Clarian plug-in solar

RoderickRoderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
I'm putting this here because of my skepticism, but if I'm off base, maybe this should be under New Products.

http://www.clariantechnologies.com/main/page_plugin_solar_power.html

I thought it was illegal to plug in a generating device without the power company's permission?

Also, the 4 year payback time for a 200W device - let's see, $600 (being generous), and in my area, a production of 360 kWh a year. 20 cents a kWh (also generous), that's $72 a year. For a 4-year payback, that must mean they count on 50% incentives.

But correct me if I'm wrong, but the Federal incentive won't apply to a temporary system, such as would be plugged into an outlet. And state incentives wouldn't apply unless a system was legally installed, meaning NEC-compliant?

There's also a Forbes article about this device http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/18/clarian-sunfish-energy-technology-solar.html?partner=yahootix but I think the reviewer had a misunderstanding about what happens when the grid goes down.
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Comments

  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,343 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    just a panel with a built in inverter like enphase.
  • LucManLucMan Solar Expert Posts: 223 ✭✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    A plug in type system without net metering may even charge you for the extra KWH produced.
    When my PV system was first installed the contractor turned it on without the net meter and left it on, when power was produced my meter spun even faster than before adding to my consumption instead on subtracting.
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    Clarian seems to be on a big PR push - must be trying to impress a potential investor or something of that nature.

    1) The article must have been a press release everyone doctored up for their own release.
    2) Uniformly the writers didn't have any idea what they were writing about
    3) Clarian has no PV products on the market at this time - they say another couple of years
    4) They have no UL approval for such a unit and UL approval 1771 is required. The component UL certification is meaningless
    5) No way they ever will get approval for many reasons - the main being that the inverter internal disconnect is not going to be accepted by the utilities for safety reasons - there must be 20 different reasons
    6) This 'pick it up and go' concept sounds neat but is far from practical.
    The entire concept is so green it stinks - greens can run around happy but have absolutely nothing.

    I believe it is a shyster attempt to impress some one who's pockets Clarian is trying to get in to.
  • jcgee88jcgee88 Solar Expert Posts: 154 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    Roderick wrote: »
    I thought it was illegal to plug in a generating device without the power company's permission?

    The concept has merit in two regards:

    1. Lowers the cost to get started vs a traditional PV array.
    Let's say this is on the order of $1K; that's a fifth to a
    tenth the cost of a "starter size" roof mounted PV array.
    2. Is easy to install, in fact, is user-installable.

    --

    Regardless of whether this particular product is good/will
    be successful, the above two issues, entry cost and ease
    of installation, do inhibit wider-spread installation of solar
    technology. In other words, it's only a matter of time
    before various companies try to carve out a niche in the
    solar market by attacking these two historical problems.

    As to legality...people hook up gas generators all the time.
    As long as this product has some sort of automatic safety
    cutoff, there's likely a way to make these pass muster.

    John
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,489 admin
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    I am not sure the gas generators are a good comparison...

    The transfer switch, at least, usually requires a licensed electrician. And in our area, a fixed genset would very likely require the same local building permits. Not a simple do-it-yourself project.

    Also, at least in California, the electric grid is heavily regulated by the California Public Utility Commission. And, as such, the utility has the right to know and regulate the connection of any power generation equipment to their customers.

    And, in fact, if I choose to (for example) take my home off the utility grid and run my electric power from my own zero point power reactor (or natural gas generator/turbine co-generator for those that are not into science fiction ;))--The utility has the right to charge me for leaving the grid (the utility made infrastructure investments based on the promise to lenders/investors that my home would be on the grid for the next 20+ years and have the right to be protected against my leaving). These separation charges have been big issues for larger agricultural and commercial companies that wanted to co-generate power from their own waste and such.

