These days, prices on Solar power panels have been dropping like stones while the technology to use them as well as the connection/mounting standards to install them have been advancing at “Warp Factor Nine”. Of course, these rapid advancements are due in no small part to our country’s current focus on clean, renewable energy sources but until now it had all seemed just like political rhetoric to me. Well, not any more!
Anyway, I’ve been tracking this technology for years but decided to pull the trigger when I learned about the new M215 Enphase microinverter along with their innovative “Engage” cable system. These two products leverage the current solar panel standard which is 60 cells @ 250W to form a modular, cost-effective grid-tie interconnect system for Solar power generation.
I’m currently spec’ing out a 1KW grid-tie solar array for the house that will be based on Wholesale Solar’s 1KW starter kit. It’ll fully leverage the super efficient M215 Enphase microinverter design and features 4 standard 250W 60 cell panels.
The plan is to get the main infrastructure built for a 6KW capable system (20Amps @ 240V) and put up the Solar kit for about 5K total including installation. Then we will run the system for a year and monitor power output with my existing whole-house system.
During that time-frame, we’ll experiment with 1 axis tracking, auto snow removal, and generally learn the basics of distributed power generation. Then we’ll take advantage of falling prices to expand out in subsequent years. Our final installed size will be 24 panels and the incremental costs would be panel price + about $25 per panel for mounting/cabling. The new Enphase engage cable system along with Renusol’s modular racking system is key to this low cost expansion rate. Right away, this 4 panel starter system will provide about 1.5KwH per year of fully renewable green energy to the WI grid.
I’ll be posting much more as the project progresses including videos of the installation process itself. I couldn’t be more excited!