Solar Project

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  #1  
Old 12-04-15, 08:39 AM
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Solar Project

I plan on putting solar panels on my home as a project next summer.

Actually, I will put them on my detached garage since it gets better sun.

On one side of the roof, which is south facing, I believe I could fit about 22 panels (the roof is about 22'x14' and the panels seems to be 2'x4') although will start with just a couple as I learn.

In the garage I would have a charge controller, battery bank, and an inverter. Then, I would run a wire to my house from the inverter to a panel under my existing circuit breaker. This way, I could take a couple of wires and switch them from the existing service to the new solar service, powering specific parts of the house that run lights, maybe my oil burner, etc.

I am not yet sure how much electricity I will be able to generate or how much I need to generate--still researching all of that.

But does anyone have any thoughts on voltage 12 vs 24?

I dont plan on tying into the grid just for simplicity sake. But, if all works well, can I do that as an upgrade at a later date?

What about tax credits? Can I receive them if I do the work myself? Do I need to be tied in to the grid to get them? If so, can I get the tax credit if I tie in a few years later as an upgrade?

Any other thoughts on this project are welcome.
 
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Old 12-04-15, 09:11 AM
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I'm not even touching the possible electrical code issues.

12 vs 24 volts comes down to amperage. They can both do the job but 24 volts can do it with half the amperage which can allow you to use smaller gauge wiring.

As for tax credits you will have to check and see what's available in your state and county. The rules are different everywhere and do change. So, tax credits available this year might not be available next year or several years in the future. You also need to look at the stipulations for your credits to see if DIY is eligible for the credit.

Lastly, as more people install solar tied to the grid power companies some companies are now charging a "service delivery" or other fee to those with solar systems. So while you reduce your power bill the power company may charge you a fee to cover the cost of maintaining the power lines and generating capacity that you need for when your solar isn't producing.
 
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Old 12-04-15, 09:18 AM
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I don't plan on tying into the grid just for simplicity sake. But, if all works well, can I do that as an upgrade at a later date?
Yes.... but that means all the work you do now must be inspected to meet applicable codes.
 
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Old 12-04-15, 09:48 AM
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I'm not even touching the possible electrical code issues.
Are the codes any different than for regular electrical work? I mean for everything that comes after the inverter. It seems pretty straightforward.

Yes.... but that means all the work you do now must be inspected to meet applicable codes.
Yes, I would expect that. Although, in reality, this just gets put on your tax forms, right? I dont think my accountant is going to care one way or another whether it is up to code. Unless I were to get audited, it probably wouldnt matter, I would think.
 
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Old 12-04-15, 11:34 AM
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Permitting can affect your property taxable value depending on local law, but the inspector does review the plan prior to issuing the permit and then come out to verify the wiring is installed properly; it is not just paperwork. They can file suit against you and/or revoke your certificate of occupancy (i.e. condemn the building) if major work is done without permits. The power company can also disconnect your service if they believe there is a safety hazard like an inverter or generator that is not properly interlocked.

Yes the electrical code applies to wiring on both sides of the inverter. Keeping batteries in a building is another fire, building and electrical code issue due to weight, containment of hazardous material and off-gassing of hydrogen. Your jurisdiction may require line voltage and low voltage disconnects on the building exterior in particular locations; your power company almost certainly has restrictions and requirements on the inverter. The list of potential complications is huge.

This is the kind of project which almost requires you to work with an experienced contractor in your state.
 
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Old 12-04-15, 12:14 PM
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Very interesting.

Now, the OP was more a long term goal.

In reality, I would start with just a few panels. Maybe just one or two with a single battery.

Would you think I would need to be permitted for something that small?

I guess a call to the town is in order.

I can't imagine it would need it at that small a project.
 
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Old 12-04-15, 06:42 PM
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A couple of panels and a battery or two is a lot different than a roof full of panels. You could call this part of the installation a testing phase.
 
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Old 12-04-15, 07:24 PM
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Depending on the LOCAL jurisdiction almost anything you do on, to or with your house is subject to government approval. If you live in a designated historical district this can even extend to the color of paint you use on the house. The more urban the area the more likely it is that the government will have specific requirements for almost anything you might wish to do.

This can get even worse if you live in a development that has a homeowner's association (HOA) with "conditions, covenants and restrictions" (CC&Rs). Although there is no HOA where I live there ARE CC&Rs and among them are a prohibition of loose wiring on the exterior of any house, it MUST be in conduit and painted to blend in with the house.

So, there very well may be a prohibition against you adding even a single solar voltaic panel to your roof. Further, YOU are the "burdened party" in that you cannot claim ignorance of the rule but must do the research to determine that no prohibition exists before you do the work.
 
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