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| | |-+  Smallest UL approved grid tie inverter?
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Author Topic: Smallest UL approved grid tie inverter?  (Read 7309 times)
BioHazard
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« on: June 25, 2011, 04:25:40 PM »

I'm trying to take advantage of the state's solar tax credits, and I'm hoping to install a completely free system. Part of the reason for doing this is just so that I can get a net metering agreement with the power company and use it for other things.

I'm only going with a ~200 watt system right now, because that is the state's minimum requirement. They will give me a $600 tax credit for that.

The problem is all components have to be "new and UL certified". All the small grid tie inverters that I find are the no brand chinese style, obviously no UL approval. All the ones I do find that are UL approved, (Xantrex, sunnyboy, outback) are huge and cost a couple thousand bucks.

Is there a good MFG that sells a couple hundred watt grid tie inverter that IS UL approved? So far the cheapest one I have found is $1,000 and 2.8kw....I'll have about $300 left to spend after I buy the panel.
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Carlb
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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2011, 04:28:47 AM »

You can purchase Enphase inverters.  Each inverter is a micro-inverter that attaches directly to each solar panel.  One inverter one panel.  see link below

http://enphase.com/products/microinverters/
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BioHazard
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2011, 04:58:43 AM »

Exactly what I was looking for. Like the ebay ones but not so...chinese.  Grin
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Carlb
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« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2011, 07:35:13 AM »

The enphase are a little more expensive but you should be able to get an enphase and one 200 panel for 600 dollars.
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LowGear
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« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2011, 10:22:20 AM »

I find it really surprising that your power utility doesn't demand you get permission from them to wire one of the these in, much more a bunch of them, which usually incurs a government permit, system engineer drawing and, of course, a dedicated shut down switch.  Oh, I forgot the inspections.

You see; if it were simple and cheap then the country would be moving towards energy independence at a much different rate.  If a 1000 homes produced 1000 watts of energy a year that would only be a megawatt.  One stinking megawatt - why bother?!  Your 200 watt panel will produce much more than 1000 watts a week (a really good day actually).  You want us to make it easy?  If it isn't a magic bullet our American society just can't see it.

My theory is that if you put your water heater timer and a few other hard work jobs on surrounding noon their meter will rarely see the your production.

Casey
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BioHazard
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2011, 05:04:55 PM »

I find it really surprising that your power utility doesn't demand you get permission from them to wire one of the these in, much more a bunch of them, which usually incurs a government permit, system engineer drawing and, of course, a dedicated shut down switch.  Oh, I forgot the inspections.

I will need a simple electrical inspection, but I think that's all. It's actually not the utility that cares so much how I do it, but the state tax incentive people.

I do have alterior motives though. If I chose to skip the tax rebate, the power company will pay me $0.468/kwh for the solar, and they only charge about 10 cents normal rate. It only cost me about 20 cents/kw to make electricity from natural gas. You fill in the blanks. Wink

This installation is mostly an experiment to see how I get along with the power company and code enforcement and what kind of meters they install.  Smiley
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LowGear
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2011, 07:53:21 PM »

I can hardly wait for the tale of your adventure.

Casey

Oh!  I've yet to disagree with any of Carlb's recommendations.  The enphase units come up on eBay for less than $200 often or if you know a friendly licensed electrical contractor I believe their price is pretty good too.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2011, 07:56:28 PM by LowGear » Logged
BioHazard
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« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2011, 08:30:38 PM »

Yeah, I saw the ones on ebay. I can probably get a 200w panel and the inverter for about $500. $2.50/watt is pretty damn good when you include the inverter in that price. Or if I take the tax incentive route I like free better.  Grin

I found a local "solar trade ally contractor" that basically is required to install everything under most circumstances, I think I can buy the stuff and set it up and cut the wires and get the bolts ready and just have him make the final connections for me.
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BioHazard
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2011, 09:26:39 PM »

Alright, slap me in the face with some truth. If I spend $500 on a 200 watt panel and inverter I will need to generate 1068kwh @ $0.468 to break even. I can obviously scale this up as much as I want.

