Design Your Own Grid Tie System using a String Inverter

DC to AC Inverter PV Panels

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Photovoltaic Panels

Photovoltaic Panels generate electricity from the Sun. That much, I am sure you already know!

There are three basic types:
1. Mono-crystalline: Square and Round cells make up the design of the panel. These panels are the most efficient for space to power output ratio.
2. Poly-crystalline: Very similar to the single crystal panels above, these Panels have a speckled blue pattern and are almost as efficient for space to power output.
3. Thin Film: These panels used very little silicon to manufacture, if any at all. The photon-electron conversion system is part of a very thin layer of silicon and is attached to a non-silicon substrate, like steel, aluminum or plastic.

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Electric Meter

The electric meter is the houses connection the Electric Utility - The GRID. It symbolizes dependence to some and protection to others. The electricity made onsite reduces the amount purchased from the utility. The meter spins backwards (or slows its forward progress) when the sun in shining. When the GRID is down, the meter cannot spin and the power from the Panels goes no where...
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DC to AC Inverter

The Inverter Converts the DC Power from the PV Panels to AC Power to push electricity back through the meter. Most Inverter types use a series string of panels to connect to the DC side of the inverter. These "String" Inverters usually require 200 to 600 Vdc to operate.

1. If a each PV panel is 170 Watt at 30Vdc.
2. The Inverter requires 350Vdc to run properly.
3. 350 Vdc / 30 Vdc = 11.66 Panels in series (round that up to 12).
4. 12 Panels x 170 Watts = 2040 Watts.
5. You would need at least a 2040 Watt Grid Tie String Inverter.


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Bill of Materials for a Typical Example System:

Item # Quantity Description Notes
1 9 Suntech 170W Mono-crystalline Solar Panel with MC Connector 35.2 Vmp, 43.8 Voc each, Could use 7-14 panels in a startup system
2 1 UniRac Four Rail Kit Available in different lengths and configurations based on Layout
3 1 UniRac 20pc Box "C" End Clamps to mount panels to rails 20pc box is usually cheaper than buying 16??
4 2 UniRac 20pc Box A-B-C Mid Clamps to mount panel to rails Like #3, it depends on the PV Layout and mounting
5 1 MC3 x 150' Male/Female USE-2 10ga cable Cut in half to connect PV string to combiner at inverter. Will likely also need conduit.
6 1 SunnyBoy SB3000US Grid Tie String Inverter Has built-in AC & DC Disconnects
7 1 240VAC-30A Breaker for Main House Panel Plus AC wiring from Inverter to Main Panel

Note: Estimate of items required. Job Site inspection/review is necessary to verify electrical, structural and permit requirements... Some sites also require a AC Lockable Disconnect. Be sure to Contact Us if you have questions about your specific situation...


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Updated: July 02, 2010