Solar system is up and running

August 11th, 2020 was finally Solar Install Day. At least for me :). While I would have loved to catch those June/July rays, I definitely think it was worth the wait to get the system I wanted; and also I can’t say how long it would have taken for any of the other vendors either.

Step 1: mark where the panels will go.

Step 1: mark where the panels will go.

Step 2: install mounting hardware

Step 2: install mounting hardware

Step 3: External wiring

Step 3: External wiring

Step 4: Bring up the panels

Step 4: Bring up the panels

They used an elevator to bring up the panels for the house

They used an elevator to bring up the panels for the house

Trench from garage to house.

Trench from garage to house.

Digging the trench added ~$800 to the pre-tax credit total.

Internal wiring

Internal wiring

Conduit bringing electrical wiring from the attic

Conduit bringing electrical wiring from the attic

Tying it all together

Tying it all together

Two new boxes

Two new boxes

The one on the left is the monitoring system, the one in the middle is the panel that joins the mains to the panel system.

Panels on the house

Panels on the house

Panels on the back side of the house

Panels on the back side of the house

Panels on the garage

Panels on the garage

In total, it took three days to get everything installed, wired, and tested. All in, I’m really pleased with the way it looks, and the job the installer did.

Well, except that they accidentally cut the fiber line that was running through the backyard when digging the trench.

The hardest part was the twelve day wait for the city to inspect it so I could turn it on. From what I understand, this is actually really quick – so I shouldn’t complain at all. I am still waiting for the final inspection from our energy provider (ComEd), which will make it possible to get credits for excess generation (net metering). Unfortunately, I was told this can take a billing cycle (or two!), but I’m not too worried about it for now. We’re still in the hot part of summer, so the AC does a good job of soaking up the excess.

Dashboard

Dashboard

11.3 kWh Comed gets for free 🙂

My favorite graph

My favorite graph

Missed opportunities

Missed opportunities

It would be great to see weather data and sunrise/sunset time on this. I won't remember that the 27th was ~100F, or that it was rainy on the 1st in a month...

I think most people will be happy with the dashboard and graphs provided. They are cool, but I’m a little disappointed by the lack of more detailed data. It would be awesome to be able to see what’s happening at the panel level, and I’m reasonable confident that the system is collecting it (Sunpower used to have a site that showed it, but that seems to have been disabled recently). While I can see why they might not want to put the work into building pretty UI around the detail data, I’d be happy with a raw data feed.

Long term, I plan to have a play with Fiddler and see what the “API” behind these pages displays. Also, since I ended up running Ethernet to the controller, it might be possible to sniff the data going up to Sunpower’s servers. Something to keep me busy when the weather turns :).

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