250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

I am new to the solar thing (as you will be able to tell by my questions). I have been watching YouTube and the videos of everyone's very basic beginner systems. Most are using low cost (cheap) 250w to 400w grid tie inverters. Most say they have "island protection" but are not UL listed.

So my question is: are these people putting power back to the grid and the power company really doesn't know it? Meaning they are producing much less then they consume? I guess you can say they are doing this illegally?

My second question: If the manufacture says it has island protection...which seems to be the main safety issue for the PUD. Does that mean it doesn't work? I realize the whole UL listing comes down to cost most of the time, the cost of getting the listing. But what about actual performance...has anyone seen these say they have island protection yet it doesn’t work?

Just wondering what other people are doing....doing to get started without dropping thousands of $'s on systems???
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Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    What they're doing isn't legal. You can not have GT without co-operation of the utility and local AHJ. Got to be UL listed equipment and have all permits and inspections in place.

    That doesn't mean they aren't doing it, but such guerrilla installs have problems. For instance if something goes wrong and the equipment is there it (and the owner) will be blamed whether or not it is the cause. Anti-islanding or not, the insurance companies can refuse to pay and the utility can pull the power if they find it (even if there is no problem).

    Chances are they won't find it because the size is so small it will merely off-set some of the household use. But should its output exceed the household use at any time and it does actually back-feed the grid another problem will arise: if you don't have the right kind of meter this production will be read as consumption.

    Just my opinion, but only arrogant idiots do this.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,571 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    Many of the 200 - 900w plug in inverters, have lousy efficiency, in the 50 - 80 % ballpark. The major inverters are 95% efficiency ballpark.
    And how do you know that the electronics won't burn up = UL or equivalent, certs. Every toaster, lamp fixture, has a sticker, or you loose when there is a fire.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
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  • New_ClimberNew_Climber Registered Users Posts: 12
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    "Just my opinion, but only arrogant idiots do this."

    I hear what you are saying....but a full grid tie system costs many thousands of dollars to start. What is any different than getting a non-grid system and having a bank of batteries sitting in your garage. How is this any less arrogant for people that have access to the grid. If anything small grid tie systems help the overall cause of green-house gas burning power plants….

    Yes, I understand the issue with "islanding" and the safety concern it has for utility workers....but what I don't understand is why it is so difficult to get a small system up and running. With anything we do, not just related to PV system, there is safety concerns. Seems like the PUD doesn't want this to happen.

    Thanks for the replies….
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    Playing with fire - - in every sense of the word. Do it right, or don't do it at all. Your own solar/battery system is a totally different thing, it's all yours and has nothing to do with anyone else - - unless they don't like looking at it. lol
    But do what you want, it's your decision, your house, your life, your gamble. Just telling it like it is.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,607 admin
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    If you were to do Grid Tied in a method that made the utility "happy"--First they would only pay you around $0.02 to $0.04 per kWH, or even less.

    Also, a utility wants to schedule their power for when their customers are drawing power--not just when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing (this actually has been a big problems for several regions in the country when the wind was blowing and there was not enough power lines to safely transport the power elsewhere).

    Next, your utility, insurance company, and the local building department want any utility connected power system to meet their safety requirements. Besides UL/NRTL, there are roof loads (solar panels, wind, weight), and electrical wiring requirements (type of wire, circuit breakers, main panel requirements) that need to be met... In my city, they probably would charge $400 or so just for the permit. Whether it was for a 10kW solar array, or 100 watt solar array.

    And that becomes another problem... More or less, from what a 3kW (3,000 watt) system is probably the minimum sized system to cover shipping, hardware, installers, electrician, inspectors, utility power agreements, etc. to be cost effective.

    In California, the PUC even forced customers to specific Billing Plans (such as Time of Use) where people are charged more for power during summer afternoons than other times (upwards of 3x the cost of off peak power for my plan). Meaning that if you wanted to try a small (less than a few kW system) on your home first, your power bill might actually go up with solar (you have afternoon/evening Air Conditioning, cooking, washing, etc. and the solar array is not large enough to offset your entire loads).

    In the end, power companies are only supporting grid tied solar power because the government makes them do it--And usually, the rest of the customer base is charged to provide subsidies to "pay" for solar PV power at Retail power rates instead of wholesale power rates (I get paid on summer afternoons around $0.27 per kWH and buy it back off peak at $0.09 per kWH... While the power company probably pays $0.05 for wholesale power).

