Category Archives: Installation

Installing Your Own Solar Panels? First, Check This Checklist

By Joseph Burdick and Phillip Schmidt, Storey Publishing

If you can drive lag bolts and assemble prefabricated parts, and if you’re willing to spend a day or two on your roof (or not, if you’re mounting your panels on the ground), you can install your own solar system. You don’t have to know how to hook up the solar panels to your household electricity or the utility grid. You’ll hire an electrician for the house hookup, and the utility company will take care of the rest, usually for free. For a completely off-grid system, the utility company isn’t involved at all. Perhaps disappointingly, this job isn’t even a good excuse to buy new power tools, since the only one you need is a good drill. Read more here.

Photo from Burdick and Schmidt’s book, Install Your Own Solar Panels: Designing And Installing A Photovoltaic System to Power Your Home

Description

 

Homeowners can save thousands of dollars with this user-friendly manual, which follows the same process professional contractors use. This comprehensive DIY guide covers everything from assembling rooftop racking or building a ground-mount structure to setting up the electrical connections and making a battery bank for off-grid systems. – Storey Publishing

 

More About The Authors


Joseph Burdick
has more than 30 years of experience in the photovoltaics industry — from R&D, measurement, and testing to system design, installation, and project management. He is president and CEO of Burdick Technologies Unlimited, LLC, one of Colorado’s top renewable energy companies, and is also a professor at Ecotech Institute, where he trains students for careers in solar installation.

 


Philip Schmidt has been teaching readers how to do things for almost two decades. A former carpenter and longtime writer and editor, he is the author of 18 books, including PlyDesign, Decorating with Architectural Details, and The Complete Guide to Treehouses. He lives in Colorado with his wife, two daughters, and too many leftover building materials.

 

Links to Incentives, Depreciation and Net Metering Information, Nebraskans for Solar Resource

Survey Finds Majority of Voters Support Initiatives to Fight Climate Change

 By John Schwartz, New York Times

A survey carried out after the November election found that 66 percent of respondents said that developing sources of clean energy should be a high or very high priority.

Of those polled, 83 percent said they supported creating a jobs program that would hire unemployed coal workers, shut down old coal mines safely, and restore the natural landscape. The same percentage said they supported a jobs program that would shut down the thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells around the nation, which pollute water and leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Read more here.

BIDEN CLIMATE TEAM

Biden Builds Out Administration-Wide Climate Team, American Institute of Physics
Adding to his early announcement of former Democratic senator and secretary of state John Kerry as special climate envoy, Biden’s team now includes a “national climate advisor” focused on domestic policy and nominees to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Energy and the Interior. Other Cabinet nominees and White House staff members named this month also have experience in climate policy.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

NRDC’S REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE SERIES

Regenerative Agriculture Part 3: The Practices, Natural Resources Defense Council 
The first blog introduced the philosophy of regenerative agriculture, and the second blog covered the principles of regenerative agriculture. This blog summarizes some of the practices that regenerative growers use. The fourth blog will discuss the benefits of regenerative agriculture.

TESLA NEWS

Tesla (TSLA) launches its own solar power inverter, Electrek
Tesla has had success with its Powerwall, a home battery pack that matches well with a residential solar installation, and it is starting to have some success with its solar roof tiles. Surprisingly, considering Tesla’s extensive expertise in power electronics in its electric vehicles, the company never had its own solar power inverter, an important part of a solar installation… until now. Now the company is adding a new in-house designed ‘Tesla Solar Inverter’ to its lineup.

Previously Posted: Tesla partners with other companies to install solar roof tiles, Electrek

Tesla Solar Roof Available in Nebraska


Certified
 Tesla Solar Roof Installer in
Nebraska: Weddle & Sons Roofing
Office locations in Lincoln and Omaha

You Tube Video: We Installed A Tesla Solar Roof In One Day: Weddle & Sons Roofing

Johnsons’ home solar investment will pay off in a few years

Written by Mike Konz, Kearney Hub

KEARNEY — Today, 14 months after they went online, the solar panels feeding energy to Joe and Tara Johnson’s home northeast of Kearney are producing the numbers the couple expected when they invested $20,000 in October 2019 installing them. The panels don’t always eliminate their monthly electricity bills, but they are carving off a substantial portion of the bills, just as Joe had hoped. Read more and view a series of photos here.

