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Thread: Going Solar

  1. #1
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    Default Going Solar

    Well contractually we may not be able to actually say that, but the long and the short of it we may end up with solar panels on our roof at work.

    At one of my jobs the owner is looking at the solar option and the boss here at work asked me to look into for the office. We meet with the guy yesterday and I'm just waiting on the boss to say go.

    Here is how it works and why we aren't allowed to say we are on solar power. Basically we become a remote power plant for TVA, or that is how I see it. Our panels will be sized accordingly to our historical loads. Annually we use about 35,000 Kw and so our solar grid system will roughly be sized for that (based on 4.5 hours of sunlight per day). We will have two separate meters, one in and one out. The power we generate via the solar panels goes back to the grid and back to TVA where we are given credit for our power. This generated power is not feed back into our building, we won't have batteries on site to store this power. Our office will still be connected to the grid and we will still be metered for power coming in.

    At the end of the day we should expect a Zero power bill with chances of even a credit. TVA only does 100% buy back of power. With our load usage being 35,000 Kw that is what TVA buys back. If our load usage goes up to say 40,000 Kw a year we would be billed for the extra 5,000 Kw. On the other hand if our load drops to 30,000 Kw we would get a credit for the 5,000 Kw. If you see your load usage going up you can apply to have your limit raised as well.

    As you see in the end our building is not on solar power, we would be producing power that is sold back to TVA while they sell us power to run our building.

    The cost you ask? All in for our office is about $67,000. After tax credits and depreciation our net cost is about $30,000.

    Down to the nuts and bolts. At the end of the day our electric bill at work is around $350-$400 a month. If we do this and finance the work we can expect an electric bill of $0.00 and the finance cost (over 10 year term) of the equipment to be $400-$600 a month. Month to month our monthly outflow of cash could be increased $0 to $200 but after the installation is paid off we would truly be getting zero cost power. That is pretty close to being a wash, the cost of going green vs the cost of traditional power.

    I hope we do this. I think it is the right thing to do. Maybe we will do our part to reduce the consumption of coal burning electricity. I don't know all then numbers but TVA has a lot of hydro-electric and plenty of nuclear plants already. Our small part is one piece of the puzzle.

    Chad
    There are three ways to do things: The right way, the wrong way and my way.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    My neighbour, with a big house and all the mod. cons. has panels and a battery and generates income. Never has a bill. Ours is older, not as big and we do not have a battery. Many commercial buildings in Aus are going the same way as yours, and many generate all their own power
    The exciting thing in Aus is for remote towns, the whole town becomes its own power station.
    Farmers hosting a large scale solar power station on their land receive rent, as well as power.

    https://www.solarchoice.net.au/comme...-solar-farming

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    We are allowed to set up a slightly different model on our home.
    We have as many panels as will fit on the roof. On the cash from selling surplus back to the grid plus the savings on reduced power in we get a better return on the investment than if we had put the money in conventional savings.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    I just returned from visiting my parents in Massachusetts. There were solar panels everywhere: Merrimack valley, on the commuter rail, driving around—my guess is 5 percent of the buildings had solar.

    I think we we need to get an estimate. It seems this power source is flourishing.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    I'd say that your company is "going solar". It's just grid-tied solar.

    We've got a similar system at the house. We've got 7 kW of solar panels on the roof with micro-inverters that feed a meter in the basement that passes into the main electrical panel for the house. Power generated that's not consumed in the house is back-fed to the grid through our regular power meter which is bi-directional. What we feed back to the grid is credited to our account for us to draw on at a later date - say, at night, when snow covers the panels, or when it's very cloudy for an extended period of time.

    Basically, you're offsetting your use of power generated by other means with power from the sun.

