new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connectors

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  • jaggedbenjaggedben ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 230 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector
    if they end up lying on the roof that is an incompetent instllers fault, not a product design fault.

    I will suffer you not to insult my installation skills. When the manufacture provides no means for tying cable to racking without drilling holes in a listed assembly, then they have to accept some blame. And I have enough experience with the cable clips they provide to know they are less reliable than zip-ties.

    You also need to realize that they have designed the product to lie very close to the roof, purely for aesthetic reasons, and this contributes to the problem. (And it reduces system efficiency, as I'm sure you know.) It's pretty hard to dress cable swag when you only have an inch to work with, no matter your skills.

    Believe me, I spent many hours wire managing the Andalay cables, doing my best, only to walk away knowing that with a few months of heat expansion and contraction my well dressed cables would likely be grazing the roof. I also saw otherwise scrupulous fellow installers give up with frustration. You can't put it all on the installers.
    I guess we just disagree.

    I am just warning you about some things that I'm aware of so you can make a more informed decision before you might purchase it. It isn't necessarily god-awful compared to traditional racking, but neither is it candy and daisies.
    Having a panel fail in my experience a very rare thing.

    How about a bad micro-inverter? How about a ground fault indication? Yes, also rare, but not nearly as rare.
    i believe the home run wire is also integrated into the frame wiring system, thus negating your perceived issue of having to zip tie home runs. Obviously the system has changed since you used it.

    I'm not sure what changes they've made from the older Andalay version. That version was fine for one string. It was multiple strings that caused the problems. You either have to add conduit and j-boxes where you wouldn't need to with traditional racking, or you have to try to tie the home runs to the panels even though they are completely lacking for places to tie stuff.

    The fact that there doesn't seem to be an install manual for the DC version with tips on how to do this does not inspire confidence.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    "
    I'm not sure what changes they've made from the older Andalay version."
    "I spent many hours wire managing the Andalay cables, doing my best, only to walk away knowing that with a few months of heat expansion and contraction my well dressed cables would likely be grazing the roof"


    I'm not talking about the Andalay cable system. I'm talking about westinghouse.
    I understand you are just trying to " warning you about some things that I'm aware of "

    but your warnings are based on a differnet product that is not even made any more.
    furthermore the dc install manual is right on their web site
    http://westinghousesolar.com/index.php/dealer-resources
    along with all the other manuals.
  • solarixsolarix ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    As an active installer, I agree with jaggedben. I've even had westinghouse reps come to us and demonstrate the system. I just don't think the purported time savings is worth the risk and cost inherent in a unique, custom, proprietary system. Installation time is not the problem anyway. We spend weeks and weeks messing around with paperwork and regulations so that we can go out and actually work for a couple days doing the install. Permitting costs and delays are the problem. Please read the current rss post concerning soft costs and how it is ten (10) times cheaper and faster to permit solar in Germany. If we could standardize the permitting process, maybe trust us licensed, bonded, qualified installers a little, maybe get more like Vermont where solar installs are now just being registered instead of permitted, we could get the costs down to where a whole lot more people could afford it.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    i don't know about other installers, but id' estimate for me 33% of my time is spent doing paper work and 66% doing the physical labor. I totally agree that paper work needs to b e minimized in order for installers to lower prices, but I do see this all in one westing house solution as minimizing the amount of time it takes to make a drawing as well.
  • ggunnggunn ✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    i believe the home run wire is also integrated into the frame wiring system, thus negating your perceived issue of having to zip tie home runs. Obviously the system has changed since you used it.

    I don't see how they could integrate home run wires into the frame when a string begins somewhere out in the array and ends somewhere else in a different row.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot ✭✭ Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    Efforts to make installations simpler place limitations on the flexibility. Since every solar install is different, this might work in some instances but not in others.

    That's the thing about the "messy" non-integrated equipment; it works anywhere. You just have to have a bright enough installer to do it right. At least three such individuals have posted above. :D
  • jaggedbenjaggedben ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 230 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector
    I'm not talking about the Andalay cable system. I'm talking about westinghouse.
    but your warnings are based on a differnet product that is not even made any more.

