Self install grid tied

kell490kell490 Registered Users Posts: 10
I live in Phoenix I'm on APS I have been watching solar system kits come down in price to a level that I can actually afford now. I'm very interested in doing the install myself for a number of reasons looks like I can get a grid tied micro inverter 4.9KW DIY UL approved kit for around $8400 before fed and state rebates. I contacted APS about doing a self install they sent me a link to a website that had all kinds of information and requirements that had to be approved, but as far as I could tell if the city issues me a permit, and they sign off on the inspection APS will allow me to connect after they have approved the design as well APS incentive is only .10 so not worth having years to payback a loan that went into the contractors pocket some I have seen as high as 15k install fees. It looks like to me the city allows systems that are lighter then 5 SPF to go on the roof without a structural engineer signing off on it. I did some checking a panels were coming in at around 2.2 SPF. I have an electronics background, and have done a lot of my own electrical projects in the past. Is there any other hidden fees that I have to worry about the city seems to have some high fees for solar installs around $600 I haven't called them to confirm. I could not find any requirements that said I had to get a contractor to connect it only that I had to get the city to sign off on it.

Comments

  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,253 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Self install grid tied

    As I always say, get personal with the most powerful people, the people with the pens who have to sign off on these things.

    so is "...lighter then 5 SPF..." 5 lbs per square foot? if you have a 40lb panel supported at 6 points, your applying 40/6=6.6lbs to what ever area your mounting point is, not likely over 12" square...?

    I'm not good at dealing with bureaucracy, but when I have to, I check with the people who will be OKing any project i'm doing, hence I'm living off grid (soon again) in a rural Missouri County in a state who requires meeting 2005 NEC code (2 revisions since then)
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,121 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Self install grid tied
    Photowhit wrote: »
    ...so is "...lighter then 5 SPF..." 5 lbs per square foot?
    No, it is a very poor sunscreen. :-)
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • kell490kell490 Registered Users Posts: 10
    Re: Self install grid tied
    Photowhit wrote: »
    As I always say, get personal with the most powerful people, the people with the pens who have to sign off on these things.

    so is "...lighter then 5 SPF..." 5 lbs per square foot? if you have a 40lb panel supported at 6 points, your applying 40/6=6.6lbs to what ever area your mounting point is, not likely over 12" square...?

    I'm not good at dealing with bureaucracy, but when I have to, I check with the people who will be OKing any project i'm doing, hence I'm living off grid (soon again) in a rural Missouri County in a state who requires meeting 2005 NEC code (2 revisions since then)

    What I did was this

    I pulled up a Sharp ND-240QCJ panel 41lbs dimensions are 64.6 x 39.1 in inches I took sq feet divided by the total weight.
    in sq feet that is 64 / 12 = 5.3' 39 / 12 = 3.25' take 3.25 x 5.3 = 17 sq feet the panel states it weight at 41 lbs so I divided that by 17 sq feet 41/17 = 2.41lbs per sq feet. Looks like most of the panels are around the same. I was reading a news article that lot of city's got bad news reports when solar first came out because the permitting process was more expensive then the labor. Lot of comparison with Germany how easy the permitting process was there. The whole idea here is that I can expand my system later on using the micro inverters. I want to build a large shed later on and a steel constructed car port I can add more panels later. I think the days of solar installers making 15-17k in installation cost is coming to an end.
  • jzchenjzchen Registered Users Posts: 22
    Re: Self install grid tied

    I think you really need to go to the city office for permitting and ask them. Our city is really strict. I went to Tuff Shed and wanted to purchase a shed. I went to the city to clarify the requirements, and the shed was too tall. They wanted a diagram of where the shed would be. Then I went back after I drew one and they said I needed the "structural plan" of the shed. They then advised me to try to come under the height limit. I went back to Tuff Shed with this information and they said they could do it under that height. They basically lowered the slope of the roof to comply...

    I also looked at microinverters. Enphase has one with a 20 or 25 yr warranty if I remember correctly. (I'm really big on warranties.) Eventually I went with Solar Edge, because I could upgrade to the 25 yr warranty and they had optimizers that could handle the SunPower panels I wanted. You might consider that, and then in the future when you want more just add another inverter?
  • westyd1982westyd1982 Solar Expert Posts: 85 ✭✭
    Re: Self install grid tied

    I self-installed my grid-tied system with Enphase inverters. The installation was easy and fun. The permitting was the hardest part. I talked to a number of installers, and they all wanted about double the equipment cost for the installation, so it was well worth figuring out the permitting. My system didn't pass the first inspection because they wanted more labels on various junction boxes and service panels.
  • SulfurSulfur Solar Expert Posts: 62 ✭✭
    Re: Self install grid tied

