Friday, April 12, 2019

Solar Electric And the Brave New World of Battery Systems

2019 is a great year to do a Solar Electric system, also known as Photovoltaics, or "whole house".

  • A lot of companies do just PV, and not hot water.    
  • It may seem surprising, but hot water systems are actually more complicated to do and take more skills and tools.    
  • I say this to clarify that "whole house" solar does NOT mean that you should have just the PV Electric.   
  • In many cases, it makes more financial sense to ALSO have the Solar Hot Water, which can account for about 40% of your bill (mostly depending on if you are a heavy aircon user or not.)
In this brave new world of solar, at least in the Hawaii grids, you can no longer get your bill to near zero unless you are using batteries to supply your nighttime loads.    It is just the way that HECO and the PUC have set up the systems.  

You charge your batteries in the daytime (as well as covering your own electrical demand).   HECO has basically 4 programs available, but the basic data collection will be the same for all.

If you have  the old style dial meter, click HERE, to see how to read the kWH reading on the meter.

If you have the newer NEM style meter, click HERE.

Finally, in order to size your system and batteries, the following information is important IF you want to make the best decisions.

It would be good to collect this data on three normal days (normal daytime and nighttime use), not if you have house guests, etc.

 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Solar Tax Credit 2018

Here is the links for 2018 Solar tax credit.

Hawaii State Solar Tax Credit  Form N-342

Fed  Solar Tax Credit    Form 5695

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Microinverters: Monitoring / Communications Are Essential - 3R Box/Bridge

Let's talk about monitoring your Microinverter Based System.   Monitoring is very important


I'll make this is simple as I can.   

The Envoy/EMU (the oval box) needs to talk to:

1) The internet
2) The microinverters on the roof

A direct connection plug into the internet is common, so it is usually placed in the house in the computer area.   But this has a downside, there are large amounts of electrical noise within the house, esp. by the computer area, and that makes it hard or impossible to "talk" to the microinverters on the roofs and get their report on how they are doing. 

My solution/invention is to get the Envoy/EMU out of the house completely, and then to create a network/internet connection using a special device.

Email to schedule, or call with questions or to discuss 671-5566

solsen@pacific-energy.com 

What is the issueif the communications to the roof are bad? With poor communications to the rooftop equipment, you cannot tell what is functioning and what is broke or "breaking".  Microinverters often fail little by little, so you may be losing 50% of production, LOSING MONEY and don't even know it.

The company, Enphase, will no longer issue the Return Material Authorization RMA so you can't get parts replaced for free under the 15 year warranty for materials UNLESS you have 3 or more Bars of Communications out of 5.

 The 3R Box / Bridge is the solution.

For 95% of people it will cost just $350 plus tax.

Only 10% of our customers now have "3 of 5 bars" of communication or better, needed to get warranty parts approved.

Almost for sure, you have this problem and we have the solution.

We were cautious to roll out this invention because we weren't sure whether it would work in a wide varierty of situations.

It worked at my house, and now it has worked at 17 people houses. So we are pretty confident. But we can't guarantee it will work at your house, but if it doesn't we don't take no for an answer, there are also some noise reducing ferrite torroids that can be applied. We have not had to resort to this yet, but there would be extra cost (like $100 for the torroids)

Olsen's Invention the "3R Box /Bridge" SOLVES the communication problems that prevent people from getting the maximum output from their PV Electric Solar.

1) If you want to order this Inventive Fix, email us here solsen@pacific-energy.com



Friday, March 1, 2019

Electric On Your Solar Water Not Working? Easy Steps to Confirm


There are 2 separate heating systems on a solar hot water system, and they have nothing in common except the water.   They don’t even “know” that the other system exists.

1)      Solar Heating
2)      Electric Backup Heating

You can easily tell if the solar portion is working, using this

For now we focus on the electric backup heating, because having no solar hot water costs you a few dollars a day, but having NO HOT WATER can be a major annoyance.

The disconnect is only occasionally a problem, unless of course, someone pulled out the disconnect to work on the system, and then failed to put the spade connector back in, or put it in upside down. 

If the timer spins (keeps the correct time), then you know that the timer is getting power (and you also know that the disconnect is fine)

If the timer does not spin, then the first thing to check is the breaker.    Breakers can be tricky, they can look not tripped but really be tripped.   So you push them firmly off, and then firmly back on.   Set the timer for the correct time.

Read this to get to know your timer

If the timer spins, and the outside little handle is in the on position, then it should be sending power to the “High Limit Reset” Switch which is on top of the Thermostat (actually part of it, it’s an assembly).     If the High Limit Reset safety switch was activated (by really hot temperature like 160F or 170F) then the power stops right there, and never gets to the thermostat.        It’s a simple “reset” just push the little round Burgundy colored button, and if you feel a very slight click, pay attention!, then it was activated, and now it is reset….your problem is likely solved.

The second red link on this page explains more the on High Limit Reset

How can you tell if the element is actually heating the water?      We call this the “ear test”.    

