User Tag List

Informational! Informational!:  0
Likes Likes:  0
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 8 of 18

Thread: Got solar? I do now!

  1. #1
    Admin- I'm growing CPs in the Desert of Tucson, Az. adnedarn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona USA
    Posts
    8,432
    Mentioned
    6 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)

    Got solar? I do now!

    Hello all! I'm at the end of my research of possibilities to go solar... I've been offered a range of methods including lease (fixed and 2.9% riser), purchase, financing... I'm looking at 13.34-14.45kw system which should offset 100% of my use.

    Basically I'm curious if anyone has a solar system on their house, and if there is any information (good or bad) they'd like to pass on to me.
    Thanks!
    Andrew
    -Andrew
    Owner of TerraForums, FlyTrapShop.com, and cpforums.org.
    Support FlyTrapShop, support TerraForums! www.flytrapshop.com

  2. #2
    Oregoncp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    228
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    As a electrician, I have been pushed and prodded about solar since I got into the trade. We have had several classes on the subject, and I have developed some mixed feelings about it.

    Living in Oregon, I think that anyone that goes solar here to "save" money is either very uninformed, or missing some brain cells. Solar is EXPENSIVE for what you can get out of it. And I believe there are much better ways to save money. In Arizona you will have a much greater return on your investment than we could ever get in Oregon. But only if your system is designed and set up properly.

    But before you jump into a big solar system I would really recommend taking as many steps as possible to reduce the amount of power you consume. There are so many options available now for LED lighting. You can by inserts for your recessed cans, Costco has some great sales on LED light bulbs you can use instead of incandescent / CFL. Even unplugging unused electronics can add up savings in the long run. I would also recommend assessing the insulation of your house. Window and door upgrades. Maybe your hot water heater.

    After you have taken the steps to make your house more efficient you can then look at what size solar insulation you will need to partially or completely offset your usage. I don't know about where you live, but here you would be really hard pressed to get a utility company to cut you a check for power you created beyond your usage. So over sizing your system wouldn't do you much good. The reason for all the efficiency upgrades is to allow you to install a cheaper smaller sized system. With the cost of solar takes many years to recoup your investment. Many people would say that's just fine, but what the solar companies don't rush out to tell you is solar panels tend to degrade as time goes on. Something to the tune of 1% efficiency a year. So as time goes on your ability to offset your usage dwindles. You will continue to reduce your bills for longer than you will own the system most likely. But with all the upgrades done to make your home more efficient, the loss is substantially less because you were making less to start with. The new light bulbs you installed (which cost more than the normals) will be a far better investment than the solar system in the long run. That new insulation or windows will be a far better investment in the long run. Couple them all together, with probably the same initial cost of the larger solar system and you will be able to ride the investment a lot further in my opinion.


    With all that being said. There are people (no offence intended if you are one) that want a solar system for no other reason than to "save" the earth. I think that is utter crap. The carbon foot print of one solar panel is far higher than most people would believe. The foot print of a whole solar system follows that same trend.


    My last bit of advice, and probably the most important. Hire a licensed electrician. There are a MILLION ways a solar system can be installed wrong. There are very very few ways to install a system the right way to get the most out of it. Find someone that is knowledgeable about solar and ask for references. Follow that up by calling those references.

  3. #3
    Aristoloingulamata Dexenthes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Southern Tongass Rainforest, Alaska
    Posts
    3,708
    Mentioned
    3 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Damn. Well said. Thanks for that informative post.
    LOOKING FOR: N. (argentii x bicalcarata) x {[(lingulata x edwardsiana) x (naga x hamata)] x [(klossii x undulatifolia) x (aristolochioides x rajah)]} Growlist: http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=124586

  4. #4
    Christian James Ambanja's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Hamakua Coast, Hawaii
    Posts
    392
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I'm off the grid completely on the Big Island of Hawaii and it's pretty typical to have some solar here (electricity comes out to at least $.40 per kilowatt-hour). Probably the biggest question is are you considering being completely off the grid, or doing a grid tie in system? Also echoing Oregoncp's point, you really need to find a good licensed solar electrician that you can trust.

  5. #5
    Oregoncp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    228
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Ambanja View Post
    I'm off the grid completely on the Big Island of Hawaii and it's pretty typical to have some solar here (electricity comes out to at least $.40 per kilowatt-hour). Probably the biggest question is are you considering being completely off the grid, or doing a grid tie in system? Also echoing Oregoncp's point, you really need to find a good licensed solar electrician that you can trust.
    Hawaii is a different animal. Like you said, power is spendy there. We pay .12 a KWH where I live. So high cost, coupled with tons of sunshine make solar a very viable alternative on the islands.


    Christian, do you do any sort of storage? Batteries? How long have you been completely offgrid?

  6. #6
    Christian James Ambanja's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Hamakua Coast, Hawaii
    Posts
    392
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Yeah lead acid batteries. I'm a caretaker for a large property / farm, and have been here for two years now. You certainly learn a lot fast about power consumption when you live completely off the grid. Everything matters from what time of day you use power, to when the last time your batteries had a good float charge, to totally eliminating phantom loads. Another good suggestion is to go out and get a Kill-O-Watt meter and test everything, and I mean everything, and write down the power consumption. Some things like refrigerators and computers are also good to test over a week's usage because it is not on consistently at the same draw.

