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Old 08-28-2012, 02:25 PM   #1
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anyone use Solar Electric Generation on their home?

We are looking into installing an 80% solar feed system on our home, meaning over a year we generate 80% of our own electricity via solar, and have a NEM (net energy meter) meter installed, this is a two way meter that "runs backwards" when we generate more power than we use.


Before I sign the dotted line I am seeking any experience anyone has with this type of system... any input positive or negative would be helpful.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:37 PM   #2
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I wouldn't do it. The up-front cost versus the monthly savings isn't worth it.

What's your current monthly electric bill? What size array do you plan on buying?

Say your monthly electric bill is $200, and say the array costs you $15,000 after all the government tax "incentives." It'll take you over 6 years to recoup your initial investment, and that's not even correcting for inflation.

And that's assuming the array supplies you with 100% of your electricity (which is hardly ever the case).

If you use the 80% number, that means it will actually take closer to 8 years to recoup the cost. And that's just in that example. The specifics of your situation may be vastly different, hence my initial questions.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:52 PM   #3
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It could be up to 8 years but depends on state and uitlity incentives. Just put some on my business and pay back is going to be 3 years with all of the incentives. I look at it this way also it fixes my utility cost, if you dont plan on moving then for the next 25 years you are only going to pay so much for a percentage of your electrical use.

In Iowa we have lots of propane tanks (pigs) and its always best to fill them in august when cost are the least. Look at purchasing the solar to this regard. Not an investment.

Hell if you put your money in the bank only get 1 - 2 percent right now at best.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:58 PM   #4
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I imagine electric bills in SoCal aren't exactly cheap, but I don't know how the same SoCal market affects the prices of solar arrays (or the price to install).

What are the maintenance costs of a solar array? I doubt you can just put one on the roof and then forget about it for 25 years...
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:04 PM   #5
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I imagine electric bills in SoCal aren't exactly cheap, but I don't know how the same SoCal market affects the prices of solar arrays (or the price to install).

What are the maintenance costs of a solar array? I doubt you can just put one on the roof and then forget about it for 25 years...

For the photovoltaic panels, yes pretty much maintenance free. Solar heating on the other hand is subject to leaks and inspections.

For the electric, as long as you get some rain they clean themselves. Only thing that really can go wrong are the inverters. Turning the DC to AC creates heat and can be an issue but they even come with a 5 year warranty, panels 25 years.
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:12 PM   #6
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The system is $18K to install, with $6,500 in rebates so $11,500 end cost..

I pay $350 - $500 a month for electric from May until Oct and $250 or so Oct-May. 2000 sq ft home with a 4-ton HVAC set to 85° during peak and 78° off-peak.. My wife is a home maker and 85° when it is high 90° outside during the summer is not comfortable for her (or my kid or the dogs), dropping the HVAC to 78° puts us into the $600 range for a month. Add to that, SCE (Southern California Edison) has had roughly a 3.75% over standard inflation rate increase yearly since 2002, my current $350ish bill will be well over $1000/month in 10 - 15 years.

Last year my electrical usage was just a bit over $5,000 so my "pay back" would be 2-3 years..

This is my last house, I was in my previous home for 24 years, plan on being here until I die, so at minimum another 30 years. I'm not a mover, we found our dream home and plan on staying, no reason not to make it as automated, efficient, and comfortable as possible for us.

As I understand it an 80% system is averaged over the whole year and based on 5 hours/day of peak sunlight, the solar irradiance test SCE did to our home shows we have 7.8 to 9.6 hours/day as the home faces East/South East. So a 100% system is overkill, however we are setting the inverter and braces up so we can if the need arises we can add up to 6 more panels in the future to create a 100% system.
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:21 PM   #7
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I had a 9.3Kwh system installed two months ago and my bill was $200 last month. From 10am-5 pm I'm producing more electric then I'm using. After that, its all SCE. It will pull me out of the tier 4-5 parts but that is it during the summer months, but the rest of the year I should be golden.

If you have that price in writing, jump on it. The idiots in charge are adding a 35% TAX onto each panels price, so get it while you can.

I went with Solar Service Center. I talked to Sullivan, Solar City and someone else and they were the best deal going. Let me know if you need a contact number.
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:22 PM   #8
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Sheesh. Those are crappy electric bills

A 1,700 SF house here (like the one I'm about to build) typically only sees about $200 per month max.

But if that's the kind of cost you're seeing in SoCal, I can see it being viable.

Have you checked out any other homes in the area with the same (or similar) system that have had them for a while (more than a year)?
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:26 PM   #9
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The system is $18K to install, with $6,500 in rebates so $11,500 end cost..

I pay $350 - $500 a month for electric from May until Oct and $250 or so Oct-May. 2000 sq ft home with a 4-ton HVAC set to 85° during peak and 78° off-peak.. My wife is a home maker and 85° when it is high 90° outside during the summer is not comfortable for her (or my kid or the dogs), dropping the HVAC to 78° puts us into the $600 range for a month. Add to that, SCE (Southern California Edison) has had roughly a 3.75% over standard inflation rate increase yearly since 2002, my current $350ish bill will be well over $1000/month in 10 - 15 years.