    And you asked about going off-grid... In California, if you where to install an off grid power system in your home and call up the utility to disconnect--The utility has the right charge you for "stranded assets" (basically, the utility made longterm investments and contractual agreements based on your home being on the power grid for the next 20-40 years). They had to change the laws/regulations to allow small solar Grid Tied systems for home.

    In the end Grid Tied power is not "cheap" if done per code... In my region, solar GT can make economic sense because of the high cost of power here and the fact utilities have to buy it from us at retail power rates. Around $0.15 to $0.30 per kW for Grid Tied power (rough guess).

    Pure off grid power (panels, batteries, inverters, etc.)--Probably around $1 to $2+ per kWH... Very difficult to compete with utility power on a $/kWH basis.

    If you have unreliable power or have to pay to bring power lines to your property (1/2 mile or longer)--then off grid (or hybrid of GT+Off Grid) power, with lots of energy conservation, can make economic sense.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,607 admin
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    And here is an interesting thread where somebody thought they where following code and using a licensed contractor with building permits/inspections--and they still were very lucky their home was not burned down.

    Panel Fire Question


    Just trying to educate... We do answer questions about how to connect/etc.... such systems. But we do have the standard warning that grid power systems and large battery banks are dangerous.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    I believe we have gone over this ad infinitum. People are going to do what they are going to do regardless of how many times we tell them they really shouldn't. I empathize with the OP knowing that grid tie is expense, but doing things right(and safely) is expensive. I suggest if you are serious,, do all your conservation that you can do first, as conservtion is ten times cheaper than PV, and then consider a small micro inverter system (Enphase) and figure out a way to grow it properly as funds permit, rather than doing it wrong from the start.

    Tony
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    There is a curious paradox between grid-tie and off-grid: if you go to the trouble to do the GT legally and properly it makes sense to put in as much system as you can. The "incidental" costs are the same for small as for large, and the per kW cost goes down as the size goes up. With OG you want to make it as small as possible, because the per kW cost are high. Really small is expensive (the panel cost alone for under 100 Watts is silly), but trying to build a standard residential-size OG system is very expensive. Using an OG system when you have grid available doesn't make economic sense either. So the first step is to spend you money and efforts in reducing your consumption.

    Happily that works for any type of power system, including just using the utility. Conservation is your best friend, and a far better investment than cheap GT inverters or micro-sized OG systems.

    If you want to learn about solar power systems, then a small off-grid set-up is viable. You can use homemade panels and cheap inverters and still be relatively safe providing you follow good wiring practices and include fuses and look out for obvious pitfalls (like using flammable materials in the panels).

    Solar is not cheap. Technically it can reduce your electric bill, but that does not mean it will save you money. If you're in a place where incentives are offered to offset the capital costs of a GT system and the utility is willing to buy your surplus at a reasonable rate, then it might save you money. Otherwise it is an expensive hobby.
  • oil pan 4oil pan 4 Solar Expert Posts: 767 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    I have tested a couple of these inverters.
    I couldn't get them to island, tried to micro island them with inductive loads, tested output power and it looked good (tested with my fluke scopemeter), played with them while gridtied through a varrac, ran them at varrious input voltages for extended periods to look for weaknesses (which I found) and did anything else I could think of to force them to do something weird. I wouldn't recomend them to a beginer.
    The main problems with these inverters is you can forget about running them any where near their rated output because they like to over heat and shut down. They are really only good for about 60% or 70% of what they are rated for unless you modify them with a larger cooling fan. Even then I would want to run them at 50% for any extended amount of time with the factory fan.
    Over all I think putting them in your house is a bad idea, locate them some where that if they catch on fire they cant do any damage.
    For solar use you would need to put a fuse on the input and out put too.
    For wind use they are more of a headache than anything.

    Solar hybrid gasoline generator, 7kw gas, 180 watts of solar, Morningstar 15 amp MPPT, group 31 AGM, 900 watt kisae inverter.

    Solar roof top GMC suburban, a normal 3/4 ton suburban with 180 watts of panels on the roof and 10 amp genasun MPPT, 2000w samlex pure sine wave inverter, 12v gast and ARB air compressors.

