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Going off-grid in Idaho

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Hi Pete,
Good to hear from you. 
The idle current is 0.75a at 240v.
Very steady and quiet.  If it loads up ok I'm good.
I'll be happy if it will do 5kw reliably when needed (not too often).  We're pretty economical with power.  We can waste power in summer with so much sun.  Winter will tell.
The 15kw pj is probably only good for 7-8kw. Plenty for us.  I've only had it up to 6 briefly and 4.5kw for an hour and a half (electric oven).  This hybrid is only intended as backup or could run split system.  Trying to make the system versatile.

Oh if you do see a pj board set at good price, I'd appreciate a shout.  The ads on ebay I've seen are always "out of stock" for 15kw/48v sets.  Haven't even seen the little mosfet subboards for 15kw.

Hi Doc, this site seems to have some parts, I saw 15kw control boards but not sure if the mosfet boards are there.

good luck with the project. I love not having a grid connection. I have only had one house grid connected in the last 40 years so don't really miss the power bills that much. Where we live now had grid power when we bought it but I deleted it and cut the power poles down pretty fast.
We get lots of strong winds on our mountain and blackouts were pretty regular. Solar is much more reliable.

Thanks Pete,
They have the control board which is good.  No mosfet boards though.
I'll get the control for now and watch for the other.
Thanks again.
That control board is hooked up a bit different than the old style I have now.  Hope its not too different.

The grid tie project

The first solar work I did after moving, was to start putting together a grid tied system.  I had two Trace xr2000 grid tie inverters, panels, and a vague idea of where I wanted things to be.  I tend to revise my designs several times during construction.
Cleaned up the inverters and installed them in the back shed, which is nearest to the panel array.  The panels are in groups of four.  Two sets of two panels attached side by side.  One set faces East, the other West.  Attached at the top and putting the panels at a 45 degree angle in an a-frame arrangement.  4 of these sets makes 2560w west and 2560w east.  Each west set of 2 panels in series is connected in parallel to its opposite east set.  Half as many wires to run back to inverter this way.  Only east or west producing at a given time.  Throughout the day east side declines as west builds, so never too much current for the wires.

I call this arrangement Stationary Tracking.  No moving parts and being ground mounted and heavy with 4 panels bolted together per set, windproof.  In San Diego I built and used for years an actual solar tracking system for my grid tie panels.  It worked well most of the time but frequently needed attention to maintain alignment and proper tracking.  San diego location had very little wind.  Here in Idaho we've had 60+ mph winds a few times just since we moved here.  I realized tracking would not be practical.  Panels have gotten cheaper and higher wattage so here we are!
The pics show that there are two groups of panels.  The nearer group is a set of 4 sets that makes 2560w either east or west for a 2500w inverter.  The farther group is 3 sets of 4 for 1960w east or west for a 2000w inverter.

Sharp eyes have doubtless noted that there are 3 inverters in the picture.  I started with 2 Trace 2000w models and picked up a deal on the middle Xantrex 2500w unit.  After Xantrex bought out Trace, they continued to make these models for awhile.  They are essentially the same inside with Xantrex instead of Trace on the label.

When I fired up the first Trace unit, it immediately blew up.  Some grit apparently escaped my cleanup.  So dismantled the other Trace and put the board thru the dishwasher.  Checked it more thoroughly, then re-installed it in place of the blown unit.  Worked fine for about 3 months, then it blew up too.  By that time I had gotten the xantrex unit and after dishwasher cleaning, it worked fine.  Did have 2 working at same time for a short time till the power company showed up.  As of today the Xantrex still works and I use it sometimes with the powerjack 'grid'.

The likely question at this point is why use these old inverters?  Why not a sunnyboy or xantrex gt series? 
I like the 48v style inverters over the string type newer models for a few reasons.  My system in San Diego was a string.  A Gt3 Xantrex.  It was ok. Worked reasonably well for years.
What I didn't like was that one little cloud or stray shadow dropped almost the entire output to nothing.  Any issue at all dropped output to nothing.  With the 48v style there are up to 6 strings of nominal 48v each (I get usually 79-82v from 2 320w in series per string)  Shading one panel drops output wattage by that set's wattage only.  Everything else still produces.  Idaho has lots of partly cloudy days.  I'm much happier with the output of these units.  Sadly, they are old.  For electronics they are almost ancient.  So they blow.  And nobody will even talk to me about repairing them.  One working unit left.
I have changed the flaky 230vac variable speed fan to a high air flow 12vdc fan controlled by the same type temp controllers I use on the powerjacks.  2 level control with half and full speed fans.  Much more air than the original but noisier.  Hey, they're in the back shed so who cares.  My electronics don't run hot!  (Sometimes they blow up anyway...)

The power company, after catching me running my 4000w of grid tie without supplication, groveling, a ton of paperwork, and of course fees, threatened various levels of retribution, fines, and excommunication from the great and powerful Power Company. 
Unless, of course, I agreed to sign up, do the paperwork, pay the fees, and above all don't run that solar system until it is "Approved", "Inspected", and Signed Off by someone just a couple chairs left of the Almighty.
At the time agreeing seemed prudent.  I accepted and read the inch thick stack of regulations the power company provided.  Signed up and paid the non-refundable fee for asking permission to apply.  That's right.  First I have to ask permission to apply.  Then, if given, I can apply.  After that I went down and applied for my State Permit (another fee of course)
Some of the fine print in that stack of paperwork had informed me that I now had 1 year max to complete my project, or I would have to pay again and start over.  With a year to mull it over, and after speaking with the Person at the state permit div who made the decisions, it became pretty clear that there were just too many hoops to jump through.  Also, inviting an inspector onto my property seemed like a worse idea each time I thought about it.  So i shortly had decided to let the year run out with the state permit and tell the power company just as the year ran out that I had cancelled the project.  We have now passed the year deadline.  I left a message with my contact at the power company that the project was cancelled about 2 weeks ago, and no reply.  Good so far.  Nothing from the state either.  I had an online access to my 'project', which I cancelled.  Maybe I'll get lucky and they will just quietly fade away.  If I just get a couple more weeks, I'll be done with my rewiring in the house.  Then I'm ready for em if they persist.  My grid tie system will not be electrically or any other way connected to the grid, removing their basis for complaint.
Of course, that makes sense, and sense usually isn't what Authority relies upon.  Time will tell

Well, not the best of news.
Solar company wants $2950 usd to mount my 20 panels on the roof in my desired layout.  No wiring. No State or power company involvement. Easy install.
I think he didn't really want the job.  "Quote him a high price and he'll go away"
It worked.  Done with him.

Called a second outfit whose secretary said their guy would call me.  No call.

The typical deal these companies make with folks is mostly fluff bordering on scam, but it makes them a lot of money.  My straightforward "Just mount some panels" deal has only a small profit compared to the other.

Looking like I will have to do it myself after all. :-[


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