loc:
    North Carolina
    I like your savy DIY attitude - but you are leaving alot of potential on the table. I have 20 panels, all oriented south - and I get 4+ kw for 5+ hours a day in the winter... Find a way to get all of them pointed south. If you can make the array adjustable so it's get close to perpendicular to the sun it willl really add up. I adjust mine spring and fall. Summertime I'll get 4+ kw for 8+ hours.

    To get the most - solar panels need to see the sun - not diffuse sky illumination.
  9. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Nothing I already don't know, but like I explained I had a specific roof space to work with so I made use of what I have.
    The sunshine is much different in North Carolina than it is here so you can't exactly compare outputs of setups 4500+ miles apart. ;)

    I get enough daylight to power on my inverters from around 1030 to 1530. Looking at other Enphase installs in North Carolina, looks like they are seeing inverters on from around 0715 to 1730. That alone is a 5hr difference. That doesn't even factor that with the sun sitting low here it's usually kinda overcast/grey and not very powerful.
    It will be another 2-3 months till the sun starts coming more overhead.


    If I compare to other setups around this end of the world, I'm making normal power #s.

    Today:
    Me, Palmer, AK 509Wh, 16 panels. Avg 32Wh per panel.

    Fort Simpson, NT 258 panels 3.28 Kwh. Avg 13Wh per panel
    Kotzbue, AK, 16 panels, 28Wh Avg 1.8Wh per panel
    Nenanna, AK, 20 panels, 734Wh Avg 37Wh per panel
    Talketna, AK 48 panels, 187Wh Avg 3.9Wh per panel.


  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    54,060
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Are you still able to race?

    Have you the space and exposure to do part of the array as a ground mount that can face south? Maybe it could be on the roof of a new woodshed?
  11. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Where I have space in the yard it would look weird. Also I'd be worried about animals such as moose . If I do end up moving them it would be to my house roof.

    I bought the Lotus after my injury, it rides pretty smooth all considering and the seats fit me tight.
  12. Former Farmer

    Former Farmer Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Messages:
    320
    Loc:
    NE Wisconsin
    I have 40 panels installed on the south facing roof on my shed. During the dead of winter, I will only generate on average 20kw per day. During the height of summer they will produce on average 45kw per day. The panels are mounted flush on the roof at a 18 degree pitch. Day light hours here will double from winter to summer. Late fall is usually more overcast, so less production. I have SolarEdge optimizers to help with the snow cover during the winter.

    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/688/0103121434b.jpg/

    The number of daylight hours per day makes a significant difference as well as the amount of cloud cover. I think the further north a person, the less they have to be concerned with the amount of production during the winter months. Concentrate on the months that the sun is shining longer. You will make up most of what may have been lost during the less productive months.
  13. Former Farmer

    Former Farmer Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Messages:
    320
    Loc:
    NE Wisconsin
    Here is the picture listed in the link above.
    0103121434b.jpg
  14. Redskins82

    Redskins82 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Loc:
    Alabamy
    Would it be possible to build two racks each holding 4 panels? Each rack could be mounted on the south wall using a hinge on the top edge of each rack. Then you swing the bottom out from the wall so your panels are approximately perpendicular to the sun. With the racks being movable I don't know what problems that could cause with wiring though. Your sun angle might be low enough during the summer so that the top rack wouldn't shade the lower rack. At my latitude the lower rack would be shaded in the summer.
  15. Circus

    Circus Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2013
    Messages:
    161
    Loc:
    EC Wisconsin
    At that latitude mounting on the south wall would get a lot more power. I aggree with Redskin. I doubt your north facing panels will ever get substantial sun.
    The formula for finding the altitude (a) of the sun in degrees above the horizon is:
    a = 90° - L ± d, where L is the observer's latitude and d is the sun's declination
    north or south of the equator, which varies from 23½° N to 23½° S during the year.
    Then subtract the pitch of your north roof.

    [​IMG]
  16. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    The #s from PV Watts is showing about 60% output on the north panels vs the south. So far the north panels have made ~1400wh while the south have made 2500wh.

    I could mount maybe 3 panels to the wall but that's really all that would fit. The panels are 38"x65". The wall is only 8ft tall, 20ft long.

