Help with DIY permitted design for California

fxracer20v

New Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2021
Messages
2
Hey all. I am new to this solar thing and was hoping I could get some recommendations on parts. I have been watching the good o'l Youtube and reading as much as possible. I thought I had my heart set on a Hybrid Inverter as I would like to have battery backup as well. I am not sure where I read it, I am not able to find it anymore, but I though I read that California requires me to use products that are on the CEC Approved list (https://www.energy.ca.gov/programs-and-topics/programs/solar-equipment-lists). Does anyone know if this is true? I hope it isn't.

If it is, how can I build a system that is grid tied, but also can do 48v battery supplement/backup? IE: PV array, Inverter, batteries, Solar Charge Controller, etc. I would like to use the solar during the day, and what is not used, charge the batteries up and then after that fed back to the grid. I called one of the large companies that sell products and they said its not possible. They said I would have to build 2 separate systems and manually switch them if the power goes out. They also said the AIO Hybrid units are not reliable and are not as efficient.

If it is not true and I am able to use what I want, what AIO Hybrid Inverter do you all recommend?

I use roughly 400kwh per month or 12kwh every day. Nobody is home during the day on weekdays, and home about half the time on weekends (only 2 people live in the house). I have central AC that only comes on in the evenings when the house finally gets warm enough. I have everything else possible on NG. My house is only 800 sq/ft. My goal was to install 10 (ten) 440w panels on the roof. I truly feel this would be plenty for me to be 100% self sufficient and also sell some back at whatever pennies they will give me for it. I am also planning on building a 350sq/ft ADU over the next 6 months so hopefully this system will also power that as well. If not I can always add a few panels.

I really do not want to pay a company however many thousands of dollars for something I can do my myself. Sorry for the long rant. I am sure I have left things out. Please ask any questions.

Also for any of those that did do the DIY route that live in California or other states that require permits, did you use one of those online companies to have all the blue prints and drawings made? Or did you go to a local engineering company? Just trying to cover as much as possible Thanks!!!!
 
Last edited:

400bird

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
381
I did my PV install in 2018 and my battery this year.
Both permitted in California.

But, your local AHJ (probably the city) has all the power in permitting. I've heard stories of areas not allowing self install PV or the inspectors making it impossible to get your plans approved.

Also, with the newest electric code (CEC 2019, if I remember correctly) all components of the system must be UL listed for the purpose. Meaning batteries become very expensive when compared to DIY.

Luckily my city is using CEC 2016 which doesn't have that requirement. The inverters do need to be UL listed.

Also, you'll need to check with the power company. They may have restrictions on what they will allow you to back feed.

Edit:
I miss one question you had.
I purchased my PV from Renvu.com (in California for my local pick up) I paid them to write the PV permits, went smooth enough. Others companies also offer the same service.
I used this permit as a template to write my ESS permit.
 

fxracer20v

New Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2021
Messages
2
I did my PV install in 2018 and my battery this year.
Both permitted in California.

But, your local AHJ (probably the city) has all the power in permitting. I've heard stories of areas not allowing self install PV or the inspectors making it impossible to get your plans approved.

Also, with the newest electric code (CEC 2019, if I remember correctly) all components of the system must be UL listed for the purpose. Meaning batteries become very expensive when compared to DIY.

Luckily my city is using CEC 2016 which doesn't have that requirement. The inverters do need to be UL listed.

Also, you'll need to check with the power company. They may have restrictions on what they will allow you to back feed.

Edit:
I miss one question you had.
I purchased my PV from Renvu.com (in California for my local pick up) I paid them to write the PV permits, went smooth enough. Others companies also offer the same service.
I used this permit as a template to write my ESS permit.
400bird, thank you!!!!! I really appreciate your response on this. It helps me out a lot. I will look up Renvu.com. There is so much information out there for DIY stuff when it comes to non permitting. Needing permits is a whole different ball game and there isn't much on how to go about it. I do not know anyone else either for that matter that has done a permitted DIY system. I guess that is why so many people pay so much for other companied to come in and install. Hopefully I can help pave the way for my family, friends and others that want to do permitted systems.

Now I will start down the rabbit hole of UL listed Hybrid inverters. I know the panels I want are already there. Thanks again!!
 

Ampster

Renewable Energy Hobbyist
Joined
May 3, 2020
Messages
4,610
Location
Kenwood, California
Does anyone know if this is true? I hope it isn't.
It is definitely true as far as applying for a Grid Tied system. You may want to read up on the Sucessor Tariff to NEM 2.0 which threatens to erode the benefits of a GT system.
I am of the opinion that you will need a building permit for an off grid or behind the meter system. Any new installation on a roof will have to comply with Rapid Shut Down requirements. Some older equipment may not easily comply or would be expensive to retrofit for compliance.

Furthermore NEC 2020 is in the process of being implemented in jurisdiction across the state and that may restrict your choices in terms of a battery pack. You will need to research with your local building department where they are with regard to that process.
 

Ampster

Renewable Energy Hobbyist
Joined
May 3, 2020
Messages
4,610
Location
Kenwood, California
They also said the AIO Hybrid units are not reliable and are not as efficient.
I have an Outback Skybox AIO and I find it complicated but reliable. Perhaps that vendor does not want to support that kind of equipment or they want to upsell you on two separate systems?
 
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