Designing and Installing Your Own Grid-Tied PV System

This new large section covers the planning, design and installation of our new grid-tie PV system.

The system is a 2150 watt grid-tie PV system using 10 PV panels at 215 watts each.  We expect it to provide about 3200 KWH a years.

I've provided quite a lot of detail on the whole process -- everything from the site survey, to sizing the system, to choosing components, getting permits, and a whole lot of detail on the installation (which we did ourselves).  The performance and economics of the system are also covered. 

There is not a lot out there on home owner designed and installed PV systems, so hopefully this will be of some help if you want to tackle your own system -- a job that is not nearly as difficult as most people think.  If you are having a system professionally installed, this material may help you ask the right questions and get a better system.

Update: August 2020:  I expanded the system to 5000 watts...

Directory of Pages for our DIY Grid-Tied PV System

Design Decisions and System Sizing

Type of system -- (Grid-Tie vs Off-Grid vs Grid-Tie with Batteries...)


How Big to make the system?...


Where to put the PV panels?  -- (Including the all important Solar Site Survey) 


Choosing the system components...


Permits and Net Metering Agreement

Getting a permit and the net metering agreement worked out

Our PV system is the "Top Story" in the
June issue of Mother Earth News

Installing the System

Designing and Building the PV Panel Mounts


Wiring Trench from Array to House 


Mounting the Components -- (PV panels, inverters, disconnect switch...)


Wiring -- (all of the system wiring)


Real time performance and performance logging studies


A question on how micro-inverters and string inverters handle partial shading....


Effect of partial snow cover on PV output...


NEW -- Update after two full years of use report...



Cost of the system, rebates, and the projected saving in energy, carbon, and money.


2011 update on DIY costs and savings...

An after two full years of use report...


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Gary  November 22, 2009