    It has been a good financial decision for us, and we paid the cost of the system back in about 3 years. Right now, we're sitting on about $800 in power generation credits with our power company, we haven't paid an electric bill out of pocket since 2014. Because of state programs, we're also paid cash for every megawatt-hour of power we generate - known as an SREC (Solar Renewable Energy Credit). Because the money comes from auctioning off the credits, the figure fluctuates between about $250 (minimum figure - never seen it that low) and about $470 per SREC. We typically generate about 9 megawatt-hours per year.

    Prices for systems have dropped and technology has improved significantly since we installed our system. In my mind, it is a no-brainer for most people, but you need to pay attention to how your state's power grid and rules regarding solar power are structured. Owning seems to be the way to go, not leasing, so that you get the tax credits for the system as part of the payback. Be sure to look out for low and no-interest state loan programs to pay for the system as well. We used a home equity line of credit to pay for the system as our rates were low and the paperwork was simple, but there were some good loans out there.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  6. #6
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Going solar is a great thing. If any are considering it, do be careful if looking at lease options. Quite a few of them are structured for the benefit of the installer - not the homeowner. Some even lock in rates with no allowance for increases - so that your net bill may be zero today, but not 5 years from now.

    If possible, the best deal generally is if you can buy the system. Also - there is a wide range of quality out there - both for the panels & the inverter(s). Good quality panels will have a guarantee along the lines of "will produce 85% of the rated output for 20 years". Some brands go to 25. Some cheap ones have lower percentages & shorter warranty periods.

    Like anything, knowledge & research is key. When comparing systems, make sure you are comparing apples to apples - as, particularly for the inverter(s), there are big differences. Inverters are what convert the 12-20 volt DC produced by the panel to 110/220 AC.

    I use this company (no connection - but nice people) for price comparison: https://www.wholesalesolar.com/ They also have a lot of info about solar in general. I got one quote on a system for 57K & when I checked the exact same panels & inverter with these guys, I found that they'd sell it to me for 19K. Made me realize the company that gave me the quote was gouging.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Garret has a lot of good things to say here and his personal experience with solar systems is long.

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    Going solar is a great thing. If any are considering it, do be careful if looking at lease options. Quite a few of them are structured for the benefit of the installer - not the homeowner. Some even lock in rates with no allowance for increases - so that your net bill may be zero today, but not 5 years from now.
    +1000! In every offer that I ever saw for leased systems, it is a small benefit for the person leasing the system, but a large benefit for the company doing the leasing. It is usually targeted at those who can't or don't think they can afford to buy their own system, or who haven't done their homework.

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    If possible, the best deal generally is if you can buy the system. Also - there is a wide range of quality out there - both for the panels & the inverter(s). Good quality panels will have a guarantee along the lines of "will produce 85% of the rated output for 20 years". Some brands go to 25. Some cheap ones have lower percentages & shorter warranty periods.
    +1000 again. Our system components are warranted to provide 85% of their rated output, and operate for 25 years. Some warranties include parts - some parts and installation. Pay close attention to that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    Like anything, knowledge & research is key. When comparing systems, make sure you are comparing apples to apples - as, particularly for the inverter(s), there are big differences. Inverters are what convert the 12-20 volt DC produced by the panel to 110/220 AC.

    I use this company (no connection - but nice people) for price comparison: https://www.wholesalesolar.com/ They also have a lot of info about solar in general. I got one quote on a system for 57K & when I checked the exact same panels & inverter with these guys, I found that they'd sell it to me for 19K. Made me realize the company that gave me the quote was gouging.
    Gouging on the installation costs is common. Programs that are doing large installations in an area are sometimes nice.

    Look carefully at what new technology is out there - micro-inverters and other inverter types have changed to allow a system to operate if the grid is down with a special transfer switch. A nice feature if your power is spotty where you live. Backup battery system are also nice, but require a bit more attention and maintenance. There are inverters known as optimizers today which take the output from a number of panels and do the inversion for all the panels while still giving system feedback about the individual panels. System monitoring hardware is a great thing - otherwise how do you know that you're producing your rated output and that your hardware is functioning as you expect? Matching panel wattage to inverter capacity is also important and a good vendor will advise you about that - there is a balance between "clipping" at peak production and having a higher capacity inverter.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  8. #8
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Thanks for your kind words & some excellent points as well. Additionally, in case anyone from Vermont is following this, SunCommon was the crazy high price & I found another company that would do the same system for $27K less.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Just a quick diversionary thought from "going solar".

