Installation of the Month – March 2016
Wholesale Solar sales technician, Leslie B., says she really enjoyed helping her customer, Robert E., design his grid-tied solar system. Based on the electricity usage Robert was looking to offset, and the fact that he wanted to install his system as a ground array, Leslie decided it would be most efficient to use 40 of the 72 cell, 315 watt Astronergy solar panels with the SolarEdge inverter system.
SolarEdge is an incredibly efficient inverter system with built in monitoring, and is the most versatile inverter when it comes to string sizing. Leslie installed a grid-tied system for her own home last year which was also ground mounted using the SolarEdge inverter system that gave her some insight into what Robert needed to do to solve his own ground mount issues.
Leslie lives in an area with a lot of lava rock and it made digging the holes for the piers to her ground mount system quite challenging. Halfway through the install of her system, they hit rock that they were unable to get through or around, so they had to go back to the IronRidge engineers and have them re-engineer the remaining piers in the system to footings.
The lesson Leslie learned was that, had she known this was going to happen going in, she would have just had the IronRidge engineers re-engineer for footings from the start, which would have saved her a lot of time and money. When helping Robert design his system, he mentioned he was concerned about digging piers for his ground mount system because he had rock underground in his area. Recalling her recent experience, Leslie recommended Robert have his system re-engineered to footings at the outset, which he did, and his ground mount install was a great success. Read Robert’s interview below to hear about his solar-installation experience.
Components In Robert’s System
- 12.6 kW Grid-Tied Solar System with 40 X Astronergy 315W Solar Panels and SolarEdge Inverter
- Astronergy 315W panels
- SolarEdge SE6000A-US-U Inverter
Interview with Robert E.
How long was the full installation process from receiving your equipment to flipping the switch?
After delivery, I had to wait four weeks for the building permit process to play out. Then I had a friend with a backhoe dig the six rectangular foundations in 1 1/2 hours. Placed rebar next day, structural pipes the next day, inspection next day, then poured foundations that afternoon with help from neighbor. I poured 10.5 yards of concrete to anchor the system.
The following week I finished all the support structure and racking system in one day, then placed 30 of the 40 panels in one afternoon with help from a friend. I installed the rest of the panels on another afternoon.
The electrical took two days. I had to run 165 feet of #2 aluminum in an underground conduit to my main panel box. I got final inspection this morning and had the electric cooperative inspect it and then install a reversing net meter this afternoon. Fired it up at 2:45 pm without any issues. Came right on line following the startup guide. By 6 pm, it had already produced 20 kWh!!!
How many people did it take?
[It was] relatively simple to construct/install by [myself] along with the occasional help from neighbors.
We expect a 9-year payback.” – Robert E., Installation of the Month Winner
Did you have any previous construction experience?
Yes, 40 years of civil and industrial engineering experience.
What was the most confusing or difficult part of the installation?
Figuring out how to support the steel pipes for the concrete pour.
Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?
How did you choose to self-install?
I enjoy building things and the joy of doing things myself. Plus I saved all the labor costs. I’m retired so have the time for fun projects.
What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?
First, to reduce our carbon footprint, and second, to save on the cost of energy in the long run. We expect a 9 year payback. The 12.6 kW system serves our historic family home (been in the family since 1845) and farm.
It is expected to produce approximately 18,500 KWh per year which is approximately the farm and home annual usage.
Thank you Robert, and congratulations on your new solar system!
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