    They are different generations of the same product. The old Andalay product was sold unchanged as Westinghouse for at least a year.

    As far as I can tell from the video literature, the only significant difference in the product design from the older version is the improved AC wire harness. That's a very important improvement, but it's far from the only suggestion I could make for it.
    furthermore the dc install manual is right on their web site

    And I can't see anything in it that shows me a meaningful improvement from the previous design.

    BTW, I kept fairly detailed records, for my own interest, of how fast I was able to install Andalay (working for the one company) vs systems with Unirac (working for a different one). The difference? Andalay: .526 kW per day. Unirac: .514 kW per day. And you should ignore the last two figures because of how unscientific my study was. ;) (And if you're going to say again that they've improved the wiring on the new Westinghouse panels, keep in mind that Enphase introduced the Engage cable system which also simplified wire management and cut time.)
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    yeah and the iphone5 is a differnet generation of the same product the iphone 1, but you dont' see any people comparing them do you?

    ggun, you can look at the manual on the web site that shows how the home runs are integrated into a dc panel.
    jagged ben, first you incorrectly claim that with the DC panels that a home run line would need to be zip tied.
    I then correct that misinformation by showing you the install manual.
    then you claim there are no improvements from 5 years ago????? I dont get it.

    if you are starting out from ground zero, as a novice first time do it your self home owner, not having to spend days learning about DC wiring, sting sizing, maximizing a load on an inverter, etc, this AC system will save you tons of time.

    if you are a seasoned pro maybe not so much.
  • jaggedbenjaggedben ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 230 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector
    yeah and the iphone5 is a differnet generation of the same product the iphone 1, but you dont' see any people comparing them do you?

    Well to continue the analogy ... if someone says they prefer a Droid to an iPhone they probably aren't going to completely throw out their opinion and start from scratch when the next versions of those products come out.
    jagged ben, first you incorrectly claim that with the DC panels that a home run line would need to be zip tied.

    Here is exactly what I said in post #32.
    "[Andalay] was fine for one string. It was multiple strings that caused the problems. You either have to add conduit and j-boxes where you wouldn't need to with traditional racking, or you have to try to tie the home runs to the panels even though they are completely lacking for places to tie stuff."
    I then correct that misinformation by showing you the install manual.
    then you claim there are no improvements from 5 years ago????? I dont get it.

    To repeat, I don't see any evidence in the manual that the new DC product addresses the problems the old version had. Namely, that on those occasions when you have to reconfigure the connections for something other than a single straight row of panels, you'll run into problems of the leads not being long enough and having no appropriate place on the frames take a zip tie.
    if you are starting out from ground zero, as a novice first time do it your self home owner, not having to spend days learning about DC wiring, sting sizing, maximizing a load on an inverter, etc, this AC system will save you tons of time.

    The same can be said of any AC module. There are a bunch available that work with traditional racking.
  • jaggedbenjaggedben ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 230 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    Maybe a picture will help make the point. Here's a system I did with the DC Andalay version. How do you think their integrated home run system deals with the staggered ends of rows? Answer: It doesn't. No matter how much you think about it, you're going to have to run some jumpers and figure out how to attach them to the panels.

    Attachment not found.
  • ggunnggunn ✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector
    jaggedben wrote: »
    Maybe a picture will help make the point. Here's a system I did with the DC Andalay version. How do you think their integrated home run system deals with the staggered ends of rows? Answer: It doesn't. No matter how much you think about it, you're going to have to run some jumpers and figure out how to attach them to the panels.

    Attachment not found.
    What it really boils down to is that there is no magic bullet that is going to universally make installation easier/cheaper/more efficient for everyone in every situation.
  • ggunnggunn ✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector
    ggun, you can look at the manual on the web site that shows how the home runs are integrated into a dc panel.
    I did look at it. All it does is make the positive and negative home runs go to the same spot in the array. In a large array where strings don't necessarily start and end on the same row, it could make things worse instead of better. It's also optimized for horizontal rows in landscape orientation; for an array in single row portrait mode, for example, it would be a wiring nightmare.