Photo Credit: Erika Pritchard, Kearney Hub

Featured Solar+Storage Guide

Understanding Solar+Storage: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Solar PV and Battery Storage, CleanEnergy Group

This guide addresses commonly asked questions about solar PV and battery storage technologies. It is based on the results of a survey identifying the most common knowledge gaps around solar and energy storage.

The information presented in the guide focuses primarily on customer-sited, behind-the-meter solar+storage installations, though much of the information is relevant to other types of projects as well, including storage-only projects and front-of-the-meter solar+storage projects. It is meant to serve as a starting point to establish a foundation of knowledge and understanding for individuals and organizations beginning to explore solar+storage options for their homes, businesses, or community facilities.

Solar energy is better for the environment and your pockets

By Alyssa Curtis, KMTV

BELLEVUE – The country’s largest renewable energy event is being held this week. National Solar Tours is an opportunity for people around the country to learn about making the switch to solar energy from their neighbors. Continue reading or watch the video here.

Part of the National Solar Tour: Don Preister’s home in Bellevue with solar + a geothermal heat pump.
Solar Installation: 8.4-kilowatt, grid-tied, OPPD net-metered system, ground mounted on south-facing slope with no battery storage (yet) and 28 optimizers. Installation was completed in December 2016, with enough capacity for all electrical needs in an all-electric residence of 2000 square feet. There is extra capacity to charge his electric vehicle.
Photo Credit: Eugene Curtin / Bellevue Leader
Installer: Solar Heat & Electric with help from the Preister brothers

Are you installing solar for your home or business? See Links to Incentives, Depreciation and Net Metering

MISSOURI REAP PROJECTS

Missouri Farmers Increasingly Look To Solar To Power Their Operations, KCUR Here and Now Story by Jonathan Ahl, Harvest Public Radio

Chris Bohr’s farm in Martinsburg, Missouri, has hundreds of acres of soybeans and corn. It also has a 5,000 head hog barn that requires a lot of electricity to power its ventilation system, cooling fans and lights. About fifty yards away from the barn are three rows of solar panels. Bohr is among a growing number of farmers that are generating solar power to meet their needs. Bohr received a Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to help pay for his solar panels. And the number of farmers applying for the grants is going up.

PV MAGAZINE ARTICLES

FROM ENERGY NEWS NETWORK

Grid congestion a growing barrier for wind, solar developers in MISO territory, Energy News Network
A recent analysis found 245 clean energy projects that were withdrawn during the advanced stages of development, with many blaming a lack of transmission capacity.

NEW WOODMAC REPORT

Global Energy Storage Capacity to Hit 741GWh by 2030, Greentech Media
The U.S. will account for half of the world’s installed energy storage capacity by the end of the decade. Global energy storage capacity is now expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31 percent through 2030, according to Wood Mackenzie’s new global storage outlook.

COMMUNITY STORAGE

SMUD’s Energy StorageShares program: The first virtual energy storage program in the US, Renewable Energy World

SMUD’s innovative Energy StorageShares program is the first virtual energy storage program in the US. StorageShares allows SMUD’s commercial customers to invest in an off-site battery storage system and enjoy energy cost savings without siting batteries at their facilities. In this newly launched pilot program, eligible commercial customers make an up-front payment to SMUD for program participation; in exchange, they receive a monthly on-bill credit. SMUD bundles the investments from program participants with its own capital, procures a battery, and installs it in a location that optimizes grid benefits.

ALSO PUBLISHED BY RENEWABLE ENERGY WORLD

NEBRASKA CLIMATE CHANGE STORIES

These stories were developed as part of a yearlong UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications depth-reporting project examining the impact of climate change on Nebraska. To learn more, visit: climatechangenebraska.com

SOLAR ACCESS IN HISPANIC COMMUNITIES

Investing in equitable access to solar energy for Hispanic communities, PV Magazine article contributed by Javiar Chacon, a Customer Analyst on the SREC Operations team at Sol Systems, where he works closely with customers to help mint their SRECs.

