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Old 09-10-2019, 10:27 AM
 
1,858 posts, read 1,101,608 times
Reputation: 1535

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The worst thing about solar is being assailed by those hucksters while shopping in a big box store.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:35 AM
 
Location: Tucson AZ & Leipzig, Germany
2,536 posts, read 7,854,694 times
Reputation: 4007
When I was in Tucson during the Spring, I frequently rode my bicycle past a new residential tract that was under construction in the southern part of the city. Few places on the planet exceed the annual sunshine hours of Tucson and southern AZ, and I was not surprised to see that the home builder was installing PV solar panels on the roofs of the new homes.

Most people would probably drive by and say oh wow, all the new homes have solar power! I pedaled by slowly, stopped, and thought, oh wow, all the new homes have solar power, but half of them have the panels on the wrong side of the roof!

I am usually a fan of home solar power in places where it makes sense, if it is properly designed. If the location doesn't add up or if it is not properly designed, better off focusing on energy saving windows, good insulation, reflective roofing, etc. Many of the new tract homes that I saw in Tucson had the solar panels on NORTH facing sloped roof sections! Others were on east or west facing roof sections. Less than half the homes had the solar panels on south facing sloped roof sections. I am not a scientist or building engineer, but even I know that the optimum solar panel location (in the northern hemisphere) is on a sloped roof facing south. Sure, slightly southeast or southwest is almost as good. But due north, due west and due east are going to limit the performance of those solar panels.

Then it dawned on me why the panels were on the wrong sides of the roof slopes. The tract architect decided that none of the solar panels should be visible from the "street side" of the house! All of the solar panels were facing the "back yard" of each home, regardless of the solar orientation, presumably to make the front view of the house "pretty". It was such blatant stupidity, I thought what a waste. What a waste it is to pay somebody a subsidy for a poorly designed system. There should be no subsidy if the solar panels are not installed in a direction that is generally south facing, otherwise the solar system is going to be sub-optimal.

It would be interesting to see what the different neighbors share about the performance of the solar systems once all those homes are sold and occupied. One side of the street (with south facing panels) will be boasting about having near zero electric bills, and the other side of the street (with the north facing panels) will be saying there is no difference in the electric bill from where they moved from without solar panels.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Bellingham, WA
1,058 posts, read 1,165,934 times
Reputation: 1189
Quote:
Originally Posted by cruitr View Post
No salesman involved. I sized the rooftop solar system myself, bought the panels and parts directly from a local solar distributor, printed a schematic for best roof location, and had my roofer install the panels. My local power company tuned it, approved it, and plugged me into the electric grid. No monthly electric bills since they turned it on.

Rooftop solar systems are not rocket science. You don't need a hyped-up profit-hungry solar company. I did get a lot of help from the people at: Forums - Solar Panels - Solar Panels Forum.

The EV (electric car) was an unexpected bonus. Since I converted all of my home lighting to LED lamps, I now use a lot less electricity than when I originally measured my usage. So I bought an electric car and power it with the excess electricity I generate. I now have a fast electric car and no gasoline bills. I occasionally drive by my Costco gas station and just wave to my old friends.

My total cost was about $15k not including my many late-nite hours of research. No electric bills, no gasoline costs... who could ask for anything more. I haven't even filed for the city, state, and federal tax credits yet.
Viability isn't a yes or no answer. cruitr's post here from California where sun is plenty and electricity is expensive makes total sense. We have a family friend that installed solar panels on his business, and it went from about $380/month to getting a check from the power company during the summer. The only problem is that this IS during the summer, and here in WA in the winter it's dark from 4pm-8am and this will be the first winter with the panels so we have no idea what the difference will be. I know a lot of the solar powered road signs with flashing lights on them and such don't generate enough power and go dead during our winters up here.

A couple concerns I have are:

-The actual longevity of the panels-most are coming out of China....not like they cut corners or anything

-Utility company caps. The same family friend says there is a cap on his energy buyback, where if he was to add another panel setup and produce more power the most they would pay him is $300ish a month. I thought this was pretty bogus as the utility will obviously be able to "sell" his excess energy.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:21 AM
 
1,233 posts, read 233,291 times
Reputation: 821
Large scale solar farms are cheaper then the dirtiest coal plant now..
Well.. they where 3 years ago... now they are even cheaper.