Last year my electrical usage was just a bit over $5,000 so my "pay back" would be 2-3 years..

This is my last house, I was in my previous home for 24 years, plan on being here until I die, so at minimum another 30 years. I'm not a mover, we found our dream home and plan on staying, no reason not to make it as automated, efficient, and comfortable as possible for us.

As I understand it an 80% system is averaged over the whole year and based on 5 hours/day of peak sunlight, the solar irradiance test SCE did to our home shows we have 7.8 to 9.6 hours/day as the home faces East/South East. So a 100% system is overkill, however we are setting the inverter and braces up so we can if the need arises we can add up to 6 more panels in the future to create a 100% system.
I assume this is a roof mount. So you may have to at sometime remove to work on roof. Dont size the inverter for expansion. No need to do so. Size wiring conduits, braces for expansion but not inverter. Reason not to is so if you do expand and something happens to your inverter you wont have any production if you go with 2 inverters youll still have some. Inverter prices are likely to go down in time "supply and demand" Just my 2 cents.
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:26 PM   #10
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Sheesh. Those are crappy electric bills

A 1,700 SF house here (like the one I'm about to build) typically only sees about $200 per month max.

But if that's the kind of cost you're seeing in SoCal, I can see it being viable.

Have you checked out any other homes in the area with the same (or similar) system that have had them for a while (more than a year)?
that's the problem, only solar around me seems to be for pool heating, not electrical generation.. hence my thread seeking some insight.
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CamaroSkooter View Post
I imagine electric bills in SoCal aren't exactly cheap, but I don't know how the same SoCal market affects the prices of solar arrays (or the price to install).

What are the maintenance costs of a solar array? I doubt you can just put one on the roof and then forget about it for 25 years...
Most of the companies are offering a 20-25 year warranty on the panels, install and monitoring. If they aren't, they are not worth the time it takes to tell them to pound sand.

Our elected idiots just put a 35% TAX on all solar panels so the price is getting ready to go through the roof. They are trying to "hurt" China by taxing the products that they supply to the US. All that happens is it gets passed on to us, the consumer.

My average summer electric bill in So Cal is over $500. Large house (only 4 years old but 3650 sqft), pool and I work nights so my AC runs all day long.
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:33 PM   #12
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that's the problem, only solar around me seems to be for pool heating, not electrical generation.. hence my thread seeking some insight.
What area are you in? I'm in the Temecula area. There are 4-5 people that I know that have had their systems installed or will be installing their systems in the next month.

A buddy of mine's roof didn't provide a great amount of surface facing the right direction and they are only getting 9 panels. Every little bit helps when you get raked over the coals for electric.
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:02 PM   #13
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What area are you in? I'm in the Temecula area. There are 4-5 people that I know that have had their systems installed or will be installing their systems in the next month.

A buddy of mine's roof didn't provide a great amount of surface facing the right direction and they are only getting 9 panels. Every little bit helps when you get raked over the coals for electric.

i'm in Downey, just north of Long Beach.. I have enough surface area on the east and southeast sides for 30+ panels.. we are starting with 14..

roof was just put on in March so with it's 25 year and the solar 25 year warranty hopefully I won't have any issues insofar and requiring the panels to come off.
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:09 PM   #14
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i'm in Downey, just north of Long Beach.. I have enough surface area on the east and southeast sides for 30+ panels.. we are starting with 14..

roof was just put on in March so with it's 25 year and the solar 25 year warranty hopefully I won't have any issues insofar and requiring the panels to come off.
I think I was told the south facing parts of the roof net the most production from the systems for where I'm located. You aren't very far south of me so I'm assuming it will be the same for you.

The system I went with uses inverters on each panel, rather than using a large one mounted on the side of the house. If it wasn't for the long warranty, I wouldn't have gone that route, but with the monitor being able to see each panel's output and the company is "Guaranteeing" output, I didn't feel like I had anything to loose.
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:14 PM   #15
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yeah we had a solar irradiance test done, and south and southeast roof is the best for us, probably the bulk will be on the south side, which is the curb facing side... but I have a long low slop roof covering a decent sized porch, so you can't really see the angled area from street level..
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:48 PM   #16
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yeah we had a solar irradiance test done, and south and southeast roof is the best for us, probably the bulk will be on the south side, which is the curb facing side... but I have a long low slop roof covering a decent sized porch, so you can't really see the angled area from street level..
I got lucky and mine go down the back side of my garage (blocked from street view) and on the 2nd story roof over the master. The only way anyone is going to see those is to fly over the house. We have a couple of houses in the area that had to put them on the street side and they don't draw your attention.

Every time I see someone else's panels I just think about all the money I'm not giving to the electric company.
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:57 PM   #17
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I got lucky and mine go down the back side of my garage (blocked from street view) and on the 2nd story roof over the master. The only way anyone is going to see those is to fly over the house. We have a couple of houses in the area that had to put them on the street side and they don't draw your attention.

