Home Solar and maybe Automation

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Uwe

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That was from a $246 electric bill for one month. I want out of this hell-hole!
Like I said, "probably double that in Cali".

On the east coast, at least PA and south down to FL, rates are under $0.20/kWh, and residential rates are typically "flat"; no time-of-use nonsense. Plus we still have true 1:1 net metering for residential solar. :D

-Uwe-
 
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davisev5225

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Plus we still have true 1:1 net metering for residential solar. :D
CA has the unions to thank for ruining that. They whined and complained that they might get downsized a little with less dependence on the grid 24/7, so of course CA immediately rolled back the biggest incentive to get solar. This was after they enforced a "no more than 80% average consumption" requirement to force people to have to continue purchasing from the grid every month. :banghead:

Meanwhile, CA won't even do basic vegetation management, so wildfires break everything every year. I swear the "green" idiots are in cahoots with the unions to make sure we overpay too many people to keep the unions happy. Replacing melted grid infrastructure is demanding work, so the unions get to stay fat with personnel and cashflow.
 
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Uwe

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This was after they enforced a "no more than 80% average consumption" requirement to force people to have to continue purchasing from the grid every month. :banghead:
TBH, true 1:1 net metering is quite unfair to the power companies; it effectively requires them to act as a free battery. I don't think it will last forever out east either, but I'm really hoping they grandfather in existing installations when it does go away.

JOW7Y3M.jpg


-Uwe-
 
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davisev5225

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TBH, true 1:1 net metering is quite unfair to the power companies; it effectively requires them to act as a free battery.
True, but since the majority of customers still don't have solar (or any other "renewables"), it's not that big of a deal (yet). Besides, less strain on the grid is good, as is diversifying sources of input.
 
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Uwe

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since the majority of customers still don't have solar (or any other "renewables"), it's not that big of a deal (yet)
I think what's made it a big deal is all the "utility scale" solar that's been added to the grid in Cali. During the sunny part of the day, Cali is at the point where they have more electricity than they know what to do with, but that changes as soon as the sun goes down.

-Uwe-
 
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NZDubNurd

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:sarcasm: Thanks guys :facepalm::facepalm::facepalm::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::mad::mad::mad:

Now I'm investigating Solar, circuit load monitoring, "HomeAssistant" and automation for load management. :D

Last month, one of the pumps in my septic system got stuck on and my power bill was up to NZ$505 (US$306) which is probably up about 15% on normal. So I was already planning on a monitoring system to watch the pumps and blower involved for that, anyway.

Our average monthly electricity useage is sitting near 40KWh per day now that it's cold here. It was 8C (46F) this morning! We don't even have home heating. We also have Bottled Gas hot water system.. and the spa pool is a chunk of that (it draws 32 Amps peak, but the heater and circ pump is "only" about 12 Amps. I have 3 phases @ 230V into the house and garage, so technically have 189 Amps available at any time...

If I get Solar and set up the Spa on HomeAssistant to automagically only heat on Solar or off-peak, I could probably get Solar to pay for itself in a little over a handful of years.


Side-quest: we use about .9 to 1.2 TB of data a month too :D Is that extreme???
 
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Uwe

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Now I'm investigating Solar, circuit load monitoring, "HomeAssistant" and automation for load management. :D
Since three Ross-Tech employees have solar, perhaps we should start a separate thread?

How much are you paying per kWh? (We affectionately call them "kiwis" -- LOL!)

-Uwe-
 
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Dana

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Since three Ross-Tech employees have solar, perhaps we should start a separate thread?
Yes! I'm only 3 years into solar but I've been doing the home automation thing for a while. I get all wound up with things like this:


If we zoom in on that 96 to 690 watt cycle that happened from some point on the 16th to 6AM on the 17th (when I noticed it and took action):


.. that was a 120V, 16 Amp level 1 EV charger that was plugged into the wall and not connected to a car! Scary.

Needless to say I was down in the garage with my first cup of coffee in hand at 6AM hunting down my draw.
 
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NEtech

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And a distributor :cool:

From Jan 1 until today the software show:
From PV: 1.485,2 kWh
From grid: 996,9 kWh
From battery: 1.026,2 kWh
From grid, I pay variable price, for the first 3 month, it is about 0.28 $ with all taxes, but without VAT.
Battery is 10.2 kWh
 
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NZDubNurd

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Since three Ross-Tech employees have solar, perhaps we should start a separate thread?

How much are you paying per kWh? (We affectionately call them "kiwis" -- LOL!)

-Uwe-

Haha. That could get confusing now.

