Everything Solar Forum

communities_1.jpg

 View Only
Expand all | Collapse all

Questions

  • 1.  Questions

    Posted 06-06-2022 05:56 AM
    First, My panels have been up on my roof now for 3 weeks and have not produced a single Kw.  The local energy company Xcel hasn't installed my bi-directional meter.  Anyone else had problems like this?

    Second, Anyone out there using TechCu to fund their panels?  I didn't have a choice because Sunlight Financial chose them for me and now I'm reading the review of both and I'm worried.  I want to pay them off before the loan is up and it looks like people have been having issues with that. 

    Any response will be great!

    Thanks!

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Harri
    bharri01@gmail.com
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Questions

    Posted 06-06-2022 12:44 PM
    I'm going to piggy-back onto this thread.  I am not using TechCu nor Xcel. 
       I live in Fort Worth, TX.  The local grid provider in Texas is Oncor (not an energy company, just grid infrastructure, including meters and metering).
    Over 6 months ago I signed a contract with Elevation Solar to install solar panels on my north-facing roof and a 17 kWhr battery backup system.
    Batteries will be by S Korean company LG Chem. Good batteries.  No cobalt in them.
       (I already have a 5 kW solar system on my south-facing roof from Solar City -- now Tesla.  But that severe "Deep Freeze" in Feb 2020 scared me; even though where I am I did not lose grid power nor natural gas.)
       Elevation Solar did set up financing through Sunlight Financial, and once the system has been installed (still waiting) I will have 25 years to pay it off.
    Fixed APR of  1.49%, Monthly Payment: $102.23 for the first 17 payments, increasing to approximately $139.61 if the 26% voluntary payment of $8,886.68 is not paid by the 17th payment. There are no prepayment penalties.
       The installation of the system has been delayed over 6 months because Oncor keeps delaying the permitting process or coming up with additional requests for documentation.  I don't know if this is because Texas is an oil and gas state and in the past has seemed addicted to coal-fired power plants (though now very open to gas-fired power plants) or because the Texas energy control board and politicians think home-solar is counter to the state oil and gas business.  Not making any accusations, but it does raise questions in my mind.  The permitting process may be about to get resolved (???) and the system finally installed.
       So I use Green Mountain Energy for the grid electricity (100% wind energy), and the SolarCity/Tesla system on the south-facing roof provides enough electricity that the  winter bills from Green Mountain are small.  (One month it was minus $0.58, and my April 2022 bill was $14.18).
       You may think I'm crazy to spend money installing extra panels on the north-facing roof, but here in Texas during the hot summer months the sun shines pretty much straight down, and those are the months that the a.c. uses the most electricity.  So I think those extra solar panels and the battery system will pay for themselves.
       I do have one question.  When the Solar City system was installed, Oncor required that the DC to AC Inverter would turn off the solar power if the grid power went off.  That is a safety requirement to prevent linemen working on the outside power lines during an outage would not get shocked (and I would not just be pumping energy out to my neighbors houses, etc).  Of course, if the grid power went off and the solar system was still connected and "on", it would probably just shut off anyway due to seeing the neighborhood as a big "short" load.  So I understand that.
       But the original solar system did not have a battery backup.  So now that I'm getting a battery backup and extra panels, I'd like the Solar City system to stay on during a power outage so it could charge the batteries and also power the a.c., refrigerators, internet, wifi and cable TV.  Wifi & internet so I can continue to work from home and cable TV so I can keep up with the news (although that can pretty much be done via internet).
       I know that Elevation Solar has a design that will keep their panels at least powering the battery backup system and the battery backup system available to power house needs (until the battery gets below a certain level).  That means they have a means to detect grid outage and disconnect the house power from the grid.  I would like them to coordinate with Tesla to get the Solar City system to stay power-on during grid outages.  That way the Solar City system can also be charging the battery as well as assisting with a.c. power and other critical household power needs.
       I'm sure that if I had purchased a Tesla Power Wall, that Tesla would have modified the Solar City inverter to stay on (at least while sunlight strong), but when I inquired about Solar City installing extra panels on the north-facing roof, they wouldn't do it.  So I went with local company Elevation Solar.

    ------------------------------
    Henry Stinson
    henrystinson@yahoo.com
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Questions

    Posted 06-06-2022 01:40 PM
    To add: "Power demand in Texas is set to break the all-time record this week, far ahead of the hottest days of summer, testing of the resilience of the state's power grid after issues earlier this year and last year's days-long blackout during a deep freeze."
      So we may have rolling brownouts, rolling blackouts, or major disruptions due to transformers blowing up from the load or from the heat.  And we're not in the deep summer yet, though temps in the mid to high 90's next 10 days.
      I hope Texas gets smart about the value of many, many homes with solar installed and connected to the grid.  This can not only reduce load on the grid, but (as I'm commented before) stabilize the grid and improve grid efficiency by reducing VAR.  (See my previous article about that.)
    And if most of those solar homes have battery backup installed, it can help the grid even further.  I'm trying to do my part.  We'll see if we get any serious grid outages.  Fortunately Texas has a LOT of wind generation towers and recently had a large battery storage system come online.  We need more of those.  And Texas is ripe for some large solar installations; although some people would have to be hired to keep them clean.  Lots of dust blowing around Texas.  So maybe more jobs?


