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sheslostcontrol 12-18-2010 09:00 AM

Wiring solar panels - what is needed?
In planning an expanded electrical system for my garage, I'd like to include a way to wire in solar panels and batteries.

I hear of people selling power back to the grid, so I'm wondering how a solar circuit is integrated with an existing panel. Does it simply plug into a 15a circuit, or are there special breakers needed to put electricity back to the grid?

Bondo 12-18-2010 09:31 AM


or are there special breakers needed to put electricity back to the grid?
Ayuh,... It's way, Way more complicated than that....

Google "Grid Tied Solar"...

kbsparky 12-18-2010 11:03 AM

Power companies have specific requirements for specialized equipment for backfeeding into their grid. You can't simply just "plug it in" here.

The proper permits and inspections will also be needed. All in all, it ain't cheap.

Failure to follow these procedures can create hazardous conditions, and may result in them disconnecting you entirely without prior notice.

Speedy Petey 12-18-2010 11:19 AM


Originally Posted by Bondo (Post 553103)
Ayuh,... It's way, Way more complicated than that....

Way, WAY more complicated.

Besides, I seriously doubt anything you put on a garage will be big enough to give you power and have enough excess that you could sell back.

Systems like that are where roofs of big houses are completely covered with, whole yards are filled with panels.

clashley 12-18-2010 12:04 PM

It's probably true that a garage-sized solar array won't generate enough power to "sell back" to the PoCo, but it can still help offset power costs by supplementing what you draw from the grid. Many states have alternative power initiatives to encourage use of "green" power like solar or wind energy. One of the big challenges with solar power is the high initial cost. You'll likely need to maintain the system for several years before the cost savings overcomes the initial outlay.

That being said, the hookup is complicated and must be compliant with local rules. Unless the codes in your area are particularly lax, you will not be permitted to do this a DIY job. Tying a power generator of any sort (mechanical or solar) into the power grid creates the risk of backfeeding electricity into the grid, which can be potentially deadly for anyone working on the grid in your area.

Contact your local PoCo to find out the specific requirements for adding solar power, and see if your locality offers any sort of initiative to offset initial cost.

sheslostcontrol 12-18-2010 02:41 PM

Ok - so I scratch backfeeding from the list. Is connecting solar panels for local use (without feeding into the grid) less complicated? Or is it the same?

Scuba_Dave 12-18-2010 03:00 PM

Locals use means a completely separate system
Or it means being able to switch the feed back & forth from solar to grid power

I've found the payback is much better & more cost effective to cut electric use VS photovoltaic installation
Using solar panels I heat my hot tub in the warm months
That cuts about $50 a month off my electric bill
I also plan to extend this for HW for the house - further cutting my electric bill

How many kwh do you use a month ?
How big of a system are you planning on ?
Have you looked at the costs of the systems yet ?

These systems can be installed as DIY if you have experience & follow codes

kbsparky 12-18-2010 05:46 PM

I suppose that your solar panels that heat your spa, and domestic hot water are not photovoltaic cells, but direct water-filled panels?

Otherwise, they would be terribly inefficient ...

Scuba_Dave 12-18-2010 05:48 PM

Yes = solar water panels

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