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I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

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I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Old 08-04-09, 12:02 AM
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I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Talked to an electrician that does a lot of solar projects. Apparently there are some pretty good fed incentives and state incentives right now, which can take a chunk out of the cost, and the costs have dipped with the recession.

I have a warehouse that has southern exposure and our area gets 300+ days of sun per year. They have done calculations to try to put me at a net zero. The utility company doesn't buy back excess, but keeps it "banked" for a year. So there isn't an advantage to having more production that you use, just more initial cost.

But here is my point....if I had plenty of solar, I wouldn't have fluorescent lights, and I wouldn't care if I left lights on. I'd definitely take all my gas appliances (hot water heater, furnace, dryer) and switch them to electric. I'd wait on the dryer since it is new, but otherwise I would convert. Then I'd figure in about 10% above that usage for "room to grow."

Does that sound reasonable?
Old 08-04-09, 12:07 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Couldnt you phase in a few panels for lights first and if thats working add panels for the gas transition?
Old 08-04-09, 12:12 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Solar? Are you going to buy a Volkswagen Type 2 to go along with it?
Old 08-04-09, 12:25 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

I always knew you had a little pansy in you. Man up and look into coal. We'll all write this off as a "phase" you went through.
Old 08-04-09, 12:32 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Hippie.

Federal and state "incentives"? Sounds awfully like the hand-outs you've been complaining about.

You disappoint me.






But
Next, sell your cars and use the horse for transportation.
Old 08-04-09, 01:11 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

I expected this. While I do complain about most federal programs, I will gladly take advantage of any that I can. I think it is really the only way to get back what they screwed you out of with some other deal.

I think the reason to go fairly heavy now is because of the incentives, which could go away. Seems like the numbers were around 30-40% in tax credits.

And if it makes you guys feel better, I would be doing this to be a glutton. Leaving lights on all the time, etc.
Old 08-04-09, 01:13 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
Does that sound reasonable?
No.

Using solar generated electric to power an electric heater of any kind is very inefficient. There are direct solar hot water and residential heating systems which are much more efficient. There are also systems that will supplement or integrate with your existing system at a reduced cost.

So, if your planning for your future capacity, just add the dryer. Unless you can convince the wife that the clothes line is the latest and greatest in solar technology.
Old 08-04-09, 02:19 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

I'm not going off the grid. My goal is to simply make the meter run backwards as much as it runs forwards. And efficiency doesn't mean anything to me. The point of doing this is so that I can be as inefficient as I want to be.

But I figure that with enough solar panels, a heatpump would be offset by the solar, but a gas furnace would always cost me what the gas costs.

Now does it make sense?
Old 08-04-09, 02:35 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Do the solar panels seek and destroy dogs? If so, you should totally go for it!
Old 08-04-09, 04:26 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Solar? Fuck solar. I just went nuclear.
Old 08-04-09, 04:37 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Talk to these guys: http://www.solarcity.com/

They are well established on the West Coast, and they sell panels made by First Solar, which is one the biggest producers of solar panels in the world.

They also give discounts to hippies
Old 08-04-09, 05:28 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
I'm not going off the grid. My goal is to simply make the meter run backwards as much as it runs forwards. And efficiency doesn't mean anything to me. The point of doing this is so that I can be as inefficient as I want to be.
I understand that. But the incentives only partially, not totally, offset your investment. Some efforts at efficiency could reduce your net investment. (Although we might just want to let you stimulate the economy)

But I totally understand "robbing" the government that robs you.

"Banking" your excess kilowatts-hours for a year is a pretty novel net metering deal. You will most likely run excess in the summer, shortfall in the winter due to length of day (especially true if you go heat pump)
Old 08-04-09, 05:44 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
I'm not going off the grid. My goal is to simply make the meter run backwards as much as it runs forwards. And efficiency doesn't mean anything to me. The point of doing this is so that I can be as inefficient as I want to be.

But I figure that with enough solar panels, a heatpump would be offset by the solar, but a gas furnace would always cost me what the gas costs.

