DIY California Permit'd Sol-Ark Build

bertiojones

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Feb 14, 2022
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75
Documenting my trials and tribulations with DIY'ing an approved on-grid build with battery backup.
I will be showing all my costs and hang ups. Hope it helps the next guy.
Of course if anyone sees any egregious issues or has recommendations before certain equipment is purchased don't be afraid to chime in.

Goal is to be as self sufficient as possible.
Local Utility only provides 4.5 cents per kWh buyback so using them as a battery with Grid-Tie only does not make financial sense.
Using them as a peak load provider over the inverters spike capacity temporarily does make sense.
Will be using a Hybrid Inverter with CT's and battery backup.

Planned Specs:
Sol-Ark 12
22x Solarever 445 Watt Panels
30 kWh of battery backup (Will be installing after system is signed off on by AHJ. Not sure on make/model etc)
IronRidge Knockout Tile
IMO DC Disconnects and AC Disconnect
 

bertiojones

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Feb 14, 2022
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Local town Utility uses Local county for its permitting and inspections.
Step 1 is to reach out to Town and run what you are trying to do by them. I asked them about possibly not needing an interconnection agreement as I have the option to prevent backfeeding via CT's. Person I spoke with thinks I will still need it as anytime you are connecting to the main panel via backfeed and solar they want to be able to track it.

"If the town wants to install a $400 meter that will never be used that's their problem."

In the end he really needed to see a diagram to make any judgements which is fair.

Next steps is to get diagrams and permitting together.
 

bertiojones

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Now that I know I will probably be grid-tied anyways I am changing my plan of attack. Goal is to get the easiest most vanilla build pushed through and then once everything is signed off and up and running I can install batteries and pull my usage off the grid as much as possible.

Researched permitting and there are a lot of DIY options.
I ended up using IronRidge's sync with Greenlancer through their racking tool to buy a permit plan for $90.
I provided them with everything I am doing, pictures, measurements, model numbers and even a rough electrical diagram I made for free via draw.io

1651768704263.png
 

Ampster

Renewable Energy Hobbyist
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May 3, 2020
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Kenwood, California
Goal is to get the easiest most vanilla build pushed through and then once everything is signed off and up and running I can install batteries and pull my usage off the grid as much as possible.
That is how my plan is working. I am still adding solar panel capacity behind the meter. I have two EVs so I will never be able to be off grid but the goal is reduced energy bills and a hedge against erosion of benefits.
Who is your power compny?
 

bertiojones

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Feb 14, 2022
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That is how my plan is working. I am still adding solar panel capacity behind the meter. I have two EVs so I will never be able to be off grid but the goal is reduced energy bills and a hedge against erosion of benefits.
Who is your power compny?
Utility is a small local town.

County is Butte.

Butte as per their website is currently using 2019 CEC
I am currently with 1 EV that uses about 22 kwh a day (80 miles) so having enough backup to manage that is going to be expensive. But not as expensive as trying to manage for it using Solar Company solutions. I am looking at 30kWh all in (mounting, wiring, busbars, etc) for $10k right now.
That same amount would easily be $40k for some of the "Approved" ESS solutions.
 

cj5orion

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Jan 18, 2022
Messages
33
I'm doin a Sol-Ark 8k inverter,batt backup,20 400 watt panels ,grid connected in San Diego

Tried going to that draw.io site.
"Allowed"all permissions...just got a blank page ?

Applying for permit $400 here.

Rails are up,panels ready to mount,inverter and shut off switch mounted.
 

bertiojones

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Feb 14, 2022
Messages
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I'm doin a Sol-Ark 8k inverter,batt backup,20 400 watt panels ,grid connected in San Diego

Tried going to that draw.io site.
"Allowed"all permissions...just got a blank page ?

Applying for permit $400 here.

