View Full Version : Who's going to try this first? Going Solar

Sam F
06-15-2011, 12:01 PM

Anybody done this yet?

06-15-2011, 12:06 PM
looked at them, plus several other small/more local outfits. Decided not to do PV right now, but I did sign a contract to install solar domestic hot water (not with Solar City- they only do PV)

Sam F
06-15-2011, 12:10 PM
They're not in Virginia - yet. They just started up in Maryland though - so there's a chance of them coming here in the near future.

Since my house was designed for it - it would be very nice to finally install PV's on the roof. :)

David G
06-15-2011, 01:19 PM
Even though we have relatively inexpensive electrical rates in the NW, a solar hot water setup has paid off for us. Quicker than estimated, actually. PV's would be unlikely to be in the running here as far as I understand the current technology.

06-15-2011, 02:52 PM
PV's would be unlikely to be in the running here as far as I understand the current technology.

Yes, you'd have to install a sun out there, to get PV to work well.

06-15-2011, 04:06 PM
I didn't have time to do the Solar City pitch, but I've lived in a active solar house for 26 years. This house has a a roof line on the south side designed for solar panels. We currently use thermal solar panels. These copper piped panels are now nearing the end of their lifespan. I'll be replacing these with a PV/thermal mix in a few years. Some of our neighbors already made the conversion and like the results. I will probably put up more PVs then they did if I can sell the surplus power. I use solar on the boat, too.

Whatever decision you make plan the solar project carefully. Solar rebates and being able to sell surplus power to the power utility often make or break cost-effectiveness of going solar in a big way.

06-15-2011, 04:32 PM
These are thermal panels from the late '70s. The copper plumbing is inside an aluminum collector box with a fiberglass cover. The covers delaminate in time. We have very hard water in this area. Hot, hard water is murder on copper pipe and solder joints. Water softening alleviates corrosion to a degree but the waste salt from water softeners is an environmental concern in our area.

Thermal panels made huge steps forward during '90s in terms of better materials and longer service life. However, the houses in our solar development were slab heated by solar in addition to solar domestic water preheating. Rather than trust the vinyl radiant heating tubes for another 25 years most owners have opted to install PV, save on electricity and heat the house with cheap natural gas.

I will want to retain one thermal solar unit for domestic hot water preheating and dedicate the rest of the rooftop solar farm for PV.

06-15-2011, 06:29 PM
There are so many government inducements in the Pennsylvania/New Jersey area, a system will pay for itself in 4-6 years. After that, it's all gravy. But without the credits etc., it wouldn't make sense. I'd be signing up except that my roof is oriented the wrong way and the house is surrounded by trees I don't want to cut down.

06-15-2011, 06:41 PM
We're in the process of installing a 4 kw PV grid-tie system for house power.

I also built a greenhouse with passive solar heat and an active heating system for winter, with a 4 x 8' flat-panel collector on a closed-loop (running 50% glycol and distilled water), with a PV-powered DC pump, that stores heat in a 400 gal. tank (i.e. a massive heat exchanger) under the floor, with an AC pump switched by a photocell pushing plain water from the tank through a radiant floor loop.

Fun stuff to figure out, and so far it all works.