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Submission + - Do-It-Yourself Solar?

vinn writes: "It's been three years since Slashdot last visited do-it-yourself solar and things have changed quite a bit. I'm looking to spend this winter putting a grid-tie solar project together and have the work completed early in the spring. What's the best way to do this? What should I buy and where should I get it?

More details: I live in Montana and our local power company supplies 1:1 credits on alternative energy. Therefore, I don't need batteries or a rectifier, which is fantastic. That means I just need a basic grid-tie inverter, PV panels, and all the stuff to connect them. The power company has a list of technicians approved to install grid-tie inverters, but most of them seem intent on trying to sell me $30k worth of stuff and not do the project the way I want.

That's to say, I need someone to install the inverter, about a 4kW or 5kW one (either is sufficient for our needs). Then I want to start by adding about 1kW worth of panels. Gradually I want to scale this to about 3kW, but I want to do it over a series of a few years. Panel prices are dropping and it doesn't seem to make sense to spend all the money right now. So, as near as I can tell, I should be able to do this project for about $6000 and provide for a big chunk of our energy needs (which are extremely modest.) I plan on having the panels fixed on the roof — no tracker or anything.

Does that approach make sense? What brands should I be looking at? I'm pretty good with wiring (I've wired most of our house and I'm comfortable working on panels), but I'm sure there's some great connector kits out there that would really make this installation easier and set it up to grow over time."

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