I currently pay USD 0.21c... But I suspect that is changing soon. I have a flat rate right now. Fixed daily charge is USD 0.37

The plans for new customers don't have these rates, but there are some plans with a higher daily charge and lower unit costs.

Extrapolating the data (making up bullshit), I guess we'll average about 950kWh a month (We've only had the Spa since December)

I had also though about getting a generator because they unbolted the Pylon, it fell over and we had no power for about 8 hours... and Cyclone Gabrielle had us without power for 4 days! Instead, that money could go into solar, but I'd have to have batteries to use the solar while the mains was off.
 
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dafrazi

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For anyone looking for a better understanding of the problems facing utility operations, California particularly, this is a great book. It's not as cut and dry as we often think it is. It's unfair to the lay the blame at the feet of any one involved party.

 
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Mrclopec

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CA/California here…And @Uwe, no one here says “Cali” ;):D.

0.43 off peak, 0.51 on and it’s painful. The municipality in the next town over maintains their own electric grid, albeit they source their power at wholesale from the larger utility. The cost their customers pay to the municipality is a fraction of what the surrounding cities pay where customers like myself pay directly to the larger utility. Just goes to show there is quite a bit of margin and markup.

Bills in the summer were almost 500. My Enphase system is paying for itself rather quickly as I am basically positive net export every day now. I needed to get in under NEM2 as fast as possible last year and with limited funds due to simultaneously replacing the roof and a very expensive European car hobby, I only initially installed a 3kw array with Sunlight backup. With my interconnect agreement capped at 3kw, this year I expanded and installed 12 more panels for a total of 22, a 10kw battery, interconnected backup generator, and enabled PEL I could still stand to have one more 10kw battery. I went through all of Enphase’s training and cert programs so I was able to self install my entire expansion and commission it which saved $$$$ as well.
 
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Sebastian

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While my setup isn't solar, it does get some automation. My rented apartment doesn't allow solar in a balcony format, though I have switched to a dynamic rate for my electricity early last year. While my dynamic has been using a monthly average rate and not actually an hourly rate, it has still decreased my costs by 15-20 % compared to the previous flat price. The following screenshot depicts a typical week in our grid at my location and in fact as soon as the hourly rate is switched on over the next weeks, this will be what I end up paying. While there are some peaks, I expect to be able to utilize the low spots for EV charging (my land lord after 1.3 yrs finally agreed to let me install a wallbox in the underground parking garage) and by that reduce my overall costs for both EV charging and home (office) electricity consumption.

Screenshot_20240709-171325.png

Our IRS equivalent requires the wallbox to have a MID certified counter, to be able to proof the EV charging amount when it comes to taxes etc., so my install will add the box in the garage and next door at the actual meter a Powerline Communication (PLC) device will be added to get WiFi down there but connected to my home network on the 4th floor apartment. It is not feasible to run any network down there and direct WiFi is out of the question as well. The entire setup will then be tied into my existing Home Assistant setup, which monitors the hourly rates and decides whether or not to run certain processes like EV charging or running the washer, dryer and possibly even dishwasher if I get too crazy with this.

Sadly there is no reasonably priced way to make use of the V2H which the ID.Buzz supports, otherwise that would have been ideal for me to use the vehicle battery as my buffer during peak hours. We'll see where the technology goes, cabling etc. which is being installed, will be prepped as far as the foreseeable requirements would be for such a scenario. Nevertheless, I expect to be able to cut my EV charging costs further down. So far, the 15 months average on EV charging with 91% of DC charging is 26 ct/kWh. While this is already really low, it is partially because I made a lot of use of pricing errors at certain public dc fast chargers (occasionally charging for 5-6 ct/kWh). In comparison the average off peak rate for Tesla owners here has been ranging from ~36-44 ct/kWh. My reasonable expectation is to have AC charging at home <20 ct/kWh, helping to pay off the investment with savings around 15-25 ct/kWh.

Another benefit, the WiFi in the parking garage will make VCDS related work much more hassle free when doing testing and such down there. 😎
 
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Dana

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Thanks for splitting this off into a Solar/Home automation thread Uwe :thumbs:

Home automation

I've been at the home automation thing for a while. I think it started in roughly 2014 with the first chicken coop. I wanted light bulbs to cycle on/off automatically and then we needed the door to open/close when we weren't home or there was snow/ice making it less than convenient to deal with it. Then, the chicken water froze in the first winter so we obviously needed a heater but that ended up being smart/z-wave and on a schedule. Automated things really took off when I started gardening followed shortly by indoor growing however early days were on Wink hubs.

