Solar system components center around four major pieces.

Solar system components are incorporated into four major blocks.

Four major solar system components comprise the bulk of our solar system.  Four major solar system units collage.  I will describe those major component units below in more detail.  Together they all work together to start with sunlight energy and convert it all to 240 VAC electrical energy.  That electrical energy makes our smart meter “spin” backwards digitally speaking when the sun is out.

Photo voltaic solar panels form the foundation of our solar system components.

I have explained in other sections that we installed 32 Helios 300 watt panels in phase one of our project.  We mounted those panels utilizing the  aluminum rail system which was popular at the time.  A truck and long flat bed trailer hauled the rails from the manufacturer.  I had to cut them to the proper sizes to fit our roof pattern we had designed.  That Phase One installation required three men to fasten the rails and panels to the roof.  Note the grounding wire bonding the rails, panels and junction boxes together in the picture below.

The rail mounting system was part of our Phase One solar mounting components.

The mounting system is one of the four basic solar system components.

Later my wife and I added 27 more Suniva 325 watt panels in Phase two of our project.  These newer panels increased our production capabilities from 9.8 kWp to 18.6 kWp (about 90%).  Unlike Phase One, Phase Two made use of a new mounting system.  Instead of using bulky rails, the Roof Tech system utilizes a separate mount at each panel corner.  One might think the rail system offers more holding strength to the roof, but the new system has better such specifications.

The Roof Tech mounts was an integral part of our solar system components.

This picture is taken from the Roof Tech web site. It shows the mounting system I used for Phase Two.

The grid-tie inverters play a major part of our integrated solar system components.

I considered a number of very impressive grid-tie inverters the market has to offer.  Finally, I selected the SolarEdge inverters primarily of the flexibility they offered when using SolarEdge power optimizers.  They recommend dividing a system into strings of no less than eight panels.  The power optimizers and the inverters in concert develop a string voltage of 350 volts DC.  They also put out a current that is dependent on the amount of solar power being produced at a give time.  This 350 volt energy is conveyed from the roof top panel strings to the grid-tie inverters via small gauge wires.  Smaller gauge wires feed through conduit much more easily than larger gauge wires.  Of course they carry a much lower price tag as well and they are a part of the solar system components package.

The two identical Phase One grid-tie inverters gave us a total production capability of 12 kW peak power.  When we added the last 27 Suniva 325 watt panels, we had more DC power than we could convert to AC power with the existing inverters.  Thus, we had to purchase another inverter and that time we chose the 11.4 kWp SolarEdge inverter which could handle all the additional power.

Let me insert this side note that might be of interest to some readers.

We have not entered the peak power producing time of the year yet.  The cloudy weather and low sun angles simply don’t produce a lot of peak power.  Even though, one February clear day gave us 19,8 kW of peak power at high noon!  This May or June I expect to see around 22 or 23 kW of peak power on a clear day at high noon.  I will give a war whoop if I ever see my inverters putting out their full power when the panels exceed their advertised ratings by 26%!

Three grid-tie inverters are important solar system components.

23.4 kW worth of peak power ability makes a major part of the solar system components!

Our electrician installed three breaker panels in the equipment room, also a part of our solar system components.

The House panel connects to the outside service panel coming from the energy company.  An outside emergency cutoff switch allows emergency power crews to disconnect all of our solar system components from the grid when the grid crashes.  The House panel also feeds major power to the Emergency and Shop panels.

We installed the shop panel simply to keep the shop circuits separate and easy to find from the house circuits.  Also, we needed the extra panel space because of all the building circuits.

An Emergency panel provides power to critical loads in the event of a grid failure.  Such loads include refrigerator and freezer circuits, well pump, overhead garage door openers, important lights, security system, etc.  I will give more attention to this panel in another page discussing a backup battery system.

 

Three electrical panels transfer inverter power to the building loads and grid.

House, Emergency and Shop panels are a critical part of the solar system components.

The main energy company service panel showing the Smart Meter that records energy consumed and produced.  Also, the mechanical cutoff switch on the right is used to protect linemen when the grid is down.  This is the location where the Main House panel ties into the energy grid with the smart meter and emergency cutoff in between.

 

Solar system components include the main service entry and emergency grid cutoff switch.

The main service panel and emergency cutoff switch are also solar system components.