    It may not be "fair"--but it is the law (at least in California). The fact we are allowed to add solar GT to our homes without paying separation/stranding charges is a temporary exception written for various forms of small solar systems.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    Quote: The concept has merit in two regards:

    1. Lowers the cost to get started vs a traditional PV array.
    Let's say this is on the order of $1K; that's a fifth to a
    tenth the cost of a "starter size" roof mounted PV array.
    2. Is easy to install, in fact, is user-installable.


    Not really accurate -

    1) Those are estimated selling prices as they do not expect to have a product for two years. The prices indicated are total BS probably by a marketing type or bean counter that has zero idea of reality.

    2) The installation thing is totally bogus! It is mot like you take them out on the balcony in the AM and they start generating.

    The installation side as they describe it is dangerous and may well be the most unsafe part of the whole scheme.

    No mind - this thing is 'pump and dump' or 'pump and reel them in' almost certainly. I really don't think it will ever see light of day.
  • jcgee88jcgee88 Solar Expert Posts: 154 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    russ wrote: »
    1) Those are estimated selling prices as they do not expect to have a product for two years. The prices indicated are total BS probably by a marketing type or bean counter that has zero idea of reality.

    2) The installation thing is totally bogus! It is mot like you take them out on the balcony in the AM and they start generating.

    The installation side as they describe it is dangerous and may well be the most unsafe part of the whole scheme.

    No mind - this thing is 'pump and dump' or 'pump and reel them in' almost certainly. I really don't think it will ever see light of day.

    Russ,

    This company still has a ways to go before they can
    "show me" as they say here in Missouri. Since the
    technology to do what they are proposing already
    exists, albeit not packaged the way they are proposing,
    the technical risk appears modest. There are companies
    that already make plug-in solar power generators that
    you can take out to a balcony and start generating
    (true, these lack the plug-into-the-wall capability that
    would be Clarian's competitive advantage).

    While product development cycles are notoriously
    unreliable, I will point out that they are promising
    not two years out, but next year. From their website:

    >We plan to have the Sunfish available in stores in 2011.

    Is your comment of "two years out" coming from a
    reputable source or is this an estimate on your part?

    You may not believe in the company nor in the type
    of product they are launching. This doesn't mean that
    they are a fly-by-night or that they won't succeed
    in coming out with that product. I would hope that solar
    experts such as you would be open to such efforts. If
    they or some other company succeed in making solar
    more attainable for the everyday person, the environment
    benefits and we "hardcore" PV array owners can benefit
    from lower PV prices due to dramatically increased PV
    volumes.

    Even though this is not a product I would use, instead
    of doubting them, I am rooting for them and for any
    other companies that strive to make solar attainable
    for everyone.

    John
  • dwhdwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    BB. wrote: »
    And, in fact, if I choose to (for example) take my home off the utility grid and run my electric power from my own zero point power reactor (or natural gas generator/turbine co-generator for those that are not into science fiction ;))

    -Bill

    Zero point is real science. We just don't know how to use it yet. :D
  • jcgee88jcgee88 Solar Expert Posts: 154 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    dwh wrote: »
    Zero point is real science. We just don't know how to use it yet. :D

    I thought Zero Point relied on di-lithium crystals? You know
    how the Romulans are always raiding the Federation's supplies.

    John
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    @ jcgee88

    1) When what they are proposing to do is not legal?
    2) What they claim (all UL certified components) is meaningless as the assembly has to be approved - not the components (UL 1771)
    3) Technical risk should be zero - nothing is new
    4) I have seen others trying to peddle the same plug / play systems but these were one man shows
    5) Connecting into a wall plug seems similar to running multiple devices off one plug in. Easy to overload the wiring? Unsafe? Potential to burn the house down?

    I would love to see solar PV available and cost effective to all. Where I am we have import duties and no subsidies or incentives. I may disagree with the government here on some things but not pouring money down the subsidy rat hole is a good thing.

    Why should I cheer for a company that shows more PR than technical capability? A hustler is a hustler - whether they are wearing green clothes or pink clothes.

