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  • So a lot of people think that solar panels are actually pretty fragile, but that's not

  • the case. I'm currently walking on top of some and I weigh about 200 pounds. Now obviously

  • this is not something you want to do on a regular basisthey are made of glass.

  • But still, it can't be a Jerry Rig Everything video without a durability test.

  • [Music]

  • Jerry Rig Headquarters is currently powered by 100% renewable solar energy. And in today's

  • video I'm going to show you how I installed these. So there are a ton of places to buy

  • solar panels, but I found that I could do it myself for about half the price. I've partnered

  • up with a company called Solar Wholesale that actually sells DIY kits that include everything

  • you need in one convenient package...including the custom installation plans that you need

  • for your permits from your city. Also keep in mind that these solar panels will retain

  • 80% of their energy producing ability for the next 30 years, and then continue producing

  • electricity far longer than that. And even though I went into this project knowing that

  • I was going to install solar myself, I did price out other options, and it turns out

  • Tesla was one of the more fairly priced out there. So if you don't want to install solar

  • yourself, Tesla's a good option and I'll leave a $250 discount for them also down in the

  • description.

  • Alright, there is a lot of information to go over and not a lot of time to do it, so

  • let's get started.

  • [Intro]

  • The biggest perk of working with Solar Wholesale is this plan set. The plan set is the instruction

  • booklet designed specifically for my house, with all the information I need to get the

  • permits and approvals from my city. Along with the plan set, they ship every single

  • part that I need to install my solar system in one big kit, which makes the whole project

  • much easier since the parts just work together right out of the box. Plus the solar panels

  • are made right here in the United States.

  • Getting someone like Tesla to come install the solar for you is still worth it of course,

  • it just takes a few more years to break even. But either way you're still making a positive

  • impact on the environment and lowering your electricity bill from the moment the panels

  • get connected. Remember, every house is going to have a slightly different roof line and

  • different energy needs which is why it's nice to have this plan set that was custom made

  • to my specific situation. This is the wiring diagram. All of this makes a lot more sense

  • when you have the parts right in front of you.

  • So last time I was climbing up onto my roof, I broke my wrist...so...there's that.

  • So we've laid out where the perimeter of the panels are going to be on the roof with a

  • lumber crayon and a chalk line, and this will just help us visualize where the panels are

  • going to be and where we're going to lay the rack that the panels rest on top of. It will

  • all start making sense in a minute.

  • So in order to attach the racking system to the roof we need to find the trusses that

  • are underneath the shingles and the plywood, and the easiest way to do that is with a hammer.

  • Listen closely. You can hear the difference between the loose area of roof and the solid

  • area of roof and that's where we want to drill down and attach our lag bolts. We can tell

  • by the resistance that the drill bit had all the way down through the wood that we hit

  • a stud. We hit something good to tie into.

  • So once you've found your first truss, all of the rest will be in the same spots, so

  • if you're working by yourself you can just attach the tape to the drill bit that's still

  • in the stud and mark two feet on center all the way down the roof.

  • So before we can attach the rails that hold the panels, we have to put the flashing down

  • and I'll explain what the flashing does in a second. Before I can put the flashing down

  • I do have to put some of this clear sealant in a U shape around the hole that the lag

  • bolt goes through, and then I'm also going to put some clear sealant into the hole because

  • the whole point of this is to keep water out of the roof. Then I can lift up some of the

  • shingles, slide the flashing underneath. And then this is the part that holds the rail.

  • Put the lag bolt through the opening into the holes we pre-drilled earlier and then

  • we'll ratchet it down into place.

  • So now that the flashing's in place we can visually see how it keeps water out of the

  • roof. You know, the water will run down the roof and it won't go into the holes we just

  • drilled, especially if you missed a hole and had to drill an extra one. As well as, each

  • of these bolts right here have a black washer around the top which also helps seal to keep

  • the water out.

  • So the reason I decided to go with the snap and rack system is because these little L

  • feet right here are adjustable up and down. So the rail can adjust underneath the panels

  • to keep the panels level. And the reason it's called a snap and lock system is because the

  • rail will sit right on top of these little feet and they click into place...just like,

  • you know, a little Lego.

  • The rail itself is black which makes it a little more aesthetic on top of the roof and

  • it can slide forward and backward inside of the channel as we're positioning it. And there's

  • a channel inside of the rail that hides the wires for all of the micro-inverters. So the

  • rails are up and it's micro-inverter time. So the micro-inverters are held in place with

  • these little metal pieces which can just dip into the rail and then clip up into place.

  • The reason we decided to go with micro-inverters over other inverters is one, they're easy

  • to install, and two, they are much safer. They convert the power from DC to AC right

  • at the panel. And if one panel does get covered by like, let's say snow or shadow from a tree,

  • the rest of the panels keep on working, which isn't always true of other types of inverters.

