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Old 05-17-2014, 10:59 AM
 
Location: Volcano
12,971 posts, read 23,529,740 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakster View Post
OpenD - Notice that 509 has a battery system in place too.
Sure, but the vast majority of residential solar installations in the US today don't involve batteries. The solar panels for an 8 kw system, like the OP asked about, could be ordered from Amazon for about $9K, and a DIYer could get all the pieces to get it up and running in a grid-tie configuration for a couple of thousand more. Having a pro install the whole system might double the cost.

Grid-tie systems being added to existing residences are driving the market. That could change if/when the long anticipated breakthrough in battery technology happens and brings the cost down.

Quote:
While I agree $30k sounds a little high - batteries as PNWGuy stated are not cheap.
To me $5K seems about right today for a 1.5 kw system with full state-of-the-art controls and a battery storage system of a couple of days capacity. But it's not a very big system.

Here's an interesting thing I ran across in reviewing recent articles and dealer sites... due to the fact that grid-tie systems must automatically disconnect from the grid in the case of a power outage, they don't provide any backup power to the house, even when the sun is shining. There's a small but growing trend to add an independent 1.5 kw system with battery backup in parallel to a larger grid-tied system to run a basic household core... refrigerator, communications, a few lights... even when the grid goes down. There is also control technology available that can manage everything automatically to select predetermined circuits for direct solar power or battery backup, but not all utilities permit this due to their fear that power could leak into the grid and injure repairmen during system outages. An entirely separate system for essential outlets sidesteps that restriction.
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Old 05-17-2014, 11:10 AM
 
Location: Volcano
12,971 posts, read 23,529,740 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW-type-gal View Post
The one thing I have been watching, and will think about upgrading to, is the potential next generation of inverters which will allow the system to be used when the grid is down. Currently a grid failure takes the inverter off-line and even if you could be generating power, you aren't.
Ahh, yes, we crossed posts, but this is the new technology I was referring to. Unfortunately some utilities are fighting it. For example there's a guy in Santa Barbara who is suing the utility there because they won't connect his $60,000 solar system to the grid since it incorporates this kind of backup.

That's total foolishness, in my book, but disruptive technologies like this often run into opposition from entrenched competition.
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Old 05-17-2014, 11:22 AM
509
 
2,897 posts, read 4,042,238 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
Hmmmm. This information seems out of date. Solar panel prices have dropped drastically in recent years, more than 80% since 2008 alone, and $1-1.25/watt has become pretty much an everyday price today from major dealers. Checking Amazon just now, I found a listing for a 1.5 kw panel set (6 - monocrystelline 250w panels) for $1,799. Installed prices for complete system, of course, are more expensive but can be found in many places for $3-5/w.

Well, yes. But solar panels use to be a 1/3 of the cost of a system. They are cheaper now, but the other system costs have gone up!! You need mounts, wire...lots of wire, charge controllers, inverters, generators, batteries, transfer boxes, etc. etc. Don't forget to include replacement costs as stuff wears out....the power company do that...its on your dime.

Yes, if your connected to the grid you don't need 10,000 to 20,000 dollars worth of batteries. But guess what the utility company needs to put up that equivalent in power so that when solar panels are NOT generating power...the lights stay own. So it might be a deal for the individual solar owner, but for society we are just doubling up on costs.

The real adventure is when you need something repaired and the electrician just stares at your setup!!




Actually, solar energy is already cheaper than grid power in some areas, and it's still going down in price. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have already installed residential solar systems in order to save money.

Nah, the ball keeps moving. After 17 years I would switch to the grid in a heartbeat if it did not cost 1 million dollars to run the powerline four miles.

If your statement was true, people would be disconnecting from the grid. So far I have not seen anybody do that. However, when people start disconnecting....yes I will agree with you.

The best way to save money is conservation. Instead of investing in a solar set-up invest in appliances and LED lightbulbs. Get rid of your electric stove and hot water heater. Switch to propane or gas. Get rid of phanton draws on electricity. At our solar house......nothing...nothing is on at night. Our clocks run on AA batteries, as does the radio. The TV and Stereo have a barrier switch and they are TOTALLY off at night. Same for the washer and dryer, microwave and all that other stuff that sucks power when off. The outside lights are on their own solar panel and motion detector.

