Install of the Month – November 2016

Install of the Month – November 2016

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DIY Not? with Bill L.

Hello friends, it’s that time again for Wholesale Solar’s Install of the Month!

Each day, we get to see our customers go from solar beginners with basic questions to solar aficionados who are capable of installing their own systems. For us, seeing this transformation is one of the best parts of the job. We are all about empowering regular folks to take the DIY solar route, so when we get to see our customers’ plans go from an idea to a completed installation, it makes us very happy indeed. Not only are these installations cool for us to see, we think they’re also valuable to share here on our blog. We want to show you that solar is for everyone, that anyone can do it, and that everyone should do it!

That’s why we’re happy to announce that Bill L. is our Install of the Month recipient for November. Bill’s home is in upstate New York and features plenty of beautiful, wide open land to put toward his goal of using solar to eliminate his power bill. Bill came to us after every installer he talked to told him homeowners can’t install solar themselves, especially a large 50 panel system like the one he had planned. But Bill, like most of our customers, is not your average homeowner: he’s a DIYer who’s not afraid of a challenge. So when Bill talked to Sales Tech Brent H. and was told our homeowner customers install their own systems with our guidance all the time, and in fact that Brent had done so himself, Bill knew who he wanted to work with.

“Bill had questions along the way like all of my customers, but we worked through each one of them to ensure everything was done properly.  ”
– Sales Tech Brent H.

The installers didn’t deter Bill, and they weren’t his only obstacle. He has a full-time job and a new kid and he STILL found time to do the installation himself (okay, with help from his father in law!). He excavated the ground for the pipes in his ground mount. He backfilled the cement. He built wooden forms for the pipes and a wooden box for his inverters. Then, finally, he installed every panel on his array. It was all Bill! That is no small feat.

All of his hard work, research, and planning paid off in a big way. “I would call this project a complete success,” says Brent. “The end result is a perfectly constructed ground mount that will provide Bill and his family with clean power for at least the next 25 years, not to mention accomplishing his goal of eliminating his power bill.”

Bill’s system is tied into his local electrical grid. This is called a grid-tied system, and it’s one of the most popular solar options. Having a grid-tied system covers his entire home’s energy needs and saves him money. You can read more about how grid-tied solar works here, and about the advantages of putting your solar panel array in your yard versus on your roof here.

 

Components in Bill’s System

 

Interview with Bill L.

How long was the full installation process from receiving your equipment to flipping the switch? How many people did it take?

I received all of my equipment in May. However, due to the fact that I have a newborn at home, I didn’t get to work on this on all of my days off from work. That said, I did end up tracking my hours: my father-in-law and myself had about 45 hours invested each. That includes the excavating, building forms, backfilling, and the solar installation itself.

Did you have any previous construction experience?

Some. I’m an avid DIYer and I’ll attempt to do anything I can on my own. I’ve wired my entire home for electrical. I also spent eight years doing underground utility work and rewiring apartment buildings with coax and data.

What was the most confusing or difficult part of the installation?

The wiring diagram. It’s quite vague because it needs to fit so many customers’ applications, but I think it could be more specific to state code.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

I needed to install a five minute time delay fuse to be up to code, and I was required to use red PV wire for my DC positive connections. No tools were needed, other than your common hand tools.

How/Why did you choose to self-install?

I’m an avid DIYer and I was looking for a different type of challenge. Working as a corrections officer is one of the least rewarding jobs. I look forward to a good challenge, and this definitely met my needs. The cost savings from having solar installed was also a strong factor. Every solar installer that came to my home to give me a quote said it’s impossible for a homeowner to install solar themselves. Well… folks who shop at wholesalesolar.com are not your ordinary homeowners. Never tell me I can’t do something!

“Never tell me I can’t do something!”
– Bill L.

What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?

My home has a geothermal pump that provides heat, air conditioning, and domestic hot water. Geothermal pumps run off electricity to circulate a glycol and water mixture through the ground. We have full sun all day long and no trees surrounding our house, so it’s a no-brainer for me: when I can produce my own electricity that gives me free heat, AC, and domestic hot water, it’s a win-win.

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12 Replies to “Install of the Month – November 2016”

  1. Looks very expertly done, the ground mount system seems so durable. I am curious as to the reason for the shed being built in a way to cast a shadow on the array though. Love the pic that shows the neighbor with solar too!

    1. Great eye Chad, we hadn’t noticed the neighbor’s roof mounted system! Nice! The shed appears to be casting more shade than it actually does, the main charging window is between 10 – 4 and the building is not casting shade during that time.

    1. Thanks for getting in touch, Uzi! We don’t like to suggest solar components before talking to you and getting more info about your needs. If you’d like to learn a little more about the voltage of our inverters, check out our inverter page here, or get in touch with our solar experts here for a free custom quote.

  2. What the angle of the panels u have installed, heights of the piers, how deep the piers . I am asking questions to install the system little high like pergola.
    is its inch tube u installed.

    1. Hey Raja, thanks for reaching out. Our sales techs helped Bill here with figuring out these measurements for his particular build. It’s essential these measurements are calculated on a by-project basis, so they will be different for everyone depending on their needs. One of the resources we like to use is IronRidge racking’s Design Configurator. We can also tell you that the IronRidge scalable ground mount system installs on 3 inch schedule 40 steel pipe, and defaults to a 25° tilt angle. You can find out more about the racking Bill used here and here.

  3. Looks like a great system did you have any city codes to deal with. My area in Minnesota only allows solar to be on top of a building.

    1. Hey Martin, Bill would have to answer this one! But if we had to guess, we’d say he’s planning to remove them after the concrete cures for the complete duration of the curing process.

    1. Great question. The SolarEdge optimizers do more than just provide shade optimization: these systems are designed to make maximum use of them. They allow you to monitor the performance of each panel, as well as providing MPPT optimization per panel, flexible string sizing, and the ability to mix and match completely different panels in a string. This makes SolarEdge systems extremely flexible and efficient for the price.

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