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Old 02-11-2014, 03:57 PM
340 posts, read 681,802 times
Reputation: 267


Originally Posted by tumamoc View Post
The prospect of living on a "homestead" is a charming one. However, one consideration about living off the grid is that, with no neighbors, thieves can take their time robbing you blind when you are away. It won't take long for anything of value, including solar panels, to disappear. I might sound jaded, but it happened to us. We were hit several times when we lived on 2.5 acres on the western edge of town. I captured some of the "larceny" on video and realized it was the same guys at least twice. It is pretty spooky seeing them ram the gate, remove everything from the shed and carport, then try to pry open the security bars on the patio. Fortunately they didn't get into the house. The sheriff's department basically made me feel like it was my fault for not having a dog and a security system, rather than admit to the real issue--it was a meth-related property crime. We moved into the City once we realized it was the same perps and the cops were not going to do a darn thing about it.
tumanoc..Well...we moved to Tucson back when and lived in a new north west development. In broad daylight thieves came into our garage and took my hubby's expensive bike that was not locked however wedged between some storage units. Also all our front landscaping lights and wires were taken. So moving into a structured community for us did not cut down on the theft. So we formed a neighborhood watch. Police stated that they were after cooper stuff and the bike was probably kids.

One funny note...months layer my hubby saw his bike under a rather shady fellow close to our home. So he approached the man and confronted him by straddling the front tire and grabbing the handle bars. Just to tell you my hubby is an ex big rugby player so he has no fear. Needless to say he came home with the bike and told the guy he would not like what would happen to him or his friends if they came around our home again.

Never saw the lawn stuff again..
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Old 02-12-2014, 01:13 AM
Location: Dallas, Oregon & Sunsites Arizona
8,001 posts, read 14,427,240 times
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There are ways to do it if you have enough money. About 40% more than a conventional home. With a 15 to 20 year life it won't pencil out, but it can be done.
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Old 02-12-2014, 07:18 PM
41 posts, read 67,359 times
Reputation: 53
Solar is very viable and affordable. Not cheap, just a good investment. Your solar panels will last at least 40 years usually. There are no moving parts in the system, no real maintenance. If you have a central power inverter you will probably get 13-5 years on that. If you have batteries you will need to replace them from time to time. 5-7 years on that sometimes longer. They are deep cycle batteries like your boat. There is no real on going maintenance. There are tons of solar businesses that will compete for your business. Look at about 5-7 companies and you will find the right solution.
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Old 02-12-2014, 09:34 PM
2,972 posts, read 4,077,143 times
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Having a solar home for 15 years I can tell you Solar is not viable and affordable IF YOU HAVE A GRID CONNECTION.

Costs of solar vary between 25-75 cents a kilowatt-hour. I think the high end if for off-grid and the lower end is for connection to the grid.

There is plenty of on-going maintenance and monitoring. If you have lead-acid batteries you will be buying gallons and gallons of distilled water!! Not to mention shirts that are eaten by battery acid.

There are VERY FEW solar companies that do MAINTENANCE. You want somebody to maintain your system, unless you want to be an electrician. That said...solar is low maintenance IF things go right.

If you are totally off-grid.....make sure it is a special place. It is worth the extra money you pay for solar. If you can find the same "location" on grid go there. Solar is expensive, take the difference and buy more land!!

IF you want to save energy on-grid...pretend your off-grid. Our solar house uses 10% of the electricity of our grid house and it rents for $200 plus a night. Some guests do not even notice that we are off-grid.

Do this. Pick the right choice fuel. NEVER use anything with a heating element. In our solar house, the hot water heater is propane, the house furnace is propane, the stove is propane, the dryer is propane, the fridge is propane.

We do not even have a coffee maker since those use MORE electricity than a washer! You get the drift...NO HEATING ELEMENTS.

The back-up generator is propane. There are no propane air conditioners...so none of those.

Electricity is used for the microwave, TV, stereo, computers, lights (LED only), and well pump. THATS IT. AND everything is on a switch that eliminates phantom loads on the system. That only cost me 30,000 dollars!!

Is solar a good investment? I don't think so. Conservation and choosing the "right fuel" is more important.

You can reduce your electrical bill to virtually nothing by "pretending" you live in a solar house.

AND you will not be using electricity to do things "inefficiently".