    Will see how it works out this summer and if it comes to it the north panels will end up on the house roof.
  17. Circus

    Circus Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2013
    Messages:
    161
    Loc:
    EC Wisconsin
    How can I say this nicely? They are both horrible! 50 cents? I would build a stand mounted on the ground so the panels face the southern horizon at 61 degrees from horizontal (29 degrees from vertical) or whatever your latitude is.
  18. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    About 0.65$. Latitude is 61.59*

    I think you forget that it's winter in Alaska. We don't exactly have much daylight. If I make 10 kwh this month I'd be surprised.
  19. wannabegreener

    wannabegreener Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    246
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    My roof line is almost 100% north south. I live in n.h. Any idea where you would put pv panels in that configuration? I have hot water solar collectors on the back pitched to the south, but would you do that for pv? Also, my roof is at least 13 years old. I'm assuming I would replace it before installing pv panels. What do people recommend? I was thinking metal roofing. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks
  20. GaryGary

    GaryGary Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Messages:
    291
    Loc:
    SW Montana
    Hi,
    You might try running PVwatts with one set of pv panels on the east facing slope, and another on the west facing slope and see how much you lose compared to facing the array south.

    If you try one array facing east and another facing west, you want to be sure the inverter mppt handles this -- the two arrays would have to each have their own mppt. Or, micro inverters would work.

    No place for a ground mount that faces south?

    We are going to switch to a metal roof at reroof time -- at least that's what we keep telling ourselves without seeing the estimates yet :)

    Gary
  21. Circus

    Circus Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2013
    Messages:
    161
    Loc:
    EC Wisconsin
    Got a handle on the hardware, my question is about the red tape. What kind of permits, inspections, insurance and utility agreements did you need?
    Is any excess power forfeited?
  22. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I just had to sign a few papers with the power company and a rep came out and looked it over to make sure it was installed correctly with their guidelines.
    I do need to install an outdoor disconnect switch, but otherwise my install was fine. Once I get that switch mounted they will swap my power meter out to a bi directional "net metering" one.

    As far as red tape, we don't have permits or inspections here for homeowners... my land/house, I can do what I want. I know some places a homeowner can barely change a lightbulb without an expensive permit/inspection.

    Excess power is sold back to power company at about $0.07/Kwh. It works on a credit/use system and at the end of a year if I made more power than used I get a check.

  23. Former Farmer

    Former Farmer Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Messages:
    320
    Loc:
    NE Wisconsin
    The red tape will vary greatly with the area that you are in. I had to get a local permit. It was a permitted use permit that said that a pv system is a permitted use for my land. I am zoned agricultural. The only inspection that I had was done by the utility company representative. Insurance - I had to add the value of the pv system to the value of my shed that it is mounted on. Also have to carry a certain amount of liability coverage - in case a utility linesman were to get injured in case my system did not shutdown when there is a power outage. Utility agreements will vary greatly as well. My utility discontinued the rate schedule that I have and created a new one for new installations. I am basically grandfathered in the old rate schedule. I receive for excess power that I generate, the same rate as what I pay for electricity purchased. I am on time of use rates, so this works out very well for me. The new rate schedule is about the same as what Nate379 stated, but at a lower rate.
  24. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2009
    Messages:
    644
    Loc:
    Allenton, Wisconsin
    Is there any way I can get hot water heat from solar and have it pumped to the basement and through a radiator to heat the basement? Has anyone done this?
  25. Former Farmer

    Former Farmer Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Messages:
    320
    Loc:
    NE Wisconsin
    Circus - Who is your electric provider? WPS or WE Energies? I know that WPS changed their excess electric buyback policy last year and WE Energies just got done changing theirs. With either one, you probably don't want to produce more that what you use. Their buyback rates are around that 0.05 per kWH or less. If you put up a system, your probably further off sizing it to your current monthly usage, not expecting to sell any back to the utility. If I remember right, one person who has WPS said that they receive the low rate on excess power generated during peak hours and are billed for non-peak hours at a rate that is higher than excess power rate during the same monthly bill. WPS did not apply the excess power kWH towards any usage kWH during the month, they just pay at a low rate and bill at a higher rate.

Share This Page