Great solar opportunity to lower your cost for energy independence but, more importantly, to reverse the negative trend towards total utility control of the Sun.

I started off on one direction, but in thinking a little more about it, I have an idea, though I am not quite sure how to implement it.  You have 4 decades in solar and you have megawatts of new and used solar modules…that should pretty well establish you as an expert.  Magazines, TV and other article creators like to have a quote from an “expert”, right?  You could be a “talking head”!  Seriously, though, what about an article on the use of second-hand solar, which is green energy AND recycling.  Everybody loves green energy and recycling, right?  Either write an article or suggest the subject to various trade journals.  Heck, that sort of thing would even fly in Newsweek or Bloomberg.  People saving money on energy and saving money on the hardware by buying recycled!  I think there is great potential there.  It could get national coverage and be seen by a wide audience.
 
Neal
 
Speaking of recycling, 38 more tiles before the roof is finished.  42 of the new ones are now online, making power.  I am to the point where I have working modules with good cable, but the cells are all smashed up and I have perfect or very good modules with mangled,  melted or mutilated wiring.  Bro is coming tomorrow to help rewire the mutilated modules and hand them up to me in the upper tiers.  This project has got to be the ultimate in solar recycling, I should think.
 
Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2019 1:34 PM
Subject: Re: California opportunity?
 

You are right. But what should I do ? 

Boy do I love kids and pretty girls.

Took my son and some kids to the beach at South Point park on the southern end of that sandbar known as Miami Beach. Taught them how to snorkel and body surf. My wife and her friends didn’t even go in the water 72 degrees is freezing to people in Miami. I’m talking about the water temperature. Anyway me and all the other kids stayed in for two hours. It was one great time.

Anyway I’ve been watching a lot of you tube on my big tv lately. I like everything in the ocean or anything to do with it. God blessed me and the spirits to live so close to SOBE. then I go home and watch on tv then I go back them to the pool and finally to the hot shower and eat. Anyway I been seeing these videos about how the reefs are dying and what’s causing it world wide, i now believe in worldwide destruction call it what you want but we’re really screwing it up actually we’re totally ucking it up. We’re going to see the end of coral reefs by 2040 they say. From all tha damage I saw, and crazy infestations of jellyfish, 19 mile long nets that kill it all, deformed and toxic fish from fish farms and on and on and on I’m now officially mad as hell and yes I believe in global pollution

Listen trust me on this fish farming thing it’ is disgusting. They spray massive amounts of antibiotics with guys in white suits and face masks and fire hoses in order to kill off the sea lice on the fish, because their so packed together, if one disease hits they all get sick so they keep increasing the antibiotics, and yeah all that seafood in Publix’s, Safeway, Pigglywiggly or whatever place you go to get ripped off nowadays for groceries is full of toxic chemicals if they came from farming. Believe me stick with organic everything, grow your own food if you can. Solar offgrid comes to mind.

And guess what, Salmon farms are the worst. These fish, shrimp, and all the rest in the store WILL GIVE YOU CANCER. Ok ok you think I’m watching bullshit on YouTube , it’s National Geographic for gods sake. The more fat the worse the fishes toxicity! The bigger the fish the percentage increases substantially .

Fisherman that don’t catch and release or use miles of nets, or dredge up everything not just edible creatures, and kill anything and everything or just hack off their fins take their livers are no different than the Chinese that kill tigers, bears , elephants, snakes 🐍 and on and on so they can get a hard on make me want to take our air force and blow the crap out of these long liners and filthy toxic farms. Yeah I say blow their ships right out of the water .

Anyway I’m just asking you to be wary of farmed fish. Go catch it or grow it in clean cages, if you look at these videos on you tube, seeing is believing.

Anyway kids are everything to me and to think that their kids might never see the beauty of a coral reef and the unbelievable quantities of and varieties of some of the most beautiful creatures on Earth 🌍 🌎 🌏 makes me want to stick my head out of my window and yell “I’m not going to eat farmed fish, cattle, chickens, you name it if it’s farmed it’s poo 💩 no it’s worse than that, it’s cancerous ahhhh hold on here JK your missing something what is it?

