BMW Luxury Touring Community banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,176 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Anyone here ever done anything with solar power? I'm getting curious about it, and am going to talk it over with a local company.
I've done solar water heat, and was very happy with the results. Now I'm considering an array of photovoltaic panels to power my house, and a possible sell back of power to the grid.
I'm in an area where I'm able to do that, and there's a bunch of incentives, so I thought now might be the right time. I realize that there's a ton of variables, so I'll have to do a bunch of penciling to see how it pans out, but wondered if anyone else here has considered it, done it, or even discarded the idea.
Thanks,
Frank
 

·
Premium Member
2011 R1200RT
Joined
·
8,171 Posts
Frank, I'd like to know more about solar water heating. I want to extend the pool season and there is plenty of sunshine here in SOCAL and I have easy access to the roof to install coils, pipe, etc... I have a small but deep (over 8') pool so even when it is 95F outside the water is still chilly.
Did you do it yourself? Did you buy a kit or plans? Did you use solar to heat water for the house only?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
fpmlt said:
Anyone here ever done anything with solar power? I'm getting curious about it, and am going to talk it over with a local company.
I've done solar water heat, and was very happy with the results. Now I'm considering an array of photovoltaic panels to power my house, and a possible sell back of power to the grid.
I'm in an area where I'm able to do that, and there's a bunch of incentives, so I thought now might be the right time. I realize that there's a ton of variables, so I'll have to do a bunch of penciling to see how it pans out, but wondered if anyone else here has considered it, done it, or even discarded the idea.
Thanks,
Frank
There are a slew of incentives offered right now from state, federal and power company sources. Do a cost/benefit analysis to see how quickly you can recoup your investment. Our company was able to get a 3 year recoup by installing a 50kw farm on the roof of our building. State incentives picked up 50% of the installation cost and we sold our energy Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC) to a purchaser for an additional lump sum payment. The Feds helped out with some tax incentives, too. Without these mostly tax payer funded incentives, alternative energy generation is currently not cost-justifiable.

Residential installations will take longer to recoup your investment, even with the tax payments -- usually 5+ years.

The feasibility of solar installations also depends on such factors as the ability to place the cells in a southern direction, obstructions such as trees or adjacent buildings and roof space/pitch or space for a ground installation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,208 Posts
I've been interested in the solar alternative for a while but I'm still in the "research phase"
check this forum for solar information
and this one for electrical saving information
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
701 Posts
+1

RonKMiller said:
Why yes, as a matter of fact - my LT is now running on solar power:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,176 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
SilverBuffalo said:
I've been interested in the solar alternative for a while but I'm still in the "research phase"
check this forum for solar information
and this one for electrical saving information
Thanks Hans, good stuff. That'll keep me busy for a while.
To further explain my thinking, and hoping for feedback to see if I'm looking at this the wrong way, here's what I'll be asking the solar guy when he comes later this week.
I don't want off the grid, so battery storage isn't a consideration. At least not now. I'm on acerage, with a well, and when the power goes out, I'm pretty much screwed all the way around. I'll likely get a generator large enough for at least the well (horses need the water), but then I got to thinking about solar.
If I could install an array big enough to power my day time activities, I can cut my bill, likely sell back some, and save quite a bit in the long run. It would require a small life style change, like watering (well) in the daytime, showering and laundry also in daylite hours. On the days of no watering or laundry etc., power should be available for sell back.
We have a couple of small retirement accounts that could pay the upfronts, and depending on the grant stuff, and tax incentives, it might work.
Am I thinking about this from the wrong perspective?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
372 Posts
We have a 6.4k system on our house. It gives us a zero electric bill about 5 months out of the year. We still have to pay the fees and what not but we make more than we use and sell it back for credit.

On average the system cuts our bill $150.00 dollars a month.

No batteries, just hooked right to the grid. A battery pack was going to cost us another $10k or so. Then you have the service on the batteries and cables to keep in mind also.

The way this system is set up I just clean the panels about every 2 to 3 months and watch the meter go backwards.

Good luck with your system. Hope you are on line soon.
 

·
IBR# 366
Joined
·
16,555 Posts
A friend of mine has a solar panel kit on his south roof. He likes to check the meter obsessively. :D

I don't remember the total outlay, but he said he figured about 10-years to break-even here in Sunny SoCal. He's more done it for the environmental coolness factor than as a money-making enterprise.

As for hot water, our last house had three black panels on the roof for the pool. I moved them over to the pool building and added 2 more panels. That was our only source of heat, as the pool furnace had burned out long before we had bought the place. That was enough for summer swimming, but a furnace would extend the season quite a bit by "taking the edge off" so the roof panels would work better.

The panels, ABS piping, and valves aren't very expensive, but you have to open and close the valves manually when the sun comes out or goes away to make the most of the system. And of course run the water pump when it's sunny outside to get the heat from the roof into the pool. There are various automatic valves and electronic thermostats, but those start to get pricey real quick.

I found a lot of online resources when I was looking at redoing this system, with a lot of good information. Google is your friend. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,989 Posts
fpmlt said:
Anyone here ever done anything with solar power? /QUOTE]

I used to nuke ants with a magnifying glass when I was a kid.
 