Every time I see someone else's panels I just think about all the money I'm not giving to the electric company.

now if we can figure out a similar process so we can generate our own fuel to feed our beasts and not pay the oil companies.. .
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Old 08-28-2012, 06:06 PM   #18
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now if we can figure out a similar process so we can generate our own fuel to feed our beasts and not pay the oil companies.. .
When you do, sign me up! Between gas and electric we are screwed in SoCal. I am beginning to think the weather isn't worth it anymore.
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Old 08-28-2012, 06:55 PM   #19
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I think I was told the south facing parts of the roof net the most production from the systems for where I'm located. You aren't very far south of me so I'm assuming it will be the same for you.

The system I went with uses inverters on each panel, rather than using a large one mounted on the side of the house. If it wasn't for the long warranty, I wouldn't have gone that route, but with the monitor being able to see each panel's output and the company is "Guaranteeing" output, I didn't feel like I had anything to loose.
Inverters on each panel are call enphase. only one company making those yet. Get ac from panel on and if one panel becomes damage only lose production from the one. Only one manufacturer means high initial cost thoygh but in the right installation may still make great sense.

Oh yeah and sign me up for that gas thing
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:32 PM   #20
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well here is an update.

We installed a 20 panel system, that generates 4.0 kWH per hour at peak.. it's been working for just over a month, we average 18.0 kWH per day generation, lowest was 10.6 on an overcast day highest was 19.7.

Switched over to time of use and net metering, meaning the meter runs both directions, it runs forward for consumption, and backwards for generation. Southern Cal Edison pays us $0.25 kWH during peak, and charges us $0.19 kWH off-peak (but $0.25 during peak if you use more than we generate).

Since March when we moved in our electric bill has been between $300 and $480 / month.. Our baseline is only 10.2 kWH per day which breaks out to 0.42 kWH per hour or 4200 watts on standard tiered pricing it is $0.13 for 30% over base, $0.16 for 60% over base, $0.25 for 100% over base and $0.33 for 200% or more over base then you take into account 2 refridgerators @ approx 1200 (1.2kW) watts each, couple of fans @ 400 - 500 watts each to keep the house cool and a 4-ton HVAC @ 6,000 watts (6kW), not to mention radios, lights, wi-fi, clocks, security system/cameras, cable modem, garage door opener, electric ignited gas tankless water heater, hair dryers, blah blah blah.. 10.2 kWH is nothing, barely enough to get an 1800 sq ft. home with 3 people and 2 dogs thru about 1/3 of a day..

Well after 1 month of solar, my electric bill is $2.00 .. yes $2.00

Now we take into account the cost of the Solar, $20,000

subtract the $1,100 power company rebate
subtract the $8,600 federal tax rebate

Leaves me with an out of pocket cost for the solar of $10,300, which was financed on a HELOC loan for 10 years @ 2.99% with a monthly payment of $135

So technically my electric bill is $137 this month..


----


total payback on the system before I break even will be about 5 years considering an average annual electric bill of $3500.. and I plan on having this loan paid off by then.

after that I will be saving $3000+ a year in electrical utility fees.

I am also considering some wind turbines to offset the overcast/cloudy winter days, a nice 1.8kWH system is about $6,000, but I am going to wait a year and see if it is even needed.

My next project for this is some backup batteries so if/when power is out we will still be able to have lights in the house.. Using the solar to charge a couple of Optimas and run some 12 volt LEDs recessed lighting in the hallways and front rooms. Should be able to have light for 7-10 days that way with no power..

We have already have set up LPG backups for our tankless hot wanter heater and BBQ grills, in under 30 minutes I can convert them from CNG to LPG with manual ignition so we will have hot water and be able to cook in the event something happens and the CNG lines are cut off..
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:46 PM   #21
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Sounds good! I was all siged up to go to Votech school back in 1983 for solar and wind power. I was offered a job in Trinidad West Indies when I finished with Plumbing and Heating Votech and never went back to pursue that route. Before working with the railroad I did 20 years of construction of various types. Anything solar peaked my intrest. So many easy ideas out there for solar water heaters that can be made cheap and by yourself. Congrats on moving in the direction we need to follow. Get rid of our dependance on oil and it will only get cheaper for us to drive.
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:56 PM   #22
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Congrats men, I can only imagine the feeling you get when you see youre $2 electric bill.

Now, how about a Chevy Volt?
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:59 PM   #23
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Congrats men, I can only imagine the feeling you get when you see youre $2 electric bill.

Now, how about a Chevy Volt?

Wife has a Camry Hybrid.. I have already been informed that her next car will be a Tesla Model S if they ever get them into full production..
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:53 PM   #24
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Wife has a Camry Hybrid.. I have already been informed that her next car will be a Tesla Model S if they ever get them into full production..
Wait until the summer and you are producing far new kwh and you will basically pay for the rest of the year plus....

Oh the beauty of solar panels!

Btw my master thesis was based on the adoption rate of photovoltaic panels
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Old 11-06-2012, 08:59 PM   #25
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I wonder how all of the numbers would work out with the subsidies? In other words, without the govt taking my money and giving it to you to pay for the panels, would you still do it and what would the payback look like then?
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