Home Solar Electric

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May 12, 2009
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I will be attending a seminar in a couple of weeks. I suspect it will be a sales pitch, but what the heck. What should I know about Home solar electric. How are the panels rated, KW Hours? What is a typical unit cost (dependent on the rating)? What is the expected life span of a unit? What is normally required to tie-in with the regular house utility? What are the HARD questions I should ask? Thanks.
 
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Only thing I know is around here on the older homes it seems to be kinda popular to use for hot water.
 
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Jun 15, 2003
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ME
+2 on the hot water. Much faster ROI. Friend has it and the eureka moment is feeling 160+F scalding hot pipes coming down from the roof.
 
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Originally Posted By: eljefino
+2 on the hot water. Much faster ROI. Friend has it and the eureka moment is feeling 160+F scalding hot pipes coming down from the roof.
As someone who likes repurposing the sun, and mega hot showers, I need to look into this. /crisis wink
 
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Not sure how this would work in a warm weather state like Florida, for heating your water? I only use about 3-5cfm of natural gas most of the year, and the largest expense of my gas bill is an account fee of 15 dollars. We have two baths, one washer, and 1 kitchen, also our stove is natural gas. Even when I figured it out in New York, I still couldn't see it being worth it.
 

JHZR2

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My parents and inlaws have solar systems. My aunt and uncle do too. All love them. The inlaws have the fastest breakeven/best ROI because they pay 56c/kWh or so for electric from the utility. Panel prices keep coming down. IMO the main things to consider first are: Exposure - do you have enough tree-free exposure at the right direction to maximize sun capture? Roof coverage - how does snow impact these in terms of duration where they will be covered? Panel and converter type? What type, and what is the composite efficiency of the system on good and bad days? Panel coverage? Does the DC invert on a per panel basis or do you need to maintain a high DC bus voltage to a central inverter? Cost? Long story short, what is the installed cost for a system? What is the derating factor set for your location and latitude, and how many fair weather days are assumed? What is the kWh production rate given these assumptions, and what is the expected break-even duration?
 
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I have a setup with black pipe in a boxed in grid and an insulated tank in the ground for hot water and an elevated tank from the well. My only problem was that with my first setup the water was too hot. I'm working on getting the thermosiphon between the tank and the grid to automatically regulate the temperature so I don't need a pump or a control of some kind. I've just about got it correct. If you want to try it learn what you can and make a small prototype and then scale up when you understand what's going on.
 
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Aug 20, 2003
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NE,Ohio
Originally Posted By: Joe_Power
Financially, it's not worth it. If you're a "Green Freak", then go for it.
Thats borderline ignorant. if you live in an area with expensive power or massive sun.. its very doable... without needing a treehugger buzz to break even fairly quickly. The system that ties into the utility is better than battery type (unless you are off grid obiv.) That all being said it is a hard sell in ohio currently.
 
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expat

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Not a Green Freak....only interested if it saves a $ I understand that Solar to Hot water is likely a better option, but the option of selling power back to the utility (especially at cost) might appeal. Sell in summer, Buy in Winter. Just want to get some figures at hand before attending the Seminar. I have talked to people that have such a system in the U.K. Denmark and France, typically they pay more for Power (Kw hour) than I do, and in some cases there are subsidies, so that skews the #'s But I'm thinking North America. I also have friends that live off the Grid, they do use some solar, but their limitation is battery storage.
 
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PV panels are <$1 USD/watt I looked into setting up solar hot water using straight PV, rather than a closed loop system. Easier to wire, no water connections involved; the DC is run directly to an electric hot water heater. http://techluck.com/ Growing up we had a closed loop glycol system; it preheated the water going into our NG water heater. We had 120 gallons of 180F water year round. My father had 3 times the # of required panels than needed, since we 'were' going to expand the system to heat the house, but that never materialized.
 
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Toronto Canada
If you are only interested in saving money, all your questions are easy to answer. Do you see solar panels on your neighbours house? How about across the street? NO? If it made economic sense to have solar panels on your roof, everybody would have them. You live in a country where electricity is cheap and the sun is not so plentiful. If you want to spend money to feel eco friendly go for it, but don't expect a net influx of cash.
 
