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Author Topic: Buying solar panels with your bonus money  (Read 21395 times)

bellbucci

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Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #60 on: November 11, 2013, 11:41:39 AM »
No, Backcountry  has stated that he doesn't have backup, but relies on the grid.

Sailor

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Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #61 on: November 11, 2013, 03:03:44 PM »
Backcountry, my system has been in place since 2004 so I have some history.  I build a surplus every summer.  In CT we settle in March.  Some years I have had a surplus and others I have had to pay a small amount for the last month.  I have a meter on my inverter that I used to look at all the time.  It shows the current and daily output as well as the total and the amount of carbon saved.  The regular meter on the pole shows weather we are feeding into or taking from the grid.  It was fascinating for a while but now I just let it run.  No noise, no problems just nice clean energy.

As for Hawks questions, we had a Honda gas generator long before we had solar panels so nothing has changed as far as being prepared for outages is concerned.  For all the preppers and doubters I am wondering if you have back up batteries that you charge from the grid?  No?  I didn't think so but since you think every solar system needs them, I am a bit surprised, Steve.   

mohawk70

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  • Posts: 10592
Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #62 on: November 12, 2013, 01:16:27 AM »
Backcountry, my system has been in place since 2004 so I have some history.  I build a surplus every summer.  In CT we settle in March.  Some years I have had a surplus and others I have had to pay a small amount for the last month.  I have a meter on my inverter that I used to look at all the time.  It shows the current and daily output as well as the total and the amount of carbon saved.  The regular meter on the pole shows weather we are feeding into or taking from the grid.  It was fascinating for a while but now I just let it run.  No noise, no problems just nice clean energy.

As for Hawks questions, we had a Honda gas generator long before we had solar panels so nothing has changed as far as being prepared for outages is concerned.  For all the preppers and doubters I am wondering if you have back up batteries that you charge from the grid?  No?  I didn't think so but since you think every solar system needs them, I am a bit surprised, Steve.   

Sailordude,

Could you write up a brief technical description of your system?

How many solar panels, how much cleaning does it require, is the equipment maker still in business, ground mount or roof mount, post a photo?

It sounds like something I would like to build in my yard.

With ten years of operating history, sounds interesting.

I keep sizing and making a bill of materials from Northern Tool catalogs, but it gets out of feasibility very quickly.

Please remember:  The planet Earth is a VOLCANO.   You cannot "save" a volcano ... and volcanoes do not NEED to be saved.

bob0usa

  • Guest
Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #63 on: November 12, 2013, 03:43:01 AM »
Sailordude, My question to you and Backcountry,
Would you install a  solar panel system again knowing what you know now?
My self, i can truly say "yes I would"
Even tho i look out window this morn, and see panels covered with white stuff!
 ;)
bob0usa

Backcountry

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Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #64 on: November 12, 2013, 04:22:53 AM »
bob0usa,
Yes,  knowing what I know now I would definitely go solar again.  It was a huge investment and a huge leap of faith.  We almost never hire out any of our work and we have remodled our entire house and built a huge pole barn ourselves so contracting out was the most unnerving part of it all,  but I love our contractor.

It is great to hear from people like Sailordude who have been using solar successfully for 10 years or more.  The genius of the whole system is that there are no moving parts so there is nothing to wear out.  Because this is a very long term investment I made sure I bought panels that were made in the USA - Solar World - panels.

Sailor

  • Guest
Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #65 on: November 12, 2013, 06:23:32 AM »
Sorry folks, I just went out and looked at my commission date on the inverter.  It was 12/10/2008 so it is five years not ten that the system has been in place.  This is still a fair bit of time.

I have 30 SunPower  panels  that carry a 25 Yr warrenty and a SunPower inverter that is warrented for 10 Yrs.  It is an American company that is still in business. 

I have a south facing shop building with a 4/12 pitch where the panels are very neatly mounted.  The roof was pretty bad when I was looking at installing the panels so I stripped the asphalt shingles and put on a metal roof that is guaranteed for 40 years.  The pitch could be a bit greater for optimum collection but it does just fine and blends in so that most people don't even notice the panels unless they are pointed out to them.  I have never done anything to clean them.  I was up there the other day and they look cleaner than the house windows.  As a matter of fact the only interaction I have ever had has been to turn it off in the rare event of a power failure that lasts long enough to start the generator.  The only complaint I have is that the low pitch does not shed snow very quickly.  Many times we get snow followed by nice clear sunny weather and it bothers me to waste the generation potential so I have a plastic edged roof rake to clear off the snow.  It doesn't take too long but it is a PIA.  I have three permanently mounted brackets that I slide a 24' staging plank onto in the winter to make the job easy.  Once cleared of the bulk of the snow they quickly heat up and melt the rest.

