Sol-Ark confusion

Keith Moreau

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That's where the installer first put them as well, but that was leading directly to the weird Sol-Ark behavior I was experiencing (described in the beginning of this thread). Once Sol-Ark support realized this, they said I needed to have the CTs around the bus bars coming from the utility side to the house side, not the wires coming from the 100a breaker. I'm attaching another photo to try to clarify.

The issue is that the smaller CTs that came with the Sol-Ark are not large enough to wrap those bus bars, and the larger 4" CTs that I purchased from Sol-Ark to solve that _are_ large enough to wrap around the bus bars, but too large to fit in that small space.
I understand the 'bus bar' term now. I guess you have a branch from the Meter going to another 30A 240V pair and that is causing the Sol-Ark confusion? However, if the wires are the same phase, I believe you could resolve this by putting the smaller gauge wire, I guess these are #8? into the same CT as the larger wires the CTs are in now. Unless I'm mistaken, the CT's should sum the current draw through both wires.
 

Cheap 4-life

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That's where the installer first put them as well, but that was leading directly to the weird Sol-Ark behavior I was experiencing (described in the beginning of this thread). Once Sol-Ark support realized this, they said I needed to have the CTs around the bus bars coming from the utility side to the house side, not the wires coming from the 100a breaker. I'm attaching another photo to try to clarify.

The issue is that the smaller CTs that came with the Sol-Ark are not large enough to wrap those bus bars, and the larger 4" CTs that I purchased from Sol-Ark to solve that _are_ large enough to wrap around the bus bars, but too large to fit in that small space.
So where the CTs are at in the pic, the SolArk can’t see the load being reduced by the SolArks output. That’s what was causing your issues..
Aside from those wire CTs that I’ve never seen before,,
you could remove that 30amp breaker. Keep the CTs where they are but get a larger than 100amp breaker so you have enough incoming power for your home. That way the power the home is using and the power the SolArk is producing only has one path thru the Cts
 

jmzorko

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The wires coming from the 30a breaker in the photo are connected to the "grid" connections in the So-Ark. Would this idea still work? I've not worked it out yet ...
 

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jmzorko

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So where the CTs are at in the pic, the SolArk can’t see the load being reduced by the SolArks output. That’s what was causing your issues..
Aside from those wire CTs that I’ve never seen before,,
you could remove that 30amp breaker. Keep the CTs where they are but get a larger than 100amp breaker so you have enough incoming power for your home. That way the power the home is using and the power the SolArk is producing only has one path thru the Cts

Yes, that's exactly the cause Sol-Ark support determined as well. They said the best option was to install the CTs around the bus bars - if only I can find a set that will fit.
 

Cheap 4-life

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The wires coming from the 30a breaker in the photo are connected to the "grid" connections in the So-Ark. Would this idea still work? I've not worked it out yet ...
Just give me that SolArk. I’ll get it figured out 😂.

Anyways, do you have another panel that the 100 amp breakers wires go to?
 

jmzorko

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Just give me that SolArk. I’ll get it figured out 😂.

Anyways, do you have another panel that the 100 amp breakers wires go to?

Yes - I believe they're going to the panel in the garage with all of the house breakers. The idea is to eventually turn this into an off-grid capable system, but I'm still waiting on the permit for that. What I am able to do without a permit, though, is replace equipment, so when the old Delta inverter died, I had it replaced with the inverter I knew I wanted to use (the Sol-Ark). Until the permit is approved, I figured I could at least use the Sol-Ark for TOU, which is what led to this entire discussion.
 

Cheap 4-life

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Just give me that SolArk. I’ll get it figured out 😂.

Anyways, do you have another panel that the 100 amp breakers wires go to?
Move the 30amp breaker (that the SolArks Grid connection is wired to) to that panel, then everything should work well for ya. Keep the CTs on the 100amp breakers wires.. you could move the CTs to the 100amp input wires for the panel in the garage
 
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jmzorko

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Move the 30amp breaker (that the SolArks Grid connection is wired to) to that panel, then everything should work well for ya. Keep the CTs on the 100amp breakers wires.. you could move the CTs to the 100amp input wires for the panel in the garage

The breaker is on the main panel bc the original installer of this solar system (previous owner) put it there. I think moving the breaker would require a permit change, wouldn't it? I'm thinking that the original installer put it there so that the PV could be shut off from the outside, though I really don't know.