  • So all of our solar panels are on the roof and there has to be a way to get the power

  • from the roof into the house. We do that with something called a roof junction box. We have

  • to drill a small hole in the roof, and normally this would be where you have attic space,

  • but in this particular building we do not, so we're going to drill a bigger hole, fish

  • the wire through the wall, and pull it up through the top. The bigger hole is still

  • fine though because the roof junction boxonce we seal it up with that clear sealant

  • will make sure no water runs inside. The shingles will just fit down over the flashing

  • and no water will be able to get into the attic space.

  • So the cable that connects all the micro-inverters together is called a trunk cable. This is

  • what brings the power from the micro-inverters down to the roof junction box. So the trunk

  • cables lay down inside of the rail. We've put some electrical tape over the connection,

  • and then we just zip tie the whole thing to keep it secure.

  • So remember, every house is going to be a little bit different, but this is the exterior

  • roof junction box. And we have the yellow wire running through inside the attic space.

  • All of these wires were provided in my kit, but we need a switch from the yellow insulated

  • wire, which is indoor wire, to exterior wire when we're running it through the conduit.

  • This gray stuff down along the side of the house. This junction box is where we're going

  • to start feeding the exterior wire down through there and then into the breaker panel. So

  • since these trunk cables are generic, they are probably not cut to length just yet and

  • so we're just going to chop it where we need it and remove the extra plugs. Then we can

  • take these two trunk cables inside of this junction box and connect it to the insulated

  • yellow wires down to our exterior junction box on the wall.

  • So we're just about to start laying panels, and because of how many panels are on this

  • roof, I have to have two arrays which means that there's two trunk cables coming into

  • this junction box. You might be wondering what we've done down here on this section

  • of roof, and it's because we can fit more panels if we run them horizontally. So we've

  • laid the rails out in a different way. And that just shows that no matter what your roof

  • looks like, we can always orient the panels to most utilize the space.

  • So this copper wire right here, it's called a system ground, and it's tied into each one

  • of these rails with little spikes and clips, so if any electrical anomalies like faulting

  • or lightning happens, it'll just transfer the electricity right into the ground heading

  • down to the junction box.

  • So let's talk about setting the solar panels and wire management for a second. Right now

  • we have three panels in place and a 4th one right here ready to snap in. Each solar panel

  • has two wires on the back that plug into the micro-inverter. The micro-inverter can hold

  • 4 panels at a time. Then it runs down the trunk cable all the way down to the roof junction

  • box down there at the end. The DC wires are at one end of the panel so we're running the

  • wire in down those center lines so it can easily plug into the micro-inverters that

  • we have placed on the rail. Remember that none of these wires can be touching the roof,

  • so there are little eyelets at the bottom that we can zip tie the wires to. We can also

  • twist them together a little bit to make sure that nothing is touching the shingles before

  • we plug them in.

  • So this little guy right here is called a mid-clamp. This is what clips into the rail

  • and holds a panel on either side.

  • There's a myth going around that solar panels aren't very green because of how much energy

  • it takes to produce them in the first place. And that's also not necessarily true. Depending

  • on where the solar panels are manufactured, it takes anywhere from 6 months to three years

  • for a solar panel to off-set the carbon it took to make it in the first place. Which

  • isn't very much time considering how long it's lifespan is. Another perk of the panels

  • that came in my Solar Wholesale kit, is that they are black on black - no silver frames.

  • It's something to think about when you're picking out panels. I got the black ones so

  • they blend into the roof a bit more.

  • Another perk of having the micro-inverters is that the system is totally modular. We

  • can add panels or take away panels as much as we want and we don't have to worry about

  • the junction box or limiting our system to a certain size when we set it up the first

  • time. It can always be expanded.

  • The nice thing about the snap and rack system is that every fastener on this project is

  • either a Phillips head screw or a half inch sprocket which makes the installation pretty

  • quick because you're not looking for all kinds of tools.

  • So now we have our solar panels installed, we left our rails a bit long to give ourselves

  • a bit of leeway, and now we can just cut them off. So these end clamps basically slide into

  • the channel, and then when we tighten this bolt right here at the end, it's snugs it

  • up tight and holds the panel in place. Then these plastic end caps snap on to keep everything

  • looking aesthetic from the ground.

  • Alright so let me tell you what's going on electrically here for a second. We actually

  • haven't connected the wires yet. This is the panel that's powering the house we're in right

  • now and we've drilled a hole through the panel to the outside. And then these two boxes out

  • here that we just installed are going to take the power from the solar panels on the roof,

  • bring them into this box, combine all the panels, and then head over here to the solar

  • disconnect which can actually disconnect all of the power from the solar panels heading

  • into the house. It's a safety thing. When working with the wires and the electrical

  • part of the solar system remember to one, follow local code, and b, follow your plan

  • set. It'll explain everything you need to know.