  • RCinFLARCinFLA Solar Expert Posts: 1,452 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    You must be permitted and inspected for grid tie inverters. Your house insurance can be put in jeopardy if you do not follow proper permit/inspection regulations. Almost exclusively, equipment from PV panels to grid tied inverters must be U.L. approved. The cheap Chinese 120vac plug-in grid tied inverters sold on eBay are not generally U.L. approved and a plug in grid tied inverter would not be an approved installation. In most areas the utility is also involved which may also mean a different utility meter or programming of a smart meter to allow it to register reverse power flow. Different utility companies have different rules and tariffing schemes. In S. Fla. under Florida Power and Light company, they use net metering. Anything pushed to grid is banked and can be used at night or to offset your future consumption. They zero out any excess banked at end of year. If the smart meter, which has two-way RF link communication, is not programmed to allow reverse power flow then power pushed to grid will be charged as if it was your consumption, raising your bill. The smart meter will also report the reverse power flow and the utility company will check if you have an approved installation.

    A PV panel on your roof is hard to hide. A utility worker in the area might see it and report it. Smart meters that detect a reverse flow will report it. The utility may disconnect the power to your house after finding out it is an illegal setup. A house insurance inspector may see it and request the permitting information. You may get your insurance cancelled if it is not permitted and approved.

    You may not like all the buracracy but that is the way it is. It is intended to protect you, although it may not seem so in some cases. Most folks making panels have no idea that they can start a fire if done incorrectly. Many (likely most) eBay's sold solar cells are commercial panel manufactures' rejects. Just because they make power output does not make them safe cells.
  • jkhawaiijkhawaii Solar Expert Posts: 30
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    why are these Chinese Company's being allowed to sell/dump these products in the USA if they are illegal, its like selling drugs as long as people promise not to use them. To be honest I just bought a 300w one and got a used 130W pannel to connect to it, only now though as I read more, that I see that technically it is illegal to use these GTI's.
    one Funny thing I noticed about this Sun 300w GTI I bought (a sun 300g) is if i look inside with a flash light the board says 250G.... so, what is the difference other than price with the 250g and 300g I'm wondering. so far I just plugged it in for 1/2 an hour sitting out side on a table, it does seem to work.
  • jkhawaiijkhawaii Solar Expert Posts: 30
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    I would like a UL approved, plug in to the wall GTI. Some people just want a small cheap way to get into solar power, maybe a enphase model with a plug output
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,607 admin
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    Free trade, free enterprise.

    In many other countries, they use regulatory compliance (i.e., paying a local lab for testing services) as a non-tariff barrier to entry of products. The US does not (as far as I know) do this.

    Probably has to do with our "Federal" system... States are about the size of many countries and we have federal/constitutional limits on what state can do to prevent trade between states.

    Freedom to make your own decisions and mistakes, or have the government protect you... They are different choices.

    A "plug in" wall outlet type solar GT inverter will never be safe--It is not possible to design one to be safe for every home because of the way we wire/fuse/breaker our branch circuits. Plus the requirement for lightning/grounding protection. and mounting safely (prevent winds from blowing panels off roof, etc.).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,389 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay
    jkhawaii wrote: »
    I would like a UL approved, plug in to the wall GTI. Some people just want a small cheap way to get into solar power, maybe a enphase model with a plug output

    Plug into the wall has problems as well because now there is 2 sources of power on the single line. Imagine you have a 15 amp breaker circuit and you plug-in a 10 amp Plug-in setup. You now have the potential to draw up to 25 amps on the line without a breaker trip, overrating the 14 gauge wire by a huge amount. This is a fire hazard for sure.

    PS Enphase are 220 split phase inverters.
  • oil pan 4oil pan 4 Solar Expert Posts: 767 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay
    solar_dave wrote: »
    Plug into the wall has problems as well because now there is 2 sources of power on the single line. Imagine you have a 15 amp breaker circuit and you plug-in a 10 amp Plug-in setup. You now have the potential to draw up to 25 amps on the line without a breaker trip, overrating the 14 gauge wire by a huge amount. This is a fire hazard for sure.

    PS Enphase are 220 split phase inverters.