What about Keith's idea of wrapping the CTs around both the wires coming from the 100a breaker as well as the 30a breaker? I'm half tempted to go out there and try it, but I'm a bit wary. I'm a software engineer, not an electrician, and though I've learned _so_ much from this forum and this frankly amazing inverter, I do not want to assume I know more than I really do (which is still, comparatively speaking, not much).
 
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Cheap 4-life

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The breaker is on the main panel bc the original installer of this solar system (previous owner) put it there. I think moving the breaker would require a permit change, wouldn't it? I'm thinking that the original installer put it there so that the PV could be shut off from the outside, though I really don't know.

What about Keith's idea of wrapping the CTs around both the wires coming from the 100a breaker as well as the 30a breaker? I'm half tempted to go out there and try it.
That 30amp breaker doesn’t shutoff the PV. It shuts off the AC power connected to inverter. As far as I know an exterior/outside inverter disconnect is not required. An outside pv disconnect is most of the time required. I wouldn’t think simply moving a breaker would require a permit. Functionality of anything wouldn’t be changed. Power would still flow to the same places.
I don’t know if it would work correctly with 2 wires with different load amounts going thru the same Ct.
 

Keith Moreau

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For NEC and probably local permit approval, you'll need Rapid Shutdown for your PV panels. The Sol-Ark has a RSD 12v signal which, if you wire it to the RSD module brain, will shut down the modules when the Sol-Ark is shut down. If you move the 30A Sol-Ark breaker into the garage panel you'll need to make sure the panel's main breaker and panel is sized accordingly, there are rules for downsizing the panel's breaker when you feed a Grid Tied inverter to it. Right now you have what is called a load side or supply side tap. Anyway, I personally haven't put 2 wires in a CT but my minimal google research shows it is done and works and sums all the current as long as the wires are the same phase. It's certainly easy to just do it and see if it solves your problem would would be very simple. Another possibility is to remove the 30A Sol-Ark breaker and use a tap to the mains. These are UL approved devices that clamp onto the wire and cut into it, and then run the #8 wire (or whatever is feeding the sol-ark) directly to the Sol-Ark, like a Y connector. The Sol-Ark has a 60A breaker / disconnect in it on the Grid input/output. However, simplest solution is to try the 2 wire inside 1 CT. Just turn off the main breaker and measure there is no power present before messing with stuff in there.
 

Cheap 4-life

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For NEC and probably local permit approval, you'll need Rapid Shutdown for your PV panels. The Sol-Ark has a RSD 12v signal which, if you wire it to the RSD module brain, will shut down the modules when the Sol-Ark is shut down. If you move the 30A Sol-Ark breaker into the garage panel you'll need to make sure the panel's main breaker and panel is sized accordingly, there are rules for downsizing the panel's breaker when you feed a Grid Tied inverter to it. Right now you have what is called a load side or supply side tap. Anyway, I personally haven't put 2 wires in a CT but my minimal google research shows it is done and works and sums all the current as long as the wires are the same phase. It's certainly easy to just do it and see if it solves your problem would would be very simple. Another possibility is to remove the 30A Sol-Ark breaker and use a tap to the mains. These are UL approved devices that clamp onto the wire and cut into it, and then run the #8 wire (or whatever is feeding the sol-ark) directly to the Sol-Ark, like a Y connector. The Sol-Ark has a 60A breaker / disconnect in it on the Grid input/output. However, simplest solution is to try the 2 wire inside 1 CT. Just turn off the main breaker and measure there is no power present before messing with stuff in there.

These Y connectors.. would they work for 60amps that the SolArk can produce?
 

Keith Moreau

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These Y connectors.. would they work for 60amps that the SolArk can produce?
Yes, they have varying models and for different wire / current. Look up ILSCO Piercing Connectors. They are quite commonly used.

By the way, I had strange PV and Battery prioritization issue when I had high loads charging my Tesla where it would not use all the available PV and instead draw from the battery or grid. Turns out I was 3 software revs behind. After they updated the software the current version those problems seem to have been resolved.
 

Cheap 4-life

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Yes, they have varying models and for different wire / current. Look up ILSCO Piercing Connectors. They are quite commonly used.