It’s life, your alive, your getting every breath for free, go for it like your a kid again waking up on Saturday morning. The Sun’s just come up. It’s a new day of adventure and who knows what delights await you. Thank you God ! But can you imagine those poor people living in the most polluted air imaginable. I have a really wonderful friend in China, I gave her her name, Genie 🧞‍♀️, it was Matilda or something like that, she now calls me Master. she lives in Peking . They only see the sun a couple times a year !!!! And she lives there with her two little babies (little genies) a husband and a father living there. When she saw the sun several months ago (when the factories shut down for meetings once a year) and heard a few birds singing we can’t even imagine how wonderful that experience must have been. She immediately texted me and said “the sun came out today , it was so beautiful, and I heard birds”.

We’ve got to fight. Really give it all we’ve got , be tough as nails, don’t give up, yes you can, yes you can, your awsome! And I took my metal whistle and blew it for them as they ran, walked and wheeled their chairs on and on for TWENTY ONE MILES!

That’s what I yelled at the 25,000 hero’s pouring across the Venetian bridge from Miami Beach into Miami and I was so proud of them and thankful for supporting me for supporting them with high fives clapping, (and I’m a great clapper very very loud)! And yes I blew that police whistle as loud as I could yelling things like “your incredible””your kick ass” “your the tough ones” , “your the hero”, come on man there were 25,000 of them. Them means men, women, old men and old women, kids as young as 8! I talked to them a lot as they ran by. ” nice smile” as they threw me big smiles, “Shalom, bienvenidos a Miami , andele pues ! Simon! De donde borne = where are u from?”

Burundi, Colombia, Africa, El Salvador’s, Israel 🇮🇱 with their flags so proud to be able to do it too, so many smiling faces fist pumps yeah I roared, thru peace signs, so many high fives and tons of thank you’s and mother’s, fathers, brothers, sisters not just running but pushing their kids and friends in wheel chairs, some that couldn’t walk, let alone run, no legs, no arms, paralyzed, and plenty of old folks and lots of beautiful little kids, and wow man very beautiful girls ! most were solid muscle but very fat and skinny people where in there too! Big huge guys and tiny little Asian girls. What a mixture of humanity just rushing by.

Can you tell I was going crazy, it was beautiful really beautiful I took a few pictures, was jumping up and down , running in place, playing my whistle and talking to them urging them on all the time I made a lot of funny remarks and all while blowing that whistle with incredible skill. You had to have been there check it out and at one point I was jumping up and down because it was so much energy, Hell they should have been making electricity so much power was flowing down that road! It was strength, courage, persistence, grinding, painful, after all, 21 miles man come on I can’t even run one! But I can swim like a mother cxxxxxx for joy , I know how they felt, it was just living life with everything you’ve got.

When I swim the 1300 yards out and back to the end of the government cut Jetty I get to see thousands of undersea creatures wow I’m sort of reliving my day right now, I’m pretty emotional , you ought not to see me when I get mad, but the basic idea here is we should live everyday like it was our last. Love ❤️ you because that’s all you have. Make it count look in the mirror straight at you face an inch away and say “I love and accept you exactly the way you are,” and mean it, say it 20 times. I love and accept you, exactly as you are”. Unless your perfectly fine already, and happy all the time, although I’ve never met anyone like that before.

Anyway here’s the video where I found that thing about staring st yourself and some of the photos of the marathoners, the awsome people!

So ok anyway the point of all this was to inspire people , you, that we ALL need to get motivated, do what the marathoners are doing . Train ourselves to like run a marathon but direct that kind of mass movement to a much higher level for each of us that might save our beautiful planet for all time and switching to solar energy is just one way we can accomplish this monumental task . Not violently but calmly just doing it , trying to do some things that you don’t think you could do but believe and repeatedly improve as quickly as we can to change the direction we are going.

Oh and it helps to like yourself a whole lot more. You’ll be in much better shape to run this environmental marathon, so look for the picture of the bald guy in my recent blogs and there should be enough info there to get that powerful.

If you read all of this blog I’m impressed. It’s not well written but it might help. A little is always better than doing nothing.

More from the Smartest guy I know in the PV recycling and PV DIY low cost approach to solar.