    The prices they caused to be discussed in numerous articles are pure horse hockey. They intentionally went to publications that would support their nonsense.

    We have seen this with hundreds of companies - most all went down the tube - nothing new except the direction of the spiel.
  • dwhdwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    jcgee88 wrote: »
    I thought Zero Point relied on di-lithium crystals? You know
    how the Romulans are always raiding the Federation's supplies.

    John

    As I remember it, the dilithium crystals had something to do with the anti-matter that they somehow created by using the catcher field from that big antenna in the front of the ship.


    Anyway, that's completely different than vacuum energy or zero-point:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-point_energy

    "The concept was first proposed by Albert Einstein and Otto Stern in 1913."
  • jcgee88jcgee88 Solar Expert Posts: 154 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    russ wrote: »
    @ jcgee88

    1) When what they are proposing to do is not legal?
    2) What they claim (all UL certified components) is meaningless as the assembly has to be approved - not the components (UL 1771)
    3) Technical risk should be zero - nothing is new
    4) I have seen others trying to peddle the same plug / play systems but these were one man shows
    5) Connecting into a wall plug seems similar to running multiple devices off one plug in. Easy to overload the wiring? Unsafe? Potential to burn the house down?

    You may be 100% right that these guys fail and/or are
    not reputable. I'm just saying...let's wait and see before
    we cast aspersions at them.

    Re #1: please give an example of a law which prohibits this?
    The way this is structured, that is, you only slow the meter
    down, how would a utility company even know you are
    connected? A single panel will generate the power that
    a plant light consumes, whereas a dwelling with the normal
    permanently plugged in devices (computers, cable TV, router,
    fridge, etc) typically consume an order of magnitude more
    than that. My own standard 3-BR, 2-bath home consumes
    about 1200 watts when everything is "off."

    Re #2: even if the entire product is not UL-tested/approved,
    if they are a reputable company they are no doubt undergoing
    UL testing right now. Clearly, they will have to pass this,
    although, frankly, UL approval has almost no meaning any
    more these days (other than taking a long time for the
    process to complete). Also, as you point out, the technology
    this is based on has zero (I'd say low) technical risk because
    all of it already exists, so getting UL approval shouldn't be a
    stretch.

    Re #5: circuit overload would seem unlikely. Their single
    biggest panel is rated at STC 200w...probably would get
    max 150w out of that. A hair dryer uses 1500w, a space
    heater even more.

    --

    Russ, I normally agree with your opinions, but in this case,
    I think you are judging too soon. If everyone says, "that
    will never work!", thereby crippling the company's potential
    with innuendo, then we've created a self-fulfilling prophecy
    and it would be terribly unfair to a company that is trying to
    make a positive difference.

    John
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    Makes me think of V Khosla and all of his RE projects.

    He has invested in many projects and really only hopes that one or two come through - at that he will make big money - he says that. Same with Google though I have never read where they acknowledge that most of their pet projects will go down the drain.

    Now suckers are being told to invest in company X - Khosla is doing investing in it so it must be good. If you get lucky and jump on the one of twenty that makes it, then great.
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,343 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    I certainly see the concerns with circuit overload as being real. There is nothing to prevent the consumer from loading up a 15/20amp home circuit with 10 of these. With power being feed to the circuit from two locations, the grid and the solar it is indeed possible way over load a 14/12 wire gauge line pretty quickly. In this case the panel breaker would not trip cause it is only supplying any excess demand on the circuit.

    Example:
    Steady 15amps of load on a 12-2 circuit all is well. Now add a 1500 watt hair dryer to that circuit and the solar is say supplying 15amp feed and the mains can supply 20 amps to the circuit. It is possible to way overload that #12 wire without tripping any breaker with 15 amps from the solar and 20 amps from the grid on that wire. 35 amps on a #12 is way over that wire size rated capacity yet the mains would not trip.

