diy solar

diy solar

What was your worse DIY solar mistake ever?

Tons of people buy a new car to save money on gasoline. Sure, great choice, take on a $600/mo car payment to save $40/mo in gasoline.
Hah, back in 2008 I was at a gas station and some smug guy in his new Prius pulled up at the gas pump next to me. I was in college driving a 1998 Camaro V6 at the time.
He smirked at me and goes, "So what gas mileage do you get out of that?"
Me: "Well, I paid $3000 for the car and I am getting 28 mpg on the highway. What is your car payment?"
"...... oh." He turned back to the gas pump, a bit deflated.
 
In the process of DIY solar keeping everything right is not an easy task. Especially for those like myself that suffer from mental processing errors. What is a mental processing error you ask? For me this is looking right at something and allowing my mind to process it incorrectly. This led to one of my worse solar setup errors.

I was wiring up an inverter one afternoon. Fairly simple though it had a disconnect between battery and inverter. Black wire to Inverter negative, Red wire to inverter positive. From the disconnect the red wire should have been connected to battery positive and black to battery negative. Looking right at it I proceeded to wire it wrong. Still looking at things and not mentally recognizing that I had wired with the wrong polarity I turned on the disconnect. "Bzap!" The magic smoke proceeded out of the inverters guts.

How the heck could I be so blankety blank stupid I asked myself? It was right in front of me.

Not my only DIY solar error that was caused by my mental condition, or by moments of personal clumsiness, dropped wrench, bolts anyone? It however was worse in that it not only cost me a couple of hundred dollars but it made me feel dumb. Feeling dumb is no fun at all.

So, "What was one of your worse DIY solar errors?"
My worst mistake yet was over-paneling my Renogy 40 Amp cc. I connected 8 100 watt panels in 4s2p configuration. It overheated the dc output clamp. I ended up accidentally desoldering the dc output clamp from the circuit board. Controller still works, but I don't have the ability to repair it. Renogy sent me a new one, and told me that it should work the way that I had it hooked up, and that one did the same thing. This time, when I contacted them, they told me I was doing it wrong. I was under the impression that the cc would protect itself from such misuse, but it did not. Now I use an oversized Victron cc.
 
Tons of people buy a new car to save money on gasoline. Sure, great choice, take on a $600/mo car payment to save $40/mo in gasoline.
I'm one of those people. But I went from an 11mpg Diesel Dually to a $600/mo Tesla and saved about $400/mo in fuel. I'm gladly paying that extra $200 to save my kidneys from that solid axle they call suspension... lol
 
That's the idea in theory but the reality is that we lose power during winter storms when the house is using the most energy ever and there is no solar production. The battery will be drained in half a day then it's on to the generator, which one could just have bought the generator and skipped the battery and be in the same boat
You just need more solar and a bigger battery. 😄
 
Oh and getting zapped by ~150VAC by touching ungrounded solar panels wasn't too pleasant. But, I didn't know such a thing was possible, so it wasn't totally my fault. Only by researching the subject on here did I know it was possible. Luckily it wasn't that bad of a situation. Seems like we're just the guinea pigs for some of this stuff..
oh wow. I was wondering what would happen if I didn't ground the solar panels and this tells me. thank you for learning this lesson for me. lol. now i just have to figure out how to ground them....

I have about a thousand questions i need to ask before i do my main system. lol
 
oh wow. I was wondering what would happen if I didn't ground the solar panels and this tells me. thank you for learning this lesson for me. lol. now i just have to figure out how to ground them....

I have about a thousand questions i need to ask before i do my main system. lol
Yeah, I didn't know about this phenomenon until I read about it on here. There's several threads on the subject on this forum.

To avoid derailing this thread, I won't go into too much detail, but basically you need some kind of clamp to tie a ground wire to all your solar panel frames. Then that ground wire needs to be fed back to your inverter/home earth ground.

It wasn't too bad of a shock, more of a tingle, but it was a surprise to experience. Imagine my "shock" to measure ~150VAC between the frames and a rebar post I had driven in the ground by the array.
 
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Yeah, I didn't know about this phenomenon until I read about it on here. There's several threads on the subject on this forum.

To avoid detailing this thread, I won't go into too much detail, but basically you need some kind of clamp to tie a ground wire to all your solar panel frames. Then that ground wire needs to be fed back to your inverter/home earth ground.

It wasn't too bad of a shock, more of a tingle, but it was a surprise to experience. Imagine my "shock" to measure ~150VAC between the frames and a rebar post I had driven in the ground by the array.
it has to tie back to the inverter? what if I just stick it in the actual ground?

To avoid detailing this thread,

oops. I just saw this part lol. maybe i should create another thread. there are so many posts here that it takes forever just to search if something has been discussed before
 
it has to tie back to the inverter? what if I just stick it in the actual ground?



oops. I just saw this part lol. maybe i should create another thread. there are so many posts here that it takes forever just to search if something has been discussed before
No worries. Here's one thread that talks about the subject. There's others, just use the search function and put in "grounding arrays", "grounding PV", etc.

 
it has to tie back to the inverter? what if I just stick it in the actual ground?

No auxillary ground rod at the array, run the ground wire back to your system ground.
oops. I just saw this part lol. maybe i should create another thread. there are so many posts here that it takes forever just to search if something has been discussed before
 
Ecoflow Smart Home Panel, I started getting this out of phase error and I only had one 240v connection on Circuit 1 and circuit 2.
This had been working flawlessly for two years prior. So I checked all the wires in the SHP and replaced the breakers in the SHP. Did a lot of searching in this forum and other sites which led me to believe he contacts were too short. So I filed the breakers down on the short leg ones and replaced others. Still had the same error so I checked my well pump (this was the item on the 220v breaker), checked my starter box and found no problems. Still getting the error and about to pull m hair out. My wife was in the process of calling an electrician to replace our well pump.

