What needs to happen to get my solar attachment installed?

My solar equipment on the house is on the south side of the house, right by the south east corner. My panel is half way through the east side. At the time of solar installation the electrician was completely baffled about what the solar attachment was and after a lot of back and forth he realized he couldn’t do what I wanted because the proximity of the breaker box panel and where the solar stuff terminates are too far away.

At least I think that is the case. The clips can’t attach to something on the solar side and into the panel.

Between the utility, the solar provider (who took SEVEN MONTHS to activate my panels due to sheer incompetence and tried to blame the utility), and the utility I’m not sure who to ask and how to even explain this.

I think perhaps I need to contact an electrician and get the panel moved close to the SE corner where the solar stuff terminates. He’d have to know exactly what to do with the solar attachment. I’ve had bad experience with the electrician who installed the Sense - I mentioned I was getting solar and wanted to ask his opinion if the solar attachment would work but every syllable out of my mouth was rebutted with an abrupt "No solar! 60 holes drilled into your roof! Solar is bad! - and then the electrician from Vivint/Sunrun who refused to help and the electricians from the utility to inspect not underdstanding what I wanted.

I feel like the entire universe is against me on this. I just want Sense to tell me my power usage and how much is used from solar vs conventional. I know this will cost money but I’d rather get a modern panel and quite frankly, spending a couple grand isn’t an issue.

Any advice greatly appreciated :slight_smile: I just need to know exactly who to tell and what to do to make this happen, and pay them for it and knock this off my bucket list.

Sounds like you just need a competent electrician. I can’t say for sure without fully understanding your system configuration, but if the only impediment to adding the solar CTs is the distance between the measurement location and the Sense monitor, there are extension cables available (in the Sense store) that should be able to overcome this issue. An electrician can run some conduit between the points and pull the CT extension cable in it.

1 Like

I didn’t even think to check for extension cables, thank you! Do you know if a competent electrician would be able to do this or if they would have to have the utility come out? I can ask if the utility if you don’t know for sure

Can’t say for sure without knowing exactly how your system is configured. But most likely this is just an electrician’s job, no utility involvement needed. I would start with a new electrician and let them call the utility in if the need arises.

Where does the solar feed into your house grid ? With my solar system, the power is backfed into my main breaker box via a special 240V breaker. Pictures / drawings of your setup could help.

Thanks pswired and kevin1. I spoke with my utility (The actual engineer at my town muni) and I was told any licensed electrician should be able to do what they want, no permission/inspection needed on their end. I have bought the extension cable and when it is close to arriving I will schedule a totally different electrician than the one I previously described and provide them with the solar instructions and have them run conduit. thanks

4 Likes

OK so the saga continues…

Every single youtube I’ve seen and even the Sense documentation all implies that there is a separate solar feed coming directly into the breaker box ( MUSS-EDOC-05.03-20190715-RGB (sense.com) see step 9.

But in my case, it looks clearly that only the main line comes inside and that I’m guessing the outside is where the solar lines are merged into the main somehow. It’s really looking that way.

Is it even possible to get an electrician to separate this? Like, would a competent electrician know what to do? I’ve had terrible experiences with some around me before.

The sense device is right next to my breaker.

The solar company will be of no help either. It took them 7 months to get permission to operate and never reply to any inquires whatsoever.

Lookup “supply side connection”
That is where solar is hooked up behind the meter & the main breaker.
That could be the case in your setup

2 Likes

@ nshreders
I have not seen a grid tied inverter that doesn’t have some sort of connection in the main panel. I think all of the electric utilities companies here in the US require a outdoor shut off somewhere near the main service line. So when wiring… goes:
main box- outdoor disconnect- (possible sub-panel) - inverter
or
main box-outdoor disconnect- net meter-invertor

For most the US… run a split phase (240V = L1/L2/N) the connection inside the main box would be a regular breaker double pole (240v) … If its newer inverter (transformerless ) the invertor will have a arc fault protector on the DC side it will also have rapid shutdown built in.

Also the CT for the solar part would go around the L1/L2 on the breaker inside the main box that connecting the inverter. Most CT clamps are made for AC current only, they do make DC versions… but im sure the sense solar clamps will work on the AC side.

2 Likes

We’re in the process of getting a PV system installed that attached to the main feeds just after the electric meter. I asked about breakers in the electric panel and they said they use vampire clamps to get the electricity onto the mains leading into the existing panel and that no work in the panel itself is performed.

2 Likes

With a suppy side hookup they use these kind of connectors to hookup cable to the existing wire between your meter and your main service panel breaker:
https://penn-union.com/products/category/misc/connectors

This article describes load side (via breakers at service panel) vs supply(line) side ( separate fused AC disconnect)

1 Like

I actually have that page open already. After you mentioned the specific term, I searched it and started reading this article https://iaeimagazine.org/features/supply-side-pv-connections-a-closer-look/ and a sister article from the same author and publication, but since I am not an electrician in anything other than hobby, it was entirely over my head. The Greentech article has two very nice graphics that precisely illustrate the layouts. Now if my solar installer would ever get back to me…

2 Likes

Oops - the conversation may have missed an important point.

If your CTs are installed on the feed lines inside the breaker panel (as recommended), then you are measuring all power consumption regardless of source (both grid and solar). What I’m saying is that, in addition to figuring out how to monitor your solar power production, you will also need to change how you are monitoring your consumption (i.e., move your already installed CTs).

Sense apparently expects to see one set of CTs showing power from the grid only and another showing power from your inverter only. Therefore, you will need to figure out how to install the first set upstream of the solar connection (so that only grid power goes through it) and the second set on the solar side (so that only solar power goes through it), like this drawing. Note

    grid
      |
  meter
      |
      |  <-- pre-existing CTs need to move here
      |
     +------------------ solar inverter
      |         ^
      |          solar CTs go here
breaker
 panel

Conceptually, this is simple. The problem is going to be that this wiring is outside and the CTs should be in a water tight enclosure … and you’ll need conduit to get the CT extension cables from these enclosures back to your Sense.

3 Likes