    This sounds like a fire waiting to happen. Wait till some idiot adds these to a old house with knob and tube. Yikes!
  • BillFBillF Solar Expert Posts: 48 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    Let's have some real fun. :roll:

    To save space lets plug 4 to 6 units of Clarion's into a power strip and plug the power strip into a 15A rated outlet and circuit. Then plug in a 1500 watt space heater into the same outlet.

    Solar space heating. Let the smoke roll.

    NOT...Just kidding!!! But someone is sure to try...:grr
  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 965 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    BillF wrote: »
    Let's have some real fun. :roll:

    To save space lets plug 4 to 6 units of Clarion's into a power strip and plug the power strip into a 15A rated outlet and circuit. Then plug in a 1500 watt space heater into the same outlet.

    Solar space heating. Let the smoke roll.

    NOT...Just kidding!!! But someone is sure to try...:grr


    I think they already thought of this. Not necessarily a problem unless they didn't do their homework. There is a good chance that they already have.

    boB
  • RoderickRoderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    jcgee88 wrote: »

    Re #1: please give an example of a law which prohibits this?
    The way this is structured, that is, you only slow the meter
    down, how would a utility company even know you are
    connected? A single panel will generate the power that
    a plant light consumes, whereas a dwelling with the normal
    permanently plugged in devices (computers, cable TV, router,
    fridge, etc) typically consume an order of magnitude more
    than that. My own standard 3-BR, 2-bath home consumes
    about 1200 watts when everything is "off."

    ...
    John

    I'm not saying that this can't be worked out, but my concern would be that this is considered a generator and permission must be obtained to connect it to the power grid, which is owned by franchise. It's not a technical argument, but a legal one. The reasoning would be that if no permission were required, I could connect any homebrew to the lines, and dirty the purity of the mains. Also, I see nothing in the structure of the system to guarantee that a house wouldn't be a net generator. Our house uses 160 watts at rest, and if we unplugged the computers and other electronics, it would probably go even lower. With one or more of these plug-in panels, the meter could spin backwards.

    I would have concerns about meeting NEC code, which applies in most places. Some examples:


    690.64 Point of Connection.
    The output of a photovoltaic power source shall be connected as specified in 690.64(A) or (B).
    (A) Supply Side.
    A photovoltaic power source shall be permitted to be connected to the supply side of the service disconnecting means as permitted in 230.82(5).
    (B) Load Side.
    A photovoltaic power source shall be permitted to be connected to the load side of the service disconnecting means of the other source(s) at any distribution equipment on the premises, provided that all of the following conditions are met:
    (1) Each source interconnection shall be made at a dedicated circuit breaker or fusible disconnecting means.
    A normal circuit has more than one receptacle, so other things could be plugged in. Perhaps the NEC has been revised to accomodate plug-in solar? I have an old copy.
    690.47 Grounding Electrode System.
    (A) Alternating-Current Systems.
    If installing an ac system, a grounding electrode system shall be provided in accordance with 250.50 through 250.60. The grounding electrode conductor shall be installed in accordance with 250.64.
    A plug that goes into the wall would not satisfy the requirement of continuous, permanent ground connection, in my opinion.
    Whether one could connect such a device without detection, or even should, is subject to ethical opinion.
  • jcgee88jcgee88 Solar Expert Posts: 154 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    Roderick wrote: »
    Our house uses 160 watts at rest.

    I'm impressed by "how low you can go." I'm not sure I could do
    that low or would want to. It'd certainly affect my lifestyle to
    do so! Counting up my permanently electrified stuff:

    3 desktop computers
    3 20" or larger LCD monitors
    2 external disk drive AC adapter plug ins
    1 printer
    2 emergency flashlights/nightlights
    2 electric toothbrush chargers
    2 entertainment centers (two large TVs, cable boxes, misc other equipment)
    1 Wii
    2 large fridges
    1 wine cooler
    1 router
    1 Enphase EMU
    1 cell phone signal repeater
    2 12v adapters for outside lights
    2 clocks
    1 oven clock
    1 microwave oven clock
    3 phones that have AC adapter plug ins
    1 phone headset AC adapter plug in


    --

    All of the above consume continuously or cycle on automatically.
    Some items, like the TVs, consume even when nominally off. I
    measured my home's "basil metabolism" rate by watching when my
    meter would stop completely, and then seeing what the PV output was
    as reported by the Enphase software. I'm sure it would vary somewhat
    based on whether one of the fridges kicked in.

