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Best manual for photovoltaic installation  RSS feed

 
Tyler Ludens
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Can anyone or several folks recommend the best or your favorite comprehensive and detailed manual for installing photovoltaic electric systems for the house, water pumping, etc?

Thanks! 
 
Larisa Walk
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Instead of a manual I'd suggest manual labor. Seriously, working as an apprentice to an existing installer helps you learn a lot quickly. My other recommendation, since PV is modular, is to start small and work upward in complexity. If you do your own system first, growing it as you need to, your errors are your responsibility alone and you learn bunches from them. After almost 30 years of working with PV and wind systems I learn the most by diagnosing other installers errors, getting called by local electrical contractors and homeowners with problem systems.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Apprenticing to an installer is not an option, but thanks. 

 
                    
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One manual, no.

But AZ Wind-Sun has a good information and FAQ section. They also have a user forum. Some good folks hang out there.

For Outback Power Equipment, they also have a user forum, directed towards users of Outback products of course. Their PV string calculator is very handy; Outback oriented again.

John Wiles, Program Manager at the Technology Development Institute at New Mexico State University has written dozens of articles about PV. Many have been printed in Home Power magazine. Some of them, newest ones, are available online in PDF format at...
http://www.nmsu.edu/~tdi/Photovoltaics/Codes-Stds/codecorner.html
They used to have older ones back to the 90's but they seem to have been moved or taken down. However some older ones are available at...
http://photovoltaics.sandia.gov/docs/John_Wiles_Code_Corner.htm

A lot of his focus is on interpreting best practices and keeping things in step with the NEC (National Electrical Code). I have probably learned more from him than any one other person or source. There has been a constant evolution of the NEC and PV systems, it might be a good idea to start with the older articles and read forward. The only problem with that are the changes. It does let one see the evolution though and Wiles tries to explain the reasoning behind some of the rules.

It helps to not assume anything when thinking about PV system. DC power is different enough from AC that many parts such as common household wall switches can not be used for DC switching. Ditto for fuses and breakers in most cases. Some things are counter to standard auto practice; cars use black for negative wires for example. The NEC does not permit negative DC wires to be anything but white, same as the neutral wire in the AC circuit. I believe it is important to follow NEC practice; my reason is that if at some time an electrician, stranger to your system, has to be called in for some reason, he will be safer and may not take as much time to ascertain and repair the problem.

I've also seen a number of websites showing how easy it is to "get into" PV power. Beware of many that really want to sell you something above all else. Also beware of those who advocate slapping a couple RV batteries under the porch, panels on the porch roof and have wiring running here and there over wall surfaces ending in tangles of wires. Messy looking in other words. Unless that is what you want, then disregard most of what I say.

I have my own independent powered cabin and have some grid tied panels on our home. I don't know everything, I am not licensed to practice the trade, but am willing to help to the extent of my knowledge and opinions.


 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks!
 
Ardilla Esch
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I have this manual, and it is pretty good.  It covers design calculations, installation, etc. and has simple examples and problems to work through.

http://www.solarenergy.org/bookstore/photovoltaics-design-installation-manual

You can probably find it cheaper at other book sellers...
 
                    
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I located the book on Amazon. Mixed reviews. Seems like a lot of that depends on what electrical knowledge one already has... the more known the less useful. But at least there it's under $36.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you. 

 
                            
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There are PV products that have the inverters built into the panels themselves. This means for installation you are working with conventional AC which is more familiar to your average electrician than the DC. The manufacturer has taken care of all of the DC code provisions in the product itself.
 
Kevin Pegg
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Location: Smithers, BC Canada
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I have written a design guide focused on off-grid applications for solar (and other alternatives) that you can download free:

http://www.energyalternatives.ca/downloads.html

Kevin
 
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