Backcoutry, I too have built everything on this property myself.  That would be the house, shop, barn and numerous little out buildings.  I have done everything with the exception of the excavation and concrete work so I know how you feel about having a contractor do the work.   I kept a very close eye on the job and was able to decide where the inverter and switches went to keep things neat and accessible.  The contractor was neat and professional but it would still be nice if things were set up so you could do at least some of the work yourself.

Unless you are only going to create a small system for a camp or some other limited installation that would not qualify for any rebates or tax incentives, toss out the Northern Tool catalog and contact a couple of solar contractors.  These guys have quality products and know what they are doing.  One of the biggest advantages of having an establish company do the install, is that they handle absolutely all of the paper work.  They will take out permits, and deal with the power company as well as any government entities.  Their sales people seem to be pleasant and knowledgeable.  They will be able to ask the right questions to properly size your system and give you advice on the best siting options for your situation.  Estimates are cheap or free so you have very little to lose in having someone come out to take a look.

Bob O, I would do it again in a heart beat.  I initially did this for a variety of reasons.  It is a long term investment that will pay significant dividends in the long term.  I am currently paying $16.00 a month for my grid connection so I do contribute to the cost of using the grid.  I also have a home equity loan for the installation but the system will far out last the loan.  That was one of my major considerations.  When I am older than I am now, like really old, the system will be paid for and I will have a very low energy bill.  You could look at this as a retirement saving account.  I never worry about rate increases but we still conserve as much as possible; Energy Star appliances and CF or LED light bulbs.  For the most part we go about our lives no different than we did before.  I just feel a bit better about the source of the energy we use, Steve.             
« Last Edit: November 12, 2013, 06:47:21 AM by Sailor Dude »

DSWIS

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Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #66 on: November 12, 2013, 06:46:35 AM »
Mo the critic OF SOLAR,  ;D is building a Solar Plant in his backyard!  slaplaugh

This I definitely need to see. Mo, pleaseeeee send photos when you finish that Northern Tool decision process.  headpat

Backcountry

  • Guest
Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #67 on: November 12, 2013, 06:58:25 AM »
Sailor Dude, 
It is interesting that you and I had he same thought in mind,  reducing our cost of living in retirement.  I figure too that if I save about $1200 a year in my cost of living,  that is about $1600 a year I do not have to go out and earn,  pay tax on and then pay to the utility company.  Anything you can do to reduce your cost of living has more financial benefits that you may think of at first.

donegal

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  • Posts: 4982
Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #68 on: November 12, 2013, 07:27:20 AM »
Sailor Dude, 
It is interesting that you and I had he same thought in mind,  reducing our cost of living in retirement.  I figure too that if I save about $1200 a year in my cost of living,  that is about $1600 a year I do not have to go out and earn,  pay tax on and then pay to the utility company.  Anything you can do to reduce your cost of living has more financial benefits that you may think of at first.

Ummm...yeah....like when wj said he was movin' in.  I asked him what he was doin'.  He jus' shrugged & said, "Can't afford to live by Duffy no more, what with all my hard cider he's drinkin'.  Figgered I'd bunk here  & save on ALL my expenses. ;D "

It may do wonders for HIM, but how's about my havin' double the food bill now?  What's in it for me?


Donegal
We finally scuttled the Exxon Valdez (for the second time in her life), and turned in at the boatyard the ol'  gray Bismarck before she sank too..  Now I'm Captain of the most beautifulest boat ever, the "HMS HOOD", a 2012 stealth black AWD V-8 Chrysler 300.

Sailor

  • Guest
Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #69 on: November 12, 2013, 07:28:53 AM »
If you finance the project through a home equity loan, the interest is also tax deductible.  I did not get a Fed tax credit when I did my system but they have also been available at various times.  There were no state sales taxes and there are no property taxes on the solar array. 

So for all you folks that don't enjoy paying taxes this might be appealing, Steve.   
« Last Edit: November 12, 2013, 07:30:59 AM by Sailor Dude »

mohawk70

  • Premium Member
  • Posts: 10592
Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #70 on: November 14, 2013, 10:10:11 AM »
Backcountry, my system has been in place since 2004 so I have some history.  I build a surplus every summer.  In CT we settle in March.  Some years I have had a surplus and others I have had to pay a small amount for the last month.  I have a meter on my inverter that I used to look at all the time.  It shows the current and daily output as well as the total and the amount of carbon saved.  The regular meter on the pole shows weather we are feeding into or taking from the grid.  It was fascinating for a while but now I just let it run.  No noise, no problems just nice clean energy.

As for Hawks questions, we had a Honda gas generator long before we had solar panels so nothing has changed as far as being prepared for outages is concerned.  For all the preppers and doubters I am wondering if you have back up batteries that you charge from the grid?  No?  I didn't think so but since you think every solar system needs them, I am a bit surprised, Steve.   

Sailordude,

Could you write up a brief technical description of your system?

