2018 Reflections, 2019 Resolutions

Well, 2018 has wound up - time for the annual reflection post, and the 2019 resolution post (combined this year for your reading convenience).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.sevarg.net/2019/01/05/2018-reflections-2019-resolutions/

(Comments from Blogger)

2019-01-07 by Aaron

Well, personally, sad to hear your post frequency and possibly length will be getting less. But hopefully that just means you’ll get all your other things done and working fine, so end of the year or next year you’ll back back with even more!

I do expect your forthcoming solar work will probably result in at least 1 substantial post (with pictures), or more likely 3 or 4 as you assemble, test, trench, etc as you get things put together.

2019-01-07 by Russell Graves

Have you read my office build posts? Expect something like that, but likely more detailed, for the solar install. I’m going to be going through the code requirements and calculations, design, building, inspections, etc. I don’t know how many pieces it will be, but quite a few.

I have many, many projects left on the property, and finally have some money tucked aside to start, so I’ll be documenting those as I go as well.

2019-01-07 by Cameron

I’ve been reading all of your blog posts since I found your blog, which was probably only about a year ago. I’m also poking through older posts. It’s enjoyable for me because a lot of your projects align with things I am either doing or plan on doing in the future. My ultimate goal is to have a decent-sized property with grid-tied electric, but the ability to run completely independently if need be. I’m looking forward to what you write in the coming year!

2019-01-07 by Russell Graves

You’ll definitely be interested in my build then - that’s exactly what I’m building. I’m sticking with the Outback ecosystem - Radian inverters are designed for this sort of use (grid-tied but fully off-grid capable), and they talk nicely with the charge controllers to coordinate for maximizing grid sell.

Not a cheap build, not a simple build, but far, far more capable than a basic roof mount grid tie system - for about the same money.

2019-09-17 by peifferc

Hi I’ve had your “why do we need the grid” post bookmarked for a while. I’m super interested in the details of your new home project as I am in the middle of a long build and talking about possible battery options w/ solar contractors.

I was wondering if you have any updated thoughts on the Powerwall vs lead acid bank after the PW product has matured (or has it?)

I guess this is really just a plea for a post with any updates! I’m also going to post some questions on the “Design Considerations and Battery Types” post.

2019-09-17 by Russell Graves

I’m easy enough to find if you want to chat in more detail.

The reason for the lack of updates is simple: Nothing has happened. I spent the first 6 months of the year going back and forth and around with a particular individual who has to stamp off all the solar/RE plans in the state (with a few exceptions if you’re in certain cities), and this individual, talking to people who do solar for a living, can best be described as a bureaucratic roadblock that exists to create funding to support the bureaucratic roadblock.

I’ve given up on my intended system, because the way to do it, as he wants (or might want, since you don’t get useful responses, just a “No, try again, I don’t think this meets my interpretation of NEC”) just started spiraling up in cost massively. It sailed past $50k in an attempt to meet nonsense requirements and I decided to pull the plug on that approach.

The revised setup will be a shitty grid tie system with no battery backup and with a big generator plug. The solution for backup power is going to be ideally something like a small power trailer that plugs into the generator outlet, but isn’t required to be NEC compliant.

Interestingly, I’ve talked to someone else out here who does systems like this professionally, and he’s using much the same situation - battery banks/inverters on a skid so it’s “portable” and isn’t required to go through the particular individual. Apparently this person likes arguing with professional engineers (PEs) about how suitable the Powerwall is and if it can be installed in this state.

Effectively, I’ve picked the hardest possible corner of the country to do something complex, and I’m not willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars chasing nonsense.

The PW2 is apparently a decent enough product. You’re not going to get one for a DIY project, but they do appear to be available to installers who deal with them. If you want to pay someone to do a project for your house, it should be fine. The people selling them make a big deal out of being able to cycle it fully every day and how maintenance free it is and that it will last nearly forever, but I still don’t see them as being a significant value over current gen lead acid, assuming you don’t mind watering the bank every now and then.

Since my power trailer is not going to need to meet NEC, I’ll probably do it with used EV batteries. But you can’t do that for most house systems yet - at least, you’re going to be in for a fight with your inspector.

It’s been a frustrating year for solar.

2019-09-18 by peifferc

Sorry to hear about your roadblocks. Thanks for the response.

I’m guessing that Tesla would at least claim the software in the PW2 has the smarts built in to deal properly with lithium’s optimal charge/discharge behavior, factoring in observed solar inputs and demand.

I have yet to see it though, and I wonder if there are other 3rd party systems that would work better with a less integrated battery pack. (Or with the Tesla modifying its input?)

For instance this is a company with a software solution focused on commercial solar, trying to game the demand charges by talking to every major piece of the appliance/energy setup: https://www.extensibleenergy.com/how-it-works
For instance, they do “soft” shutdown on the HVAC using the thermostat control when the grid cuts out, rather than just throwing them offline with a breaker or having them permanently wired out of the battery loop. But this is explicitly non-residential.

(I’m in Tesla’s backyard in northern CA so I’m pretty sure inspection is OK and there have been some successful installs but I will check with my contractor.)