  7. #7
    Admin- I'm growing CPs in the Desert of Tucson, Az. adnedarn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona USA
    Posts
    8,432
    Mentioned
    6 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Thanks for the detailed post!

    I've had a kilo-watt meter since I set up my first greenhouse on the patio of my apartment waaaay back before I bought this forum, or even considered starting my own store... I've moved it around to many devices checking out their power consumptions and all that jazz. Lights are a very small part of my energy usage, the two greenhouses, the pool, and the AC system... (keeping this place at 78f in the summer when it is 130fs costs almost $400 a month...) That's where my usage is. Keeping the two greenhouses and my house cool in the summer, winter time is much better. I just replaced my water heater a few months ago (its natural gas) and my AC unit is a 18seer dual compressor two stage Trane unit. I do want to swap out my electric dryer for natural gas- but there is no gas ran into the laundry room, so that's another "project" not an easy change.

    I most definitely need to do some insulation in the attic, but the whole house also needs wiring upgrade (house was built in the 60s) once we get the wiring done we are going to fir out the brick walls and insulate them and throw more insulation in the roof. Windows are already dual pane, doors are already swapped as well. Because of these plans of making the house more energy efficient I have considered downsizing my solar system to about 70 or 80% offset for the reason you stated... getting the power company to pay me for extra power (yes grid tie system but hopefully adding some battery backup to the mix eventually) is a joke. They pay wholesale rate.... which they told me is 2.5 cents.

    Our power is fairly cheep which made the solar companies have to work hard to make their case on saving money- but they managed to do it. If power rates were to not change in the next 20 years, and I used the same amount of power, I would stand to save about $22,000 (my own calculations not the jazz the solar companies try to give you.. about 4% electric rate increase each year blah blah). Basically I can finance the system that is 100% of my usage, for 12 years... where the payment is under my current electric cost the panels have a 25yr warranty and the inverter a 20yr warranty. The hole thing has a 10yr 100% warranty. It is installed by a solar company so yes they are all licensed and all that. There is also a production guarantee, the inverter is connected to the internet and if the system starts producing less than it's supposed to then they will come fix it. Any power I am "out" they will pay me the going electric cost to cover that lost power. They were very straight forward about panel degradation, in fact it is in the contract that they are allowed to drop 10% in the first 10 years and 80% total in the 20 years (that also covers for weather variances).

    I think I covered everything you mentioned, so you think I'm in the right tract of mind to think this is a good idea? (providing I downsize the solar system planned... That will at least keep me out of 3rd and 4th tier power costs which is really where it starts to get expensive!)
    Thanks!
    Andrew

    ps about how well solar works here... this is from our power companies site:

    kW System Estimated Annual System Production
    1 kW 1,700 kWh
    2 kW 3,400 kWh
    3 kW 5,100 kWh
    4 kW 6,800 kWh
    5 kW 8,500 kWh
    6 kW 10,200 kWh
    7 kW 11,900 kWh
    8 kW 13,600 kWh
    9 kW 15,300 kWh
    10 kW 17,000 kWh
    Last edited by adnedarn; 02-05-2014 at 07:06 AM.
    -Andrew
    Owner of TerraForums, FlyTrapShop.com, and cpforums.org.
    Support FlyTrapShop, support TerraForums! www.flytrapshop.com

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Saginaw, TX USA
    Posts
    1,567
    Mentioned
    6 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Mind if I ask during your research what your figured out your break even point would be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oregoncp View Post
    With all that being said. There are people (no offence intended if you are one) that want a solar system for no other reason than to "save" the earth. I think that is utter crap. The carbon foot print of one solar panel is far higher than most people would believe. The foot print of a whole solar system follows that same trend.
    I wish this was out there more, the "damage' being done to the planet to "save" it is amazing. Interesting article hydrid cars. http://science.howstuffworks.com/sci...d-benefits.htm

    For those that don't want to read the whole thing.

    "But do the environmental impacts of hybrid vehicle production outweigh the long-term benefits of driving a cleaner running automobile? That answer is a resounding "no." If you drive both a conventional and hybrid car for 160,000 miles (257,495 kilometers), the conventional vehicle requires far more energy to operate and emits far more greenhouse gases over its lifetime, significantly canceling out any imbalance during the production stage [source: Burnham et al]."

    and

    "The trouble with plug-in hybrids (and electric cars, too) is that electricity isn't always cleaner than gasoline. More than 45 percent of electricity in the U.S. is generated by coal-powered plants [source: EIA]. According to another Argonne National Laboratory report, if a plug-in hybrid charges from coal-generated electricity, it could be responsible for emitting up to 10 percent more greenhouse gasses than a conventional vehicle and up to 60 percent more than a standard hybrid [source: Elgowainy]."

    Not trying to hijack this thread but a lot of these "green" ideas follow that trend. They are "worse" for the planet than what we are doing now.
    Last edited by RSS; 02-05-2014 at 07:16 AM.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •