Author Topic: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation  (Read 62825 times)

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Offline M. András

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #50 on: June 17, 2013, 04:44:41 am »
Internet, meet reality.

Thanks! Wow! The local power companies would refuse to connect such distributions to the grid (maybe the first and the third).
hahh, ive seen worse here in our house. 6mm2 aluminium wire stripped down approx 5cm then 6 1mm2 aluminium wire was just twisted onto that. insulation was burned about 2cm back on all of them. this was the neutral connection after the power meter in the owner accesible side, the earth connection was a little better but jes i would hang up the electrician who did that 30 years ago unfortunatly no pictures but i could show them for a few people over the years as a sign of shit work
 

Offline Eliminateur

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #51 on: June 17, 2013, 04:57:18 am »
i don't like countries that are all uppity and anal-retentive about electrical code and certified electricians and all that, it's a bunch of red-tape BS.
that's why i like old installations better, with baquelite insulators, wooden backing, backelite switches(breakers?, who needs breakers, pfft).

At least over here you can put up a front "for appearances" witha single switch, they give you the ok then you wire your house whoever the hell you want.
in fact my house only has a single main breaker, that's it(apart from the maneuver switch for the generator), no segmented lines and all that BS, single fat line "bus bar" running through the house from which everything is derived/connected.(we wired the entire house ourselves being all technicians and related industries, wouldn't pay a dime for a dude to install it).
and i don't know if solar would be useful for us, roof is small compared the the surface of the house itself and has different shaped segments, plus the 2x 500L water tanks cast shadows, and our consumption is well into the MWh in summer (what with all the computers, aircons, basement workshop and all that)
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #52 on: June 17, 2013, 05:04:29 am »
in fact my house only has a single main breaker, that's it(apart from the maneuver switch for the generator), no segmented lines and all that BS, single fat line "bus bar" running through the house from which everything is derived/connected.(we wired the entire house ourselves being all technicians and related industries, wouldn't pay a dime for a dude to install it).

:wtf: I hope you keep a good stock of marshmallows to roast over your electrical fire.
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Offline dr.diesel

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #53 on: June 17, 2013, 05:12:11 am »
i don't like countries that are all uppity and anal-retentive about electrical code and certified electricians and all that, it's a bunch of red-tape BS.

To some point I agree, I'm a EE but not a certified electrician, quite capable of doing my own wiring.

On the flip side though, of the two houses I've owned, both pre-owned, the electrical work WAS ABSOLUTE garbage.  Miracle both didn't burn to the ground due to "DIYers" that had no business with a screw driver.

Offline c4757p

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #54 on: June 17, 2013, 05:13:54 am »
Let's put it this way: I am absolutely in love with the fact that in this part of New York State, I can do my own electrical work for free. I am absolutely in fear of the fact that my neighbor can.
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Offline dr.diesel

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #55 on: June 17, 2013, 05:18:08 am »
Let's put it this way: I am absolutely in love with the fact that in this part of New York State, I can do my own electrical work for free. I am absolutely in fear of the fact that my neighbor can.

Well put, same here in Indiana, expect I have my 2nd Amendment rights as well!   Ha ha, sorry..

Offline c4757p

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #56 on: June 17, 2013, 05:20:07 am »
Replace "do my own electrical work for free" for my opinion on that one  :)
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Offline madires

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #57 on: June 17, 2013, 05:30:01 am »
Thanks! Wow! The local power companies would refuse to connect such distributions to the grid (maybe the first and the third).

Why? They're not unsound.

They're also not new installations, I picked the last two because they actually show the incoming service.

The real world is not shiny and new.

Old installations got a right of continuance (not to meet current requirements) as long as they're not modified and met requirements when they were installed. If the power company connected the distribution back then it's fine. On the other hand if somethings bad happens the insurance won't pay and/or the owner of the building could face a lot of trouble in court.
 