I do recommend buying a 30-watt solar panel and a jump starter battery. Hook up some lights, your computer, etc. to the system and you will gain an understanding of the benefits and limitations of solar for less than $200. A much cheaper education than ordering solar for your home without doing some pre-work.
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Old 02-13-2014, 10:51 AM
41 posts, read 67,359 times
Reputation: 53
509, it is a good investment in today's world. 15 years ago it was very expensive for a very small system. Not as efficient as today's systems. Whole house solar totally eliminating your electric bill can be had for 5-10 cents a kWH. Why would you pay more than what the local electric company would charge you?

We have air, 2 fridges, a coffee maker or 2 in an all electric 5 bedroom house. I did not have to change our lifestyle. We did change a few lightbulbs, that's it. There is a monthly meter charge by TEP of $7.50 and that's it. There are so many options in solar even 20 year prepaid leases. Pay one price and you have no maintenance for 20 years, nothing more. The combinations are endless. Companies are very competitive now too.

Don't be fooled, solar is affordable. I encourage any one to take a look at it. In seven years we will break even and get free electric for the rest of the life of the system, sometimes up to 40 years.
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Old 02-14-2014, 09:28 AM
2,972 posts, read 4,077,143 times
Reputation: 3521
Sorry, I did not mean to be so negative on solar. What I really meant is to look carefully at conservation and other measures before getting solar. For most people that would be a better investment.

We have an 2400 sq. ft. ALL ELECTRIC house as our primary residence. In the dead of winter the bill is $150/month. Summer with 100 degree days gets us to $50/month and spring and fall the bill is $25/month. Solar does not make sense.

The house is one of those engineers super nonsense homes. So here were the cheap fixes. Outside bamboo blinds on all the south facing windows. Those dropped the air conditioning bill from $70 to $50/month. Total investment was under $100 dollars and we got daytime privacy to boot. Shading of house with trees and overhangs is great otherwise it is bamboo blinds.

We did think about what we would do if we moved to Arizona and were faced with those high electric costs. My thoughts were to put in a small wood stove for heat. Get a solar hot water heater....now those are cost effective to replace an electric water heater. We did have a on-demand water heater at the solar house and that did significantly drop the usage of propane. Unfortunately, it came with a CO issue. Also a separate bedroom air conditioner...we like to sleep cold.

For Arizona we would replace all lightbulbs with LED lights and put barrier strips on all TV's. Replace electric clocks, etc with AA battery clocks like we have up at the solar house. It is amazing how much power is used with those small appliances. AND they are easily replaced with battery options.

Where we live we have hot days in summer and cool nights. If electricity were more expensive here I would put in a whole house fan and vent it in the night. Close up and save the cool during the day. We do this with our solar house in summer. Works great. That house is designed to be vented with cross-through ventilation so it cools rapidly at night.

My point was that there are lots of little things that will save much electricity before hooking up a solar system. I like solar it is just too expensive.

By the way, I have a total of 24 solar panels doing all sorts of things.

Here's one solar use you might enjoy and think about trying:

usbackroads™: Solar Powered Fishing Boat
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Old 02-28-2014, 06:02 PM
343 posts, read 425,962 times
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Some things to ameliorate the issues mentioned above:

1) Don't do it near an urban area like Tucson. Cochise County has lots of solar places that don't get robbed because they aren't convenient. Those are also places that are beautiful enough to make it worthwhile, and they're often hidden.
2) Big heavy gate and fencing, make it look tough. Don't fix up the road more than absolutely needed.
3) Buy a place already built and ready, they are for sale right now, turnkey. Let the seller take the hit on batteries and well and so forth. a nice little place in the mountains with over 130 acres just sold for about 120, so it's possible.
4) When you need new batteries, buy the kind made for a forklift, they last just as well and are cheaper, but they are big and heavy to get delivered and installed. You may only need one or two.
5) Keep the batteries watered, check frequently.
6) Talk to potential neighbors about water quality, well depth, local resources, whether the area is a pathway for illegals or other trespassers. And check out their places so you aren't living next to a dump, abandoned machinery can leaach into groundwater.

In short, ask lots of questions, listen to the answers, and keep looking until you find something you can't resist. There's plenty of sun for solar and lots of FSBO out there because realtors sometimes won't take rural off grid listings, or don't promote them well because they don't understand them. So you need to come out and drive around and talk to realtors who specialise in those places. Look at greenhomesforsale.com for a little idea of what people build in what states.

I've lived in a solar house and dealt with various issues, it's a lot like living on a boat, lots of new skills to learn. And as posted above, you start to think about what uses power and how much.

And that doesn't even cover construction and keeping cool and warm, whole nuther book.
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Old 01-05-2018, 03:56 PM
1 posts, read 416 times
Reputation: 10
First, learn how to spell Tucson...
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