My point is first do the conservation measures. If your goal is saving money....that is where you will save money. Our solar house using 10% of the electricity of our all electric on-grid house. That is a huge difference in the power bill. Why here in eastern Washington our winter power bill would drop to $10 in winter, $5 in summer and 2.50 in fall and summer per month!!

I did notice that our power bill in winter for one month in California (PG&E) would be $2,000 a month for our grid house. Try conservation first. It is much easier and cheaper than solar.


Your specific situation in Washington State is pretty much the worst case for the US... you live in an area with almost the lowest solar energy potential in the country, other than Alaska... your grid power there, courtesy of the Columbia River hydro electric plants is among the cheapest in the country...and the state offers no tax breaks. It's better almost everywhere else.
Here is my recommendation for being that want to get into solar power. Buy a jumper battery and make sure it has a 12 volt charging input. Buy a 30-watt solar panel. Then get a small 120 volt inverter that shows voltage, amps drawn, etc.

Take it camping. Run your lights, your laptop, radio, IPAD, etc. etc. Note the draw and recovery times for the panel. You will learn more about solar power in a couple of days than reading any book or promotional material.

That will give you a clear sense of how solar works and doesn't work. You will be able to make much better informed decisions.

I am not against solar. I think it is really cool on the International Space Station. I use it camping all the time and even have a solar powered boat!!

It is a niche product. A really cool niche product. And yes, if I lived in California I would probably get panels, but only AFTER changing my house so that it was solar ready.
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Old 05-17-2014, 11:26 AM
 
4,718 posts, read 8,940,320 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW-type-gal View Post
Because we are on a grid-tie tariff program (which is very generous) we don't have battery storage. The one thing I have been watching, and will think about upgrading to, is the potential next generation of inverters which will allow the system to be used when the grid is down. Currently a grid failure takes the inverter off-line and even if you could be generating power, you aren't.
That is code here, but hopefully the new inverters have a legal way to do that. I only assumed that to do that now, you would need a battery bank.
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Old 05-17-2014, 11:36 AM
509
 
2,897 posts, read 4,042,238 times
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Almost forget.....they recommend this for off-grid homes, but actually it is more useful for on-grid homes!!

P3 P4400 P3 P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor - Low Temperature Alarms - Amazon.com

You plug in your cost of electricity is kilo-watt hours. Then plug in the lamp, radio, microwave or whatever into the monitor. It will then compute the cost of that item for electricity in a year. You will quickly find out if that electric clock radio is worth the annual cost!! Even that TV in off or microwave.

Always use the highest cost electricity on your bill. As they taught in economics class it is the marginal cost that counts.

I have NINE 75 watt insecurity lights around my house. Plugging in the Kilo-Watt meter I find that in California the nine lights will cost me $236.25 a year. At costco I bought a LED motion detector security light complete with solar panel and battery for $50. The LED lights are just as bright and functional as the 75 watt lights.

The clock on my microwave would cost me $52.56 in California EVERY year. Is it worth $52.56 every year so that you can tell the time by looking at your microwave???

For the lights it would probably take SEVEN 75 watt panels on your roof to supply enough electricity. The microwave clock well since it runs 24/7 would only take TWO 75 watt panels.

I bet the average home in California can easily save several thousand dollars off the electric bill.

Hope you can see why conservation should be done FIRST!! Off-grid or on-grid.

Great little item. Fun to play with and learn!!

Last edited by 509; 05-17-2014 at 12:47 PM..
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Old 05-17-2014, 12:58 PM
 
Location: The beautiful Rogue Valley, Oregon
7,247 posts, read 15,273,020 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
Ahh, yes, we crossed posts, but this is the new technology I was referring to. Unfortunately some utilities are fighting it. For example there's a guy in Santa Barbara who is suing the utility there because they won't connect his $60,000 solar system to the grid since it incorporates this kind of backup.

That's total foolishness, in my book, but disruptive technologies like this often run into opposition from entrenched competition.
Ehhhh, I don't think it is fear of competition quite so much as fear of anything new + cheapness. Until the new gen of inverters are out and approved, anything else is a custom system design and they don't want to spend the money checking the engineering. Why would an electric utility go out of their way and spend money on approving systems that cost them revenue? I know that in some parts of Hawaii, the amount of solar connected to the grid actually causes their current grid problems with excess generation. Sure, it is a solvable problem, but solving the problem costs the utility and the ratepayers money.