    These guys are talking about using one little 250w (maybe 300w) inverters. Maybe the newer homes use 14ga wire going to the outlets by my 2 older houses both have 12ga going to all the outlets.

    If some one were to build a large solar power setup off these cheap inverters you could just buy inverters that put out 220, or feed that power onto your 220v lines with a 220v Varrac set for 110-120 volts or find some 2:1 euro power adaptors, most are good for 300 to 500 watts and use those to step up and feed the 110v power on to the 220v mains.
    Then you could wire into your breaker box or a 220v clothes dryer or electric range plug since they are breakered for at least 30amps per line and use at least 8ga wire.

    Solar hybrid gasoline generator, 7kw gas, 180 watts of solar, Morningstar 15 amp MPPT, group 31 AGM, 900 watt kisae inverter.

    Solar roof top GMC suburban, a normal 3/4 ton suburban with 180 watts of panels on the roof and 10 amp genasun MPPT, 2000w samlex pure sine wave inverter, 12v gast and ARB air compressors.

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,607 admin
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    Generally, there would be no need to voltage double the 120 VAC inverters... Just bring out LineA/LineB/Neutral as normal (split phase 120/240 VAC). Wire 1/2 the inverters to LineA/Neutral and the other 1/2 to LineB/Neutral (the number of inverters does not have to match on A/B legs--Just the normal cannot exceed 80% of rated branch current).

    In theory, a voltage doubling transformer connected to a 120 VAC GT inverter does not meet the new requirements--Which require 240 VAC GT inverters to also sense the voltage on the neutral to A/B legs--And the newer GT inverters will shut down if the neutral is floating (even though the 240 VAC inverters do not need neutral to function).

    Note that connecting to a 230/240 VAC drier circuit is probably not legal or even safe. Many drier circuit do not bring a separate neutral/ground to the outlet. Also, you would have to install a sub panel to split the 30 amp circuit into two 15 amp circuits. I doubt the smaller inverters are rated for safe operation on a 30 amp circuit.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • oil pan 4oil pan 4 Solar Expert Posts: 767 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    Not having the load auto balanced by the inverter kind of stinks, it must be nice.
    People doing this would want to go out of their way to move things around to more evenly use roughly the same amount of power from the 2 lines at the same time or stack their inverters to the favored line.
    These cheap inverters need some added safeties, I would at the very least fuse or breaker the out put on each these inverters (little 250w to 300w units) with 3 amp breakers (if you can find them) or fuses. I am not convinced they are safe to be wired into a standard 15 or 20 amp household circuit in factory configuration.
    This really isn't for beginners, people who don't understand power generation, household wiring, grounds, safety and power consumption should stay away.

    My old houses are wired like old houses, neutral and ground are one and the same. Both N and G end up on the same bus bar in the breaker panel.

    I didn't test it but I bet the cheap single phase inverters would not shut down in the event of a neutral floating condition.
    Its something I could test next time I am messing around with them.

    What kind of voltage differential should I be looking for when trying to do a neutral float test?
    Something tiny like 4 or 5 volts or more substantial like 10 or 20 volts?

    Solar hybrid gasoline generator, 7kw gas, 180 watts of solar, Morningstar 15 amp MPPT, group 31 AGM, 900 watt kisae inverter.

    Solar roof top GMC suburban, a normal 3/4 ton suburban with 180 watts of panels on the roof and 10 amp genasun MPPT, 2000w samlex pure sine wave inverter, 12v gast and ARB air compressors.

