Focusing on Completing Our Solar Photovoltaic Panel Installation

There are multiple components to our renovation/new construction project, all of which are tightly integrated in the overall program and design, and all of which are moving forward in parallel.

One of the components is the installation of our solar photovoltaic panels.  Our original plan, which we noted in our posting on September 19, 2009 (Why Are We Installing Solar Photovoltaic Panels?), was to have 32-175 watt photovoltaic panels in Phase 1.  After the change of law announced on October 13, 2009, we changed our strategy (see Pouring Rain and New Solar Generation Laws in California) so we could take advantage of the ability to generate more electricity that we could use.

We registered under the NSHP rebate program, and have a reservation for a 5.04 kW system.  When Bryan was driving to Merced on Tuesday, August 30, (see Picking Up Our Ladder and Looking at Artemide Lights) he learned that our reservation could be increased to 7.5 kW but the change had to be completed, and submitted, by Monday, September 12, 2012.  This deadline, which is now looming, has created a laser focus on completing the installation of our photovoltaic system, which will include 48-215 watt solar panels, set out in six individual arrays.

The expanded system will have a ‘nameplate’ rating of 10.32 kW (48 x 215 watts) and will generate approximately 90% of that (9.29 kW).  However, the limit under the NSHP is 7.5 kW.

Bryan put together a list of the key tasks that must be completed in order to complete the installation, have it inspected by the City of Monte Sereno, and have it verified by an independant HERS Rater.  He reviewed the list with Bryan McFarland of Reals Goods Solar, who is managing the installation of our solar photovoltaic system, and also discussed the procedures with both Dana Farquhar of Real Goods Solar and our HERS Rater, Darrel Kelly of Builders Energy Services, Inc.

The list is as follows:

  • Complete unistrut frames on:
    North gable
    Upper Flat roof
  • Install Enphase inverters on:
    North gable – 8 inverters
    Upper Flat roof – 32 inverters
  • Mount load centers:
    Under North gable
    On Upper Flat roof unistrut frame (2 load centers)
  • Pull conductors from:
    East gable to load center under North gable
    Load center under North gable to load centers on Upper Flat roof
    Load centers on Upper Flat roof through to East Mechanical room
  • Complete connections to electric panels
    Install 30 amp double pole breaker in 400 amp panel, going to load center on Upper Flat roof
    Install 30 amp double pole breaker in 200 amp panel, going to load center on Upper Flat roof
  • Complete network connections
    Install receptacle to the left of 200 amp panel in the East Mechanical room
    Install Enphase Envoy unit above receptacle
    Provide network access to Envoy unit
  • Install Sanyo 215 watt photovoltaic panels on:
    East gable (one array of 8 panels)
    North gable (one array of 8 panels)
    Upper Flat roof (four arrays of 8 panels each, or 32 panels)
  • Complete all labels and signage relating to solar
  • Test solar installation
    Connect network to Internet
    Register each of the individual panels with Enphase (about 45 minutes) and verify solar production/generation
  • Inspections and certification
    Schedule inspection by the City of Monte Sereno for Friday, 09/09/11 between 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
    Schedule inspection by HERS rater (Darrel Kelly) for Saturday, 09/10/11 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Submit completion certification to NSHP on 09/12/11

Quite a list!  We’ll see how our plan unfolds …

Starting the Day

Since the 60 mil TPO membrane roof was completed last fall, we had a leak (when Earth Bound Homes was verifying the chases were clear in the SIPs), and then made several penetrations for our plumbing vents.  In addition, we had to make two penetrations for solar mounts and then just last week we made four penetrations for the conduit going to the Upper Flat roof.

So … Al Courtney of Statewide Roofing sent three of his top installers over first thing this morning so they could make the necessary repairs to the TPO membrane roof.

With the penetrations for the solar mounts and conduit secured, the team from Real Goods Solar can work unimpeded.

We’re on track to meet the September 12, 2012 deadline.

The team from Statewide Roofing arrived first thing this morning to complete the repairs to the 60 mil TPO membrane roof.

The drain over the South East part of the Garage had to be replaced due to the hole that Earth Bound Homes made when verifying the electrical chases in the SIPs were clear. We discovered the leak during the heavy rains on December 31, 2010.

Plumbing vents on the North East corner of the house.

Plumbing vent on the West side of the house, over the Master Bathroom.

Solar mounts that straddle the ridge of the North gable.

The back side of the frames that straddle the ridge of the North gable.

New TPO membrane over one of the four penetrations of conduit on the Upper Flat roof.

Completed conduit under the Upper Flat roof. Note the reclaimed Redwood under the SIP roof.

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