·
Enjoy The Ride
Joined
·
3,979 Posts
Ted said:
fpmlt said:
Anyone here ever done anything with solar power? /QUOTE]

I used to nuke ants with a magnifying glass when I was a kid.
I did the same thing testing an off road truck outside of Barstow California. We set up a EZ-UP tent under the power lines that go from the Hoover Dam to LA. There was enough juice in the air to nuke ants running up the tent poles by holding a screwdriver at the right distance to zap them. Not solar power but fun anyway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,176 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
So, Dave and Ted, were there any state or federal tax incentives for your activities? Or are you both pending psych test results?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,945 Posts
My firm does commercial applications through Power Purchase Agreements (Google it-a little involved)-PPA) but be sure your installer knows what he's doing and has the proper permits and inspections. Often the Fire Marshall is involved in the process.

You can also Google the title in the attachment to get the complete analysis of the fire on this installation. Primary cause was a lack of coordination between the trades and the long runs of conduit and poor connections that caused the HV wiring to short.

Probably not an issue on a residential install. I have another file or website that gives the incentives by state that I'll see if I can find.

The industry is evolving with higher output panels but warranties are a marketing gimmick and generally worthless and many of the panels are now from China.
 

Attachments

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,945 Posts
PMitchell said:
My firm does commercial applications through Power Purchase Agreements (Google it-a little involved)-PPA) but be sure your installer knows what he's doing and has the proper permits and inspections. Often the Fire Marshall is involved in the process.

You can also Google the title in the attachment to get the complete analysis of the fire on this installation. Primary cause was a lack of coordination between the trades and the long runs of conduit and poor connections that caused the HV wiring to short.

Probably not an issue on a residential install. I have another file or website that gives the incentives by state that I'll see if I can find.

The industry is evolving with higher output panels but warranties are a marketing gimmick and generally worthless and many of the panels are now from China.
Here are the incentives by state http://www.dsireusa.org/
plus more info . . .
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,176 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Thanks Paul. Today's the day for my site inspection, but the more I read, the less enthusiastic I get. We'll see. And of course it's been raining all week, so puts a real damper on anything solar related :eek:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
I lived off the grid in Tum Tum Washington for 5 years. I think my system cost around 20,000 and consisted of six marine batteries, Inverter, three solar panels and I had a Onan propane generator to charge the batteries if it was gray for two long. I also had wood heat and propane heat, propane refrigerator. I used to sell electricity back to my power company. I also had a well and 2000 gallons of water storage that was gravity fed to the house.

I got my system from Back Woods Solar in Sandpoint Idaho. great people. Wish I still had the place now but the 120 mile round trip commute after five years got to me.

Al
Spokane
WA :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,176 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
OK, the solar guys were here, and I think I learned a few things.
First thing I learned, and it was contrary to what I would have thought, is that the PV - photo voltaic - system is a better investment, with greater returns, than solar water heating. They explained that for one, there are fewer tax credits to be had for solar water heat, and there is more waste. They suggested that I could produce hot water, but if I didn't use it all, it just goes to waste, or in other words, I don't make use of it. By producing electricity through the PV system, I sell back anything I don't use. PV is a cheaper system to install, with better returns. Surprised me.
the system that they're offering is 3.1Kw (220v) for $14,630. Tax credits amount to $10,389, so I pay, out of pocket, $4,241. An advantage that I have is that the power company I use credits me back the power I put into the grid at the same rate they sell it to me. It's strictly a credit system, so they don't actually "buy" anything from me, just credit me what I put in. Some companies actually do buy it back, but at a reduced rate.
Something I don't think I have straight is the tax issue. The wife and I will be fully retired by July. We both have our pensions, but in addition to those, we have 3 accounts that we contributed to tax free. We put money into those accounts pre tax, so will be paying taxes on that money when we start to draw it out. Am I thinking correctly that I'm benefitting myself by using that money for the solar system, in that the taxes I'll pay on it are actually coming back to me?
The way I'm thinking is that if I buy this system, I'm getting a tax break. If I just drew it out and bought, say, a K1600GTL, I'm lose 20-30% of that money in taxes. Do I have that wrong?
Would enjoy hearing some thoughts and opinions. Finance is not my strong suit.
Thanks,
Frank
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,208 Posts
Look into a solar pre-heater for hot water, you can build your own,
it's nothing more than a water heater tank painted black inside a foil lined insulated box
with a double or triple pane glass window facing the sun,

I believe they put spacers between the panes to get the maximum insulated heat effect.

This would get "plummed" between your water source and the water heater,
that way the water heater is "fed" with pre-heated water
and still heated electrically to desired temp on gray days.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,176 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Well I went ahead and did it. In the "big picture", probably not a game changer, but like using synthetic oil, it sort'a feels good.
 

Attachments

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,561 Posts
I used solar for hot water for many years.............
I was 5 miles beyond electricity ....so........I painted a water tank (15 gallons, uninsulated) black and put it on the roof of an outdoor shower......Hade to mix cold with it to shower about 4:00 PM. Also had the same setup in my greenhouse for dishwashing etc...........
In the winter, I sandwiched copper tubing between the wood stove pipe and a second layer of pipe so it heated water as I heated the house. The copper tubing ran out of and into a 90 gallon tank.........Lots of hot water in winter........
For music and very limited electricity I just used 12V
Change the house battery for my pickup battery every first of the month..........
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top