So, you've finally gotten your new solar array set up. But you're not quite done energizing your system! Let's walkthrough what the next steps are.
Your solar array has been installed— now what?
Here are the next steps to energizing your system:
Electrical Inspection of Your System (2-4 Days After Installation)
- GreenSpark coordinates & schedules private 3rd party to perform.
- This process may be longer due to COVID protocols (7-10 days).
Interconnection (to the Grid)
- GreenSpark coordinates this with your utility company (NYSEG, National Grid, or RG&E)
- This final process from interconnection request to approval typically takes about 1-2 days
- Your GreenSpark Project Manager will reach out to you to notify you that your interconnection has been approved. They will tell you how to turn on your system once the new meter has been installed.
- GreenSpark schedules this inspection with your municipality.
- This process closes-out your Building Permit and your municipality issues a Certificate of Compliance/Occupancy.
- Electrical inspection certificate required before we request.
- Final interconnection notice (at least interconnection application) required before we request.
- Some towns require homeowner to be present.
- If necessary, total time requirement is 15-30 minutes.
Utility Meter Swap
- Utility must come within 10 business days of interconnection approval to switch out your existing meter with a digital 2-way meter.
- Depending on your utility, meter reading explanation below
- Reading 001- “Import” (consumption beyond solar array production)
- Reading 002- “Export” (generation beyond needs of the home)
- National Grid: Meter flows backwards
- Will start at “00000” and flow backwards to “99999” and lower to show production or export of electricity to the grid. Will flow forwards to show consumption or import of electricity from the grid.
Solar Array Monitoring
- If applicable, GreenSpark Customer Care will set up and manage with homeowner.
- With monitoring, you can track the production of your array and identify issues.
- SolarEdge, SMA, Enphase
- If desired, Customer Care can provide an orientation to your system.
- Customer Care will coordinate process of turning system on.
Turn Your System On!
Sit back, relax, and watch your electric bill slip away.
Understanding Your Array
Reading Your Bill from RG&E and NYSEG
(Please note, NYSYEG bills are identical to RG&E bills)
The first bill after your system has been put online
After your solar array has been turned on, your first bill will be one of the more confusing bills to read. The reason for this is the chart on the second or third page of that bill.
In the first table, you’ll see multiple readings with different dates. In the first “use” line is a normal, scheduled reading with your old meter. This will account for any energy you consumed between your last normal meter reading and the installation of your new meter.
The next line readings of “use” and “gen” are taken the day that your new meter is installed (which is why you’ll see 0kwh for the “previous reading” column for both of these lines). Please note, after the final interconnection approval of your completed system, RGE can take up to 10 days to install the new, mandated meter at your house.
The next, normally scheduled meter reading with your new meter will be in the “current meter read” column for the new “use” and “gen” lines of your bill. It is now displaying the amount of electricity that you are “importing” (use) from the utility as well as the excess electricity from your solar array that you are “exporting” (gen) to RGE. Important to note is that “gen” will never match the total generation that your inverter displays. This is because “gen” on your RGE bill only shows the excess generation that your system exported to the grid and none of the array’s production that was used immediately by your home.
The second table displays one (1) billing period, but has two rows to account for the readings taken directly before and after the installation of the new meter. On all subsequent bills, this table will only have one row.
Reading your bill: When generation is lower than consumption
On all subsequent bills, you will see a similar chart to the one discussed on the previous page. However, it will have one fewer row due to the fact that your new meter has already been installed
During a billing period in which your array exported less energy than you imported from the utility, the second table on your bill will show how the math works out. If you start with 0 prior excess generation, the current generation column of, let’s say 401 kwh is subtracted from your current usage of, say 585 kwh. This leaves you with 184 kwh to pay for and 0 excess generation to roll over to the next month.
Reading your bill: when generation exceeds consumption:
Let’s say it’s the summer and you export more electricity to the grid than what you import. In this example, your current generation is 525 kwh, which erases your entire current usage of 445 kwh. This leaves 80 kwh of remaining excess generation that will roll over to the next month.
Reading your bill: applying excess generation:
Lastly, excess generation will always be recorded in table 2 on page 3 of your bill. In this example, prior excess generation is 80 kWh) and current generation is 354 kWh. This totals 434 kWh. That number is subtracted from your current usage, which in this example is 475 kWh which leaves just 41 kWh that you are billed for during this particular period. In this case, there is no remaining excess generation that will be rolled over to the next month, so the “remaining excess generation” column in the chart shows 0kwh.
However, let’s say that instead of just 80kwh of “prior excess generation,” you had 180 kwh. In that case, you wouldn’t be billed for any kwh, as the 180kwh of prior excess generation is combined with your current generation of 354kwh. This equals 534kwh and when you subtract the current generation of 475kwh, you have 59kwh leftover, which is recorded in the “remaining excess generation” column while you enjoy not having to pay for any consumption on that month’s electric bill.