Remember when you were a kid and you always had to ask Mom or Dad permission before doing anything so you wouldn’t get your bottom smacked?  Boy, you couldn’t wait to grow up so you could do anything you wanted to do!  Then you grew up and found out you still had to ask permission to do things.  Bummer.

Building your own solar power system might well require you ask permission in the form of getting permits or filling out paperwork.  On the other hand, it may not.  I want to go through some examples, today.

Let’s start with some examples where you may do it yourself without a permit.  We’ll start with some ridiculous examples like those little solar sidewalk lights.  No permit, but it is solar. A more useful project would be a solar motion detector light for the corner of the garage.  You actually get to use tools for that!

Let’s get a little more serious now.  Do you have a boat? Sailboats and cruisers are a huge market for solar.  I read the cruising forums and lots of folks are doing their own and there are some pretty serious systems.  Heck, my expedition boat is 100% solar powered, even the galley.  There are no permits involved, but the Coast Guard may come aboard, as they sometimes do, and they will want to see things safe.  Your insurance company may require a survey, too.  Use cables made for marine service, non-rusting hardware, lash down the batteries and protect things from the fingerpoking!

In fact, that general advice might be good for ANY kind of solar installation that you do.  Use the right wire, make it look orderly and workmanlike, make it safe.  Inspectors look for the scary-looking stuff, so don’t make it scary.

Motorhomes and RVs are another good place for DIY solar.  The roofs may have vents, fans, skylights and antennae, but there is usually enough room up there to put in a good bit of solar. Mounting on offsets can allow for more solar, but may present an issue with wind lift.  Besides, RVs tend to be pretty tall to start with.  We have the notorious 17th Avenue Bridge in Pensacola, which has been the end to many an 18 wheeler and RV, so why tempt fate with added height?  Keep it low.  Know what the structure is, too.  You want to get your bolts into something that will hold.  A friend’s very large rig has a roof that is basically molded styrofoam covered in sheet metal!  In a case like that, use lots of screws.  On that rig, we considered using solar laminates (panels without the frames) bent to follow the curves and held in place with greenhouse channel.  Because of all the other things up there to dodge, a mosaic of smaller panels might be the key to getting the most watts on the roof.  Watch the weight, too.  You don’t want to get it top heavy and go tipping over !  As long as your panels don’t come flying off, nobody will say a thing about permits for your RV power project.

Another RV project would be to have a portable setup.  I know guys who go to big outdoor shows in their RVs.  If they can find a shady spot, they will.  Some set up panels on a stand away from their shade and can run fans and charge phones without ever having to fire up the noisy generator.

Are you a farmer or rural dweller?  On the farm, most places I have seen, you are pretty much on your own when it comes to structures or electrical.  I have all kinds of little solar projects for water pumping, lighting a shed, and even a major power plant that IS the shed.  The smallest installation is a 10 watt panel bolted to back fender of a seldom-used tractor.  I ran out of barn space, so it is rusty and faded, but, by golly, it’ll start when I need it.  My neighbor Glen has some 10 watt panels I have swapped to him for welding or other favors.  They are all over the place, keeping batteries topped up on equipment he doesn’t use a lot.  A super low-cost farm project would be to have a small module and 12v LED light bulb for a tractor shed, using the battery in the tractor.  Kill two birds with one stone, keeping the battery hot and having a light in the shed.

Now, let’s talk about permits and inspections.  In most places, I can’t go out and install solar at your house because I am not a licensed contractor.  You, however, as a homeowner, can probably get a permit to do your own work.  We’ll talk a bit more about this in a moment.  The job of the inspectors is to make sure you do a project safely and don’t kill anybody or burn your house down.  That, having been said, you will sometimes find an inspector who is a bit of a tyrant and you will find inspectors who are nice guys that will work with you and help you out.  There was a time when the inspectors in our county were very, very ….ummmm, well let’s just say the county had to issue them guns so that We The People wouldn’t kill them!  Things have changed for the better and we have a bunch of good folks, now.

I can give two examples of the kinder, gentler inspectors.  Stan has been building his “hunting camp” for years.  His homemade solar and wind power system is a little dodgy, but works well and he is involved in a first class upgrade.  Someone mentioned his place to the Inspections Department, which had previously failed to notice it, owing to its remote location.  The inspector inspected and then declared that since there was no Certificate of Occupancy, he had no jurisdiction over the project.