As one of the fastest growing American communities, the Hispanic population has been historically underrepresented in solar energy. The barriers that have excluded Hispanic people from solar, however, are not permanent and work can be done to ensure an equitable energy transition.

HDR & LANDFILL SOLAR 

Rethinking post-closure landfill care, Waste Today Magazine
HDR Inc., Omaha, Nebraska, has been supporting municipal and private solid waste clients for over 40 years with the planning, permitting and construction of secure solid waste landfills across the U.S. Of HDR’s beneficial use projects, one of the company’s most reputable post-closure developments is the Hickory Ridge Landfill in Atlanta. In 2010, HDR utilized a new exposed geomembrane solar cap technology to transform the landfill into the largest solar energy-generating facility in Georgia.

According to the company, it is the world’s largest solar energy cap and the first use of the technology as part of a fully permitted landfill final closure system. Utilizing over 7,000 solar panels to convert sunlight into more than 1 megawatt of clean, renewable electricity, the new technology essentially takes a durable, high-strength geomembrane material made for outdoor exposure on roofs and secures it to the landfill like a bedsheet through the use of vertical anchor trenches.

Local Do-It-Yourself Solar Project & Two How-To Guidebooks

Featured Solar Example
Colin Croft’s Do-It-Yourself Project in Gering, Nebraska

Project Description: Grid-tied 5.4-kilowatt PV system in rural Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska, which generates enough to about “break even” in overall consumption/generation for this year-round home (electric heat supplemented by wood stove).  Twenty 260/270w panels tied to Enphase M250 micro-inverters/Enphase Envoy gateway were used.  The array was mounted about 25 degrees east of due south using basic and inexpensive Unistrut framing, bolted to E mounts by Quick Mount PV, which were installed during replacement of the old roof with a new composite roof.
Production/consumption monitoring using SiteSage for Homes/Powerhouse Dynamics.
PDF Download: DIY PV Installation & Passive Solar Sunroom, written by Colin Croft

DO-IT-YOURSELF BOOKS

Mobile Solar Power Made Easy!


Subtitle: Do-it-yourself Guidebook to Vehicle Mounted Solar System Design and Installation, by William Errol Prowse IV. The guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to size and install a solar system for an RV, van, car and boat.

Install Your Own Solar Panels

Subtitle: Designing and Installing a Photovoltaic System to Power Your Home
Through detailed directions and step-by-step photos, veteran solar installer Joseph Burdick and seasoned builder Philip Schmidt teach you how to determine the size, placement, and type of installation you’ll need. This comprehensive DIY guide covers everything from assembling rooftop racking or building a ground-mounted structure to setting up the electrical connections and making a battery bank for off-grid systems.

LINKS TO INCENTIVES TO REDUCE YOUR PROJECT COST
PLUS ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Federal Investment Tax Credit for solar systems: 30% to December 31, 2019.
Source: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

Solar Energy Industries Association 

LES Solar Incentive
Additionally, LES customers may qualify for a one-time capacity payment of up to $1,000 per kilowatt of peak demand reduced. The total amount customers can receive is determined by the system size and primary direction the system is facing, for example:

  • Southern facing fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $375.
  • Western facing or single or dual axis tracking fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $475.

Source: Customer-owned Renewable Generation

SEIA Releases Updated ‘SEIA Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power’

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – To advance efforts to educate residential solar consumers across America and  pave the way to a positive solar buying experience, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) launched an updated SEIA Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power.

Available online, the free guide offers those interested in going solar a one-stop shop to better understand the basics of solar energy and ownership options. It includes key questions to ask solar installers before entering a transaction. The guide is a result of a joint effort of the leading companies across the solar industry and goes hand in hand with SEIA’s existing Solar Business Code by which all SEIA members abide. Read the entire news release here.

More SEIA Resources

Additional Guide for Local Landowners
Solar Land Lease: Considerations in Nebraska
Authors:

YouTube Video
Solar Farm Leases – John Hay

About SEIA
Celebrating its 44th anniversary in 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 250,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.

