Testing Panels/Micros before install?

This Spring I plan to self install 44 Canadian Solar 245's paired with Enphase (M215).

I'd appreciate pointers or links to what others have done in testing their equipment prior to, during and after the install. Do you just trust that it will all work, do the install and debug any problems later? Do you place each panel in the sun and load test them individually before install? For those that have done Microinverters, do you connect them to a live source on the ground? Am I over-thinking this?

Thanks

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,629 admin
    Re: Testing Panels/Micros before install?

    Are you getting the Enphase EMU to monitor the panels+controllers?

    Several Canadian Solar 245 watt panels are listed as approved for the M215. And the 30 volt (60 cell) panels are the correct ones for the M215.

    http://enphase.com/global/

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • DaylanDarbyDaylanDarby Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Testing Panels/Micros before install?

    Yes I am, but how would that change the front-end testing? Do people normally test these parts individually before hand (I'm leaning towards not because I can't find any literature describing such). Perhaps the part failure rate is so low that it doesn't make sense to do so, but rather debug it later.
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: Testing Panels/Micros before install?

    The failure rate is so low you don't need to worry about it. Pretty hard to test any of a solar system components. Just test the whole system afterwards. With microinverters, you get visibility at the panel level so better than anything else.
  • ARTsolarARTsolar Registered Users Posts: 14 ✭✭
    Re: Testing Panels/Micros before install?

    I agree that trying to test the micro inverters before hand would be difficult and not necessary. Once you have the array and envoy installed you will be able to establish quickly that everything is working correctly. On a side note what is the size of the service/ panel you will be connecting to?
  • DaylanDarbyDaylanDarby Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Testing Panels/Micros before install?

    I started the permit process with the city before getting hiring an electrician to look over my plans. The city guy said I'd have to upgrade my 100 AMP panel (44 *.9Amps/each = 34.9Amps is too much). I now need to contact an Electrician to either install a proper sized panel (200AMP?) or figure out some other method of connection. I've read the words "supply side", "side loading", etc., but will pay the electrician to duke it out with city hall.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,629 admin
    Re: Testing Panels/Micros before install?

    Yep--Small main panels "catch" a lot of folks. I believe you need about 2.6x 20 amp @ 240 VAC branch circuits (17 panels per branch circuit if I recall correctly...

    Either 3x 20 amp circuits (60 amps) or 2x20 amp + 1x15 amp branch circuits (55 amps total). You need to double check the numbers to be sure (I am not an installer/electrician).

    You can "uprate" an existing panel for GT solar by 20%... I.e., a 100 amp panel will be rated as 120 Amps with GT solar circuits... Nominally 100 amp main breaker + 20 [email protected] VAC circuit.

    Other options:
    • 200 amp panel * 1.2 uprate = 240 amp total

    Install a 175 amp breaker:
    • 240 amps - 175 amp main = 65 amps for GT solar == Gives you room for 3x 20 amp @ 240 VAC branch circuits (note, GT breakers need to be installed at the opposite end of the AC bus bar from the Main AC breakers/power feed).

    I think that will work for you and give the building department a "clean code" installation (it seems that many building departments have a minimum main panel rating--such as 125 Amps--When major work/remodeling is involved).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Testing Panels/Micros before install?

    Main problem here is the 100 Amp service, which is pretty small by today's standards.

    A line side tap may be permitted, or it may not. So much depends on the jurisdiction and utility.
  • DanS26DanS26 Solar Expert Posts: 242 ✭✭✭
    Re: Testing Panels/Micros before install?
    Yes I am, but how would that change the front-end testing? Do people normally test these parts individually before hand (I'm leaning towards not because I can't find any literature describing such). Perhaps the part failure rate is so low that it doesn't make sense to do so, but rather debug it later.

    Pretty simple to test each of your panels with a good quality multimeter before the install. Lay them out under same conditions and test for DC voltage. I agree its difficult to test the Enphase micro inverters. Just have to rely on output data in comparison with each other after install. At least you will know its the inverter and not the panel if you find a low producing unit in your array.
    18.2kW Kyocera panels; 2 Fronius 7.5kW inverters; Nyle hot water; Steffes ETS; Great Lakes RO; Generac 10kW w/ATS, TED Pro System monitoring with PVOutput.org
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