How many total watts is a 200w panel going to make on an average day? How many days will it take me to make 1068kwh? Not quite 3 years @ 5 hours per day or 1kw per day. Is that realistic?

Believe it or not they say this part of Oregon has roughly the same yearly solar potential as Florida.
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BioHazard
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« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2011, 09:40:09 PM »

I find it really surprising that your power utility doesn't demand you get permission from them to wire one of the these in, much more a bunch of them, which usually incurs a government permit, system engineer drawing and, of course, a dedicated shut down switch.  Oh, I forgot the inspections.

Here's the cut from the power company's website:
Quote
Steps for setting up Net Metering
1.Before beginning construction, complete PGE’s application (PDF) for Net Metering interconnection. For larger systems, see the business Net Metering section.
2.You will also need to complete a Net Metering agreement (PDF). You may wish to sign and include the agreement with your application to speed the process.
3.When your system is completed and has passed the appropriate city or county inspections, e-mail us. We will make a final inspection and install your Net Metering meter.

You’re done!


All of the forms are simple 1 page check boxes. Anything under 7.2kw requires no disconnect other than the inverter. City inspection can't be hard for a 200 watt panel....

It must totally suck to live in Hawaii.  Tongue
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LowGear
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« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2011, 10:33:07 PM »

Being Paradise does not make it Perfect.

Your panel is not yet installed.  And
Quote
3.When your system is completed and has passed the appropriate city or county inspections, e-mail us.

Without giving too much away where do you live?

Casey
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BioHazard
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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2011, 10:58:06 PM »

I'm a bit south of Portland in the Willamette valley. I found a chart that shows an estimated yearly output of 1.14 to 1.5 kilowatts per watt of installed panels.
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LowGear
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« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2011, 09:05:44 AM »

1 Kilowatt is worth 47 cents on the Oregon buy-back program?  That would make a 200 watt panel worth $94 a year.  So a $600 project would break even in a little over 6 years.  Unfortunately this would be in a perfect world. 

Getting the real numbers might be tricky.  I occasionally see 90% of rated output from my system but 50% is more usual with 10% for most daylight hours.  Carlb would have some very reliable numbers and is at a similar but not nearly as many sunny days as Willamette Valley enjoys.

Casey
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Carlb
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« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2011, 11:57:05 AM »

1 Kilowatt is worth 47 cents on the Oregon buy-back program?  That would make a 200 watt panel worth $94 a year.  So a $600 project would break even in a little over 6 years.  Unfortunately this would be in a perfect world. 

Getting the real numbers might be tricky.  I occasionally see 90% of rated output from my system but 50% is more usual with 10% for most daylight hours.  Carlb would have some very reliable numbers and is at a similar but not nearly as many sunny days as Willamette Valley enjoys.

Casey,

He said that they would give him a 600 dollar tax rebate for the installation of the system so I see it as a win win.   Plus he gets what he really wants net metering and an interconnect agreement  Wink with the utility.

Casey
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Metro 6/1  Diesel / Natural Gas, Backup Generator  
22kw Solar in three arrays 
2.5kw 3.7 meter wind turbine
2 Solar Air heaters  Totaling 150 Sq/Ft
1969 Camaro 560hp 4 speed automatic with overdrive
2005 Infiniti G35 coupe 6 speed manual transmission
BioHazard
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« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2011, 12:41:58 PM »

Getting the real numbers might be tricky.  I occasionally see 90% of rated output from my system but 50% is more usual with 10% for most daylight hours.
That's where the natural gas cogenerator comes in.....shhhhhh...... Wink

Casey,

He said that they would give him a 600 dollar tax rebate for the installation of the system so I see it as a win win.   Plus he gets what he really wants net metering and an interconnect agreement  Wink with the utility.
I still have to choose, it's either the tax rebate, OR high dollar for my solar, not both. If I go with the state rebates I can only sell the solar for what I buy power at. But if I skip them I still get the 30% federal credits...

I'm hoping the power company will get the idea that I'm just starting small and plan on expanding my solar system in the future. (which is partially true)
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