    My family is currently in a relatively large home with newer construction and energy efficiency features. We have oil heat for backup and hot water, but a heat pump provides most of our heating and cooling needs for about 9 months of the year, powered by the solar. The solar eliminated our electric bill, and has reduced our oil use by using the heat pump. When the oil-fired hot water heater finally goes, we'll replace it with a hybrid air-sourced heat pump hot water heater. We're on town water and have a septic system.

    When the kids are out of the house and we're closer to retirement, our plan is to have a new, smaller, Net Zero, or likely Net Positive home built with an eye towards being able to be in the home for the long term in terms of accessibility and low maintenance. Our goal is that in retirement we'd like to be in control of as many of our costs as possible - utilities and maintenance on a home are a large slice of that.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  10. #10
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Here in Brooklyn, several families on our block (including us) went solar last year. It does pay to get bids from a number of installers -- there were significant price differences. Neighbors on the block banded together and got a good price because of the size of the group purchasing. The various incentives -- federal, state, utility company -- reduced our out-of-pocket installation costs by nearly two-thirds. In New York City, there are limits to how much of a roof can be covered, because of fire code requirements set to allow firemen movement over roofs. We were able to install enough solar panels to provide just about 100 % of our annual usage -- some of our neighbors, with fewer skylights and larger roofs, could install enough to generate a regular surplus. It's kind of fun to watch the meter run backwards on a sunny day.

    Of course, the federal incentives have either been ended or will be ending over the next couple of years -- the backward-looking policy of favoring coal rather than solar, I guess. Our local utility provides incentives because such incentives are cheaper than buying new generators that are required to meet peak loads, especially in the summer time, and solar is at its best at just the time of summer peaks.

    sss IMG_2886.jpg

    Two sets of solar panels installed on our roof and being hooked up -- lower Manhattan skyline in distance, to the left of tree tops.
    Last edited by Greg Nolan; 05-16-2019 at 10:51 AM. Reason: add photo

  11. #11
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    Default

    Just as an aside, you can thank President Carter's Administration for making this possible. His Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (PURPA) requires power providers to purchase excess power from grid-connected small renewable energy systems at a rate equal to what it costs the power provider to produce the power itself.

    https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/g...energy-systems

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publ...y_Policies_Act
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Carey View Post
    Just as an aside, you can thank President Carter's Administration for making this possible. His Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (PURPA) requires power providers to purchase excess power from grid-connected small renewable energy systems at a rate equal to what it costs the power provider to produce the power itself.

    https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/g...energy-systems

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publ...y_Policies_Act
    I'm not certain if it is this legislation or some other rules, but the energy that goes back to the grid through our net-metering agreement is credited to us in dollars, not kilowatt-hours. We are paid _more_ per kilowatt-hour generation than we are charged for the same kilowatt-hour consumption. The only downside is that the rates change through the year. We're generally earning more credits when the price per kilowatt-hour is lower (spring and summer) and drawing on the grid in the winter when we're paying at higher rates. Que sera sera.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  13. #13
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Another point on going solar: do it soon. The federal tax credit is currently 30%, but it starts going down & we know there's no way it'll get bumped up again with the current congress... Note that the credit can be rolled into later years - up to 2023. Also note that the credit is only for owned systems - not leased!