    BTW, the fridge light, to my amazement, uses 80w by itself.
    Measured it with a Kill-a-Watt.

    Basically, there is not much of the above I would want to do without,
    without someone in my household objecting.

    John
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    boB wrote: »
    I think they already thought of this. Not necessarily a problem unless they didn't do their homework. There is a good chance that they already have.

    boB

    The entire thing screams of scam - they are not even worried about something so far down the road. By that time they probably hope to have a few investors to suck money out of and then say sorry but we have a few problems.

    The specs on their site tell nothing except 200 watts, 120 volt and 3 to 4 USD per watt.

    On a similar line, I was reading about Brownsgas today (www.brownsgas.com) and what they refer to as HHO - cracking water to make H2. An energy intensive process just to have something to burn. Their site shows several companies representing them but science is science. The entire process is energy negative big time. No documents or specs that I could find - SCAM!
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    I wish Clarian the best of luck and I will seriously consider buying one when it comes out. Whoever makes this process easy will win out. I would like to make a comment to all of the negative people. When I installed my solar panels it was put in the local paper because it was the first in the county. It was also posted on the internet. I had a boat laod of people posting how I was crazy, how I spent too much money, and a variety of reasons it would fail. Most of them had no idea whart they were talking about. Now eight months later I am making a nice recoup on my money and the system will pay for itself in about 9 years. It is easy to be critical. The successful people see the possibility and make it work. If Clarian does not make this work then others will. By the way my local utility company made me go through a big ordeal to register my system. It was probably harder on them than me. They will have tyo loosen up once systems like this become available. These type of systems are inevitable. Either you go with the flow or you will be drowned by the tide
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    theoriginalzuba,
    do not consider this forum to be like other forums with just a bunch of uneducated naysayers. nor are we the type that if it says green that it is good. it isn't about your being criticized with your legit system that makes any criticism, or better way to put it skepticism, of all others in the field to be unfair as there are many scammers out there. i don't see this particular one as legally valid without certification and there won't be with anything that may not be proven safe. i also don't see an address to order from hinting to it being a scam. if what they do is on the up and up then i can say they may be going about it quite wrong.

    it would be unfair of you to judge anything that proposes to be a green thing as legit while also judging us and many of the experts here as to be, in your eyes and as i previously mentioned, just uneducated naysayers. often times people like you show up when certain products are addressed and come into question. this is not a coincidence or a random happening in most cases. i have seen it before on this forum and it is called minimizing collateral damages while also bringing focus on a product just to get exposure, aka advertising. the legit products can stand the questioning as it is only false or inadequate products that can't. to question is the right thing to do and there isn't any real pressure to go with the flow as there won't be any drowning taking place. pressure sales, even if under the guise of peer pressure, aren't needed for legit products and does not work on an educated customer that the questioning makes.:p:p:p:p
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    1) Clarian apparently does not yet have UL approval - no mention on their site of such. However, they claim to the unit is covered by the various incentive programs - that is false to the best of my knowledge.

    2) Typical output is given as 30 kWh/month at 12 cents (their number) that equals 3.60$ per month. Proposed cost is 799$ to 899$ - Using the 799$ number and the 3.60$ per month value of power generated---

    799$/3,60$ = 222 months or 18,5 years.

    Far cry from the 5 to 8 year payback they estimate on the same page.