    ------------------------------
    Henry Stinson
    henrystinson@yahoo.com
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Questions

    ASES Life Member
    Posted 06-07-2022 01:37 PM
    "I do have one question.  When the Solar City system was installed, Oncor required that the DC to AC Inverter would turn off the solar power if the grid power went off.  That is a safety requirement to prevent linemen working on the outside power lines during an outage would not get shocked (and I would not just be pumping energy out to my neighbors houses, etc).  Of course, if the grid power went off and the solar system was still connected and "on", it would probably just shut off anyway due to seeing the neighborhood as a big "short" load.  So I understand that."

    The provision that disconnects an inverter from the grid during a power outage is called anti-islanding, and most if not all grid-tied inverters have this built in.  The link below has more info, and if you have the specs for your inverter, look to see if it conforms to UL1741 and/or IEEE1547.
    https://www.solectria.com/blog/anti-islanding-protection-with-grid-tied-pv-inverters/

    ------------------------------
    Mike Curran
    Retired from (dare I say it?) Fossil Plant Mgt.
    joacchim57@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Questions

    Posted 06-13-2022 09:57 AM
    I totally understand that need.  But I am thinking that technology has advanced such that, especially since there are now many battery backup systems being installed in houses that are still grid-connected, that when the system detects that the grid power has gone down it can simply disconnect the house wiring from the grid, leaving the house to still be powered by the battery backup -- AND the solar panels if the sun is shining when the grid power goes down.  I'm sure that if I added the Tesla Powerwall to my system, they could manage that wiring and electronics change.  It doesn't make sense to force the inverter to shut off when the house wiring could be disconnected from the grid (probably between meter and house panel).  In order to do that, the thing that detects the grid power going down (and coming back up), wherever that is (in the smart meter or on the outside or inside of the meter(, would have to be rewired to NOT turn off the inverter.
    I don't know if the grid power going down is inside the Solar City inverter; if it is, then that electronics would have to be modified and also a disconnect between grid meter and house panel would have to be installed.
       I have a degree in electronics and computer engineering, and 25 years in electronics, but I do not today know how the automatic disconnect is managed for my Solar City installation.  And so I do not know how -- or whether -- the company installing my new solar panels and battery backup system will manage the automatic grid disconnect and, hopefully, also somehow modify the Solar City inverter to stay online.

    ------------------------------
    Henry Stinson
    henrystinson@yahoo.com
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Questions

    Posted 06-13-2022 10:15 AM
    I am aware of the shunt method of detecting grid outage, but I like the idea in the article of the inverter trying a frequency + reactive method of detecting grid outage.  The article is correct when it says this detection is difficult and complicated.  And critical to avoid linemen not getting shocked.
       Also, imagine a whole, large neighborhood being almost entirely solar and every inverter trying to force the grid frequency to  be different (faster or slower), what problems could that face during an outage or even during normal grid operation?  And how could all those inverters leading or lagging frequency-wise affect VAR during normal operation?

    ------------------------------
    Henry Stinson
    henrystinson@yahoo.com
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Questions

    Posted 06-07-2022 02:40 PM
    In Colorado, digital meters will not go backward, so your system will only generate what your electric panel needs to supply your house. The solar system has no place to put any extra power.
    If you have monitoring on your system, look at daily, and even hourly production. See if it falls within the predicted production for your system.
    Once you get a Netmeter, this will allow the extra electricity to go to the grid. And your hourly and daily production will rise.

    ------------------------------
    Mark Stahl
    Energy Consultant
    EnergySaver Consulting
    Colorado Springs, CO 80907
    markstahl9@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Questions

    ASES Life Member
    Posted 06-07-2022 06:57 PM
    When I put my first 1,440W array up here in Ohio in 2007, my utility gave me a net metering permit but left my old meter, one of those spinning disk types.  I was still able to sell back to grid but never very much.  It wasn't until I added another 6,450W array that they changed out my meter for a bidirectional one.

    To the OP:  I'm confused when you say your system hasn't produced anything.  Are you prevented from operating your system until a new meter is installed? Or are you producing for self consumption but prevented from exporting any to the grid?

    ------------------------------
    Mike Curran
    Retired from (dare I say it?) Fossil Plant Mgt.
    joacchim57@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Questions

    Posted 06-07-2022 07:12 PM
    Correct. I'm at the "metering and testing" step. I'm super annoyed. The installer banked their money and I haven't been able to turn it on. I have the disk spinning meter now and the power company claims they had a glitch in the meter ordering system. Panels have been on the roof for a month doing nothing.

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Harri
    bharri01@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Questions

    Posted 06-13-2022 10:21 AM
    Even though some of the older non-net meters can't physically run backwards, the solar inverter in the house could still be possibly feeding excess energy back onto the grid.  That might cause the meter to slow down and read less, even if it can't run backwards.  Just and educated guess.  I don't see how the meter could block inverter power from feeding back onto the grid, but can see how  that could cause the meter to read less or even stop moving for a while (depending on how much inverter power might be feeding back onto the grid).  
       So even if meter is not net-metering, there needs to still be a method of shutting inverter off or disconnecting house power from the grid when grid power goes down.  (See Mike Curran's link to an excellent article on how this protection can be done.)

    ------------------------------
    Henry Stinson
    henrystinson@yahoo.com
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Questions

    Posted 06-16-2022 03:55 PM
    If you do not have a bi-directional meter it will not know the direction of an electron.  So if you feed the grid with a standard meter you will be charged full retail rates for everything you use AND everything you put back on the grid.  Some utilities, TVA being a prime example adds so many fees and pay so little for exported power (20% of retail rates) that most solar customers would rather dump the clean power than give it to TVA.  A very sad situation all around as everyone loses.

    ------------------------------
    David Hrivnak
    Sales/Engineering
    EcoLogical (part time)
    dhrivnak@chartertn.net
    ------------------------------