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Course Title
100 Home
101 Introduction
102 FAQ Page
103 Course Catalog
104 Green World
105 Demand & Supply
106 Conservation Careers
107 Solar Careers
108 Wind Turbine Careers
109 Entrepreneurs
110 Employee or Employer?
200 Demand Management
201 Summary
202 Residential Energy Profile
203 Ten Conservation Rules
204 HVAC System
205 Kitchen Appliances
206 Water Heater
207 Lighting
208 Laundry Appliances
209 Calculating Savings
300 Renewable Technology
301 Solar Energy
302 Solar Collectors
303 Solar Water Heating
304 Stirling Engines
305 Basic AC-DC Electronics
306 Silicon Solar Panels
307 Thin Film Solar Panels
308 Wind Turbines
309 Inverters
310 Grid Tied and Off Grid
311 Solar Site Survey
312 Solar Site Diagram
313 Sun Path Chart
314 Site Survey Worksheet
315 Wind Turbine Site Survey
316 Wind Turbine Worksheet
400 Solar Thermal Design
401 Solar Heat Overview
402 System Configuration
403 Site Survey
404 SRCC Compliance
405 System Specification
406 Bill of Materials
407 System Installation
408 Solar Heat Incentives
409 Document Package
410 Future Products
500 Solar PV Design
501 Solar PV Overview
502 System Configuration
503 Site Survey
504 Grid Tied & Off Grid
505 System Specification
506 Bill of Materials
507 System Installation
508 Solar PV Incentives
509 Document Package
510 Future Products
600 Wind Turbine Design
601 Wind Turbine Overview
602 System Configuration
603 Site Survey
604 Grid Tied and Off Grid
605 System Specification
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Green Collar Careers - Solar Electric System Configuration

Where there are some similarities between configuring solar heating and PV systems, there are some differences in the configuration rules.  Like the solar heating system, the best pricing will come on a kit from a retailer sized to the application needs.  Some key differences are in the mounting, cabling and lightning protection requirements.  These systems are very different in how they are constructed.  Solar PV Panels tend to take a little more maintenance over the years.  The glass should be cleaned every 6 months or so depending on the environment.  Oily films, bird droppings, even tree sap may build up reducing the transparency.  Ozone rich air may tend to corrode connections, ever with the sealed connections compliant with NEC standards.  Other then cleaning most solar PV Panels will last 7-15 years before corrosion becomes a problem, and at that only 1 in 5 systems may ever have those problems.
cables connecting the PV Panels should be kept out of the elements as much as possible and ALWAYS out of exposure to the sun.  Systems that have been installed on roof tops more then 5 years ago are beginning to show there age.  Earlier connectors began to corrode, wiring exposed to the sun may have cracks in the hardened insulation, and mounting structures have loosened.  Amateurs mount solar panels on the roof without consideration of a 25-30 year life.

Most of the solar PV systems you see have the panels mounted to the roof but take a closer look;  while you may compromise the optimal angle for a solar collector, you want the solar PV panel to be pointed much more accurately.  It the pitch of the roof and facing angle isn't' just right, it just doesn't look right.

One of the cleanest mounting arrangements for solar PV panels are awnings over south facing windows.  This allows easy access and provides shade for the windows from the summer sun.

Ground mounted solar PV systems are the most economical way to mount the panels and provide the easiest access.  This system is rated at 4000 watts and takes up a footprint of 6' x55'. 

Configuration Rules

  1. Grid-Tied systems require contacting the utility provider to determine any special requirements for the system.  In most cases the inverter, grounding plan, disconnects, surge protectors and circuit breaker ratings will need to meet their specifications.  In addition, most utilities will want a separate meter that measures only the solar PV production so they can discount any electricity that you sell back to them. 

  1.  Local electrical codes may apply to the wiring and placement of inverters and disconnect switches.  Contact your local city government building inspector and inquire.
  2. Grounding and lightning protection cannot be stressed enough;  just because local code may not require a well grounded system doesn't mean it doesn't need to be well grounded.  Use at least a 6 foot grounding rod with a 1/0 cable to the mounting structure, DC and AC disconnects and the Main AC power panel unless otherwise instructed by the utility company.
  3. Solar Panel Mounting Hardware should be a rigid structure with squared up 4-point mounting to the solar panel frame that does not twist or stress the panel.
  4. Underground cabling or cabling exposed to sunshine should be run through conduit.