  • So we have the larger array up here, the smaller array down here at the bottom, and they are

  • all connected in this joiner box in the center. All the wires from the roof and this side

  • panel over here feed into this and you can see these ground wires, these copper wires

  • that were attached to the rails, all of those are heading down to the breaker box which

  • I'll show you in a second. Now we can tuck all these wires inside the box and close it

  • up.

  • So down here in the breaker box, this is what's accepting the two strings that I have. Each

  • of the strings has their own 20 amp breaker. Black and red go on the bottom and the ground

  • goes over here on the side.

  • Remember there are two kinds of solar systems. There are grid-tied and off-grid. We installed

  • a grid-tied system here which means that the solar panels need to sense the grid before

  • they start supplying power to my house. If those micro-inverters up top don't sense power

  • from the grid, they are going to stay off. So I can touch these wires all I want because

  • we're not attached to the grid yet. If you want an off-grid system, there's a few other

  • components you need to install and maybe I'll make a video about that later, but this is

  • all about grid-tied. If you do want to use your solar panels when the city power goes

  • out, you would need a battery or a generator. It's pretty cool that all of those solar panels

  • just come down into these 6 wires. Makes it pretty simple.

  • And now we're going to connect that breaker panel to the solar disconnect with this thicker

  • gauge wire, and it should just go through the hole and we can wire it up. Now we're

  • going to take the same thickness of wire and push it through to the breaker panel on the

  • other side of the wall. So this is still not connected inside of the house. So no power

  • is running to it from the panels up top or from the grid. Basically this safety shutoff

  • is called a knife blade switch. So right now it's connected, and watch these metal bars

  • right here. When I turn it off, the metal bars knife away and break the connection.

  • And remember since this is a grid-tied system, once those micro-inverters up top stop sensing

  • the power, they turn off and there's no power running anywhere in the solar system.

  • So up to this point we haven't been working with any live wires. This is the part where

  • we start working in a place where there could be power. Now, we have shut off power to this

  • particular panel, but if you're feeling a little uneasy about working next to live power,

  • you know, the grid, you can always hire someone to do this particular portion for you.

  • If you remember, these three wires are coming in from that safety shutoff from outside.

  • And we have an empty slot in the breaker panel where we're just going to connect these wires,

  • one into the ground, and the other two into the breaker, which connects the solar on my

  • house to the grid. And now my solar wires are connected to the breaker box and the system

  • is on.

  • So we powered everything on and it's connected and working, but I still need to get my final

  • inspection and have my meter changed out so it'll read power going both directions. That

  • whole process will take me about a week or two, but for you guys....[snap]...that time

  • has already passed. My meter is installed and we are pumping out green energy. The energy

  • that I don't use during the day flows out to the grid. This meter keeps track of it

  • and then I get that energy back at night as a 90% credit. The energy company takes 10%

  • off the top because they can, and they are acting as my battery which is convenient for

  • me with an on-grid system.

  • I'll show you what the app looks like in a second, the one that shows how much solar

  • I'm actually making in real time. But yeah, the inspector came by, checked all the wiring,

  • made sure none of the cables were touching the roof and said we could flip the switch.

  • I think it's been a pretty fun project.

  • Since my panels are in the sun all day long, not shaded by any trees or not on the wrong

  • side of the house, these will pay themselves off in about 9 years. That's without any government

  • incentives. Now if we do factor in the state and federal incentives, they'll pay themselves

  • off in about 6 years. So these panels will keep making electricity all throughout my

  • lifetime and keep producing power even long after I'm gone...which is pretty awesome.

  • Remember these are just ballpark numbers that I've estimated. I do have an app that keeps

  • track of everything for me. So I'll probably make a follow up video in about a year to

  • see if my estimates are correct.

  • So if we take a look at the app that is currently on my phone, it's telling us in real time

  • how much energy we are generating. So 7,671watts. And over the lifespan of my solar panels,

  • they've generated 843 kilowatt hours. And what's cool is we can go into today's energy,

  • right here, and see exactly the solar projection that it's made. You can see here in the morning

  • the sun came out and we started making more electricity throughout the day. If we go back

  • a day we can see that this day was pretty cloudless up until about noon, and then clouds

  • kind of like came over and started blocking the solar panels a little bit. But we still

  • made 48 kilowatt hours of energy.

  • And the last thing I want to show you is if we go over right here we can see the production

  • per module. So as the day progresses you can see which modules might be blocked by shade

  • from a tree or shade from your roof, and you can see that they're all working. The financial

  • incentive to doing solar panels is worth it all by itself. But the whole less air pollution

  • and saving the planet thing is pretty cool too.

  • And that's it. I will leave