Reading Your Bill from National Grid
For solar customers in National Grid territory, your bill with solar will be easy to read. National Grid counts electric production as negative electric usage on your meter. The current reading and previous reading show the difference between your previous meter reading and current meter reading. The large difference, however, is because your meter ticks backwards when you are producing electricity with your solar array. For example, let’s say, the meter ticked down from 00067 to 99170 (there is no “-” symbol to indicate that the meter is reading negative, so the meter will go from 00000 to 99999). The Net Metered line will show you the difference between your previous reading and current reading. It is negative to show that you produced electricity. The New Cumulative Credit line shows the difference between any previous solar energy credits that you had on your account and what you have now.
In this example, the owner, let’s say the owner had 0 kWh of previous credits. In their next month’s reading, the Cumulative Credit line will show -897 kWh, while the New Cumulative Credit will be the difference between the Net Metered line and the -897 kWh in the Cumulative Credit line.
Now let’s say that in the following month, the meter goes from 99170 to 99380 for a difference of +210. The “cumulative credits” line will display last months’s excess of 897kwh, the “net metered” line will show 210kwh, and the “new cumulative credit” line will show the difference between those numbers, at 687kwh.
National Grid: Historical Usage Chart
National Grid uses a historical usage chart that nicely illustrates the net total of your electric usage and production. Let’s say you average about 1000kwh of usage per month before your solar array goes online. Each month may vary, but the historical usage chart will display the previous months as having around 1000kwh of usage. Let’s say your solar array is set to cover 100% of your electricity usage. Once your array goes online, you’ll see that the historical usage chart will show very little to no consumption in each month thereafter.
Why Am I Being Credited a Different Number from What the Inverter Says?
Your inverter will never show the same kWh production as the “Gen” line or the “Net Metered” line on your bill. This is because of “self-consumption” or the amount of electricity that your home uses directly from the array. The graph below illustrates this nicely. The red line represents the amount of electricity that your home may use throughout the day and the green line represents the electricity production of your solar array. As you know, your home will still use electricity while your panels are not producing energy. This is represented by the areas shaded in red and shows up on your bill as “Use.” The area shaded in green represents excess electricity that your array “exports” out to the grid. This section shows up on your bill as “Gen” or “Net Metered.” Lastly, the blue area represents your home’s self-consumption. This blue area will account for the difference in the production reading on your inverter and “Gen” on your bill, as this solar production is consumed by your home and is not sent out to the grid via your meter. Therefore, the meter never sees this energy and you are not credited for it.
Understanding Your System
When will my system produce?
Your system will produce during the day when there is sunlight. On overcast days, it can still produce, but its production will be much lower than it would be on days where it is receiving direct sunlight. When it is covered in snow, please see the answer under the question “How Will Snow Affect My Solar Production?” in the FAQ section.
What does my inverter do?
The energy produced by your panels is Direct Current, or DC, electricity. This form of electricity is unusable by typical household appliances and needs to be inverted into Alternating Current, or AC, electricity. The inverter is responsible for making the electricity from your panels usable so that it can be sent to appliances within your home as well as onto the grid.
How does my monitoring app work?
For all monitoring services, you will receive an email from the corresponding company that has a prompt to access your monitoring portal. Our Customer Care Specialist, Tommy, will reach out to you to let you know that you should have received it. If you don’t see it in your main inbox, there’s a good chance it went to the spam or trash folder in your email.
Important Sections of Your Owner's Manual
Other services and equipment installations we provide are:
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging
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Read more for information on error codes, your monitoring portal, and troubleshooting with your inverter.
SMA Error Codes
This error typically occurs in the morning and evenings or during the winter when there is snow cover and darker skies. What’s happening is that the voltage from the panels is building up to the necessary threshold for the inverter to start. However, due to the low light levels, once that threshold is reached, there is a “voltage release” that drops the voltage levels back down below the start threshold, which causes this error to be thrown. As the sun rises higher in the sky, this error will stop occurring.
This error typically occurs during the winter with partial snow cover on the array or if you have an array with panels facing different directions. What is typically occurring is that the inverter is detecting lower voltage at one of the inputs, which is where the different strings of panels send the electricity that they produce, than at other inputs. Due to this difference, the inverter is “thinking” that there is an issue with the input that is showing lower voltage and is throwing this error. If you are seeing this error on a clear, sunny day, please contact GreenSpark Customer Care.
If you have multiple inverters onsite, this error typically occurs for one of two reasons. Similar to the “Input A,B, or C Defective” errors, this can occur if more panels from one inverter are covered by snow or shaded than they are for the other inverter. The other reason would be that one inverter is defective. If you see this error on a clear, sunny day, please contact GreenSpark Customer Care.