1)      The thermostat setting must be above the temperature in the tank.
2)      If the tank is fairly warm (say from the Sun), but you want to test the T-stat, you can turn it up to a high temperature by turning clockwise with a small flat bladed screwdriver.   As the setting exceeds the water temperature, you should hear a little click, indicating that it is now sending power to the heating element.
3)      Put your ear right on the tank, if you hear a faint humming, that is the element heating the water.   One caveat though….in rare occasions, you will hear some humming, but the Element will actually be mostly broke, and it really won’t make hot water.     If you hear the humming, but never get hot water, you have a bad Element, OR the below, a bad Mixing Valve.

It can be a real bear to change an element.    It needs special tools, and if you strip it, the whole tank is shot.   Any leakage or rust in this whole area can be a real electrocution or fire hazard.     Just because you have a breaker (sitting in your breaker panel for 30 years, never moving) does not mean that it will work when needed!    

But let’s finish on the Thermostat.    If you turn the T-stat all the way up, and it never clicks indicating sending power to the element (and everything upstream is OK, breaker, disconnect, time, high limit reset), then the T-stat is likely bad.    If you have an electrical tester, and the knowledge to use it safety, you can read the voltage into the T-stat, and the voltage to the Element, both should be 240V AC. 


One thing that will confound even the best troubleshooting in the world, is the Mixing Valve.     If the Mixing Valve (MX) has gone bad and gets occasionally stuck, nothing else that you do or change will make the system work well and consistently.     MX is usually reliable, and a bit pricey to change, it’s $315 labor and material to change, unless repiping is needed then it is more.    So when nothing else makes sense, and especially if system is over 7 years old, then it’s time to bite the bullet and replace the MX.    The MX is usually a red colored cap in the top center of tank (sometimes blue or green).

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Enphase 7IQ Massive Upgrade -- Special Pricing


Old Micro-Inverters Failing!  Replace Them All Now at Less Than Manufacturer's Cost for 7th Generation 7 IQ Microinverters.

Interested?  Enquire by Email Here 2019@pacific-energy.com
7IQ Upgrade – (4) Bullet Points to Understand it – It’s a complete component rebuild on the roof.
  1. Early Microinverters Have a High Rate of Failure, And a high labor and programming cost to repair.  Upgrading the whole system will be cheaper than paying the repair costs over time.
  2. Enphase is offering to Upgrade to 7th Generation Micros at LOW COST
  3. Enphase throws in free cables, and a free better quality Envoy/EMU monitor with wireless capability.
  4. Your warranty, which is going away quickly, is EXTENDED for 25 years…..starting 2019!!!
Let’s say you had a $35,000 car, and you had 70,000 miles on it and it was started cost you a bunch in repairs.    If the dealer came to you and said, heh, for $4000, we will give you a new car, with a 25 year warranty……WOULD YOU TAKE THAT DEAL?

REALLY? IT GETS BETTER!?

5) The 7IQ is "Battery Ready", The M190 will never be Battery Ready.   Call Steve to discuss, battery costs and quality and longevity have taken huge strides forward.    And Enphase will be rolling out their "Plug and Play" battery system, that will "play nice" but only with the new 7IQ Inverters!
6) The new monitor (EMU/Envoy) comes with Current Transducers, that PES et al, can install for you if you want.    These provide valuable information on your actual power production, and times where you import energy from HECO.   This allows a good engineer to properly size a battery system, without buying too much!   

The 7IQ Upgrade program is like getting that NEW CAR, at 10% of the cost!
Interested?  Enquire by Email Here 2019@pacific-energy.com

I have upgraded my system in Kunia, and there were a few bumps and learning curves, but overall, it is a great project, and I am ready to roll it out for all my customers, who have the old style Micros (M190, M210, M175).

If you have the M215 or M250, Enphase is NOT ALLOWING you this upgrade at this time.

If you don’t know what you have, just enquire 2019@pacific-energy.com
The original Enphase Microinverter warranty was 15 years.   For many people that is ½ or 2/3 gone ALREADY.

We re-use the same racking system, and the panel hold down clips.    We expect some stuff to break, as that is just the way Murphy works, and we will cover all miscellaneous small part breakage, up to $200 per customer.

Interested?  Enquire by Email Here 2019@pacific-energy.com

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Small Dripping After Hot Water Tuneup -- Simple Fix


Small Water Noticed After Tuneup?

We try to seat the valve when we perform our service, but because there is water present in the process of the tuneup, we cannot determine whether any small weepage could still be present.....so we need to ask our customers to try the simple quick fix below if they suspect minor leakage.  
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Almost for sure, any signs of residual water the next day, on the floor, is simply related to the new Pressure and Temperature relief valve needing to be flipped a few time to properly “seat”.   The contact surfaces of the new valve just need to be seated, and you do this by opening the P&T valve using the silver handle on top of the valve.   
  
·        Open for say 5 seconds, and be aware that water will rush out the pipe which usually goes to the concrete floor and usually in back of the tank and it could be really HOT.   

·        Then Close, and open again.   

·        Repeat one more time.

This should stop the leakage.   It might be hard to tell right away, as usually the leakage is very slow.   

Another simple trick is to put a box fan on the area and dry it up.     If it stays wet, then probably a leak continues.     Repeat steps one more time, but at the end just pop the valve quickly with bursts of water going out.

If it is dry, and remains dry when the fan is removed, then the expected fix has worked.     

This is a one time event, once seated well, you shouldn’t have to do this again.