Tom built a large outlaw system in his barn to power his house. He later confessed his sins so that he could go grid-tie and the inspector was nice as he could be, willing to work with Tom on bringing things up to code.

So, back to your permits, you need to go to the Inspections Office with a plan and not a vague idea.  If you have a couple of ways you can go with the project, sketch them out and go and ask the inspector’s advice before finalizing things.  Show respect and let the inspector know that you know who’s the boss.  (Hint:  it ain’t YOU!)  The biggest way to cause yourself trouble is to go in with an attitude.  You’ll get one back right in your face.  When I built my house, I pulled all the permits and dealt with all of the inspectors.  Each one may have some little quirk and may gig you on something just to let you know they are paying attention. Anything they noted, I corrected and then took to them before and after photos so they wouldn’t have to come back and crawl under the house or in the attic.  That courtesy was returned with a quick sign-off on the job.

Note that in many areas, the inspectors are in the office very early for a short while and after lunch for a short while and in the field, inspecting, the rest of the time.  Call ahead to discover their hours.  Don’t be first in line.  Let the pros get their business done and that’ll leave you more time for your consultations.

The most paperwork intensive system I have seen is Mike’s.  South Carolina and Duke Power had a heckuva rebate program that would more than pay for the hardware if you shopped the right places. There was a lot of paper for the rebate program.  Then, the structure over his barbecue area had to have a structural analysis to insure it wouldn’t fall over with solar panels on it.  He got a licensed engineer to sign off on it.  Then there were the electrical permits, which were pretty basic, and the paperwork for grid-tie, which had to be signed off by a NABCEP certified installer.  THEY can be hard to come by, even with all of the solar activity we have going on these days.  Things went well, though the NABCEP thing caused some delay.  All that was left then was the IRS tax rebate form, which is easy and requires only receipts and no NABCEP or permits.  Come to think about it, Mike may have come out ahead on the deal!

To sum it up, there are plenty of solar projects you can do without anybody’s permission.  If you are going to attach it to your home, then you probably will need a permit, but as a homeowner, you can usually get one and do the work yourself.  Just assure the inspectors you are competent and show them some respect.  Asking their advice on how they might do a particular thing is something they usually like.  John’s crew at Sun Electronics can help you with the system design, so you can go to the inspectors with a plan.

So you’ve been thinking about building your own low cost Home PV System.

So you’ve been thinking about solar power or battery backup and wondering, “Can I do it myself?”  Well, let’s stop for a moment if you really meant, “May I do it myself?”  Those are two different things and I’ll talk about both, separately, but I wanted to point out both considerations.  Without any more information, I’d say, “Maybe” to both.
 
Can you?  Let’s talk about the physical requirements.  I’m pushing 65 years old, am 30 pounds too heavy, have too much blood pressure and all the bendy parts don’t bend like they used to.  I know two other guys my age doing solar and one 74 year old.  If you aren’t much worse off than that, you have potential.  
 
This is my current project, in Phase 3.  I call it my Solar Shed, with 11KW on the roof20190111_154805 (Medium)
 
Can you pick up a 65 pound solar panel or battery?  Lift the panel over your head?  Somebody’s going to have to do it and it won’t climb up on the roof or rack by itself.  There will be heavy stuff.
 
Are you clever enough to come up with some apparatus or con a buddy to help you lift a 200 pound inverter in place to bolt to the wall?  Sometimes a good idea works better than brute force.
 
Ratchet straps can raise a heavy inverter. 
324a
 
Do you have the tools?  In addition to the usual hand tools, you may need big cutters, crimpers, soldering supplies, a basic volt/ohmmeter, ladder, screw gun and maybe more.
 
Do your tools have a lot of blood on them? None means you aren’t using them or are good at cleaning up.   A little is inevitable, but too much may be a message to hire a pro.
 
Do you get gifts of tools at birthday and Christmas?  If so, you may be ok.  If not, why not?  Do people think you are dangerous with a tool?  Do family members run to call 911 when they see you with a power tool?  Some people are just not meant to use tools.
 
Can you successfully, rewire a lamp, assemble a kid’s swing set or Ikea furniture or install a car stereo?  If so, you may be ok.
 