SolarEdge Error Codes
This error occurs for one of two reasons. 1) The inverter is covered in snow and is not producing during the day. 2) The inverter is defective. If there is snow cover on your array, even partially, this error can occur because a lack of voltage can prevent the inverter from starting up. However, if you see this error in your portal on a clear, sunny day please contact GreenSpark Customer Care.
This error occurs if an optimizer is either defective or needs to be re-paired. It will show up on the array part of your portal as a yellow flag on one of the panels and that panel will show zero production. If you see this error, please contact GreenSpark Customer Care so we can attempt a remote re-pairing of the optimizer to the inverter. If that does not work, we will have a replacement optimizer shipped to us from SolarEdge and will find a time to come out to your home to replace the optimizer. We will need to have access to both the array and the inverter in order to do that.
Monitoring Portal Is Saying Communications to My Inverter Are Down
If this occurs, please see if you can find out what type of communications you have.
For a hardwired ethernet connection, it may be due to the ethernet cable being unplugged at your router. If it is properly plugged in, we recommend a reset of both your router and inverter. If that doesn’t work, please contact GreenSpark Customer Care, as your ethernet cable may have become damaged.
If you have a SolarEdge inverter with a Zigbee gateway, please check to make sure that your gateway is plugged into your wifi router as well as power. If it is, we recommend a reset of your router and inverter. If that still does not resolve your issue, there are steps to reconnect your gateway to the inverter.
- Plug in the gateway to power near the inverter. It does not need to be plugged into wifi at this point.
- Hold the red button down on the side of the gateway for more than 10 seconds.
- Wait to see if the light labeled “Connection” is blinking. It will blink one time for each inverter every five seconds. So if you have two inverters, it will blink twice rapidly in succession, then stop for five seconds before blinking twice rapidly again.
- If it does not blink, try this process 4-5 more times. If nothing happens, please contact GreenSpark Customer Care.
If your inverter is connected via wifi, a change of your router or internet service provider may have resulted in your inverter no longer having access to your network. If you have changed your wifi router or Internet Service Provider, please contact GreenSpark Customer Care. If you did not change your router or ISP, please reset your router and inverter. If that does not restore your communications, please contact GreenSpark Customer Care.
How to Reset Your Inverter
- Turn the black toggle on the left side of the inverter from the I(On) position to the 0(Off) position.
- Find out if you have an AC disconnect box or a breaker in your Main Service Panel Labeled Solar. Whichever you have, turn that off.
- Wait a couple of minutes and then do that process in reverse.
- Turn the black toggle knob on the front of the lower box of the inverter from the I(On) position to the 0(Off) position.
- Find the small red switch on the underside of the top box of the inverter. Turn that from the I(On) position to the 0(Off) position.
- Find out if you have an AC disconnect box or a breaker in your Main Service Panel Labeled Solar. Whichever you have, turn that off.
- Wait a few minutes.
- Turn your breaker/PV Disconnect box back on.
- Turn the red switch back on.
- Turn the black toggle back on.
For troubleshooting issues, we recommend that you first follow this link to Enphase’s Homeowner Troubleshooting Guide. If you are still having trouble, then reach out to email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
Don’t see your question? Check out our full FAQ page, or contact us.
Unless you have a StorEdge inverter or other system designed to store electricity in a battery (and also run off of that stored energy) the answer is no. Like any appliance, your inverter needs electricity to run, so if the power goes out, it will not have any electricity to keep it powered since it won’t be able to run off the DC electricity coming from your panels. If you do have a battery system, it’s important to note how much energy your system can store, since you will stop generating electricity once the sun goes down. At this point, you’d be running solely off the stored battery electricity, which is a limited supply.
When the green light is flashing, it means that your inverter is producing electricity but is not at maximum production yet. Your inverter’s green light will flash more frequently the closer it gets to maximum production, at which point the green light will stay solid. If the blue or yellow communications light on your inverter is flashing, that means that your inverter is either being updated remotely or it is trying to reconnect to the internet.
If the app is not working for you, we recommend deleting and then re-downloading the app. If that still does not work, you may need to reset your password. Our Customer Care Specialists typically recommend that you do this on a laptop or desktop computer, as the monitoring apps can occasionally have some issues with password resets.
Partial snow cover will prevent your system from producing at maximum capacity and can often cause some error messages to appear in your portal or be sent to you via email. Please see the “Troubleshooting” section to see if the error message that you’re seeing/receiving is a common error message due to snow cover. Full snow cover will prevent your system from producing entirely. This is okay, as the predicted production of your system takes into account snow cover and darker skies during the winter.
If you see a fault light, please try to record the error code that is being displayed on the screen (if applicable) and contact us via email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com or call the main office at 585-265-2384.
Depending on the type of communications that you have, we recommend doing a hard reset of your inverter (see your owner’s manual) as well as resetting your wifi router— for more information, please see the “Troubleshooting” section. If your system is connected via a cellular device, please contact us via email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com or call the main office at 585-265-2384.
Frederick “Buster” Stuber
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