    3) They show what is called a 'Smart Box Wind Turbine' that is even more questionable. It is also plugged directly into an electrical outlet. It is highly unlikely their VAWT will ever pay for itself - in a 100 years.

    4) The patent-pending is a meaningless term unless one knows and understands all the details. Many patents are applied for and rejected.

    Until they are a bit more honest and forthcoming with details I consider them scammers.

    Russ
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,343 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    From the Clarian Site FAQ:
    Is it OK to plug power directly into an electrical outlet? Won’t that overload the circuit?
    The Smartbox Solar Module is limited to 200W total output, which is well below the rating of a typical 15 Amp circuit. Furthermore, our patent-pending SmartBox™ technology provides built-in circuit protection. If there is ever an overload condition on the circuit, the SmartBox Solar Module will immediately stop generating power – within milliseconds – the same way it would in the event of a power failure.

    Does this take an event on the line to trigger the shutdown? Would that be the fire it might create? Maybe some of you EEs out there might explain how this might be accomplished. What prevents a consumer from plugging in 5 or 10 of these on one circuit?

    I can't ever see this getting approval from an agency with consumer risk in mind, like underwriters lab.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,489 admin
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    The adding of parallel sources of power to a typical home 15 amp branch circuit is exactly the reason that I think a "plug-in" solar power system will never be UL/NRTL Listed (Listing is a typical requirement in many countries/utilities).

    Is 200 watts (~2 amps) extra current in a 15 amp branch circuit going to cause a fire--probably not. Is > 200 watts of solar plugged in--The risks certainly go up as you add more power...

    This becomes the equivalent of changing out your 15 amp branch circuit breaker and replacing it with a ~30 amp breaker on your 14 awg branch circuit... Nobody would ever recommend that or do it. And no code enforcement agency would ever sign off on doing that.

    At this point, I only see adding any source of power to a home as being done on a dedicated branch circuit (as is currently required by code). And, if "plug-in" power was ever allowed, they would not allow "standard" AC wall plugs but would require special non-standard wall plugs to do such a thing... And if you go to this trouble anyway, then why not hardware with a combiner box. It is more reliable and cheaper.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    in addition there is the issue of the service entrance bus capacity. how about anti-islanding too?
  • NEOHNEOH Solar Expert Posts: 74 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    BB. wrote: »
    ...
    Is 200 watts (~2 amps) extra current in a 15 amp branch circuit going to cause a fire--probably not. Is > 200 watts of solar plugged in--The risks certainly go up as you add more power...

    This becomes the equivalent of changing out your 15 amp branch circuit breaker and replacing it with a ~30 amp breaker on your 14 awg branch circuit... Nobody would ever recommend that or do it. And no code enforcement agency would ever sign off on doing that.

    ...

    -Bill

    BB, Given your explanation I now understand the problem with these "PLUG-IN" type Inverters. By adding 15 amps of Plug-In Inverters to one circuit this would allow the loads on that one circuit to now consume up to 30 amps! The Breaker would provide 15 amps and the Plug-In Inverters would provide another 15 amps allowing the loads on that 14 ga circuit to consume 30 amps.

    Yes, that is a bad thing.

    Now I see why each AC Breaker needs to be dedicated to either Production Sources ONLY or Consumption Loads ONLY in order to prevent this DOUBLE POWER consumption issue.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    solar_dave wrote: »
    I certainly see the concerns with circuit overload as being real. There is nothing to prevent the consumer from loading up a 15/20amp home circuit with 10 of these. With power being feed to the circuit from two locations, the grid and the solar it is indeed possible way over load a 14/12 wire gauge line pretty quickly. In this case the panel breaker would not trip cause it is only supplying any excess demand on the circuit.

    Example:
    Steady 15amps of load on a 12-2 circuit all is well. Now add a 1500 watt hair dryer to that circuit and the solar is say supplying 15amp feed and the mains can supply 20 amps to the circuit. It is possible to way overload that #12 wire without tripping any breaker with 15 amps from the solar and 20 amps from the grid on that wire. 35 amps on a #12 is way over that wire size rated capacity yet the mains would not trip.