Courtney, 64,  puts in the last screws in an arched solar pergola over his BBQ.  Yeah, we bent them.
509
 
Do you have the knowledge of how solar power systems are connected and regulations for connecting them?  If you don’t, there is a lot of free information on the Internet, diagrams of sample systems are available and folks like Sun Electronics offer kits and pre-fab hardware that requires minimal connection.  Those are very convenient and can save money over a la carte.  You can get loads of ideas by downloading free back issues of Home Power Magazine at https://archive.org/details/home_power_magazine .
 
Tom is 74 and he’s doing his own 10KW solar
705
 
There are a couple of things I want to warn you about that may not be obvious to a newcomer.  Most solar panels put out a modest voltage of 18-40 volts.  That might give you a little tingle if wires were on a sweaty arm, but individually solar modules are pretty safe.  HOWEVER, if you are using an MPPT type charge controller on a battery system (and you should for efficiency), you might have several panels wired in series for maybe 120-150 volts going into the charge controller.  That much is going to do you harm if you touch it.  Your panels normally use MC3, MC4 or Tyco connectors that won’t let you touch the harmful voltage, but you will use bare wire to connect to disconnects, fuse holders and the charge controller.  I make a point of doing the bare wire work before plugging in the last panel connector and I’ve not been bitten yet.  In my early days as a broadcast engineer I routinely worked with radio transmitters with 10,000 volt power supplies.  My boss told me to always keep one hand in my pocket so that I couldn’t make a circuit through my heart if I slipped up.  I never wore rings or a watch to work, either.  Insulated gloves are a good idea, too.
 
64 year old Stan is upgrading the solar at his hunting camp.
703
 
Now if you think 150 volts is worrisome, and it is, consider that if you are connecting a grid tie system,  you may be dealing with 600 volts!!!  Now, aside from my advice to “DON’T TOUCH”, there is a characteristic of DC power of which you might not be aware.  It arcs.  If you try to unplug one of your MC4 cables while the system is charging or grid-tied, there is a good chance that the current will try to continue to flowing in the form of an arc.  This can vaporize a connector, which will have to be replaced.  Do your unplugging at night or when the system is shut down.
 
Did the last two paragraphs frighten you or did you just store that info away?  If it scares you, you might start on something simpler or just call in a knowledgeable friend or a pro.  If not, and you aren’t any older or feebler than I am, go for it!  The hardest part may just be deciding what you want to do.
 
I take my solar power on adventures….or it takes me…thousands of miles.
412
426
 
One last thing, if you want to get some construction experience, working with laying out the structure, framing, roofing and wiring,—maybe even solar— consider volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or one of these groups that builds houses for disabled vets.  You will learn skills, build confidence and find out if you are made for this sort of thing. —Neal
 
 

The Best Videos and Advice on How to install your own Solar Electric System.

There are hundreds, yes hundreds, of Solar DIY videos on YouTube.

If your like me and you’re not sure you can do it yourself, read this letter below, a reply from Neal Collins, (a great friend, customer and contributing editor to my blog), about my own insecure feelings about installing my first own big home PV system. I just received it. I think you’ll find it’s unique and very encouraging. I hope it will help you. All his stories on my blog a excellent.

While I’ve participated in the installation of a few PV systems, I wasn’t sure if I could install one on my own home, by myself and a friend.

Here’s Neal’s letter in response to my concerns:

So you’ve been thinking about solar power or battery backup and wondering, “Can I do it myself?”  Well, let’s stop for a moment if you really meant, “May I do it myself?”  Those are two different things and I’ll talk about both, separately, but I wanted to point out both considerations.  Without any more information, I’d say, “Maybe” to both.