How many solar panels, how much cleaning does it require, is the equipment maker still in business, ground mount or roof mount, post a photo?

It sounds like something I would like to build in my yard.

With ten years of operating history, sounds interesting.

I keep sizing and making a bill of materials from Northern Tool catalogs, but it gets out of feasibility very quickly.


Sorry for leading you on, guys.

Based on the more complete information provided by you all, the numbers just don't work.   No matter how I worked the numbers, the finances just do not work out.

To make matters worse, I would need a bank loan which is not supportable.   

I'm just not interested in getting a bank loan.

AND the amount I collect would be based on an artificially supported non-feasible rate per kilowatt-hour.

AND, if by any chance the legislation changes, then I would no longer get the artificially high KWH rate.


Even worse, I would not be able to unplug from the grid in the event of some disaster that took down the wires ... ice storm, most likely.   With no batteries to use to run the house at night, there would be a vulnerability that I don't to have.    I understand I could buy a whole house generator and store a couple of weeks worth of gasoline.   But that adds another $10,000 to the $40,000 base price ... plus?  another $10,000 or more for a battery bank and a building to house all the electrics.

So, I took another re-look ... for the upteenth time ... and it just doesn't work.

Sorry.

Didn't mean to lead you on.

« Last Edit: November 14, 2013, 10:13:09 AM by mohawk70 »
Please remember:  The planet Earth is a VOLCANO.   You cannot "save" a volcano ... and volcanoes do not NEED to be saved.

Zeb

  • Posts: 50
Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #71 on: November 14, 2013, 11:54:52 AM »
I used my signing money back in 2008 to put up solar panels - because of the tax credits, the math worked.  But that's the only reason.  The Solar credits you generate with the system that were going for $300 in 2008 are now about $25.  No way does the math work.  I guess it lowers my monthly bill a bit, but when I tracked the numbers, I see no significant decrease.  I know the system works because if I shut down all the electric in my house, It registers electricity flowing in - but don't do it for the cash flow.

mohawk70

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  • Posts: 10592
Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #72 on: November 14, 2013, 12:15:35 PM »
I am STILL interested in a "virtual off-the-grid" solar and wind installation.

But it would have to be based on some kind of self-financing "high school physics experiment".


For example, I found a newish wind generator:

Small Wind Turbine Generator for Clean Energy Power Production
by Pacific Sky Power
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews) | 10 answered questions
Price:   $46.00

You can see it on YouTube.

It's the size of a small coffee cup and will ever so slowly trickle charge a 12 volt battery.

There are "issues". 

Such as, I would need a swivel to point the thing into the wind.   

And only one won't do much good.

Northern Tool and Sportsman's Guide have components.

But they are expensive.

Sportsman's Guide does have a 10 foot high "tower" that is normally used for hunting.   You could put four of these on it, or more, with some kind of tail.

Just a high school physics experiment, unfortunately, adequate for emergency charging of a small 12 volt battery.

AND, most all of the wind mills don't start spinning until upwards of 7mph winds.

You REALLY need a wind mill that spins immediately when the wind starts up; the problem is that there is magnetic resistance, normal in any generator, so you would need to reduce that starting resistance.   Not sure how to do that at this point.   

You would need a variable speed drive.   Of sorts.

And the towers are not structurally sound for long term.

But the structurally sound units run so expensive that they just are not feasible, unless you are up at the Arctic Circle someplace.

Please remember:  The planet Earth is a VOLCANO.   You cannot "save" a volcano ... and volcanoes do not NEED to be saved.

haybaler

  • Guest
Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #73 on: November 14, 2013, 12:17:11 PM »
I visited a solar web site to get an idea of what is the start cost for someone like me. After filling out a work sheet I got a pretty good read out of what the cost would be. For a small monthly reduction of my energy usage (25%) I would need about 303 kW hours of solar generated replacement power. The happy salesman number was about 19,000$. The Federal and State Government subsidy being about 11,000$ over 10 years. Over 25 years the savings would be 18,000$. They do mention an ROI of about 5 years, but I don’t believe that.
Obviously, this is a wealthy man’s hobby shop setup. And I question how these panels save energy in relation to carbon output. The energy used to produce just one panel takes 10 to 15 years to pay back. In other words, the energy borrowed to make the panel must be produced by that panel to show energy profit. Then it would start producing ‘new’ energy.

Sailor

  • Guest
Re: Buying solar panels with your bonus money
« Reply #74 on: November 14, 2013, 06:00:32 PM »
Deciding to install solar panels is not just about the money.  I don't want to have to worry about a constantly rising electric bill when my income is fixed.  The whole system will paid off by the time I truly retire so it will seem mighty cheap at that time.  It also just feels good to be generation all your own electric in cooperation with the utility company.  It also feels like the right thing to do. 

I am very happy with my decision even if an an accountant would not recommend the installation, Steve.   

 


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