IREC launches new checklist for inspecting residential solar

By Mark Burger, PV Magazine USA

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) has produced an updated Model Inspection Checklist for Residential Rooftop PV. This 15-page document facilitates a process for local inspectors and installers in plan review and field inspection steps, from structural analysis to signs and labels to be posted. Continue reading here.

Photo: Bob & Gina’s home in Lincoln, Nebraska – Solar Examples

ALSO PUBLISHED BY PV MAGAZINE USA

DIY PV Installation & Passive Solar Sunroom in Gering, Nebraska

By Colin Croft

Brief overview
This article includes a discussion of a DIY installation of a grid-tied 5.4-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system using Enphase microinverters, as well as the conversion of a two-level sunroom into a passive solar heating space using a thermostat-controlled fan/vent system. I also discuss my limited experimentation with micro wind turbines (not for the faint of heart!), and the hardware and software I’ve used to monitor my energy consumption and generation.

Download and save DIY PV Installation & Passive Solar Sunroom

About the Writer
Colin is a philosophy instructor at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, who enjoys hiking, backpacking, biking, birding and generally exploring the wild places of Western Nebraska and nearby western states.

Note to Other Do-it-Yourselfers

If you have completed a DIY solar project and would like to share it with other solar enthusiasts, please email your information to Helen Deffenbacher at nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com.

Shopping Mall Solar Install Uses Bifacial PV Panels

By Dan McCue, Renewable Energy Magazine

The system is reportedly the largest commercial rooftop Solar PV installation in Hanford and the largest solar system to be installed, to date, on a shopping mall in the state. The system is estimated to generate almost 3,000,000 kWh of electricity annually – enough energy to serve approximately 450 homes. Learn more here.

YouTube Video: Click here for an aerial view of the bifacial solar panels on the Hanford, California Shopping Mall.

Photo: University of California, Berkeley’s Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation in the College of Engineering. Credit: Sunpreme

NEBRASKA PROJECTS USING BIFACIAL SOLAR PANELS

Henry Doorly Zoo Solar Shade Canopy

Morrissey Engineering worked to develop and engineer this project and SWT Energy was the prime installer. It is located at the Africa Exhibit Skyfari lift landing. This project used bifacial panels that are glass on top and bottom and can actually convert a portion of bottom-side light reflected off surrounding surfaces into additional power. The panels have a 300W rating without the boost from the underside and there are 80 in total.

 Custom Solar Canopy

This custom-designed canopy by Dixon Power Systems features glass-on-glass bifacial solar modules allowing sunlight to pass through individual solar cells, harvesting sunlight on both sides. Integrated into the homeowners’ deck, the canopy provides shade similar to standing under a tree. The structure is made from cedar with steel brackets that are also custom designed and built by Dixon Power Systems.

To solve ‘duck curve,’ Missouri utility to pay bonus for west-facing solar panels

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

In an effort to better align solar-energy production with peak demand, the electric utility in Columbia, Missouri has begun to pay higher rebates for new west-facing arrays than it will for those facing south.

The city-owned utility adjusted its rebates as of Aug. 1 in order to encourage more solar production in late afternoon, when electricity use tends to peak, especially during the high-demand summer months. Continue reading.

Photo by John S. Quarterman / Creative Commons

Lincoln Electric System provides customers incentives that are based on the solar system’s orientation and its energy-generating capacity, as described in the PDF, Customer-owned Renewable Generation. These LES customer rebates are called “capacity payments” and are determined as follows::

South-facing, fixed-PV systems: $375 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity. The savings in the following examples would be:
3-kilowatt PV system: $1,125
4-kilowatt PV system: $1,500
5-kilowatt PV system: $1,875

West-facing or single or dual-axis tracking PV system: $475 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity.
3-kilowatt PV system: $1,425
4-kilowatt PV system: $1,900
5-kilowatt PV system: $2,375

For more information, visit LES.com, and select Savings & Energy > Solar & customer-owned generation or call LES Energy Services Specialist Jay Stoa at 402-475-4211.
Email: jstoa@les.com

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
How much does a solar electric system cost in Nebraska?