    This sounds like a fire waiting to happen. Wait till some idiot adds these to a old house with knob and tube. Yikes!

    I've not seen anyone here mention the "SmartBox Gateway" part of their system. It appears to be wired between the breaker box and the circuit in question and would therefore seem to have the capability of limiting current flow into the circuit from the breaker side if necessary (maybe it allows current into the breaker only and not out). Funny though they don't mention this is their description of how easy installation is as this Gateway, it would seem, is not a plugin device.

    And, as well, even though the Gateway may limit or prevent current flowing from the breaker to the circuit, it does not seem to preclude circuit overload by plugging a bunch of the modules into the same circuit(?). Maybe however these things can tell how many others are plugged into the same circuit (by communicating through the circuit conductors?)?
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar

    Anytime I go to a site and the information they offer is vague like Clarion's site is I suspect the worst.
  • limelime Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    By the way my local utility company made me go through a big ordeal to register my system. It was probably harder on them than me. They will have tyo loosen up once systems like this become available. These type of systems are inevitable. Either you go with the flow or you will be drowned by the tide

    I sort of agree... however I can see both sides of the argument. Quite frankly, the vast majority of people kind of freak me out and I can understand utilities, insurance companies, municipalities, etc, etc... trying to limit or prevent the plug n play model - how soon before x number of noodle-heads plug in too many panels / turbines into a power strip and burn down the neighborhood... given the opportunity many people see suggested safety limitations as challenges that need to be conquered.

    However that being said, is creating some system that is relatively safe and more importantly secure would potentially solve that problem.

    How about creating a common "plug n receptacle" that is unique to renewable energy plug n play systems - for example like the J1772 for electric vehicles? So, for instance you have solar or wind with integrated inverters, that produces A/C power, goes from source to "new plug and receptacle" that has a dedicated branch to the breaker panel. Rather than having a lengthy review process for permitting - everything is pre-approved by way of manufacturer, so the inspector simply comes out and makes sure that the circuit is a dedicated circuit and the plug in properly connected...

    Hmmmm... am i just babbling? I feel like there is a solution, it just has to be sussed out.

    Ken
    ____________________
    Lime Light Renewable Energy
  • NEOHNEOH Solar Expert Posts: 74 ✭✭
    Re: Clarian plug-in solar
    I've not seen anyone here mention the "SmartBox Gateway" part of their system. It appears to be wired between the breaker box and the circuit in question and would therefore seem to have the capability of limiting current flow into the circuit from the breaker side if necessary (maybe it allows current into the breaker only and not out). Funny though they don't mention this is their description of how easy installation is as this Gateway, it would seem, is not a plugin device.

    And, as well, even though the Gateway may limit or prevent current flowing from the breaker to the circuit, it does not seem to preclude circuit overload by plugging a bunch of the modules into the same circuit(?). Maybe however these things can tell how many others are plugged into the same circuit (by communicating through the circuit conductors?)?

    I disagree with your assumption that the Gateway is "wired between the breaker box and the circuit in question". If you look closely you will see that the Gateway is simply plugged into another outlet on that same branch circuit.


    I think the Gateway is for the internet connection for Online Montoring & Power Tracking of the modules.

    EDIT: (I was wrong. The Gateway can do more than just internet access. I found this info below after posting ...)

    "... A third piece of equipment is a circuit monitor, which looks something like a thermostat, that ensures electricity flows into the home wiring without overloading any circuits, explained Maglaque ..."


    The Inverter Modules do support Anti-Islanding.
    There appears to be an Enphase type inverter mounted on the back of each Solar Panel.
    There is a limit of 1,000 watts total power generation per 15A circuit.
    How does their system enforce that?
    I hope they do get UL approval for this concept.

    One problem - It appears that you may end up PAYING for excess production if your meter does not spin backward !
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