Offline M. András

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #58 on: June 17, 2013, 05:30:23 am »
in fact my house only has a single main breaker, that's it(apart from the maneuver switch for the generator), no segmented lines and all that BS, single fat line "bus bar" running through the house from which everything is derived/connected.(we wired the entire house ourselves being all technicians and related industries, wouldn't pay a dime for a dude to install it).

:wtf: I hope you keep a good stock of marshmallows to roast over your electrical fire.
nah i ripped out all the goddam aluminium wiring 7 years ago and replaced with 2.5mm2 solidcore copper wires splitted even further then it was before with each socket chain ending its own braker. some part of the wiring was braked in with the plastic tubing and then plastered in when they did that, i was told they did this during that time preassemble the whole thing on the floor then put into the walls well had to remove some of the corners where the wiring was laid cos the idiot broke the plastic tubing and i couldnt get the wires out. we used up total of 80kg material to fill up the holes we had to make in the walls cos the shitty job of the builders of this house. i had doubt on the contact resistance of these:

but after all these years without problem, no these are not in the breaker box. unfortunatly i couldnt touch the incoming aluminium wiring unless i rip off the seals from the meter box. which i wont do, i just wait for the utility company to come and replace the meters in their usual intervallum around 10 years after the last replacement
 

Offline madires

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #59 on: June 17, 2013, 05:43:30 am »
i had doubt on the contact resistance of these:

but after all these years without problem, no these are not in the breaker box.

Those connectors are standard for junction boxes for over 15 years :-)
 

Offline LaurenceW

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #60 on: June 17, 2013, 05:44:05 am »
Dave, I've had a 4kWpk system running here in the UK for a couple of years, did a LOT of research beforehand, so am interested to compare your new installation. It looks good!

The SMA inverters are indeed the Dogs' Dangly Bits. As has been mentioned, your SB3000 does not come with a fan. The same casing and heatsink also serves in SMA's 5000W model (although that does have a fan). Since the fan is the only moving, and so least relaible part, I don't thnk you'll miss it! The fan on my SB4000 never comes on, anyway. And at ~97% efficiency, the inverter case only has to shed max 90W anyway.

The FREE Bluetooth Sunny Explorer software is well worth installing - lots of info available.

2kW from a 3kWpk system - in the middle of "winter" ??? I'm not JEALOUS >:(
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Offline Rufus

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #61 on: June 17, 2013, 05:51:12 am »
2kW from a 3kWpk system - in the middle of "winter" ??? I'm not JEALOUS >:(

But not as jealous as Dave is of the stupid of the stupid FIT you are getting?
 

Offline Eliminateur

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #62 on: June 17, 2013, 06:13:15 am »
in fact my house only has a single main breaker, that's it(apart from the maneuver switch for the generator), no segmented lines and all that BS, single fat line "bus bar" running through the house from which everything is derived/connected.(we wired the entire house ourselves being all technicians and related industries, wouldn't pay a dime for a dude to install it).

:wtf: I hope you keep a good stock of marshmallows to roast over your electrical fire.
the risk is negligible, we overrated everything.
and even if the electrical wiring shorted so hard to bring fire (well wires are flame retardant anyway) the house is not build on extremely flammable materials like in the US, we build like a friggin nuclear bunker, solid reinforced concrete and solid brick all over.
even if an entire room caught fire it would hardly affect the rest of the house the way it is built
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #63 on: June 17, 2013, 06:29:53 am »
even if an entire room caught fire it would hardly affect the rest of the house the way it is built

Oh, it will. It is not the fire that kills you, it is the smoke.
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Offline M. András

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #64 on: June 17, 2013, 06:36:52 am »
agreed the plastic smoke is worse and yeah in a brick or concrete wall there is nothing what it can ignite 5cm deep in the wall
 

Online Monkeh

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #65 on: June 17, 2013, 06:45:32 am »
the risk is negligible, we overrated everything.
and even if the electrical wiring shorted so hard to bring fire (well wires are flame retardant anyway) the house is not build on extremely flammable materials like in the US, we build like a friggin nuclear bunker, solid reinforced concrete and solid brick all over.
even if an entire room caught fire it would hardly affect the rest of the house the way it is built

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Offline JackOfVA

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #66 on: June 17, 2013, 06:45:37 am »
2kW from a 3kWpk system - in the middle of "winter" ??? I'm not JEALOUS >:(

But not as jealous as Dave is of the stupid of the stupid FIT you are getting?