    https://news.energysage.com/congress...ar-tax-credit/
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoez View Post
    I'm not certain if it is this legislation or some other rules, but the energy that goes back to the grid through our net-metering agreement is credited to us in dollars, not kilowatt-hours. We are paid _more_ per kilowatt-hour generation than we are charged for the same kilowatt-hour consumption. The only downside is that the rates change through the year. We're generally earning more credits when the price per kilowatt-hour is lower (spring and summer) and drawing on the grid in the winter when we're paying at higher rates. Que sera sera.
    This varies from state to state. Some are "kinder" than others!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    I looked into going solar last year at home. I have a lot of roof that faces due south- perfect. I did a fair amount of research and learned some stuff. I ended up just replacing my old HVAC units instead to new high-efficiency ones. As Texas is a fairly low-cost energy state, the turn-around for ROI was a long time. Additionally, those solar panels have a finite life expectancy with annual degradation of power generation. If only I could talk The Mrs. into a big wind generator...

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Chad, what sort of grid access fees will you be paying?

    I'm asking because Alabama Power was authorized to charge homeowners $5 per month per kilowatt of installed solar panel capacity back in 2013. This is enough to nullify the economic advantage of grid tied solar panels. A complaint was filed about this in 2018.

    https://www.al.com/news/2018/04/alab...complaint.html

    I have not found where this complaint has been resolved.

    It sounds like TVA may be seeking to impose a similar fee:

    https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/...09-06-2018.php
    Will

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Quote Originally Posted by pkrone View Post
    I looked into going solar last year at home. I have a lot of roof that faces due south- perfect. I did a fair amount of research and learned some stuff. I ended up just replacing my old HVAC units instead to new high-efficiency ones. As Texas is a fairly low-cost energy state, the turn-around for ROI was a long time. Additionally, those solar panels have a finite life expectancy with annual degradation of power generation. If only I could talk The Mrs. into a big wind generator...
    While they may be finite, they're pretty long-lived. I think Garret had panels for over what - 30 or 40 years? While the capacity and efficiency of the panels was long outstripped by new stuff, they were still doing their job. Ours should still be providing at least 85% of their original rated output at 25 years - worth thinking about.

    Here's a thought for you - one thing we hadn't thought of originally - the panels on our roof behave like a "tropical roof" and avoid the sun falling directly on the asphalt shingles. SWMBO who monitors all of our power use ad nauseum noted that on days with the same weather condition, we were using a lot less electricity to run the heat pump than we did before we installed the solar panels. So, not only were we generating the electricity to run the heat pump, but it appeared that the panels were helping keep the house cooler, too.

    Yeah, I'd think wind might be good for ya, too.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  18. #18
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    I'm researching systems and benefits for a new build. The area in which I'm looking to purchase land is fairly remote and the cost of running a grid connection in there will be around the same as the purchase and installation of a completely self sufficient solar system including battery for storage and the management system so its a no brainer really. But the real key to making it work is an energy efficient house, passive solar heating with a big thermal mass behind appropriately orientated windows, top grade insulation, lpg gas for water heating and cooking ( we can get that delivered in 20kg bottles or just take an empty down to the refill station).

    I'm fortunate to live in a climate where we might see two or three light frosts a year, and where the summer temps don't go above about 80f, so aircon is not required, and heating isn't that much of an issue. The big challenge is the workshop machinery, running enough lighting to make a 1200 sq. ft workshop safe to work in at night, and starting up the dust extraction system and say, a planer, both with 3 hp 240 volt motors all at the same time needs a pretty robust feed. I'm assured that its not going to be a problem to do that, but I do want to have some spare capacity. I don't want the house lights dropping out when I push a lump of wood through the planer.

    But although I'm maybe 2 years away, I'm doing the research, the game is changing very quickly and I want to be on the pace when I do start the design and build process.

    Its a very interesting subject.

    John Welsford
    An expert is but a beginner with experience.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    I only had them for about 15 - but have worked with them for 25 or so. However, as you mentioned, the efficiency & longevity of newer ones have improved hugely. Used to be that they were down to 50% after 10 years or so, now (as you say) are guaranteed to be @ 85% after 25 years.