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There are companies that rent you the panels and guarantee a minimum savings. I think the panels have a 15 to 20 yr usable life. But they will be outdated in 2 or 3 years.
 
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Al
Unless you are in a place where sunshine is super abundant and there are no issues with snow cover solar power is not economically viable at current market prices. ROT is too many years and these systems can be pretty complex and require a lot of expensive non standard maintenance. If you want to be super green and/or live off the grid, etc. then go for it.
 
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Aug 4, 2012
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New York
I have had a closed loop glycol two panel system on this home for nearly thirty years. Pre-heats the storage water. Have excellent southern exposure. Has been a great savings when teenagers lived in the showers. ( isn't it funny when young, you had to yell at them to get in, and as teenagers, yell at them to get out) Recent tax incentives have had me inquire into the electric set-up but still could not pull the trigger. The pay back to break even after selling back to the grid was still too long for me. I had the entire evaluation done. Said I had a 10 out of a possible 10 rated site. Still have all the paperwork for reference in the future. I chose a NYS tax break to replace the solar storage tank in 2010. Not much but better than nothing. If and when the electric solar set-up become reasonable in initial cost, I may have to jump in. Electricity costs will not go down here.
 

expat

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My thoughts are: There would not be a seminar if they thought a system would not be financially viable unless* *unless they are selling the 'Green' aspect. *unless they skew the figures in the hope they can SELL a system to unwitting homeowners. What I do know is 1) That PV panels have come down in price (Chinese have flooded some markets) 2) that our utility company has been put under pressure to 'Buy Back' home generated power. Our house is likely well located (unhindered southern exposure, no snow, Hail or high winds) But I do not know the Numbers in order to know if a system might be viable or when. Realistically, I would NOT jump right in and be the 'First in Town' to 'Buy in' to such a system. But I would like to be aware and know the pit falls and when the numbers Do add up in my favour.
 
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Right now lighting and other efficient appliance options are the best bang for the buck in terms of dropping the monthly electricity bill. IIRC most electricity use is for lighting and appliances on a residential level. I've idly looked into solar. It wouldn't make sense since my household doesn't use enough electricity at this point to break even, even with electric rates at 18 cents/KWH.
 
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'Stralia
These seminars are run by the same types of people who * sell retirement investment plans * rental "investment" housing interstate * resort holidays * time share stuff. Solar can work for many people (may as well get in myself soon), but the big players, who hold seminars are typically making more out of it than you. I'd keep an eye out for Tesla and Solar City, which are not far off having small levels of storage with their systems...from a few 18650s on the panel to ride through a cloud, to a couple hundred to provide some peaking capacity...lets you use your power BEFORE it gets to the meter. People I know with (or going to) solar. * FIL installed 5KW at a ridiculously generous taxpayer sponsored tarrif (60c/KWHr feed-in, versus 20c retail power rate, and 4c wholesale at the time)...tax office is after retirees with "offsets" much greater than their consumption * Mother, installed 3KW, predominantly so that she didn't have to pay for her air conditioning and heat pump load during the day as a retiree...she's home when the sun shines, and it works. * bloke next door. 2.5KW. Gets about 6c during the day while he's at work, buys it back at 27c after work. Still works for him. * bloke at work, put in 3KW. His wife is at home part of the day, and they put in an energy minder, monitors the import/export (need two meters on current install)...has trained his family (easily, it's green light export, red light import) to cook a baked dinner, wash the clothes etc. to minimise red (import)...will pay his $4,500 back in 3 years. * bloke at work who is a few years from retirement, who is setting him and wife up for it. Full battery storage (in suburbia), $30k, sized such that he will export on 90+% of days without import, and that will get better as he replaces home items with more efficient...payback 12 years, however, he's paying it off while working All different answers to different questions, answered by smaller companies that each of them contacted, rather than companies that try to sell their generic "one cheap size fitz all"
 
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