    In Montana you have to have an electrical inspector sign off on the installation before the power company will install a net metering meter. I found the process to be fairly painless. Just use conduit where needed and install it to code. Check what requirements are needed in your area to get a net metering meter, and check if the power company makes a point of screwing grid tie folks, many do.
  • kell490kell490 Registered Users Posts: 10
    Re: Self install grid tied

    I have looked at the city of Phoenix website it looks like to they want $600 and something for review of the plans, and an inspection although I need to call them. Power utility sent me a link to a pdf no issues with them as long as city signs off. I'm hearing that they want to get rid of Net metering because it's cutting into there profits. The microinverters have 25 year warranty they cost now is $144 each so by the time 25 years passes they probably will cost $10 each. I'm still a fan of the microinverter.http://www.solar-electric.com/enmigrsy.html Another problem I have is there has been some work I have done without a permit like flood lights, and a 50 amp spa connection it's all code inside conduit and correct GFCI on the spa I wonder if they come out to inspect the solar will they start asking about the lights and such. Looking at the rules you can't even replace a 3x3' of drywall without giving them a donation of $150.00 or even putting in a sprinkler/drip system.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Self install grid tied
    kell490 wrote: »
    Another problem I have is there has been some work I have done without a permit like flood lights, and a 50 amp spa connection it's all code inside conduit and correct GFCI on the spa I wonder if they come out to inspect the solar will they start asking about the lights and such. Looking at the rules you can't even replace a 3x3' of drywall without giving them a donation of $150.00 or even putting in a sprinkler/drip system.
    Why would they question it if it's to code and a pro looking install? Could they have memorized who all got permits for what?
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,331 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Self install grid tied
    ggunn wrote: »
    Why would they question it if it's to code and a pro looking install? Could they have memorized who all got permits for what?

    Actually they can, and do have a Data Base of everything that has been pulled on the property. I know when they came for mine they mentioned the extra concrete on the property that was done with no permit, I grovelled and told them I was building a shop/office and would make sure it was included on that permit. They threatened to make me core the concrete to prove the thickness and steel included.

    Personally I would rather beg forgiveness than push the issue.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Self install grid tied
    solar_dave wrote: »
    Actually they can, and do have a Data Base of everything that has been pulled on the property. I know when they came for mine they mentioned the extra concrete on the property that was done with no permit, I grovelled and told them I was building a shop/office and would make sure it was included on that permit. They threatened to make me core the concrete to prove the thickness and steel included.

    Personally I would rather beg forgiveness than push the issue.
    Actually, what I was asking was what is it about the lights and hot tub installation that might attract their attention and cause them to look it up? Is it routine for them to call up all the permits that have ever been issued on a property when they do an inspection of a solar system?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,837 admin
    Re: Self install grid tied

    Probably depends on where you live... I just went through a couple of permits and he said he was only there to look at what was on the permit (we were actually fixing some non-permitted remodels before we bought the home ~25 years ago). If we have some minor code violations from trying to fix previous work, he was not going to make us start over.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,331 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Self install grid tied
    ggunn wrote: »
    Actually, what I was asking was what is it about the lights and hot tub installation that might attract their attention and cause them to look it up? Is it routine for them to call up all the permits that have ever been issued on a property when they do an inspection of a solar system?

    I guess it depends on the inspector, I do know he came with a list of all the permits when checking our solar, but that is our pretty anal code monkeys.
  • krsmichaelkrsmichael Registered Users Posts: 19
    Re: Self install grid tied

    I self installed a ground mount, grid tied, battery back up system. The hardest part was dealing with the county permitting office. Because I wasn't a contractor, there was a suspicion that I was not qualified to plan and install my system. After 6 months of BS, I handed my plans to a solar contractor who walked them through the planning office. 6 hours later, they were approved. The permit office is one of the most inane organization of buffoons, with the left hand, not knowing what the right hand is doing. The inspector came out and failed me because I didn't have a label where he thought a label should be. The label wasn't even in the plans that had been approved. I got the label. He came back, didn't even check the system and signed off on it.

    I had gotten three quotes for a PV system. They came in at 70k to 75k. That made no financial sense. I was able to do it my self for 45k total, including all of the materials, labor, fees and equipment rental. The Fed graciously gave me 1/3 of that back.

    You can see my system here.

    http://www.simpsonsworld.net/Solar/Solar/Welcome.html

    BTW, I posted a copy of my approved plans that got me the permit in San Diego county. You can used them as a template for you own plans.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Self install grid tied

    krsmichael,
    congrats on getting your system up and running and saving some costs by going diy. we have long said that as goofy as inspectors are, they have the final say.

    btw, the name of our host is northern arizona wind and sun for the record. and garish? really?
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,545 ✭✭✭✭
    In my city, they only recently removed a requirement to get a permit for a homeowner to replace a light switch!
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
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