    Wind is great - but remember that turbines require annual maintenance. Not a big deal for some, but not inexpensive if hiring it done. Smaller turbines can be mounted on tilt-up towers so they can be lowered for maintenance - but otherwise you are climbing a 100 ft tower. There are also many communities that restrict wind turbines far more than solar - the old "they kill birds" mantra that's been disproven over & over, but is still believed by those who choose to remain ignorant.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Quote Originally Posted by john welsford View Post
    I'm researching systems and benefits for a new build. The area in which I'm looking to purchase land is fairly remote and the cost of running a grid connection in there will be around the same as the purchase and installation of a completely self sufficient solar system including battery for storage and the management system so its a no brainer really. But the real key to making it work is an energy efficient house, passive solar heating with a big thermal mass behind appropriately orientated windows, top grade insulation, lpg gas for water heating and cooking ( we can get that delivered in 20kg bottles or just take an empty down to the refill station).

    I'm fortunate to live in a climate where we might see two or three light frosts a year, and where the summer temps don't go above about 80f, so aircon is not required, and heating isn't that much of an issue. The big challenge is the workshop machinery, running enough lighting to make a 1200 sq. ft workshop safe to work in at night, and starting up the dust extraction system and say, a planer, both with 3 hp 240 volt motors all at the same time needs a pretty robust feed. I'm assured that its not going to be a problem to do that, but I do want to have some spare capacity. I don't want the house lights dropping out when I push a lump of wood through the planer.

    But although I'm maybe 2 years away, I'm doing the research, the game is changing very quickly and I want to be on the pace when I do start the design and build process.

    Its a very interesting subject.

    John Welsford
    It all sounded totally doable off-grid 'til you got to 2 3HP motors at the same time. Of course that could be done - but it will not be cheap. If off-grid is preferable (I lived OG for 15+ years & liked it) - then you may need to look at a genset to power the shop when running big loads.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Lot of post since I last had a minute and I really don't have much time to address them all, you know that old work thing. But we are more than likely going to do it. A couple of things that are really nice is the 1 for 1 tax credit and the 50% depreciation the first year. We have our accountant looking at right now. Another great thing is the finance rate, it is only 2% and that makes that even more attractive.

    This technology is SolarEdge and I don't remember the efficiency rating, but it does have a smart grid system that continually monitors the status of the grid and the components and you can even monitor it on your phone with an app.

    Okay back to work for now.

    Chad
    There are three ways to do things: The right way, the wrong way and my way.

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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Quote Originally Posted by cs View Post
    Lot of post since I last had a minute and I really don't have much time to address them all, you know that old work thing. But we are more than likely going to do it. A couple of things that are really nice is the 1 for 1 tax credit and the 50% depreciation the first year. We have our accountant looking at right now. Another great thing is the finance rate, it is only 2% and that makes that even more attractive.

    This technology is SolarEdge and I don't remember the efficiency rating, but it does have a smart grid system that continually monitors the status of the grid and the components and you can even monitor it on your phone with an app.

    Okay back to work for now.

    Chad
    Hey Chad - it switched to a more general discussion of solar - mostly for the home.

    SolarEdge makes good quality inverters.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    One of the newer things that I think is pretty cool is the solar flower (or SmartFlower). It opens up and tracks the sun, folding up at night and going into a self cleaning mode. The cost may be a bit high on it right now and it is still not in 100% production. It is up to $30K for a complete install.



