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  • 1.  Solar upgrade in rural NE Oregon

    Posted 01-31-2022 11:36 AM
    I want to upgrade my current 5.6KW PV system to include a little more capacity, some storage, and the ability to power the house when the grid is down.  I have been trying to get proposals for nearly a year and have been unsuccessful.  It seems everyone is too busy and I am too far away for them to be interested (near Union Oregon).  One possible problem is that my existing system uses Sunpower equipment and there are a limited number of companies that can work with Sunpower.  Any suggestions?

  • 2.  RE: Solar upgrade in rural NE Oregon

    Posted 02-01-2022 10:29 AM
    How old a system are we talking here? Panel mfg and model, inverter mfg and model etc..??

    william fitch

  • 3.  RE: Solar upgrade in rural NE Oregon

    Posted 02-01-2022 12:43 PM
    The current system was installed in  June 2019 and consists of 16 350W sunpower panels (SPR-X21-350-BLK-E-AC).  I believe the microinverters are solarbridge.

    Gregory Sinton

  • 4.  RE: Solar upgrade in rural NE Oregon

    Posted 02-01-2022 02:03 PM
    Edited by william fitch 02-01-2022 10:55 PM
    OK. This is the link to your panels:

    This is the link to your Enphase micro inverters:
    Type E (IQ 7XS). Your max power out from the roof will be 5.1KW.

    240vac is most likely what is coming down to a 30A 240 breaker, or two separate 20A breakers. Since you have no DC coming off the roof, any battery "setup" can be wired from scratch for an AC connect to the box. This pretty much gives you a "blank check" for your backup design. You will need some type of inverter/charger that connects to the battery bank and can create virgin sinewave so your panel micro-inverters will turn on once happy in a power failure.

    As you might guess, there are many ways to skin this cat....
    A straight up battery bank, V2G, etc.. all with many options regarding mfg. and models and design...
    BTW: Those X-series are fantastic panels!! I have Sunpower as well, E20 and X-series, but have 550VDC to a string inverter for 12KW, etc....

    Edit: I didn't answer one part of your question. If I had to guess on the, "No one seems interested" issue, most installers want brand new jobs... full installs.. etc.. for profit reasons and they don't have to worry about "matching up" to existing equip.. because they are writing a clean slate. Stu's suggestion below about off-grid installer  "guys", may be a good choice for help. They might be willing to be more flexible.

    william fitch

  • 5.  RE: Solar upgrade in rural NE Oregon

    Posted 02-02-2022 04:31 PM
    This looks promising.  There is a local guy that I would have liked to have used originally but he was not authorized for SunPower (and did not want to go through the process to become authorized).  Maybe he would be interested in the proposed storage/offgrid addition.  I'll try it.

    Gregory Sinton

  • 6.  RE: Solar upgrade in rural NE Oregon

    Posted 02-02-2022 04:39 PM
    Thanks for the spec sheets.  The panels that were originally specified were SPR-X21-350-BLK-D-AC.  What were installed are E-AC and at the time I was not able to determine the difference of find a spec sheet...so just said OK.  Specs look the same so maybe E is just a later run of production of the same thing

    Gregory Sinton

  • 7.  RE: Solar upgrade in rural NE Oregon

    ASES Life Member
    Posted 02-01-2022 11:32 AM
    Gregory Sinton,
    Storage could come from a vehicle battery system available from several providers OR from an electric vehicle battery with V2H ability that uses the CHAdeMO connector, such as the Nissan Leaf Plus has).
    Series DC solar panels made by SunPower can use the Ossiano control system made by DCbel, headquartered in Montreal, Canada (info@dcbel.energy). Their system allows various connections that control battery charging, connection to the grid, connection to solar panels, and power to your load(house), and can be run in parallel with your existing inverters.
    Dcbel entered the California market in 2021. I am seeking their system for use with my net metered 6.75KW series DC Sunpower system and my Nissan Leaf Plus during 2022, just South of Buffalo, NY.  I hope to have my solar system installer, Solar Liberty, install the Debel system after they become a qualified installer for Debel.
    David Stout, Environmental Analyst (retired) and ASES Life Member.

  • 8.  RE: Solar upgrade in rural NE Oregon

    Posted 02-01-2022 02:04 PM
    A separate battery based system could be added.  A local solar company that specializes in off-grid installations could help with this.

    Stu Besnoff
    Alpine Solar Heat and Hot Water, LLC

  • 9.  RE: Solar upgrade in rural NE Oregon

    Posted 02-03-2022 03:50 PM
    I would recommend you research (or ask your installer to do so) into whether the solarbridge microinverters you have and any off-grid or hybrid inverter you are thinking about adding supports frequency-shift power curtailment, or any other method of power curtailment.  When operating two separate inverter systems simultaneously, when the grid is down and your home is isolated, there needs to be a way for the grid forming inverter to tell the grid tied (slave) inverters, which would be your Sunpower AC modules with the solarbridge microinverters, to reduce or even stop production if the sun is bright and the array is producing well, but you are not using all the power. Many hybrid inverters have a frequency shift active power control function, where when there is more power than can be used, they sense it and start to change the microgrid waveform off 60Hz, and if the slave inverters support this, they will start to curtail their production. If the slave inverters do not support this, then the hybrid inverter will keep moving the frequency farther from 60Hz until it is outside the tolerance that the slave inverters will operate within, and they will stop production. SMA, Schneider, and SolarEdge hybrid inverters support this functionality. I am not familiar with solarbridge. the newer enphase inverters support it but I do not believe the older models like the M series do.
    This is not a problem whe the grid is up, as excess power will just be exported. It is also not really a problem if the hybrid inverter uses excess power to charge the batteries.  It comes into play when your local electrical system is isolated from the grid, during an outage, and there is no where for excess power to go. The same challenge exists when trying to connect a generator in an off-grid system. Some inverters can handle it, but for others there will be problems or failures.

    Ken Nadsady
    AviSun Renewable Energy
    Hudson OH

  • 10.  RE: Solar upgrade in rural NE Oregon

    Posted 02-08-2022 12:43 PM
    You may want to check out BattleBorn batteries and their equipment for charge control and inverter.
    Living in Oregon, you may find some preppers with experience in installing these or ask BattleBorn for recommendations.
    I understand having trouble finding qualified, licensed companies, especially in a possibly rural area.
    BattleBorn is recommended by a couple of prepper websites and there are youtube videos on installation.
    One thing I really like about the Battleborn batteries, just from reading, is that each battery contains electronics to
    automatically control charge rate and to protect against voltage surges and spikes.  That makes it a LOT safer to
    do the installation yourself.  You may live in an area that requires a licensed electrician to connect things up,
    which is not a bad idea to at least get them to finalize and approve the installation, especially if you need a permit.
       That said, I live in Fort Worth, an urban area and a state with strict codes and restrictions, so I am lucky to use a
    legitimate, licensed solar company (Elevation Solar), and I am purchasing extra solar panels (with built in inverters)
    and an LG Chem (S Korea company) lithium battery system.  I keep wondering if I could simply add some Battleborn
    batteries to expand that battery system, but I suspect that it won't be that simple -- nor legal for me to do it myself.

    Henry Stinson