To bad that Europe and the US has let all the solar panel production been moved to Asia.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:08 PM
 
Location: Eastern NC
19,882 posts, read 18,019,403 times
Reputation: 17712
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank DeForrest View Post
If it needs a subsidy, it isn't viable.
Does that go for farmers and big oil too?
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:02 PM
 
9,540 posts, read 17,624,584 times
Reputation: 10580
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkcarguy View Post
A couple concerns I have are:

-The actual longevity of the panels-most are coming out of China....not like they cut corners or anything
Solar panels have warranties, so it really doesn't matter where they're made as long as they're from a reputable firm. We have LG panels, made in South Korea. Depending on the model, they have either a 12 year or 25 year warranty.

Quote:
-Utility company caps. The same family friend says there is a cap on his energy buyback, where if he was to add another panel setup and produce more power the most they would pay him is $300ish a month. I thought this was pretty bogus as the utility will obviously be able to "sell" his excess energy.
The purpose of home solar is to zero-out your utility bill, not to make a profit. Most utilities pay little if anything for energy production above your usage. I think PG&E pays something like $.01 per KWh. On the other hand, we get $.50/KWh credit towards our bill for our energy production during the day. Then we pay $.12/KWh for our electricy at night which is also when we charge our car. Got that? We're selling for $.50/KWh, and buying back for $.12/KWh. It makes me smile every time I think about it.

So at least in our area there is no incentive today to size your solar array larger than your energy needs, at least that's true today. However there is an emerging market of green energy companies that buy surplus production from home producers at more realistic rates. That could change the equation for how you may choose to size your system if/when they become available in your area.

We've been running our system for 2 years and are right on track for our 5 year pay-off. Then it's free electricity for life.
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:12 PM
509
 
3,134 posts, read 4,172,324 times
Reputation: 3732
I have owned a "solar" off-grid home for over 22 years now.

Solar is ALWAYS over-promised and under-delivered. Most people are totally clueless at how little electricity is generated by solar panels. I suspect, even most on-grid solar connections result in people thinking "they" generate their own power!!

That said...solar is great for the Space Station and off-grid homes!!! For people on grid.....conservation of electrical resources and choosing natural gas for water and space heating is a much wiser choice than putting solar panels on the roof. Not as cool, and if your objective is to be cool.....go with the panels. If your objective is to save money.....go with conservation and natural gas.

If I lived in Hawaii, California or other high cost electrical area I would go off-grid and generate my own electricity. It is pretty simple. Use natural gas for water heating and space heating. That works.

BUT you cannot waste electricity like most urban folks and expect to run a solar house. It doesn't work that way...solar is VERY INEFFICIENT compared to other generating sources.

It does work almost everywhere and does not have the noise and other environmental issues associated with wind.

But if you go solar.....just learn to conserve energy.

IS IT REALLY THAT HARD TO TURN OFF A LIGHT WHEN YOUR NOT USING IT??
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:33 PM
 
30,538 posts, read 16,783,592 times
Reputation: 14161
Quote:
Originally Posted by trlhiker View Post
Does that go for farmers and big oil too?
Sure does. What are your thoughts on subsidies?
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Old 09-10-2019, 06:14 PM
 
Location: annandale, va & slidell, la
7,767 posts, read 3,177,908 times
Reputation: 6580
Quote:
Originally Posted by PedroMartinez View Post
Without government subsidies, it's just not worth the cost to the majority of homeowners.
Plus they look like crap on your roof. Not allowed in our development.
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Old 09-10-2019, 06:22 PM
 
31,251 posts, read 15,959,582 times
Reputation: 20675
Quote:
Originally Posted by cruitr View Post
No salesman involved. I sized the rooftop solar system myself, bought the panels and parts directly from a local solar distributor, printed a schematic for best roof location, and had my roofer install the panels. My local power company tuned it, approved it, and plugged me into the electric grid. No monthly electric bills since they turned it on.

Rooftop solar systems are not rocket science. You don't need a hyped-up profit-hungry solar company. I did get a lot of help from the people at: Forums - Solar Panels - Solar Panels Forum.

The EV (electric car) was an unexpected bonus. Since I converted all of my home lighting to LED lamps, I now use a lot less electricity than when I originally measured my usage. So I bought an electric car and power it with the excess electricity I generate. I now have a fast electric car and no gasoline bills. I occasionally drive by my Costco gas station and just wave to my old friends.

My total cost was about $15k not including my many late-nite hours of research. No electric bills, no gasoline costs... who could ask for anything more. I haven't even filed for the city, state, and federal tax credits yet.
Lol.

Very funny read.

I especially liked the bit where you said the electricity difference beteeen regular bulbs and LED bulbs was enough to charge an electric car. That was hysterical.

I wonder how many people didn't know your post was satire.
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