By the way, I had strange PV and Battery prioritization issue when I had high loads charging my Tesla where it would not use all the available PV and instead draw from the battery or grid. Turns out I was 3 software revs behind. After they updated the software the current version those problems seem to have been resolved.

Cool thanks, learn something new everyday.. I’ve used smaller piercing connectors. Didn’t think they made them for really high current
So wouldn’t the 100amp breaker then have to be upsized to accommodate for the 60amp SolArk feed. I personally wouldn’t think it should have to be upsized but I also wouldn’t think the 100amp breaker would need to be upsized if the 30amp breaker was moved to the garage panel.. the power the SolArk would supply to the garage panel would stop that amount of power from coming from the 100amp breaker in the main panel.
 
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Keith Moreau

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It's actually the opposite on the 100 AMP breaker.. It all has to do with the rating of the panel where the Sol-Ark breaker grid tie is located. This is called 'derating'. I don't know if @jmzorko panel in his garage is his main house breaker panel but in any case, that garage panel's breaker, let's say is 100A. Because he could feed up to 30A (or whatever breaker size he uses up to 60A for the Sol-Ark) into that panel when 'pushing' from the Sol-Ark or any grid-tied inverter, his garage panel could possibly have up to 130A in it at one time. He could be getting 100A from his main feed and another 30A from the Sol-Ark, totaling 130A. If that panel isn't rated for 130A, it could be unsafe. Busses, etc could start heating up and cause a fire. Therefore the main breaker in his garage panel would then need to be downsized to 70A. He would only then be able to draw up to 70A from the utility and up to 30A from his Sol-Ark.
 

Cheap 4-life

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It's actually the opposite on the 100 AMP breaker.. It all has to do with the rating of the panel where the Sol-Ark breaker grid tie is located. This is called 'derating'. I don't know if @jmzorko panel in his garage is his main house breaker panel but in any case, that garage panel's breaker, let's say is 100A. Because he could feed up to 30A (or whatever breaker size he uses up to 60A for the Sol-Ark) into that panel when 'pushing' from the Sol-Ark or any grid-tied inverter, his garage panel could possibly have up to 130A in it at one time. He could be getting 100A from his main feed and another 30A from the Sol-Ark, totaling 130A. If that panel isn't rated for 130A, it could be unsafe. Busses, etc could start heating up and cause a fire. Therefore the main breaker in his garage panel would then need to be downsized to 70A. He would only then be able to draw up to 70A from the utility and up to 30A from his Sol-Ark.
Whatever amount of amps up to 100 that would be used at the garage panel is lowered by the supply from the SolArks grid tie output. So if 100amps would have been supplied to the garage panel (from the main panel) and the SolArk is supplying 30amps grid tie power, then the garage panel is only using 70amps from the main panel because the SolArk is supplying 30amps of the 100amps the loads need. I suppose if there was the possibility for over 100amps load on the garage panel (which there shouldn’t be) then there could be a problem.
If the inverter is using 30amps from the garage panel to charge then yes the rest of the house could only use 70amps to not trip the 100amp breaker. I personally install 200amp panels just so this is all avoided
 

Keith Moreau

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Yeah, the likelihood of overloading a panel is small but it is a possibility and that rule been in the NEC for a while. If he wants a local permit approved for the grid-tied inverter and feeds into an existing panel with a breaker he may need to de-rate that panel if it can't handle the additional power possibly added by the Sol-Ark when it is adding, not drawing power to that panel. Here's a really good tutorial on it for those interested: https://www.altestore.com/blog/2018/11/grid-tied-solar-breaker-box-120-percent-rule/#.YTaxqC2cZ24
 

Cheap 4-life

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Yeah, the likelihood of overloading a panel is small but it is a possibility and that rule been in the NEC for a while. If he wants a local permit approved for the grid-tied inverter and feeds into an existing panel with a breaker he may need to de-rate that panel if it can't handle the additional power possibly added by the Sol-Ark when it is adding, not drawing power to that panel. Here's a really good tutorial on it for those interested: https://www.altestore.com/blog/2018/11/grid-tied-solar-breaker-box-120-percent-rule/#.YTaxqC2cZ24
The SolArk can’t add more amps to the garage panel than it can handle. It can supply some or all of the amps the loads of the garage panel need. So if there already can’t be over a 100amp load on the garage panel then the inverter will just lower the amount of power the garage panel uses from the main panel. So it wouldn’t be possible for the SolArk to overload the garage panel if the loads connected to the garage panel do not exceed 100amps. This is only so because he is only using the inverter as grid tie ATM. if he decides to use the SolArk to also pass thru power to an offgrid subpanel then yes the garage panel feed breaker should be derated. Or if grid charging is wanted.
Figuring the max amount of amps that the homes loads actually use will go a long way towards figuring out if the breaker feeding the garage panel (from the main panel) should be derated or if it can be derated.
 