There has been many comments on various ham radio boards about the radio frequency interference generated by neighbor's solar power systems - the inverter is the noise generator and apparently many inverters have little RFI suppression.

Have you observed any RFI on medium wave broadcast or FM band broadcast? (Assuming you are not also an amateur radio operator so you can observe the shortwave bands as well).
 

Offline Leon

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #67 on: June 17, 2013, 07:14:06 am »
The same casing and heatsink also serves in SMA's 5000W model (although that does have a fan).
That is incorrect. All of the SB 21-series (they call them sunny boy with reactive power control), including the 4000 and 5000 use convection cooling. It's the previous 20-series that had "Opticool" in them (it uses a fan). See:
http://www.sma.de/produkte/solar-wechselrichter-ohne-transformator/sunny-boy-3000tl-3600tl-4000tl-5000tl-mit-reactive-power-control.html#Technische-Daten-3650

In the Netherlands we pay around € 0.22/kWh, FIT is € 0.22 until you reach your total usage, above that you get something like € 0.07-0.09. With 18x260Wp on our roof, let's say I look forward to the bill  ;)
 

Offline DrGeoff

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #68 on: June 17, 2013, 07:44:12 am »
I wish Dave the best of luck with his solar set up. I've been 50/50 over going solar power based, too many external variables for my liking, plus it has been somewhat of a political football. Be most interested in the figures and how it stacks up to doing things on the consumption side of the equation.

Currently we use evacuated tube solar hot water and roof space heat reclaiming (Ventis) with passive solar design & thermal mass (plus a forced air wood fire for winter) - we have no air con, don't need it.

I have to agree with this. I did the same with my new home, no AC, passive solar design and thermal inertia, and also the wodd fire for heating in winter. There's no gas where I am and we are right in the middle of a high risk bushfire zone so gas bottles are not an option. Solar hot water works really well, right throughout the year.

However when looking at PV solar there was too much Guvmint fiddling going on. I get to generate power when I don't want it, get 6c/kWh and then when I do want power in the evening I can't generate it so I get to pay 40c/kWh for it. I'd rather a power storage system or fuel cell generator with the grid solely as backup.
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Offline Corporate666

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #69 on: June 17, 2013, 08:06:52 am »
Can the utility companies just arbitrarily change the amount they pay you for putting power back into the grid?

I believe power here costs around $0.15 KWh, but the average in the USA is around $0.11.  Pretty crap that they charge you $0.20 but pay $0.06.  If they can just decide to drop it to $0.03 or whatever they like in the future, it would be a big factor in deciding whether to invest in a solar system.
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Offline manicdoc

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #70 on: June 17, 2013, 08:14:48 am »
I wish Dave the best of luck with his solar set up. I've been 50/50 over going solar power based, too many external variables for my liking, plus it has been somewhat of a political football. Be most interested in the figures and how it stacks up to doing things on the consumption side of the equation.

Currently we use evacuated tube solar hot water and roof space heat reclaiming (Ventis) with passive solar design & thermal mass (plus a forced air wood fire for winter) - we have no air con, don't need it.

I have to agree with this. I did the same with my new home, no AC, passive solar design and thermal inertia, and also the wodd fire for heating in winter. There's no gas where I am and we are right in the middle of a high risk bushfire zone so gas bottles are not an option. Solar hot water works really well, right throughout the year.

