This page provides a record of our Solar Project from start to on-going operations. The record covers the:
- the system design including a logical system model, technical elements and products;
- design decisions;
- build timelines;
- power generation estimates, and
- actual experience.
This was a project to install a solar-based electrical-power generation system on the roof of our home, under the Ontario Government’s MicroFIT program. The power generated is fed back into the grid through a separate outbound line (from the green circle in the diagram below). In this model, we continue to consume and pay for power from grid (purple circle below), as we have in the past, however, now we receive a cheque each month from Hydro for the power we supply.
The diagram below shows the major components that comprise the system. The flow of electricity goes from right to left, out, through a meter (green circle), to the grid. The major functional components are described in the Technical Section. Unchanged from prior to this installation, is the feed from the grid (purpose circle) of the electricity we consume. Unlike some systems, we do not consume the electricity we generate. This avoids the need for batteries, which greatly simplifies the system and reduces cost.
- Estimated annual Yield: 6,699 kWh
- % Annual Consumption: 62%
- # of Panels: 23 (37 sq Meters)
- Panels: Canadian Solar 260W Poly (CS6P-P)
- Total Wattage: 5,980 W
- Inverter: Fronius Primo 5.0kW (5.0-1)
- Inverter Type: String
- # Optimizers: None
- Squirrel Guard: Yes
- Expected Life: 20 years
- Mounting Rails: Schletter Rails
- Reporting: via Web page, Mac OSX application, iPhone/iPad app
The major design decision was the choice of string vs. micro-inverters. In the former design, a single inverter receives power inputs from all panels and converts it to AC. In the latter design, there is a micro-inverter for each panel. The major benefit with the micro-inverter design is more effective power generation in situations were there may be partial shade at times during the day. However, in our case, our south-facing roof has full sun all day so the benefit would be marginal if at all. Thus the added system complexity, cost and potential for failure were not worth it.
A second decision was to use squirrel guard. As the solar panel are raised some 10-15 cms above the roof, this gap can become the home for squirrels. Squirrel guard is basically a wire mesh that is placed around the perimeter of the panels preventing anything from getting underneath. As we live next door to a park, and have had problems with squirrels in the past, we decided that this was a prudent choice; a form of insurance. Confirmation that this was the right choice was got the day we were to connect to the grid. The work needed to include people from Hydro so they could cut power at the local transformer. They were late arriving, due to squirrels.
The project started with vendor selection on July 24th 2015, and completed with the final payment on November 20th. There was no activity in October as I was away that month. The major events:
- Sign vendor proposal: July 24, 2015
- Submit Application for MicroFIT program: July 28
- Receive Application Approval: August 21
- Finalise Design: September 3
- Start Build: September 22
- Complete Build: September 28
- Complete Electrical Work: October 30
- Connect to Grid: November 11
- Start Generation and supplying Grid: November 11
- Complete Squirrel Guard: November 18
- Receive / pay final invoice: November 20, 2015
Power Generation Estimates
Monthly power generation is estimated using the PV Watts Calculator, summarized below. These figures were used to develop the business case for the project.
Total power generation over the life of the installation is estimated to be 133.8 MWh. The amount of power generated by system as estimated by the simulator was 6.699MWh per year. The actual results have varied from that as outlined below:
Actual vs. Estimated Annual Power Generation
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