Rails are up,panels ready to mount,inverter and shut off switch mounted.
Odd try another browser. It has options for saving your drawings to Google Drive or local or etc. You can also try just saving them local. Its a really fantastic tool considering its free.
A site I also am using for figuring out paneling is MPPT Calculator
Just make sure when you read their calculations you see they are adding 25% on the amps and 15% on the Open Voltage.
(If you divide the number by 1.25 and 1.15 you will get the flat calculations.)
Paneling for me will have 8s2p. One 8 string will be on the East roof and the other on the west. This should prevent maxing out any amps or voltage even in cold weather.
The other MPPT will just be 6s. Nothing special.

What are you doing for Rapid Shutoff? Tigo?
 

cj5orion

New Member
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Jan 18, 2022
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33
Got it to work using "save on device",save on Google drive did not work.
My Rapid shut off is built in to inverter.
Your not talking about "AC shut off...correct
 

bertiojones

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Feb 14, 2022
Messages
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Got it to work using "save on device",save on Google drive did not work.
My Rapid shut off is built in to inverter.
Your not talking about "AC shut off...correct
The Sol-Ark has connections to power and tie into a Rapid Shutdown device but the only way to kill the voltage all the way to the panel is to have a module plugged in directly at the panel.
You are going to need something like the Tigo RSS setup. It will be a rapid shutdown device per panel (They make one that connects to two panels thats cheaper if you don't need optimization) and then an RSS module that uses a CT on one of the legs of all your strings.

Here is a link explaining the support between Tigo and Sol-Ark.


With the Sol-Ark you can wire in a rapid shutdown switch/button that will power off the Solar-Ark which cuts power to the Transmitter which turns off the keep alive signal to the RSD modules on the panels which makes the lines no longer live.
Not all inverters have this tie in. That is what they mean when they say "Supported"

This is from the Sol-Ark 8k manual. Notice the use of a button/switch and the transmitter and the TIGO Ts4-f on each panel.

1651776030764.png
 

bertiojones

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Feb 14, 2022
Messages
75
Instead of wiring an entire switch just for this use I am hoping I can get away with showing that flipping the main breaker (which is what a firefighter will do) or flipping the AC Disconnect will shutdown the transmitter and therefore deactivate the Solar Panels.

We will see what my AHJ prefers.
 

onokai

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 9, 2022
Messages
169
Location
Nor-Cal
I installed Tigo optimizers on each panel a few weeks ago
here is more of that setup

also a bit on the optimizers

I have 24 Tigo TS4-A-O optimizers which will shut down the panels when power is turned off and will show each panel output. They are installed now and are wroking but I have yet to commission the fire safety aspect as well as the app on phone (hook up the CCA to power) Not sure if I will-its all installed and I have yet to find anyone who uses the app yet to tell,me its great. The optimizers work right out of box hooked to panels (spend some time decieding which optimizers you want as some only are fire and some are data and fire) I have shut offs at the array already as well as at the sol arc built into that inverter. Once i activate (power up the Tigo CCA unit with wi fi tab on array) it needs power or solar shuts down. I have to wire that CCA unit to my generator curcuit so it get power all the time as we often have outages before I will even consider turning it on.
 
Last edited:

bertiojones

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Feb 14, 2022
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05/12 Update.

Printed out and signed application for local utility and interconnection agreement. Included permit set that will be sent to county who gives the actual permit.

Front desk told me I needed to be a contractor in order to install. I told her she was mistaken but I would look into it.
After researching their local code she was mistaken. Contractor licensing is only for people doing contracting (work for profit) I am listed as an Owner-Builder in California which is exempt from California's contractor licensing and therefore the cities.

Specific rules on Owner-Builders:
I was also told there would be a $399 or $499 meter upgrade fee to interconnect that will be assessed at a later date.

