Back to my situation; in Manitoba there is little incentive for any of this due to our very profitable hydroelectric dams, but thankfully Manitoba Hydro at least allows grid tie-ins. There was some bureaucratic hassle because mine is the first grid-tied photovoltaic array in my municipality (and I think in the whole region of the South East), so the inspectors were totally unfamiliar with this. Installation was definitely the simplest part!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, EvolveGreen, an importer of green-tech, helped me plan my system. They recommended a rail-mounted array for the simplest installation. I bolted some mounts onto my roof, and then attached the railing to it into two sets of two parallel rails. These rails are kind of like complicated C-channel - there are special clamps that I can fit into grooves, and basically screw them in wherever I need to along the length of the rail. So I clamped each panel tightly on, and the spacing occurs naturally because most of the clamps are "T" shaped - the stem of the T acts as a spacer. Once the panels were all in place, I screwed on an Enphase microinverter to each panel, and the wiring for them is incredibly simple: it clips right into the panel, and then each inverter clips to the ones adjacent so it forms a parallel circuit. The only part I needed an electrician for was to then get these wired into my electrical panel, so they basically ran wire through my roof down to my utility room and then connected it up to my circuit breaker panel. We did have to wait before connecting it up, for MB Hydro to provide me with a bi-directional meter, and their inspection.
So, currently I am producing power each day from sunrise to sunset, although cloudy days are much less efficient. The energy produced feeds into my circuit panel, and powers my house. A lot of the time I still draw hydro from the grid, but at peak production I feed back into the grid because I'm producing more than I use. I find that this number is low in winter - around 10% of my power feeds back right now. In summer I infer it will be significantly more. The goal in Manitoba is to produce less than we use in a month, because if they start paying me it is the base rate, and I get taxed on "income" - but while I'm only reducing my bill, every kWh I produce is worth the base rate + taxes. Because our rates are among the lowest anywhere it will take me about 17 years for the panels to pay for themselves, assuming rates don't go up, but I'm estimating it will be closer to 14-15 years since the rates went up this year, and there is government approval for hikes for the next 2 years at least. My system has a 25 year warranty, so it will eventually be profitable. It's nice when a hobby can at least be profitable in the long run!
One last thing I'll mention is that Enphase provides what they call the "Enlighten monitoring system" - basically a box I plug into the wall near my circuit breaker panel that can detect what each individual inverter is producing. It collects data and sends it to my Enlighten web page and it can generate reports for both my entire array and each individual panel. Here's your reward for reading until the end: I've made this available for anyone to see: my Enlighten page. I hope that someday everyone with a house can have solar!