    Like anything else, it's a marginal improvement for some applications, not a magic bullet.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    In post #27 jaggedben incorrectly states that a home run wire for dc runs is needed to be made when in many cases a simple pigtale conector is all that is needed at the end of a single row/array. Kind of mute since the original post discusses AC panels.
    that is the error I was correcting, not some other post.

    ggun if you need to split a "DC" array up into two rows or use the panels in the "wrong" orientation or use them upside down, this is not your magic bulet system. Most diy home owners are only going to be able to fit a modest 4 to 6Kw system on their roof anyways and their going to be using AC modules which make your points mute.

    I'm not going to argue that the DC version of the system is so great, because that was never my original post was about the AC version. Also not going to argue that it works great for strange/ususual layouts like the last one pictured, but I am going to stick to my guns and say that if you have give any DIY person the job of putting together a modest 4 to 6kw system on a traditional solid plane roof the westinghouse will save the newbie time and thousands of dollars in install costs vs traditional methods of having to shop around with 3 differnet manufactuers (rack, panels, inverters) and figgure out how to put it all together vs just buying a well thoughout AC panel kit system.
  • ggunnggunn ✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    ggun if you need to split a "DC" array up into two rows or use the panels in the "wrong" orientation or use them upside down, this is not your magic bulet system. Most diy home owners are only going to be able to fit a modest 4 to 6Kw system on their roof anyways and their going to be using AC modules which make your points mute.
    I think that I was very clear that I was talking about arrays that are large compared to most/all residential systems. My points are not "mute" (I think you mean moot); they are in response to what you were saying, which did not originally stipulate that it was only small residential systems you were talking about. Also, the DC system doesn't incorporate home runs into the wiring, it just enables them to terminate at the same point in some configurations. I agree that for a small system there may be some advantage to that.

    The bottom line, I believe, is that it is a wiring strategy that may provide an improvement in the installation of a specific type of small residential array.
  • jaggedbenjaggedben ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 230 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    The picture I posted is not of a strange or unusual configuration. It is pretty typical to have to come up with such configurations on suburban homes. In my experience of hundreds of installs, I would say roughly a quarter of them involved a simple arrangement of portrait rows. That applies to residential roof mounted systems in the 2-6kW range.

    With that said, I have fully granted that for customers with straightforward arrangements the Westinghouse system may work well.
    the westinghouse will save the newbie time and thousands of dollars

    Where did saving thousands of dollars come from? I couldn't even find a price online for the latest version.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    take your typical professional install price of $4 to $5 a watt.
    minus cost of the panels for DiY person to install
    minus cost of professional electrician to finish wiring
    difference is thousands of dollars.

    the latest version sells for $2 to $3 a watt depending on quantity bought.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    "Also, the DC system doesn't incorporate home runs into the wiring, it just enables them to terminate at the same point in some configurations."


    I guess technically you are right, though......
    if you have the + and - terminate at the same point in some configurations than many would consider that having the home run wire built into the system.

    I guess technically you still have to connect a "home run" wire from the termination point to fuse box, but under most installs you do not need to run a home wire under the panels as was originally suggested.
  • ggunnggunn ✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector
    "Also, the DC system doesn't incorporate home runs into the wiring, it just enables them to terminate at the same point in some configurations."


    I guess technically you are right, though......
    if you have the + and - terminate at the same point in some configurations than many would consider that having the home run wire built into the system.

    I guess technically you still have to connect a "home run" wire from the termination point to fuse box, but under most installs you do not need to run a home wire under the panels as was originally suggested.
    Again, what are "most installs"? Most small residential installs, maybe, but for even relatively small commercial installs, that isn't usually the case.