However when looking at PV solar there was too much Guvmint fiddling going on. I get to generate power when I don't want it, get 6c/kWh and then when I do want power in the evening I can't generate it so I get to pay 40c/kWh for it. I'd rather a power storage system or fuel cell generator with the grid solely as backup.

Yep solar generation and consumption are exactly out of phase with each other for us as well...

BTW - the only problem I've had over the years is the solar hot water pump controller 'failing' - when I cracked it open found a PIC and a cheap as chips mains relay that had burnt out on the contacts - replaced with a much higher rated relay and its been working fine since.. difference in cost - may 50c...

I also know a friend who was convinced to buy 8 evacuated tube units - to do combined hot water and pool heating - the 'con'tractor subsequently did a runner and she is now left with a half installed system doing nothing. I'm going to go round and check out how much is needed to get it going at least for the hot water. Shame she can't run a steam powered generator...
 

Offline DrGeoff

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #71 on: June 17, 2013, 08:17:59 am »
Can the utility companies just arbitrarily change the amount they pay you for putting power back into the grid?

I believe power here costs around $0.15 KWh, but the average in the USA is around $0.11.  Pretty crap that they charge you $0.20 but pay $0.06.  If they can just decide to drop it to $0.03 or whatever they like in the future, it would be a big factor in deciding whether to invest in a solar system.

Not in NSW they can't, the tarrifs are regulated.
Smart metering means that you pay 48c/kWh during peak, about 20c/kWh shoulder and 12c/kWh low. I've been monitoring it for a while and it averages out to around 25c/kWh with our current usage. So the power companies are buying power from you at a very low rate to sell back to you at a much higher rate.
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Offline EEVblog

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« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 08:23:53 am by EEVblog »
 

Offline ConKbot

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #73 on: June 17, 2013, 08:22:18 am »
Jeeze, all these residential panels are to tiny compared to ones in the US. Ive seen bigger sub-panels in garages .

http://i.imgur.com/Hwn3fyI.jpg is an example of an absurdly neat US (and apparently canadian too, given by the original file name)

http://i.imgur.com/YWdhKLx.jpg is a probably more average panel, nice lack of cable clamp on the big wire going out the bottom to a sub-panel. Thats a doorbell transformer on the right hand side of the panel.  Also, IIRC they are being naughty with the multiple wires under the ground/neutral bus bars, I think its supposed to be 1 wire per hole for neutrals, and upto 2 per hole for grounds. 
« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 08:25:45 am by ConKbot »
 

Offline DrGeoff

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Re: EEVblog #484 - Home Solar Power System Installation
« Reply #74 on: June 17, 2013, 08:25:13 am »
Yep solar generation and consumption are exactly out of phase with each other for us as well...

BTW - the only problem I've had over the years is the solar hot water pump controller 'failing' - when I cracked it open found a PIC and a cheap as chips mains relay that had burnt out on the contacts - replaced with a much higher rated relay and its been working fine since.. difference in cost - may 50c...

I also know a friend who was convinced to buy 8 evacuated tube units - to do combined hot water and pool heating - the 'con'tractor subsequently did a runner and she is now left with a half installed system doing nothing. I'm going to go round and check out how much is needed to get it going at least for the hot water. Shame she can't run a steam powered generator...

Funny you should say that, I've been at Rheem a few times over the control algorithms.
During summer the tank thermostat will occassionally trip (it is resettable though) and the electrical heater won't turn on. It's usually not noticeable until we get a cloudy day or two. The temperature monitors I have all over the system alert me when the tank water temperature is dropping below a threshold that the off-peak electrical booster should have switched on so I can reset it. Seems that when the collectors pump out water that is too hot (above 85C it seems) then the thermostat trips, even though the tank temperature is still only around 50C. Would be better if the pump had variable flow control so when it is hot the flow is increased to keep the differential temperature lower.
Was it really supposed to do that?
 


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