Now does it make sense?
I'm just saying that if you plan to move your hot water and heat to the solar grid you are going to need more panels to cover the additional load. You might want to look at solar thermal solutions to see if they would be cheaper than the additional panels.
Old 08-04-09, 06:25 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

At Extreme Tech, Loyd Case did a pretty good write up oh his experience going Solar.

Part 1 (Install)

Part 2 (Six Months)

Part 3 (One Year)
Old 08-04-09, 07:22 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

I went to Greece a few months ago and every house had a solar panel on the roof. Pretty impressive.
Old 08-04-09, 07:56 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

What happens when you need to replace the roof?
Old 08-04-09, 07:58 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

If you are going to do it, get rid of all your gas appliances. You won't have to pay the stupid "maintenance fees" and other fixed "costs" of the gas company any more (they make me want to throw a brick through the gas company’s windows).
Old 08-04-09, 08:00 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Originally Posted by parrotheads4 View Post
What happens when you need to replace the roof?
Wouldn't you make the same argument for a sat dish?

I'd be curious to know what you find about the different options as you look into this more. I'm not at the point where this is an option right now, but I've thought about it as an option for the not too distant future. I figure the sooner you start the sooner you'll see a return despite the obvious technology advances.
Old 08-04-09, 08:03 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

What a hippie.
Old 08-04-09, 08:44 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

How long would it take you to save the same amount of money you put into it? I've heard it's very expensive to go full solar (even with the tax incentives). I'd start small and build from there. Start with a solar powered water heater.
Old 08-04-09, 08:50 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Those ET links were interesting. I'd be curious to know how much the efficiency in panels has increase in the ~year since he had his purchased and installed. Based on his rough calculations he'd break even at the 12 year point, but thinks it would come sooner. With better panels and higher engery prices I wouldn't be surprised if you could get under 8 years. Perhaps that's a bit too ambitious?
Old 08-04-09, 08:53 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
And if it makes you guys feel better, I would be doing this to be a glutton. Leaving lights on all the time, etc.
It's a slippery slope, Dave. Next thing you know, you'll be opening a kennel just for target practice... pretending that you're gay so that you can have sex with your wife all the time....
Old 08-04-09, 08:55 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

We hope to add some solar panels, maybe next year. Good to know that the pricing is down, I'd like to take advantage of that. We can bank up kilowatt hours on ComEd's grid.

Now changing out the furnace, I'm not so sure about that. It gets cold up here and we're in a standard home, not an earth bermed or otherwise environmentally friendly home. I thought about using radiant heating panels on the ceiling in the basement, which is alarmingly cold in the winter. Oil filled electric heaters could supplement upstairs and keep the gas usage down.

The clothes dryer I would switch out when it dies, no problems there. I'm trying to use drying racks more anyway. Nothing like seeing a rack full of cloth diapers air drying and sun bleaching!

OK, losing the gas range is a sticking point for me. I don't think we could do that.

Water heater, fine. Once it wears out.

I'd be in dave's camp--using this as a way to offset our electrical consumption for our many computers and TVs and also the lights, though I hope to try LED bulbs soon.
Old 08-04-09, 09:17 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

Gas heat is a lot cheaper than electric heat. Figure out how many kilowatt hours it would take to heat the place. Even with a heat pump, I'd bet that you'd come out behind.

Last year, I was researching the cost of a thermostatically-controlled fan to exhaust my attic space. It cost about $120 more for it to operate from a solar panel. It even makes sense, because I'd only want to exhaust the attic during summer. We get 330 days of sun, so the worst load on the AC is solar load.

But when I calculated the savings, I found that even if the price of electricity doubled, it would have taken me eight to ten years to make up the cost of the solar panel. The fan would probably have died by then.

Nor do I believe the argument that solar panels are intrinsically green. The reason that solar panels are expensive is partly because of the cost of energy consumed in manufacturing them. You aren't necessarily consuming less energy, you're just paying for it up front.
Old 08-04-09, 09:33 AM
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Re: I may go solar at my house. Anyone else do this?

If you plan to live in the house for at least 10 more years, then do it. The incentives that are out there right now make it worthwhile (I know you are not doing it for environmental reasons )

I would do it if I could.

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