In roughly 2019 I switched to Hubitat and that's where the official snowball began. I could bore everyone to death with the rules and schemes for everything from virtual thermostats that trigger heaters, fans and dehumidifiers to a light bulb that turns on when the washer is done.

House Solar

We didn't have Solar until 2021 but we fully committed. The initial house system was intended to cover 98% of our annual usage so it ended up being a solar ground mount garden. We had to move the actual food garden and the chickens got relocated to a significantly more efficient coop; 3 SMA string inverters and 44 total 445W bifacial panels. The inverters are limited to 17.7kW AC (19.5kW DC).

The only failure here was that we did not start with the serious energy efficient upgrades prior to solar. I ASSumed that replacing ICE vehicles with EVs (we only had the e-golf at this time) would have offset all of the future home energy savings. Nope! In the first 12 rolling months with two EVs we managed to cut our annual total usage from roughly 23,000 kWh per year to 18,000 kWh primarily due to the heat pump dryer, heat pump hot water heater and replacing an inefficient bathroom heater with an air sourced heat pump.

In hindsight, we could have gone a lot smaller on the house meter/system!

The long term goal is to replace the natural gas furnace with a whole house air sourced heat pump ... so that may resolve my overproduction "problem" however I should wait until something fails. At this point our annual natural gas consumption is down to 33 MCF or less than $500 USD. Just a few years ago it was well over 90 MCF per year. We were consumption pigs!

Garage Solar

Yep, I just said we make too much power but... we expanded anyway. The garage already had a separate electric meter/bill with a 200A service so we added a "small" 5kW PV system to the SW side of that roof in 2023. This one is more future proof (net metering with virtual meter aggregation can't last forever in PA) so we went with a Sok-Ark string inverter which will make it real easy to add any 48V batteries later.

Drone shot from roughly August of 2023:


Why does the garage have that missing tooth? We kept the DC at 5K so WPP wouldn't force us to purchase another transformer. Wrong. I'm not gonna turn this into a power police rant, or math out how many years that set back the ROI, but I ended up with massive 50kVA pole mount transformer this time. Since 50kVA is the residential limit in my area I view this as a new challenge!

Bootleg Solar

I think bootleg solar is in that Fight Club area, so it may not be wise to talk about it in public forum, but I will say that those tiny off grid shed panels got an upgrade due to the 50kVA challenge.

Life Goals

Use as much homegrown power as possible when the sun shines! In addition I'm extremely grid aware so we rarely pull large power from the grid when demand is high. EV charging is rarely over 2kW from the grid during the day, I blast the AC at 68F all morning in the summer so that it barely needs to cycle after 4PM, the hot water tank is maxed out early in the day, etc. The full circle of home automation and solar make this very easy.
 
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Uwe

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I haven't had time to write everything I wanted to in response to some of these posts, but here's my current build in progress:

Ground Mount. Some assembly required:

Q5e21cR.jpg


Mostly assembled:

Pvx8GZC.jpg


Panels on today:

st1F9M4.jpg


Specs: 28x 400W panels = 11.2 kW DC, 28 IQ8A micros = 9.8 kW DC. Florida classifies ~11.5 kW DC and 10 kW AC (or less) as a "Tier 1" system, which the power companies have to approve with minimal hassle, so I tried to come as close to that as possible. With perfect south-facing exposure and no shading, it should cover 95-100% of our consumption here.

-Uwe-
 
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Mrclopec

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@Uwe, love the iQ8 micros! Being you are in FL and i'm assuming experience challenging weather and power outages, id seriously consider putting in the System Controller 3G, even if you haven't planned for batteries or a genset. It will allow those 28 panels to island into a microgrid and give you sunlight backup. The lugs will already be in the Controller ready to support a battery, genset, or both should you ever decide to expand. Then their voodoo magic takes place where when off grid and and a standby genset is running, it can actually run in parallel to the micros and the wont backfeed to it! Seriously impressive stuff.
 
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Uwe

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id seriously consider putting in the System Controller 3G,
Oh yeah. My wife's attitude is: "It's worthless if it doesn't work when utility power is out."

Current build in Florida:

uczvyQC.jpg


I did think about doing just sunlight backup, but that requires their silly load controllers, and I decided a battery makes more sense. Then I did some detailed analysis of stuff I'd really like to keep running overnight (two fridges and a freezer) and decided a second battery was called for, so it will be added.