    Racking that uses the module frames has been around for a while. Bundling and zip tying conductors under arrays is no big deal and this system only works for contiguous landscape arrays. Incorporating the negative conductor is a good idea for small systems; it will save a bit of wire.

    As we have been saying, this is a system tweak that may be advantageous to a limited scope of installs, but it's no game changer.
  • jaggedbenjaggedben ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 230 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector
    take your typical professional install price of $4 to $5 a watt.
    minus cost of the panels for DiY person to install
    minus cost of professional electrician to finish wiring
    difference is thousands of dollars.

    the latest version sells for $2 to $3 a watt depending on quantity bought.

    Huh?

    You are saying that a DIYer can't install non-Westinghouse panels on their own?

    You are saying that a DIYer who can do the electrical for Westinghouse systems has to hire a professional electrician to do Enphase or other AC modules, or for that matter DC systems? Practically everyone on this forum seems to be a DIYer and many are doing more complicated systems than Westinghouse.

    I really don't know why you are so invested in arguing for Westinghouse, but you are just not making good arguments.
  • ggunnggunn ✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector
    jaggedben wrote: »
    Huh?

    You are saying that a DIYer can't install non-Westinghouse panels on their own?

    You are saying that a DIYer who can do the electrical for Westinghouse systems has to hire a professional electrician to do Enphase or other AC modules, or for that matter DC systems? Practically everyone on this forum seems to be a DIYer and many are doing more complicated systems than Westinghouse.

    I really don't know why you are so invested in arguing for Westinghouse, but you are just not making good arguments.
    Also, not hiring a licensed electrician to perform the interconnect is not an option in most jurisdictions.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    Maybe I don't make good arguments, but at least I don't post incorrect information on old technology.
    this topic has been discussed to death, people can make their own decision if it works for them or not.

    Lowes' isn't exactly the place where contractors pick up solar supplies for commercial solar installs, obviously this product was not optimized for that type of customer.

    Instead of just bashing this gear, why don't you guys post what you think is the most DIY freindly residential solar system/products.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot ✭✭ Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    Guys, you're making this job really hard. :roll:
  • ggunnggunn ✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector
    Maybe I don't make good arguments, but at least I don't post incorrect information on old technology.
    this topic has been discussed to death, people can make their own decision if it works for them or not.

    Lowes' isn't exactly the place where contractors pick up solar supplies for commercial solar installs, obviously this product was not optimized for that type of customer.

    Instead of just bashing this gear, why don't you guys post what you think is the most DIY freindly residential solar system/products.
    Who are you talking to? I'm not bashing anything; I don't do residential systems, so it's not optimized for me, either. Your initial comments didn't specify what kind of systems you were touting this for, so it read as a panacea, which it's not, and the racking structure itself is nothing new. I dunno; it might be the greatest thing since sliced bread for a small contiguous landscape residential array.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector

    My first posts states:
    "it's got to be the most well thoughout easiest do it your self installations. "

    Do it yourself is typically small residential.

    I guess technically you could do a large commercial installation DIY, but that's kind of unheard of. Anyways my last post on this topic, the good and bad points have been discussed. Sorry that last post sounded harsh, it was a good debate!
  • jaggedbenjaggedben ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 230 ✭✭
    Re: new solar panels that integrated wiring, no more zip ties and dangling mc4 connector
    Instead of just bashing this gear, why don't you guys post what you think is the most DIY freindly residential solar system/products.

    I think any micro-inverter or AC module system is more DIYer friendly than a DC system. But beyond that I do not think there's a clear advantage to one product over the other, or else it depends on the situation on the roof.

    To repeat what I've already said multiple times in various ways, I might recommend the Westinghouse system if and only if the system will be one circuit and a single row of panels (or maybe two rows of equal length without staggering). And if it's on a comp-shingle roof. Otherwise I think it has no advantages over other products. Call that bashing if you like.
    this topic has been discussed to death, people can make their own decision if it works for them or not.

    I'll say. It's about time we agreed on that and let this die.
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