  • coolwillycoolwilly Registered Users Posts: 3
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    Missouri wind and solar wind mills come with those cheap inverter's . I have one with a 1500 watt pma. I signed the agreement with the local poco and they changed out my meter for a net metering meter. The meter is called a focus. The electric company just asked if it shut down when the power was out. yes it does. I was one that got screwed on the windmill by Jeff. It makes 1 dollar month and sometimes 2 . I just informed the electric company today of my 3100 watt solar array and sunny boy 3000. Same question . Does the inverter shut down when the power goes out. yes. they don't even want to come an inspect it. Said i should be fine. I also asked about payback. I pay 10 cents a k. And they will pay the same for what come.s back. 10cents. People have said they pay wholesale. Rock energy northern IL . southern Wisconsin. Sweet deal. I did pay 125 for the meter. They never inspected anything . I did invite the guy over to check it out and he said he would come in march. 2-1500 watt windmills, 3100watts evergreen210ground mounted and sunny-boy3000 , Geo thermal heating and air, 4000ft of 1' Polly 6 feet down. 2 fireplace inserts, one solar beer can heater i built with Missouri wind solar video, 2000 dollars in insulation , Bill went from 425 a month to 100. Installed everything my self. And started out by getting flamed the same as the guy on here. The key is conserve energy and don't ignore what you are using. Yes i did get obsessed with totally eliminating the bill when the wife complained about the bill. And yes i would like to beat Jeff's ass. Anyway nice to meet everyone here. My electric company is a coop.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,607 admin
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay
    oil pan 4 wrote: »
    My old houses are wired like old houses, neutral and ground are one and the same. Both N and G end up on the same bus bar in the breaker panel.

    Sorry, I missed your questions... If all of the neutrals and grounds end up in the same main panel bus bar--then that is correct.
    I didn't test it but I bet the cheap single phase inverters would not shut down in the event of a neutral floating condition.
    Its something I could test next time I am messing around with them.

    If you have a "floating Neutral" (not ground referenced), they may not catch that failure (they would need to measure the Line voltage against earth ground).

    If you have a failed neutral connection back to the main panel, they will catch those--because the neutral will be pulled up and down by the various 120 VAC loads on Line A and Line B, and Line A-B 240 VAC loads.
    What kind of voltage differential should I be looking for when trying to do a neutral float test?
    Something tiny like 4 or 5 volts or more substantial like 10 or 20 volts?

    A solid neutral should only vary WRT the neutral bus bar by a few volts at most.

    A neutral with respect to earth/safety ground should also only vary by a few volts too (assuming all grounds/neutrals are tied together in the main panel).

    If you have a neutral that goes out to a shed in the back yard or new the swimming pool--Gets more complex.

    The circuit should carry the home's neutral and home's earth safety ground/green wire to the pool shed.

    If you put a ground rod into the earth at the pool... You may see 10's of volts difference between the Home ground rood and the Pool ground rod.

    I was at an aquarium decades ago... And two ground rods 100' apart were over 60 volts difference in voltage--and gave me a pretty hefty shock too (yep, two grounds with, probably, enough energy to electrocute somebody).

    My guess was this was land fill in the SF Bay, and large pumps pumping salt water for a tank. Enough leakage current to energize the local grounds. But not pop any breakers.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,607 admin
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    Coolwilly,

    Sounds like you are on a good road now. $0.10 per kWH is still pretty cheap (for now). Much of your bill reduction sounds like it came from conservation.

    One question, are you using Electric Hot Water or Natural Gas? If electric hot water, there are heat pump type stand alone water heaters that use 1/2 the amount of energy (or less)--provided the local room temperature is around 55F or warmer.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • coolwillycoolwilly Registered Users Posts: 3
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    gas. That,s one more thing i have been looking at. 50 gallon family of 4. I am going to hook my geo thermal to it this summer. How much hot water can you get from a heat pump water heater. And how much electricity do they use.
  • shiftshift Solar Expert Posts: 48
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    You might be better off looking into microinverters. These are certified for grid tie applications and only cost about 180-220$ per inverter.
  • solarvicsolarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,071 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay
    coolwilly wrote: »
    gas. That,s one more thing i have been looking at. 50 gallon family of 4. I am going to hook my geo thermal to it this summer. How much hot water can you get from a heat pump water heater. And how much electricity do they use.
    Do you have a geothermal heating system? Are you thinking about using your geothermal heating system with a desuperheater during air conditioning time? My daughter has a system like that. During air conditioning time it puts the heat out of your house in the waterheater instead of sending it back to the ground. Don,t use it during heating system as you need all the heat you can get out of the ground. The electric heating elements in waterheater only run when you don,t get heat from your geo heating system. Or you asking about the geo thermal waterheater like General Electric has? I have the geo spring waterheater and it used 490 kwh for the first year for 1 person household. Long shower everydayd run dishwasher about 3 times a week and about 3 loads of wash per week. Now I have the electric heating elements disconnected as I am going to ac couple and am going to try a dc waterheating element for a dmp load. :Dsolarvic:D
  • oil pan 4oil pan 4 Solar Expert Posts: 767 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay
    BB. wrote: »
    A neutral with respect to earth/safety ground should also only vary by a few volts too (assuming all grounds/neutrals are tied together in the main panel).

