Grid-tie non UL panels

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AntronX
AntronX Solar Expert Posts: 462 ✭✭
I am looking at these "Sun" branded panels priced at $1.74 per watt. They are made by Evergreen but not UL listed. If I am not mistaken, in Florida to get grid-tied panels need to be UL listed. This requirement seems kind of silly, because what difference does it make how I generate my DC current. Having UL approved inverter on other hand, is important due to safety of line workers. If I were to buy 6 KW of non-UL panels, I would save $ 3,321. That seems like a lot to pay just for the UL stamp. What are your thoughts?

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  • Solar Guppy
    Solar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,989 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Grid-tie non UL panels

    Its still a free system with the 2.40 watt UL panels with Florida giving 4.00 watt, so how exactly is the price difference coming out of your pocket?
  • AntronX
    AntronX Solar Expert Posts: 462 ✭✭
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    Re: Grid-tie non UL panels

    Aren't they putting a stop to that pretty soon? Budget crunch and all...
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Grid-tie non UL panels

    A UL stamp comes at some pretty considerable cost! Just ask any small manufacturer. There are some pretty good reasons why you want a UL stamp. The reality is insurers are going fight you for a claim if it is discovered that you had unlisted installed and there was a fire, even it it was demonstrable that the PV wasn't directly to blame. For example, a lightning strike ignites a fire. The insurance claims that a UL listed panel wouldn't have allowed the fire to spread through the wiring or what ever. Are you prepared to fight their lawyers and power and money, to collect your money?

    The $3k might seem kinda cheap in that kind of scenario.

    Tony
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,439 admin
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    Re: Grid-tie non UL panels
    AntronX wrote: »
    I am looking at these "Sun" branded panels priced at $1.74 per watt. They are made by Evergreen but not UL listed. If I am not mistaken, in Florida to get grid-tied panels need to be UL listed. This requirement seems kind of silly, because what difference does it make how I generate my DC current. Having UL approved inverter on other hand, is important due to safety of line workers. If I were to buy 6 KW of non-UL panels, I would save $ 3,321. That seems like a lot to pay just for the UL stamp. What are your thoughts?

    The issue is not just the safety of the utility workers. It is also the safety of the fire, police, neighbors, etc. too--as well as anyone living in your dwelling:

    Panel Fire Question

    Will they catch you if you do your own GT solar connected panels... Maybe not if you can make them look fairly professional--the poster in the above thread went through the local building department with permits with non-UL listed panels (don't know if home built or by some fly-by-night factory). Lucky his fire department was very near his home and the neighbors saw the flames.

    The cost of the UL Stamp would probably be more than $5,000. You would also have to build them from UL recognized materials, using custom cut tempered glass, and have matierial traceability and hipot tested them (at least 1,800 VAC). There is also a requirement for unanounced plant site inspections (and annual fees for those)--But that would probably not apply for a one-time shot (go out of business once you build your panel set).

    For listed products (I think solar panels are listed)--you might have to send them to a lab for further (destructive?) testing too (I never did Listing inspections--I designed end use equipment).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • lorelec
    lorelec Solar Expert Posts: 200 ✭✭
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    Re: Grid-tie non UL panels

    Just my 2 cents worth on these panels. I took delivery of some of the 205w Suns a couple days ago. The lady I spoke with at Sun said the cells in the panels don't quite meet Evergreen's specs, so I'm guessing they're probably the same B/C grade cells you find on eBay...except that the module assembly definitely looks to be top notch with these. I would assume that the whole deal is assembled at the Evergreen factory to their quality standards and then sold off in truckloads to Sun at bargain prices, minus the UL stamp. Maybe someone else knows more of the nitty gritty. I haven't had a chance to check their output, and probably won't until the snow all melts here, but my first impression of them exceeded my expectations. The potential downside: Evergreen obviously doesn't warranty these, so your only recourse for a defect is through Sun. "For as long as the company is still around"...whatever that means. If you're grid-tie, then these probably aren't an option for you. I'd be stunned if they started a fire (but don't quote me on that!).

    Marc
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,439 admin
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    Re: Grid-tie non UL panels

    Sorry, I made a mistake--Too many posts about building panels from bare cells... Not the question you where asking about with assembled panels from a known manufacturer.

    However, buying non-UL panels with no labels--if you know the history/details--could be a nice deal.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Grid-tie non UL panels

    i believe the b panels from evergreen are blems with full specs and warranty and the a panels from evergreen are pristine with full specs and warranty. i believe evergreen lists the c panels as non ul and non warranted, but changes to an a when sun gets their hands on them leading to some confusion. evergreen should have dictated to sun how these panels were to be designated as part of the deal. if anybody thinks i'm wrong then speak up as this is what i surmised in my reading up on them.
  • Photowhit
    Photowhit Solar Expert Posts: 6,003 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Grid-tie non UL panels
    Its still a free system with the 2.40 watt UL panels with Florida giving 4.00 watt, so how exactly is the price difference coming out of your pocket?

    They run out of allocated money very fast.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • Photowhit
    Photowhit Solar Expert Posts: 6,003 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Grid-tie non UL panels
    niel wrote: »
    i believe the b panels from evergreen are blems with full specs and warranty and the a panels from evergreen are pristine with full specs and warranty. i believe evergreen lists the c panels as non ul and non warranted, but changes to an a when sun gets their hands on them leading to some confusion. evergreen should have dictated to sun how these panels were to be designated as part of the deal. if anybody thinks i'm wrong then speak up as this is what i surmised in my reading up on them.

    I have some 'B' panels and they have a few blemished cells in them, they are UL rated and have worked fine over the last 4 years. (not grid connected, 24v array)

    Mr Kimball took part in a solar forum, and I've tried to find the thread, on another site with a less generous sponser (thread may have been deleted) he said that the non UL rated panels were out of spec, having cells too close together for the high voltage series connections of grid connect systems.

    I wish I could cut and paste this in but at least this should give you a direct question to ask.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • Dapdan
    Dapdan Solar Expert Posts: 330 ✭✭
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    Re: Grid-tie non UL panels

    Hey guys,,

    Just want to chime in on my experience with these panels. I own 16 of the 200w type and they work beautifully. They perform at or better that name plate spec (e.g. rated at 11amp and I get sometime constantly 12+ amps).

    I was inspecting the panels at one point to find any defects. Generally the defect is a chipped cell until on one panel I notice on cell is torn right through the cell nearly half way dowm beside one of the tabs. I email to my sales person and explained it along with a picture and they have told me that they are going to ship another panel to me without any dicussions about it and I have not even checked on the output of the panel. So they do honour the warranty. This is good service in my opinion. I also get to keep the panel i have.



    Cheers...
    Damani
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Grid-tie non UL panels

    dapdan,
    i do recalll reading about the high voltage failure somewhere too and i do not dispute what you say. i do not remember where i read it either whether it was here or on sg's website or somewhere else. i guess high voltage gt does come into question and if it would be a good idea with those non-warranted pvs. arcing and possible fire comes to mind. they're probably fine for paralleling and maybe a pv or 2 in series, but i can't say for sure what the breakdown point is that they observed.
  • Dapdan
    Dapdan Solar Expert Posts: 330 ✭✭
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    Re: Grid-tie non UL panels

    i am using them for an offgrid, 24v set up.

    Cheers...
    Damani