Solar PV Since 2012

We installed an 8.17kw PV array on our garage in 2012 and it has worked almost without incident since then.   I retrained to be a solar installer in the extremely hot summer of 2012 and passed the entry level NABCEP certification test with the highest score of anybody in my class (yay me!) so I was able to design our system myself.  We had scraped together the money to buy the solar panels we needed in November of 2011, but I didn’t know enough at that point to design our system, so our modules sat and waited until August of 2012 to be installed.   I worked with my (now) late brother Robbie to design custom racking for our array because we wanted to create a prototype racking that was low cost, extremely sturdy, and a good fit for DIY’ers to make themselves from commonly available and affordable materials.  Most commercially available racking lifts solar panels about 4 inches above the roof to allow a little airflow, but not higher, and I think that’s mostly for aesthetic reasons.   In other words, when solar panels get hot they don’t produce as much electricity, and lifting them higher off of a hot roof would allow more airflow to cool the panels, theoretically allowing them to produce more electricity in the heat of the summer.  The racking I designed allowed 10 inches of space under the panels, allowing for a lot more airflow.   I can’t prove that this has actually increased the output of our solar array, or how much it might have improved output, so I can see where others might not find this very impressive.  I will add pictures to this post at a future date.    We installed 38 Evergreen Solar 215 watt modules paired with SolarEdge DC power optimizers, and two 5000 watt SolarEdge inverters.     We recently purchased some Solarworld 285 watt panels and will probably add 6 of them to the existing array.

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