This winter's build in Pennsylvania:

atl2QLa.jpg


And yes, I've done all the on-line coursework from Enphase to be a certified "Installer". In fact, the contractor that's doing most of the labor for the FL system isn't up-to-date with his training, so guess who's commissioning that system? :cool:

-Uwe-
 
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Mrclopec

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Haha. Oh yes, I was in the same boat with my installer. Regarding the load controllers, does Enphase’s docs say they are required? Yes. Does the app say they are required? Also, yes! Can you commission a sunlight backup without load controllers and hope the current generation is enough to support your current load without microgrid collapse? I did it. Never had and still do not have load controllers. If collapse happens, genset kicks in and system comes back online anyway. I do wish there was a way to commission the IQ8’s with a system controller, but manually disable sunlight backup capability and have it act just as a grid-tied. Now that i have a standby genset connected to it, I really don’t care about my micros generating in parallel to offset usage of my generator. It’s on. It’s needed. I care about my food not spoiling, not offsetting natural gas usage, darn it! lol.

On a side note, I did get somewhat frustrated with Enphase on their new 3rd generation products and them not being backward compatible with 2nd gen hardware. This mainly being the 2nd gen utilizing the zigbee and the new on RS-485 hard wired. I looked up the FCC docs on the new Comms-kit-02 and guess what? Same FCCid As Comms-Kit-01. They are both using the MCQ-Xbee3. My question to them is why it doesn’t transmit wireless? Well, it’s shut off and the gateway will only allow one communication form to happen at a time…intentionally in software. They have a tech doc explaining if you have a combiner 5 and need to utilize wireless, you disconnect the internal comms-kit-02 and purchase a comms-kit-01 and plug it in. Why oh why do I need to purchase a second item which I already have?

Also, the other thing the docs don’t tell you, is if you have a 400a service with two 200A sub feeds, and your backup is on sub-feed1 (the house) and you have a generator connected, your CTs must be installed between the MID and 200a breaker. This eliminates the second 200a subfeed to our shop from consumption monitoring.if you place 400a CTs on the line side between the meter and the subfeed breakers, then any usage on the shop while in off-grid mode will mess with the IQ8’s ability to prevent backfeed to the genset (very bad!). Again, why I would like the IQ8s to be able to have islanding shut off. The answer to this solution? A split system. But, I don’t have panels at the shop, nor do I intend to. So, I still have to install and commission a second gateway under the same site, with its own consumption CTs all without actually commissioning panels or a production meter, just to have a “Partial Home Backup system, with generator, and Whole Site Consumption Monitoring”. I still love my equipment though.
 
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Uwe

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Finished commissioning this afternoon! However, it took over an hour on the phone with Enphase tech support to make it happen. For reasons we still don't understand, the System Controller refused to close the relay that sends power to the Combiner until Enphase did something to it remotely. Needless to say, without that relay closed, the IQ8s saw no grid and wouldn't communicate with the gateway, much less produce power. Then the weather turned to crap (dark clouds and rain) and as of now, it's produce a whopping 2.6 kWh. But it's up and running. :)

I care about my food not spoiling,
That 's one of the objectives at my place here in Florida, where we have no natgas available. 10 kWh of battery capacity (8 usable) should keep the two fridges and a freezer running overnight, and the 9.8 kW array should refill them even on a cloudy day.

the new on RS-485 hard wired.
I was under the impression it was a CAN bus? I haven't put a 'scope on it. Maybe I should.

if you have a 400a service with two 200A sub feeds, and your backup is on sub-feed1 (the house) and you have a generator connected, your CTs must be installed between the MID and 200a breaker.
That's basically the same issue as with a Partial Home Backup and generator integration, which is what I have up in PA. The consumption CTs must at the input to the system controller, because they're wired in parallel with the generator CTs. I understand why this is necessary; it's basically a design failure of the Gateway, which lacks a dedicated input for generator CTs, Instead, they're wired in parallel to the same input as the consumption CTs and consomption going elsewhere would interfere with the readings from the generator.

This also means you can't measure "whole house" or "whole site" consumption with this setup; you can only measure consumption of your critical loads panel (which in your case appears to be the panel feeding your house). An obvious work around is to measure "whole site" consumption separately using an IoTaWatt, Sense, Emporia, or even what you did, a second Gateway.

Another possible DIY solution would be to use two DPDT relays to disconnect the "whole site" CTs so that the Gateway only sees the generator CTs when the System Controller has no power at its input. The question is: How best to control this? I'm thinking a small 240V to whatever the coils on the relays need transformer with the primary connected to the input of the System Controller.

-Uwe-
 
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