I decided to pull the wires out of our house breaker box and noticed a dark blue color at the well breaker.
There it was the breaker had shorted and burned one of the two contacts off therefore single phasing the well.
Long story short, New breaker ordered and problem solved. Thank goodness I didn't need a new well pump and I found it before I paid an electrician $500.00
 
Ecoflow Smart Home Panel, I started getting this out of phase error and I only had one 240v connection on Circuit 1 and circuit 2.
This had been working flawlessly for two years prior. So I checked all the wires in the SHP and replaced the breakers in the SHP. Did a lot of searching in this forum and other sites which led me to believe he contacts were too short. So I filed the breakers down on the short leg ones and replaced others. Still had the same error so I checked my well pump (this was the item on the 220v breaker), checked my starter box and found no problems. Still getting the error and about to pull m hair out. My wife was in the process of calling an electrician to replace our well pump.

I decided to pull the wires out of our house breaker box and noticed a dark blue color at the well breaker.
There it was the breaker had shorted and burned one of the two contacts off therefore single phasing the well.
Long story short, New breaker ordered and problem solved. Thank goodness I didn't need a new well pump and I found it before I paid an electrician $500.00
Sounds like a success, not a mistake. Well done.
 
Same here. In my case not enough conduit tubes in parallel.
Now I have to run another conduit...
Fun n' games...
 
In seriousness though if one was to build a power house in the backyard to avoid risk of catastrophic fire, I'm thinking connect to the house via a 240/50A inlet and transfer switch by the grid meter, like if I was hooking up a portable generator. Then the only potential UL code requirement in the house would be the transfer switch/method. Could even do an interlock on the main panel. My big loads are all propane except central AC and that's only 2 tons. But then for the grid input to the inverters...another 240/50A in the other direction, from house to powerhouse.

If the powerhouse was in a trailer....nothing for code enforcement to get their panties in a twist about
 
Forgot the last two tie downs on my sinclair rack, don't remember how/why (other than being in a rush), more than a few wind storms everything was fine, finally after one winter time high wind storm (tho no snow...), noticed the following after seeing reduced power on one string
 

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Forgot the last two tie downs on my sinclair rack, don't remember how/why (other than being in a rush), more than a few wind storms everything was fine, finally after one winter time high wind storm (tho no snow...), noticed the following after seeing reduced power on one string
Held on by the cable?
 
In seriousness though if one was to build a power house in the backyard to avoid risk of catastrophic fire, I'm thinking connect to the house via a 240/50A inlet and transfer switch by the grid meter, like if I was hooking up a portable generator. Then the only potential UL code requirement in the house would be the transfer switch/method. Could even do an interlock on the main panel. My big loads are all propane except central AC and that's only 2 tons. But then for the grid input to the inverters...another 240/50A in the other direction, from house to powerhouse.

If the powerhouse was in a trailer....nothing for code enforcement to get their panties in a twist about

I plan a block house capable of containing a small tactical nuke going off. :oops:

Actually, I am planning a 6ft x 8ft building separate from the house to put all batteries and electrical in. Underground grid coming in on the side closest to the road. Then a pair of 3" conduits to the house. One for the main power panel in the house and the other for and other wires I want to pull from the house back to the block house. The wires coming to/from in the other conduit will be coax, cat5/6, smoke alarm wires, and probably fiber cables.

Originally I was thinking of using cinder blocks. But now I am thinking about using a double layer of firerock like you use in a garage over a wood frame.

The house and electrical room separated by 10ft or so.

And as I type this I am thinking 2 deep 2.5 wide garage and have a full bay enclosed the way I just described. Steel fire door either to the outside or into the garage.
 
e, I'm thinking connect to the house via a 240/50A inlet and transfer switch by the grid meter, like if I was hooking up a portable generator. Then the only potential UL code requirement in the house would be the transfer switch/method.
That’s what I did except a little bigger. 240vac 100 amp.
Building with inverters/ batteries is 200’ away.
 
I was rushing tightening busbars with an un insulated ratchet and I created a major short.
It scared the crap out of me and I dropped the wrench. The short didn't stop. Sparks were flying like someone was welding the top of my battery.
I reached in a grabbed the wrench and it stopped. The wrench and one cell were destroyed.
The fuse didn't blow. You can still have one hell of a fire creating short even if you have a class T fuse.
 
I was laying out my brand new lifepo4 cells for my 48v, DIY battery bank. Everything looked good, so I started laying the bus bars on top to get the physical connections all done.

With a shakey hand, I laid the first bus bar down. Whew, nothing happened. Though to myself, this should be easy. Went to lay the second bus bar down and sparks started flying everywhere. The only thing that stopped the sparks was my flailing hand happened to knock the bus bar off the terminals. I had a brain fart on where I was supposed to lay the bus bars. Your not supposed to have 2 bus bars connecting all the terminals between only 2 cells…
 
Wiring last MP4 connector for my ground mount with 2 strings of 7S in parallel (450vdc) no cutoff yet. I had trimmed end of cable in my hand while holding other MP4 to connect to. To be sure of correct connector to crimp on wire I inserted it into MP4 to check correct fit!!!!!!!!!!!!! Big jolt and I threw everything. That hurt! Felt pretty stupid. I always turnoff AC when working don't know what I was thinking?
 
I was rushing tightening busbars with an un insulated ratchet and I created a major short.
It scared the crap out of me and I dropped the wrench. The short didn't stop. Sparks were flying like someone was welding the top of my battery.
I reached in a grabbed the wrench and it stopped. The wrench and one cell were destroyed.
The fuse didn't blow. You can still have one hell of a fire creating short even if you have a class T fuse.
Dang it. That's it. Class Ts as bus bars.
 
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