Scalable solar with expandable panel/bank options?

JayMcB

NES Member
Rating - 100%
18   0   0
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
10,775
Likes
5,677
Location
Metro-Worst, assachusetts
I've been looking at a standby generator for the place up north. I already have an MEP-003a that can feed through a panel interlock - when I'm there. I can get it to use the self-fill pump to draw off my home heating oil tank to run.

The power hasn't been good this year, so i was looking at the cost to do a whole house genset with an autostart, like my generac at home.

For similar money....I am wondering if I can a baseline solar solution that I can expand both in terms of number of panels and battery bank over time. Like add a couple of panels and batteries a year type of thing

To start, I'd need to power the furnace and powervent, 1 refrigerator and a few 110v led lights. The well would be a bonus, but it's 220v

Does such an animal exist, where you're grid tied, but have batteries, and that the system will switch to panel and battery when the grid is down?
 

Vermonster

NES Member
Rating - 100%
2   0   0
Joined
Jul 30, 2007
Messages
237
Likes
56
I can't comment on the best approach for grid-tied and batteries. I know the Tesla powerwall can be set up this way and I am sure there are similar approaches for other lithium and lead-acid systems. Google quickly finds a bunch of results for people that want to add battery storage to grid tie systems (for example in CA where they had rolling blackouts in the fall).
What I can say from personal experience is that managing a battery bank of traditional lead-acid batteries of different vintages can be a huge PITA. Also, if you end up with some type of grid-tied solar with battery backup, make sure the charge controller can handle proper charging of the batteries from the grid--not just from the solar. No matter how good your solar exposure is, in northern New England it is very hard to properly charge a large battery bank only with solar between Nov-March. Once those batteries get drawn down from an outage, completing a full charge cycle takes more time than there is daylight--then things start sulfating... (Note: not an issue with lithium batteries...they are just $$$). I have $5K in trashed FLA batteries that says this issue is not just hypothetical.
Personally I would go with a propane fired backup generator. Lifetime cost has got to be less than solar.
If by chance your place up north is in VT, look at the GMP Tesla Powerwall program. Unsure if it has to be your primary dwelling.
 

McReef

NES Member
Rating - 100%
1   0   0
Joined
Mar 3, 2016
Messages
456
Likes
579
Your looking for “micro-inverters” I think. If you are not familiar with these, basically, instead of one large inverter, each panel, or smaller groups of panels have individual inverters. These are made for simplicity of install and the scale ability you are talking about.
I’ve only looked at this superficially, so not sure of specifics, but it seems to match what you are talking about. Perhaps get your search started anyway.
As far as grid-tied vs off-grid systems, I looked at hybrid types as well, and they do exist, but again, no specifics for you.
Wish I could give you more, but it’s been a while since I looked at this stuff, so don’t want to steer you wrong with outdated or incomplete info.
 

PatMcD

NES Member
Rating - 100%
19   0   0
Joined
May 6, 2005
Messages
6,816
Likes
2,075
Location
Maine
I have micro-inverters with my system, and they do allow for easy expansion, but I don't think solar is the answer for a not-your-primary-residence house. The payback time would be very, very long. Are you trying to maintain heat in the house while you're not there? How long is your typical outage up there?
 

JayMcB

NES Member
Rating - 100%
18   0   0
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
10,775
Likes
5,677
Location
Metro-Worst, assachusetts
I have micro-inverters with my system, and they do allow for easy expansion, but I don't think solar is the answer for a not-your-primary-residence house. The payback time would be very, very long. Are you trying to maintain heat in the house while you're not there? How long is your typical outage up there?
it's been off for over 48 hours twice this winter. It is a pain in the ass to have to drop everything and go to keep from losing pipes, etc. The tempp drops from 50-52 to below 40 in about 8-10 hours, when my freeze alarm dials me.

also, while it's not my primary residence now, it will be when my tuition sentence is up, and I'd love to tell the NH coop that charges me every month for the right to be tied to their grid to go fvck themselves, eventually..thus the scale question
 

PatMcD

NES Member
Rating - 100%
19   0   0
Joined
May 6, 2005
Messages
6,816
Likes
2,075
Location
Maine
it's been off for over 48 hours twice this winter. It is a pain in the ass to have to drop everything and go to keep from losing pipes, etc. The tempp drops from 50-52 to below 40 in about 8-10 hours, when my freeze alarm dials me.

also, while it's not my primary residence now, it will be when my tuition sentence is up, and I'd love to tell the NH coop that charges me every month for the right to be tied to their grid to go fvck themselves, eventually..thus the scale question
To be tied to the grid costs me $12 a month (Central Maine Power). Yes, it sucks to have to pay that, but the costs and maintenance of a bank of batteries would suck more. My dream is that someday CMP will credit me my excess generation and that will wipe out that minimum charge.
I think the standby generator is your best choice.
 

Vermonster

NES Member
Rating - 100%
2   0   0
Joined
Jul 30, 2007
Messages
237
Likes
56
I'd love to tell the NH coop that charges me every month for the right to be tied to their grid to go fvck themselves, eventually..thus the scale question
I hate Ever$ource about as much as any corporation on this earth. But my professional experience with off-grid installs suggests to me I don't hate them enough to drop the grid tie if it's available. One of my research sites just ran the numbers and it would have been cheaper to pay the $20K for the initial pole install and grid-tie than it has cost in the last 6 years of off-grid (battery replacement + generator install + technician time). Don't underestimate the cost of batteries and maintenance. Maybe they will come down over time. Maybe for folks in the southeast with lots of sun you can sneak by without a backup generator. But here in New England, off-grid is an expensive way of life unless you really change your living habits.
 

PATRON

NES Life Member
NES Member
Rating - 99%
94   1   1
Joined
Sep 11, 2007
Messages
4,697
Likes
1,848
I just had a company come down to give me a quote on solar. The cost was just too much for what I could get out of it.What I did not
know that the power would feed into the grid,and then come to you.As for the battery pack HE told me that it was costly,and would not supply
220. He talked me out of putting one in.I have a septic system,well water,and was hoping the solar would put me off the grid.Boy was I clueless
about that.So I am going to put a genset generator with a liquid propane tank for when the power goes out. This is my Florida home.
 
Top Bottom