Costs so far:
$90 - Permit plans
$160 - City Utility Permit fee
~~~~
$250 - Total
 

bertiojones

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Feb 14, 2022
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05/16 Update.
Submitted Permitting to County (AHJ). Process was all online. Cost - $436.96

Purchased 22 - 445w Solarever panels from @SignatureSolarUS Cost - $6004.18 shipped.

Purchased Sol-Ark 12k from @HighTechLab Used Promo code to get it for $6425 shipped! Big thanks!
Purchased 200a CT's from altE for $153.74

Costs so far:
$90 - Permit plans
$160 - City Utility Permit fee
$436.96 - County Permit
$6004.18 - Solar Panels
$6425 - Inverter
$153.74 - CT's
~~~~
$13269.88 - Total
 

WYtreasure

It's not happy hour, I'm just like this.
Joined
Nov 23, 2021
Messages
1,677
Location
Thunder Basin Wyoming
05/16 Update.
Submitted Permitting to County (AHJ). Process was all online. Cost - $436.96

Purchased 22 - 445w Solarever panels from @SignatureSolarUS Cost - $6004.18 shipped.

Purchased Sol-Ark 12k from @HighTechLab Used Promo code to get it for $6425 shipped! Big thanks!
Purchased 200a CT's from altE for $153.74

Costs so far:
$90 - Permit plans
$160 - City Utility Permit fee
$436.96 - County Permit
$6004.18 - Solar Panels
$6425 - Inverter
$153.74 - CT's
~~~~
$13269.88 - Total
Sounds like you are doing a great job, considering it's CA. I'm looking forward to some pictures of your array location.

Thanks for the update. (y)
 

bertiojones

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Feb 14, 2022
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75
05/16 mini update
Just got my application back from local utility and they didn't sign off on the size of my system due to my previous 12 month usage not being high enough. Utility does not allow you to exceed 12 months of previous usage. I reached out to the Utility guys and pleaded my case about having a new Electric car that increases my monthly usage from 2.2x to 2.6x my normal usage which is why the system is so big. They seemed more concerned with making sure I was sizing my system appropriate to my usage than anything. They have had a lot of people get Solar expecting to zero out their bill and with the 4.5 cents per kWh buyback they barely save $30 off their bill.

I let him know with the CT's on the Sol-Ark I can set export limits to whatever they wanted. My goal is to use them as a backup not send as much power as possible for a bill credit.

The other issue was not having a meter on my Single Line Diagram which I didn't know about. I thought they would only use a bi-directional meter at the main service but they also want one after the inverter before the AC side hits any load. He told me it was to track production which allows them to apply for my "Green" credits from the state. Adds a bit of complexity and another thing to mount but not a big deal.
 

bertiojones

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Joined
Feb 14, 2022
Messages
75
05/16 mini mini update
Just received a call back from the utility supervisor and after explaining my current usage I was given an exception on the sizing of my system. I added the production meter to my diagram as requested and resubmitted to them via PDF email and dropping off a printed copy to be updated in my physical application. I was told production meter can be before or after AC Disconnect.

Addition of Production Meter:

1652734270088.png
Next steps is to wait for permitting status from the county to go from applied to approved and then I can start building and running wire.
 

bertiojones

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 14, 2022
Messages
75
05/17 update

Received a final updated quote with my local CED for racking, RapidShutdown and AC and DC Disconnects. Placed the order.

The IronRidge tool was immensely helpful in getting a bill of materials 95% of the way. Then measuring and piecing that last 5% manually.

I will be using the knockout tiling as it eliminates the need to notch concrete tile via quickhooks. Also provides you with extra tiles in case you break one on the roof and has decent flashing Quite a bit pricier but I am hoping worth it with an easier install for someone that doesn't normally install solar.

Costs so far:
$90 - Permit plans
$160 - City Utility Permit fee
$436.96 - County Permit
$6004.18 - Solar Panels
$6425 - Inverter
$153.74 - CT's
$656.06 - RapidShutdown
$1743.24 - Racking
$200.20 - Electrical and Enclosures
~~~~
$15,869.38 - Total
 
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