    If you have a neutral that goes out to a shed in the back yard or new the swimming pool--Gets more complex.

    The circuit should carry the home's neutral and home's earth safety ground/green wire to the pool shed.

    If you put a ground rod into the earth at the pool... You may see 10's of volts difference between the Home ground rood and the Pool ground rod.

    I was at an aquarium decades ago... And two ground rods 100' apart were over 60 volts difference in voltage--and gave me a pretty hefty shock too (yep, two grounds with, probably, enough energy to electrocute somebody).

    I will remember "no remote grounds" if I ever do a remote or satilite generation site, because I won't be trying to run DC any real amount of distance. I will be inverting at the generation point and transmitting (maybe a few hundred feet) to the house.

    Solar hybrid gasoline generator, 7kw gas, 180 watts of solar, Morningstar 15 amp MPPT, group 31 AGM, 900 watt kisae inverter.

    Solar roof top GMC suburban, a normal 3/4 ton suburban with 180 watts of panels on the roof and 10 amp genasun MPPT, 2000w samlex pure sine wave inverter, 12v gast and ARB air compressors.

  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay
    jkhawaii wrote: »
    why are these Chinese Company's being allowed to sell/dump these products in the USA if they are illegal, its like selling drugs as long as people promise not to use them. To be honest I just bought a 300w one and got a used 130W pannel to connect to it, only now though as I read more, that I see that technically it is illegal to use these GTI's.
    The difference is that it is illegal to possess (some) drugs, irrespective of how one might use them. In this case the illegality is in the application, not in the possession. It's more like how it is illegal in most places to drive over 100 mph but it's not illegal to buy, sell, or own a Ferrari.
  • enphasefanenphasefan Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    Can someone please point me to one online news article of one of these inverters that has caused a fire?
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    what in particular are you referring to, enphase or imported types often referred to as plugnplay that don't meet certification?

    enphase inverters should not pose a problem when installed properly. aka no plugs added to go to outlets.

    uncertified imported inverters could pose a hazard due to not only faulty circuitry, but mainly to ampacity limits in the wiring and the service entrance box buses. creating a fire is a real possibility and one would not need to show you of an instance where a fire has occurred to prove a hazard exists.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,571 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay
    enphasefan wrote: »
    Can someone please point me to one online news article of one of these inverters that has caused a fire?

    here's a large, UL approved inverter that burned
    http://www.nctimes.com/article_8a32fb03-9e3f-58ca-b860-9c7fe1e28c7e.html
    "Doherty and Snyder said that if Pavis hadn't been home, or if the workers hadn't noticed the smell, the flames would have heated the metal casing until, eventually, the frame of the house was ablaze. Snyder, who has investigated electrical fires for 25 years, said he's seen 50 solar-fed fires like this one, and on five occasions there was major damage."

    Non-approved, non-tested devices, will be worse. Fortunately, most of these will be hooked up to crappy, DYI panels, and may never get to full power and burn.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay
    mike90045 wrote: »
    here's a large, UL approved inverter that burned
    http://www.nctimes.com/article_8a32fb03-9e3f-58ca-b860-9c7fe1e28c7e.html


    Non-approved, non-tested devices, will be worse. Fortunately, most of these will be hooked up to crappy, DYI panels, and may never get to full power and burn.

    I have not found any examples in very quick google search, but I have seen a lot of youtube videos on repairing units which have blown input or output transistors and even burned components off their circuit boards.
    Take a look at this, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1TzSPCvxhI (This is not a plug-in or even grid-tie inverter, but the same manufacturer offers units in that category too.)

    Many of the offshore brands appear to use the same printed circuit board, but load different specification components onto it and do the mechanical and electrical attachment of the power devices to the heat sink/case in different ways. And, of course, paint a different logo on the outside....
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,607 admin
    Re: 250w grid tie inverters on E-bay

    I think this review has been posted here before. The PhD rebuilt major sections of the PowerJack to make it work reasonably well and safely:

    http://ludens.cl/Electron/chinverter/chinverter.html

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
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