Grid Tie Red Tape?

When I got into the whole RE world, I made the decision to keep away from the grid tie aspect of it. My reasons were cost, complexity, and also a big part of it was because I didn't want to get involved in the "red tape" of grid tie.

For those of you that did your own installation work, I am wondering if you could share your experiences.

How far do the inspections go? Are they going to put every aspect of my system (DC included) under a microscope?

For example, I have a HY-2000 wind turbine. It is CE certified but as far as I know, it is not UL listed. I don't have paperwork for the turbine, so I wonder if they will give me grief on that.

Also, on all my DC wiring, I have used high quality 105C jacket welding cable. If the max ampacity calculations showed I should use a certain size cable, I would jump up to a larger conductor size for extra factor of safety. I suspect that welding cable (even though it might be very safe) might not pass some code requirement. Also, I route my DC cables open air (no conduit). That might not fly either, even though from an engineering standpoint the wire would cool better in open air. Of course, I've got my conductors oversized so much, that they are not going to get warm unless there is a major problem somewhere, but then the circuit breakers would stop that from going too far. For example, I've used 4/0 welding cable for all my battery interconnects and lines running to my main breakers.

So, you can see where my mind is going with all this. I am a do it yourself type. I don't have lots of money to spend and so I am trying to decide if I should even go down the grid tie route. It might be a financial black hole and also cause myself unnecessary grief. The only reason I am thinking about it, is because I am considering adding a lot more solar in the future. Then grid tie would probably make more sense. For now, my off grid water heating arrangement works quite well. And if needed during an emergency, I can run with my off grid inverter power.

I guess I'm sort of the "a man's home is his castle" type of person. I don't like to have "big brother" dictating every aspect of my life. I like to have the freedom to choose for myself. I undestand that code is for protecting people from doing idiotic things that can harm themselves or others. On the grid tie side of things, I know it would have to be 100% correct. At the same time, I can envision things on the DC side of things that would be very safe, but might not meet some strict requirement.

Just trying to do my homework and think ahead.



  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Grid Tie Red Tape?

    As to the degree of inspection you can anticipate, it all depends on where you are and your AHJ. For example, here in Austin we have an inspector who goes up on the roof as well as around the inverter(s), service panels, and subpanels, and looks at all conductors, breakers, grounding (no WEEBs allowed!), etc. and will fail the site if it doesn't measure up to his standards. In contrast, I put in a system at a lake house in the country where the utility inspector just went to the disconnect switch, checked the voltage, threw the switch off and checked it again for islanding, and that was it.
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