Friends don’t let friends do AC solar ground mounts

Putting solar panels on the ground is brilliant. If you put solar panels on a roof then the solar comes down when the roof needs replacing, but with a ground mounted solar project you can leave the solar panels there for pretty much the rest of your life on Earth.

When you put panels on a roof the panels are close to the electric service of the home and so there is minimal distance the wires need to run to deliver the solar power to your home. Ground mounted solar panels are usually at least 100 feet from the home which creates a long wire run and electricity escapes along the way which wastes the energy your solar panels created. If you go with an inverter system that turns the solar power from DC to AC power at the panels, like with Enphase microinverters, then you will have a high “line loss” and you’ll waste a lot of the energy you created. That is why when we design ground mounted solar projects here at Universal Electric & Solar PNW we use an inverter system that doesn’t invert the solar energy from AC to DC until we get back to the home. This is how we ensure you get most all of the solar energy you created to the home without losing it along the way. This is the same reason why the utility grid transports energy using DC power and doesn’t invert the power to AC until it gets close to your home, its the same principle of trying to reduce line loss.

When we add batteries to a ground mounted solar project now we really don’t want an AC system with microinverters. Since the panels and the batteries use DC power then by doing what’s called an AC coupled system you are losing a ridiculous amount of the solar power you created just due to a bad design. Check out what Mayfield Renewables has to say about it: 

If you used Enphase and their battery system on a ground mount then this is what would happen. You created DC power with the solar panels, then you are inverting to AC at the solar panel and sending that power over 100 feet to the home and losing a lot of power along the way, then when it gets to the home it will convert to DC to get stored in the battery, then when you want to use the energy in the battery you will invert back to AC. That is 3 different DC-AC conversions and line loss, which loses you a ton of energy, you’ll need to install multiple extra solar panels just to make up for all that lost production. Don’t do that to yourself.

Now, here is where the good advice comes in. If you send the energy from the solar panels as DC power back to the home you have greatly reduced the effect of line loss. Then, when the DC power hits the batteries there is no conversion, and when you want to use the solar power either directly or from the battery then you invert to AC power just once. Here at Universal Electric and Solar PNW we accomplish this with Sol-Ark inverters, optimizers and HomeGrid batteries to create what we call a “DC ground mount.”

If you ever get a quote for a ground mount using Enphase inverters or any other microinverter then be sure to ask the hard question to your installer of why they want to set you up to lose a good portion of all the solar power you will create. Ask them: why would you use microinverters on a ground mount, and why would you AC couple a battery system? There will be no good answer, because the good answer is that they should have quoted a DC based system the first time.

Here at Universal Electric and Solar PNW we give the best solar advice, contact us today to get the best designed solar and battery projects.,,,, 

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