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Keith Moreau

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I'm sorry for the confusion. I was addressing your suggestion of moving the current Sol-Ark breaker to the garage panel (which I think he said is his main circuit breaker panel for his entire house) and putting the Sol-Ark grid tie there, I think that was one of your suggestions for getting his CTs to fit after his meter. If he adds up all the breakers in the garage panel and that is over the rating of the panel, he'll have to derate the panel because he could be overloading his panel. Usually this is the case unless it's a really small panel. Right now he has a 100A service breaker to that garage panel. If he draws over 100 AMPs through that panel he'll trip that breaker, or the main breaker in the garage panel, which I we'll assume is also 100 AMPs. If he adds the Sol-Ark to the garage panel, he could be drawing 100A from the grid, and then up to 30 AMPs from his Sol Ark while it is generating power from his Solar Panels. (I think he has solar panels connected to the Sol-Ark?) which might be more than the garage panel is rated for. And his 100A breakers would not trip in that case even though the panel has 130 AMPs running through it. I guess I was just saying that moving the 30A breaker from his meter panel to the garage panel has some potential 'gotchas' if he wants a permit.

When I first was considering grid tie, one of the first annoying things was this 'derating' of the panel. I have a 200A main breaker panel, and I would have had to change that to a 175 or 180A breaker if I had put my Sol-Ark grid-tie into a that panel. I don't have to do that because I have a supply / load side tap instead at my service, kind of similar to what he has now, so he doesn't have to worry about that unless he moves that grid tie breaker.
 

Cheap 4-life

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I'm sorry for the confusion. I was addressing your suggestion of moving the current Sol-Ark breaker to the garage panel (which I think he said is his main circuit breaker panel for his entire house) and putting the Sol-Ark grid tie there, I think that was one of your suggestions for getting his CTs to fit after his meter. If he adds up all the breakers in the garage panel and that is over the rating of the panel, he'll have to derate the panel because he could be overloading his panel. Usually this is the case unless it's a really small panel. Right now he has a 100A service breaker to that garage panel. If he draws over 100 AMPs through that panel he'll trip that breaker, or the main breaker in the garage panel, which I we'll assume is also 100 AMPs. If he adds the Sol-Ark to the garage panel, he could be drawing 100A from the grid, and then up to 30 AMPs from his Sol Ark while it is generating power from his Solar Panels. (I think he has solar panels connected to the Sol-Ark?) which might be more than the garage panel is rated for. And his 100A breakers would not trip in that case even though the panel has 130 AMPs running through it. I guess I was just saying that moving the 30A breaker from his meter panel to the garage panel has some potential 'gotchas' if he wants a permit.

When I first was considering grid tie, one of the first annoying things was this 'derating' of the panel. I have a 200A main breaker panel, and I would have had to change that to a 175 or 180A breaker if I had put my Sol-Ark grid-tie into a that panel. I don't have to do that because I have a supply / load side tap instead at my service, kind of similar to what he has now, so he doesn't have to worry about that unless he moves that grid tie breaker.
He is using the limiting function of the SolArk and grid tie. This means that the inverter can not produce more power than the max amps the loads connected to the garage panel could use, which is under 100amps. If the garage panels loads were using 100amps then the inverter supplies 30amps of that then the garage panel is only receiving 70amps from the main panel. That means no more than 100amps are going thru the garage panel at any time. If he wasn’t using limiting then yes the inverter could make the garage panel see more amps than the loads already connected to the garage panel could use.
Yes if he was using the SolArk without limiting or if he was using pass through or charging from the grid then derating would be necessary
 
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solardad

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Move the 30amp breaker (that the SolArks Grid connection is wired to) to that panel, then everything should work well for ya. Keep the CTs on the 100amp breakers wires..

Bingo. I agree this will work and should be low to no cost to do.
 
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