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Old 04-24-2008, 10:11 PM
 
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Isn't Austin subject to occasional hail storms? With hail as big as baseballs, or golf balls, or whatever? What happens to the folks who are trying to be green by intalling solar panels on their roofs? Is this a reason not to go solar, or a reason not to live in Texas if you want to go solar? Perhaps there are systems now that are not prone to damage by hail. Does anyone have information on this problem?
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Old 04-25-2008, 06:54 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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There are solar panels that are hail protected (plexiglass or some variation of it), but I suspect it a) adds cost and b) lowers efficiency somewhat.
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Old 04-25-2008, 07:56 AM
 
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I looked into solar panels last year and this was a major concern. With such a long payback period and such a high cost per panel hail seemed like a sizeable risk. I think before I would go PV I would look into geothermal heat pumps which seem to provide the biggest bang for the buck.
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Old 04-25-2008, 08:19 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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This technology is still a couple years out, but is having very promising results, some of which show a competitive price with grid power by ~2010 or so:
HelioVolt - Solar Power. From the Ground Up - Home

Ignoring the rah, rah! tone of the site, the actual product is a flexible silcon based film that should be manufcatured at very low costs.
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Old 04-25-2008, 12:47 PM
 
Location: NW Austin
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Interesting info! We're interested in greening up whatever house we buy. It didn't occur to me to think about hail damage.
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Old 10-02-2008, 09:56 PM
aqn
 
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Default Re: Hail, breaking even, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by G Grasshopper View Post
Isn't Austin subject to occasional hail storms? With hail as big as baseballs, or golf balls, or whatever? What happens to the folks who are trying to be green by intalling solar panels on their roofs? Is this a reason not to go solar, or a reason not to live in Texas if you want to go solar? Perhaps there are systems now that are not prone to damage by hail. Does anyone have information on this problem?
A cursory research shows info such as Austin Energy's FAQ:

which says:
"...temperatures ranging from -13 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit."

"Solar energy system modules have passed a standard set of tests for durability and are built to withstand winds of up to 125 miles per hour and 1-inch hail."
Quote:
Originally Posted by austifornian View Post
I looked into solar panels last year and this was a major concern. With such a long payback period and such a high cost per panel hail seemed like a sizeable risk. I think before I would go PV I would look into geothermal heat pumps (broken link) which seem to provide the biggest bang for the buck.
Payback horizon depends on your usage, local and seasonal cost of electricity, and availability of rebates. For Austin, Austin Energy rebates $4.50 per watt of capacity up to a max of $13,500. For 2008, there is a $2000 Fed tax credit. For me, altogether, that works out to break-even in about 10 years.

Also remember that not all kW/hour you use cost the same. In our case (City of Austin Utilities), the first 500 kW/h each month is billed at a lower rate than usage above that. For example, recently, the first 500 kW/h cost $0.355 each kW/h; above that each kW/h costs 0.0602.

Last edited by Trainwreck20; 10-03-2008 at 07:01 AM..
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Old 10-02-2008, 10:10 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
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I'm holding out for nansolar, myself.
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Old 10-03-2008, 12:16 PM
 
Location: central Austin
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One inch hail is pretty big! We are considering solar panels, I wouldn't let hail deter you. Most hail is smaller than an inch. I've lived in the same house for 7 years, we have had occasional hail, but smaller than one inch and no roof damage. Two neighbors have solar panels, they have never been damaged.

I might worry more if I was in the Hill Country. They seem to get more hail out that way. Central city, not so much.
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Old 10-03-2008, 12:53 PM
 
Location: Folsom, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by centralaustinite View Post
I might worry more if I was in the Hill Country. They seem to get more hail out that way. Central city, not so much.
I guess you don't live near Hyde Park. Seems like one out of three homes have required new roofs after the fierce hailstorm last May.
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Old 10-03-2008, 02:17 PM
 
Location: central Austin
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Oh, that's true. I remember that.

Yes, I live in south Austin and have for nearly 18 years, don't even remember the last hailstorm that caused much damage!! (And it is getting to be that I don't remember the last time it rained either)

Still hail is so hit and miss, I don't think I'd let it influence a decision on solar panels.
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