I know when we put in our Heliodyne solar thermal system, the state had a list of approved systems - and that was all they would allow (well, and get a rebate). Given the propensity of one of my neighbors to design his own incredibly over-complicated systems from the ground up, I guess I can sort of see the state's point on this. He's presently working on a power from electrolysis scheme he saw on youtube. He's on the 5th generation build and it hasn't worked yet....


We're in the process of trying to sell the house with grid-tied solar - grid tied solar that covers all of our yearly electrical AND generates around $2,000 a year in payments - and solar thermal that provides all domestic hot water from about April through October, and the realtor says a lot of potential customers are scared off by this "new fangled thing."
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Old 05-17-2014, 02:24 PM
 
Location: DC
6,505 posts, read 6,423,574 times
Reputation: 3102
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
Do you have a reference to substantiate your statement? I can't find anything to that effect.
Just personal experience with people installing utility scale PV system. Manufacturers instruct them to install panels last and not let them soak open circuit in the sun. My guess is that NREL will have something on this. It seem pretty straightforward an issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
But how do you predict panel failure on a product that seems like it will never wear out because the decay rate is so tiny, and which is really only vulnerable to physical damage?
I guess we will have to wait and see. I'll be amazed if in 30 years we still have the same panels on our roofs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
Here's an interesting article that confirms my personal experience, in which a privately owned thirty-year-old rooftop PV panel was checked for performance in 2010, and found to still be delivering electricity within factory specs, as confirmed by Raju Yenamandra, the North American head of sales and marketing for SolarWorld, the current owner of the old Arco Solar factory in California.
Again we will have to wait & see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
Sorry, this still makes no sense to me. If your current system is already exceeding your needs, why would you want to spend money to swap out a working panel for a newer, higher output panel? Sure, if you had a limited area to place your panels and needed to increase output, you would do this. But most people who want to increase output of rooftop systems simply add more panels to what they already have.

OK, but you still have not presented a viable economic argument to do so.
What you posited and I agree is that many systems will be slightly undersized. In addition in today's world many utilities will not pay you for net generation. I can easily see that changing and in the future a larger system becomes economically a better investment. e.g. Rather than meet 60% of my load, I'm now able to meet 120% of my load and the utility will pay me for the excess. I swap out 250 W panels with 500 W panels and don't have to modify my roof because it's just a panel change. The economic argument is incremental cost and incremental revenue.
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Old 05-17-2014, 03:08 PM
 
4,718 posts, read 8,940,320 times
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PNW - I would think that your solar array and water heater would make your property worth MORE.

I have a kill-a-watt meter which is great. You really get a picture of how much power things take. How ratings don't match actual draw either.
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Old 05-17-2014, 03:32 PM
 
Location: california
5,614 posts, read 4,844,315 times
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My system is primarily battery .
A collection well over 40 years old still functioning.
Solar, wind, grid, and generators, are all contributors .
I have purchased my components one or two at a time.
In a battery system it doesn't care what you feed it with ,in great volumes or trickle charge.
I found 6 volt deep cycle golf cart batteries work best.
What you consume you will learn, how much time it takes to fill them, with given resources, and how long they last, should those resources be unavailable .
Day to day consumption and person to person use will very.
If you walk around leaving lights on all the time you'll need a lot of panels and batteries.
Lights are a steady consumer , not like a micro wave that only runs once in a while.
I primarily use LED lights even on AC lines and CLV and DC incandescent and florescent both 12 volt and AC 110 .

You will learn about appliances and their consumption and governing abuses.
My connection to the grid handles big machinery in the shop and things like that my own system is incapable of handling.
I have solar panels on remote areas handling lights and battery and automatic switching and motors so I'm not stringing wire all over the property.
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Old 05-17-2014, 03:40 PM
 
Location: DC
6,505 posts, read 6,423,574 times
Reputation: 3102
Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW-type-gal View Post

Because we are on a grid-tie tariff program (which is very generous) we don't have battery storage. The one thing I have been watching, and will think about upgrading to, is the potential next generation of inverters which will allow the system to be used when the grid is down. Currently a grid failure takes the inverter off-line and even if you could be generating power, you aren't.
That is a safety issue required by the utility. The utility want to assure that if they open a fuse or breaker in the supply that the distribution system is deenergized. It's easy to make inverters that would work without external voltage.
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