    How the Smartflower’s price compares to standard solar panels

    The best way to compare solar panel system prices is to determine the cost per watt of electricity generation. The cost per watt for a Smartflower is anywhere from $6.25 to $7.50, with an average price of about $6.75, assuming that it is equivalent to the production of a 4 kW fixed rooftop array. The installed cost depends on how far the Smartflower is installed from the home, whether a concrete slab foundation needs to be poured, and whether the installation requires additional electrical work.
    By comparison, the median price for a standard ground-mounted solar energy system without tracking capabilities on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace was just $3.43/Watt, or $13,720 for a 4 kW system. If you choose to install a rooftop solar energy system, the cost falls to just $3.05/Watt, or $12,200 for a 4 kW system.
    As you can see in the graph below, Smartflower buyers pay a price premium for the folding, self-cleaning, and aesthetic benefits of the Smartflower over competing alternatives.


    https://news.energysage.com/smartflo...mplete-review/

    Another thought I've played around with is Elon's solar shingles. Don't know enough about that yet.

    Chad


    There are three ways to do things: The right way, the wrong way and my way.

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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Quote Originally Posted by cs View Post
    One of the newer things that I think is pretty cool is the solar flower (or SmartFlower). It opens up and tracks the sun, folding up at night and going into a self cleaning mode. The cost may be a bit high on it right now and it is still not in 100% production. It is up to $30K for a complete install.





    https://news.energysage.com/smartflo...mplete-review/

    Another thought I've played around with is Elon's solar shingles. Don't know enough about that yet.

    Chad


    Elon's solar shingles don't look like they're much of going concern with a tiny install base. The solar flower is a neat idea, but... Cost per kW-hour is massive considering it produces 2.5 kW and the manufacturer is in bankruptcy.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  25. #25
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoez View Post
    Elon's solar shingles don't look like they're much of going concern with a tiny install base. The solar flower is a neat idea, but... Cost per kW-hour is massive considering it produces 2.5 kW and the manufacturer is in bankruptcy.
    Seems Google owns Solar City - one of the big players around here in roof installs - both owned & leased. They have not developed the best rep I'm afraid. The SIL in Florida has been on the shingle waiting list for 2 years & is about to give up - as his roof has to be replaced. He'd hoped to replace it with a solar shingle roof - but nothing seems to be happening.

    The flower is a neat idea - but sad to hear about the financial issues.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    I've never dug into it, but there are some installations of tracker systems which turn the panels to follow the arc of the sun during the day. I don't know if they adjust for elevation or just azimuth. Seems to be a pretty pricey install on a post with an array of panels. I wonder if the increased collection makes up for the increased equipment cost?
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  27. #27
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    From what I read the other day the solar flower in Europe is in bankruptcy but the US company is still spinning up and going. I agree about the cost per Kw, but maybe that will start coming down.

    Chad
    There are three ways to do things: The right way, the wrong way and my way.

    Three Little Birds
    Love is My Religion

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Hills of Vermont, USA
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoez View Post
    I've never dug into it, but there are some installations of tracker systems which turn the panels to follow the arc of the sun during the day. I don't know if they adjust for elevation or just azimuth. Seems to be a pretty pricey install on a post with an array of panels. I wonder if the increased collection makes up for the increased equipment cost?
    The owner of All Earth Renewables (the first in the tracker field) is a friend & my brother worked with him for a number of years. They are not cheap, but they do increase efficiency by a lot. They track both ways + can be set to go vertical for a big snowstorm & horizontal for a wind storm. https://www.allearthrenewables.com/p...solar-trackers
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  29. #29
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    Sep 2007
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    Northeast
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    The ability to have them be self-clearing by stowing vertical is a really, really nice touch. I can't reach all of my panels to clear snow off of them in the winter and it can take several days before the sun warms them enough to get the snow to slide off. The angle is also such that they don't always clear if there is a significant amount of snow. A few winters ago, we had a February with dismal generation - I think we maybe had 5 out of 28 days that we generated power of any real amount.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  30. #30
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    Apr 2005
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoez View Post
    The ability to have them be self-clearing by stowing vertical is a really, really nice touch. I can't reach all of my panels to clear snow off of them in the winter and it can take several days before the sun warms them enough to get the snow to slide off. The angle is also such that they don't always clear if there is a significant amount of snow. A few winters ago, we had a February with dismal generation - I think we maybe had 5 out of 28 days that we generated power of any real amount.
    I've heard tell we get some snow 'round here...
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  31. #31
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    Feb 2001
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    I think around here I would worry more about the pollen build up

    Chad
    There are three ways to do things: The right way, the wrong way and my way.

