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Old 07-28-2012, 01:28 PM
 
61 posts, read 121,575 times
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A friend in Puna told me that now ALL new home construction on the B.I. is required to incorporate solar, even if just one small panel. Is this accurate? In all the research I've done, I've never seen this issue addressed.

Hawaii is certainly poised to be very solar-efficient, except maybe in the rainiest parts. I live off-grid now, totally on solar, and lack for nothing energy-wise. Way to go, if you can afford the initial investment. That would be the drawback if I ever built a little retirement structure over there....may not amortize in my lifetime ...then again, depending on where the property is, may not have a choice!
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Old 07-28-2012, 01:32 PM
 
Location: Kahala
12,120 posts, read 17,954,235 times
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You can get a variance - but read more here:

PV or Solar Hot Water? New Construction Law in Hawaii Allows for Variance | Sunetric
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Old 07-28-2012, 06:52 PM
 
11 posts, read 94,570 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyrrMade View Post
A friend in Puna told me that now ALL new home construction on the B.I. is required to incorporate solar, even if just one small panel. Is this accurate? In all the research I've done, I've never seen this issue addressed.

Hawaii is certainly poised to be very solar-efficient, except maybe in the rainiest parts. I live off-grid now, totally on solar, and lack for nothing energy-wise. Way to go, if you can afford the initial investment. That would be the drawback if I ever built a little retirement structure over there....may not amortize in my lifetime ...then again, depending on where the property is, may not have a choice!
Just wondering if you could give more specifics on your place and how much the initial investment was. I will be buying a place in the near future and would like to live off-grid like you are. Which island are you on and how many days can you go if there is no sun (I know it is impossible for this to happen on Hawaii).

Way to go Hawaii!!! I'm seriously hoping the rest of the USA and the world follows Hawaii. It is shame not to put the solar energy to good use in tropical countries with tons of sunshine.

Thank you...

-ML
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Old 07-28-2012, 07:41 PM
 
Location: Volcano
12,969 posts, read 28,482,806 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyrrMade View Post
A friend in Puna told me that now ALL new home construction on the B.I. is required to incorporate solar, even if just one small panel. Is this accurate? In all the research I've done, I've never seen this issue addressed.
For several years now, new residential units have been required to install solar water heaters, which are not terribly expensive, and typically have a short payback. However after a year of implementation, it was recognized that there are areas which don't get enough sunshine to make the investment cost effective. So a year later, they changed the requirement to add a waiver process in case your location isn't sunny enough.
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Old 07-29-2012, 02:16 PM
 
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
11,053 posts, read 24,074,683 times
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I think an on-demand propane water heater is an allowable option. Those run about $450 so it shouldn't break the bank when building a home. The "required solar" is for water heating and solar water heating systems aren't that expensive. Considering how much will be saved each month, it's a good thing to go solar, especially for water heating. Solar electric is a bit more expensive of a system than solar water heating but both of them pay for themselves within about five years due to Hawaii's extremely high electric rates.

A lot of folks use their current electric usage to determine the size of the photovoltaic (solar electric) system and then the system they think they'd need seems terribly expensive. However, a photovoltaic system is holistic and the whole house needs to be set up to be on solar electric. You don't install an electric stove or electric dryer and build a photovoltaic system large enough to run them. ( I mean, you can, but it's bloody expensive.) With solar hot water and cooking with gas, you can afford a photovoltaic system. So, when folks start telling you how expensive it is to build a solar electric system, look to see what size of system they are thinking you need. If they say "look at your electric bill" to determine the size of your system, be akamai and see what your electric bill is powering before accepting that size of system. Usually the folks deciding what size of system you need are the folks who are selling you the equipment.

Considering how many houses are built as rental units, this will do a lot to make renting much more affordable. It used to be that if you built a house and put in an electric stove and water heater, the electric company wouldn't charge anything for you to hook up to the electric grid. So, folks wouldn't think about monthly costs but just install the electric appliances in order to save the $$$ fee to connect to the grid. So, if you are building a house, put in the electric stove and water heater and as soon as you get connected to the grid, replace them with gas. If you are running a solar hot water system, you can probably disconnect the electric backup element on it, too. It will save about $50 a month or more on your electric bill so a few tepid showers are worth that, I'd think. You do learn, however, that if you are going to wash clothes in hot water do it only in the mornings so the sun has time to reheat the water in the tank for evening showers.

Last edited by hotzcatz; 07-29-2012 at 02:25 PM..
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Old 07-29-2012, 02:58 PM
 
61 posts, read 121,575 times
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All great points, Hotzcatz, and thanks for the info, Viper and Open.

I live on the great island of Utah, LOL. Another REALLY sunny and HOT place. This solar system was put in in 1987 for about $12,000 including massive batteries as there is no grid-tie. Back in '87 there was no grid here, although now there is. The same system now would be around $20,000. The Energy Star electric fridge is 90 watts, microwave 1200 watts, swamp cooler 350 watts. Total system is 1,000 watts and is always sufficient, even with 3 computers, washing machine, etc. As Hotzcatz pointed out, you just have be aware of any electric appliance you are considering. AND not run multiple things at the same time. In backwards Utah, you cannot get credit for putting your excess power onto the grid.

But the electric rates here are very low, so it makes no sense to install solar unless you are just rich and green-minded, or building away from the grid. Solar hot water makes great sense though, much lower initial cost and saves on propane.

Thanks for the answers, everyone!
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Old 08-02-2012, 11:29 AM
 
6 posts, read 17,661 times
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Anyone know anything about converting a solar swimming pool heater to heat water for the house instead?
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Old 08-02-2012, 04:27 PM
 
Location: North Idaho
32,683 posts, read 48,207,062 times
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msherline, proper solar water heating systems can be had for a reasonable price. I suspect it would be cheaper and more effective to install a new hot water system than it would be to try to replumb the pool heater. Not to mention, if the pool water is going through the water heater, do you want that water coming into your house? pool water is either heavily chlorinated or salted; not my first choice to shower in.
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:15 PM
 
Location: Volcano
12,969 posts, read 28,482,806 times
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I answered this same question on another thread: https://www.city-data.com/forum/25458159-post2.html

Executive summary: It's possible, but probably not worth the bother and expense.
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