Should I DIY?
Having decided on installing a grid-tie solar system, the next question is, do I install it myself, or hire a contractor. Being a DIY sort of a guy, I was disappointed that doing a solar install yourself in my area, (I live in Ohio) was not possible. There are two reasons for this. The first one is codes and permits in my county requires all electrical work to be done by a licensed electrical contractor. Additionally for a solar install, the electrical contractor had to be NABCEP certified. Additionally, my electric company also required the solar panels be installed by an electrician with a NABCEP certification. In spite of me having to pay a NABCEP certified electrician, it is still worth it to install solar panels.
Solar installation with Ironridge rails and Enphase Micro-inverters
Given how much I was able to spend, my solar installation consists of twelve Q Cell 255 watt solar panels which makes my solar array 3.06 KW, or 3060 watts. The whole system is mounted on my roof using the IronRidge XR-100 roof mount system. On the underside of each solar panel is an Enphase micro-inverter model M-215.
One of the nice features in going with the Enphase Microinverters is their web interface called the Enphase Envoy. This allows the homeowner to monitor in real time the power output of each solar panel in your system Here is a link to my Enphase Envoy monitor. Additionally it allows Enphase techs to login remotely to my system for quick troubleshooting if necessary. Using Enphase’s Envoy system also allows me to automatically send my power generation data to other web sites. My system sends its data to PVoutput.org.
RFI / EMI
While researching various micro-inverters, I discovered there were concerns about RFI / EMI interference with them. Since I am also an Amateur Radio operator, this was certainly a concern for me. My solar system has 12 Enphase micro-inverters, so when I had them installed, I had the installer follow the guidelines in the Enphase Troubleshooting guide Specifically pages 22 & 23.
Points of interest:
Install a PV subpanel to land all the solar branch circuits.
Install a dedicated outlet for the Envoy (and power line communication bridges, if needed) off the subpanel.
Filter the phase conductors running from the subpanel back to the load center.
Ferrite toroids are an effective, simple filtering mechanism. Refer to this link for more information.
Here is the link to the specific model required.
Page 23 of the Troubleshooting guide also has a diagram that shows these points clearly.