    Three Little Birds
    Love is My Religion

  32. #32
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    Apr 2005
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    Hills of Vermont, USA
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Quote Originally Posted by cs View Post
    I think around here I would worry more about the pollen build up

    Chad
    Good call. A hose is your friend...
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  33. #33
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
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    On the river, Auckland, New Zealand
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    Default Re: Going Solar

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    It all sounded totally doable off-grid 'til you got to 2 3HP motors at the same time. Of course that could be done - but it will not be cheap. If off-grid is preferable (I lived OG for 15+ years & liked it) - then you may need to look at a genset to power the shop when running big loads.
    We have several companies here who specialise in installations for remote dairy farms, their milking operations use some pretty big 440 volt motors to run the systems and lighting, and the ceo of one of those companies was a student on one of my recent tool skill courses, now owns one of my boats. A good guy, he and I have had several conversations about what I'll need, and yes there will be a genset in the installation but he thinks that as long as I stage the start ups by a minute or two, there shouldn't be a need to have the genset running.
    "Cheap", I know its not going to be such, but it only has to be cheaper, or equal to, the cost of running a feed from the nearest grid line, and thats expensive. The lines company charges full price for everything, from the poles and lines, to the tiniest insulator and the labour to install it all. No discounts to gain a customer.

    I'll be talking to my friend in detail when the project is a bit closer.
    Of course, if a suitable house and workshop comes up, I might just buy that and move straight in, but for the moment, sitting up in my bunk watching the sun come up over the river, its an interesting subject.

    John Welsford
    An expert is but a beginner with experience.

  34. #34
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    Apr 2010
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    Default

    I'd strongly consider staying on the boat.

    Sent from my CPH1851 using Tapatalk

  35. #35
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    Jan 2003
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    8,413

    Default Re: Going Solar

    Quote Originally Posted by john welsford View Post
    We have several companies here who specialise in installations for remote dairy farms, their milking operations use some pretty big 440 volt motors to run the systems and lighting, and the ceo of one of those companies was a student on one of my recent tool skill courses, now owns one of my boats. A good guy, he and I have had several conversations about what I'll need, and yes there will be a genset in the installation but he thinks that as long as I stage the start ups by a minute or two, there shouldn't be a need to have the genset running.
    "Cheap", I know its not going to be such, but it only has to be cheaper, or equal to, the cost of running a feed from the nearest grid line, and thats expensive. The lines company charges full price for everything, from the poles and lines, to the tiniest insulator and the labour to install it all. No discounts to gain a customer.

    I'll be talking to my friend in detail when the project is a bit closer.
    Of course, if a suitable house and workshop comes up, I might just buy that and move straight in, but for the moment, sitting up in my bunk watching the sun come up over the river, its an interesting subject.

    John Welsford
    I can see the advantages if one lives in a remote situation, but here in NZ the economics dont seem to stack up if one is already on the grid and not a large consumer of electricity. When I last checked about 18 months ago, the selling of power back to the grid was credited at the wholesale rate, whereas any power consumed was charged for at the retail rate. Quite a difference!
    It seems that the economics stack up if, as in your case, the costs of getting the power to the site are high, or if there is a government or state subsidy that dilutes the actual cost as in some places in the USA.

    When I last checked it seemed that for somebody in a provincial suburban area such as myself it would take about 8 years to recover the initial expenditure.


    John, have you done any analysis of amortisation before breaking even, including eventually replacing the panels? I would be interested in an up to date perspective.
    There is nothing quite as permanent as a good temporary repair.

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