So you’ve been thinking about solar power or battery backup and wondering, “Can I do it myself?”  Well, let’s stop for a moment if you really meant, “May I do it myself?”  Those are two different things and I’ll talk about both, separately, but I wanted to point out both considerations.  Without any more information, I’d say, “Maybe” to both.
Can you?  Let’s talk about the physical requirements.  I’m pushing 65 years old, am 30 pounds too heavy, have too much blood pressure and all the bendy parts don’t bend like they used to.  I know two other guys my age doing solar and one 74 year old.  If you aren’t much worse off than that, you have potential.
This is my current project, in Phase 3.  I call it my Solar Shed, with 11KW on the roof.
20190111_154805 (Medium)
Can you pick up a 65 pound solar panel or battery?  Lift the panel over your head?  Somebody’s going to have to do it and it won’t climb up on the roof or rack by itself.  There will be heavy stuff.
Are you clever enough to come up with some apparatus or con a buddy to help you lift a 200 pound inverter in place to bolt to the wall?  Sometimes a good idea works better than brute force.
Ratchet straps can raise a heavy inverter.
324a
Do you have the tools?  In addition to the usual hand tools, you may need big cutters, crimpers, soldering supplies, a basic volt/ohmmeter, ladder, screw gun and maybe more.
Do your tools have a lot of blood on them? None means you aren’t using them or are good at cleaning up.   A little is inevitable, but too much may be a message to hire a pro.
Do you get gifts of tools at birthday and Christmas?  If so, you may be ok.  If not, why not?  Do people think you are dangerous with a tool?  Do family members run to call 911 when they see you with a power tool?  Some people are just not meant to use tools.
Can you successfully, rewire a lamp, assemble a kid’s swing set or Ikea furniture or install a car stereo?  If so, you may be ok.
Courtney, 64,  puts in the last screws in an arched solar pergola over his BBQ.  Yeah, we bent them.
509
Do you have the knowledge of how solar power systems are connected and regulations for connecting them?  If you don’t, there is a lot of free information on the Internet, diagrams of sample systems are available and folks like Sun Electronics offer kits and pre-fab hardware that requires minimal connection.  Those are very convenient and can save money over a la carte.  You can get loads of ideas by downloading free back issues of Home Power Magazine at https://archive.org/details/home_power_magazine .
Tom is 74 and he’s doing his own 10KW solar
705
There are a couple of things I want to warn you about that may not be obvious to a newcomer.  Most solar panels put out a modest voltage of 18-40 volts.  That might give you a little tingle if wires were on a sweaty arm, but individually solar modules are pretty safe.  HOWEVER, if you are using an MPPT type charge controller on a battery system (and you should for efficiency), you might have several panels wired in series for maybe 120-150 volts going into the charge controller.  That much is going to do you harm if you touch it.  Your panels normally use MC3, MC4 or Tyco connectors that won’t let you touch the harmful voltage, but you will use bare wire to connect to disconnects, fuse holders and the charge controller.  I make a point of doing the bare wire work before plugging in the last panel connector and I’ve not been bitten yet.  In my early days as a broadcast engineer I routinely worked with radio transmitters with 10,000 volt power supplies.  My boss told me to always keep one hand in my pocket so that I couldn’t make a circuit through my heart if I slipped up.  I never wore rings or a watch to work, either.  Insulated gloves are a good idea, too.
64 year old Stan is upgrading the solar at his hunting camp.
703
Now if you think 150 volts is worrisome, and it is, consider that if you are connecting a grid tie system,  you may be dealing with 600 volts!!!  Now, aside from my advice to “DON’T TOUCH”, there is a characteristic of DC power of which you might not be aware.  It arcs.  If you try to unplug one of your MC4 cables while the system is charging or grid-tied, there is a good chance that the current will try to continue to flowing in the form of an arc.  This can vaporize a connector, which will have to be replaced.  Do your unplugging at night or when the system is shut down.
Did the last two paragraphs frighten you or did you just store that info away?  If it scares you, you might start on something simpler or just call in a knowledgeable friend or a pro.  If not, and you aren’t any older or feebler than I am, go for it!  The hardest part may just be deciding what you want to do.
I take my solar power on adventures….or it takes me…thousands of miles.
412
426
428
One last thing, if you want to get some construction experience, working with laying out the structure, framing, roofing and wiring,—maybe even solar— consider volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or one of these groups that builds houses for disabled vets.  You will learn skills, build confidence and find out if you are made for this sort of thing. —Neal
Thank you.

Best regards,
John
John Kimball
Owner and CEO
SUN ELECTRONICS INT. INC
CELL: (305) 322-1086 best
(305) 498-1863 / (305) 710-9645