Introduction and initial questions...

mikethorlin

DIYer, Engineer
Joined
Aug 2, 2021
Messages
4
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Greetings everyone, I just joined the forum and want to introduce myself and ask some initial questions.

I've been interested in solar/self-sufficiency for a long time, but haven't been motivated to act until recently. Between the drop in pricing of equipment along with the increase in energy costs, it's time. I live in Arizona where we have an abundance of sunshine, and also have pretty high energy prices. My home is nearly all electric, three heat-pumps, in-ground spa and pool, electric dryer and electric oven, so the cost of electricity is getting out of hand.

My project interests are as follows:
Demand shaving
Home Battery
PV Solar

My intent is to DIY this... to include buying major components, conducting the design/install on my own. When complete, I'm hoping to have an appropriately sized PV system with a home battery for demand shaving, and perhaps with a minimal backup capability.

I am a very experienced DIYer, I've built an addition to the house to including wiring a sub-panel for 110/240, framing, plumbing...etc. I'm also an engineer by profession with some experience in expeditionary power solutions.

I have some quick questions...

What are some recommended battery invertor/chargers? I lean towards microinverters to accommodate for some minor shading on my roof, trying to avoid string inverters. I like the idea of being able to monitor each panel for efficiency of operation. Thoughts??

What products are out there that allow demand shaving? I've been having trouble identifying invertor/chargers that do this - but am aware of the Sunny Boy battery inverter.

I'll be installing the equipment on my 2/3 flat roof southwestern home with parapet walls. Roof construction is sprayed on foam with elastomeric coating. I worry about perforated mounts (leaks) and ballasted mounts (weight). Thoughts/opinions??

My home faces approximately 220degrees, so I will have to mount the PV racks in a somewhat unconventional manner. Plan to use a ~30degree tilt. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance for any responses and replies.

Mike
 

MisterSandals

Participation Medalist
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
4,824
Location
Silicon Valley
I recommend starting with an energy audit. This will let you discover your current use and provide a basis for sizing your components. You will learn more in this stage than any other.
 

Horsefly

Photon Sorcerer
Joined
Dec 12, 2020
Messages
911
Location
Denver, mostly
I've been interested in solar/self-sufficiency for a long time, but haven't been motivated to act until recently. Between the drop in pricing of equipment along with the increase in energy costs, it's time. I live in Arizona where we have an abundance of sunshine, and also have pretty high energy prices. My home is nearly all electric, three heat-pumps, in-ground spa and pool, electric dryer and electric oven, so the cost of electricity is getting out of hand.
Often if someone is interested in switching to solar, the first thing to do is figure out how to use less electricity. You'll find that some of your electric loads (spa, pool, dryer, oven) are such huge consumers of electricity that you would have make a major investment in solar equipment to go off grid.

In general, off-grid solar (including storage) is way more expensive than just about any grid source you can find. So your energy costs may seem high now, but with those big loads you'll be spending way more for solar.

For the record: I love off grid solar. But your house and lifestyle just may not be a good fit.
 

mikethorlin

DIYer, Engineer
Joined
Aug 2, 2021
Messages
4
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Horsefly and MrSandals...

Thanks very much for your responses, that's sound advice. Fully agree, I have no intention of going off-grid, it's clearly not practical for my situation. My goal, really, is to stop giving APS (my power provider) so much of my money. This is the reason I'm interested in peak shaving. In order to get reasonable kWh rates, a demand charge comes into play and tha.

Looking at the limited history I can see, I have peaks as high at 7-10kWh. From the data, it's clear that these are relatively transient, occurring when the pool pumps switch on. My first stop is to replace the 1-speed pumps with variable/2-speed pumps.

I should say that I've been living overseas for 3 years, haven't been paying electrical and am now not looking forward to the idea of paying electrical bills. We slide back into our home at the end of this month, once the temporary tenants depart, hence the lack of extensive usage history.

I have already bought an Emporia Vue (16CH) energy monitor to help me better understand where my usage is. The 7-10kWh peaks I mentioned occur at times when only the pumps would be a major draw (after midnight) so I just assume they are the big hitters then. I'll know more later...
 

Wellbuilt

Solar Addict
Joined
Sep 14, 2020
Messages
651
You are in the land of sunshine ☀️ I say go for it .
You would get more power with the panels pointing at the sun .
I think grid tie the solar and just run a generator if the power gos out .
 
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