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Old 04-03-2013, 01:14 PM   #1
WerksM3
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Lightbulb How about Solar Energy?

Couldn't find any threads on solar energy on the forum and it's something that I have been investigating for the past few months.

Does anyone have any experience with solar for their homes? I recently signed a contract with SolarCity after weighing the options from 5 vendors. I am aware of SC's somewhat 'cooked' tax books but still decided it was my best avenue to get the house fully powered by solar.

If anyone is interested in the topic I will be happy to share the details of what I signed up for. I am also interested to see if anyone has installed any systems on their house, what you like/dislike about it etc.
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Old 04-04-2013, 12:20 PM   #2
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i will sell you solar.
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Old 04-04-2013, 12:30 PM   #3
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I've always heard that you'll never recoup your investment, even with the tax incentives.
I'd be somewhat interested if I thought I could come out way ahead, but numbers have to support the purchase.
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Old 04-04-2013, 12:51 PM   #4
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My in laws have owned a vacation home in central Oregon off the grid for 20 years. No electricity and approximately 300 homes. All use solar panels and battery storage. They have an inverter and a generator as back up. You have to monitor the usage, but it works great. The system has not been upgraded for 10 years. We know the newer panels are much more efficient. Just have to decide what to do.


View from the deck. Notice the size of the home below.




Display panel for inverter

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Old 04-05-2013, 10:10 AM   #5
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I've always heard that you'll never recoup your investment, even with the tax incentives.
I'd be somewhat interested if I thought I could come out way ahead, but numbers have to support the purchase.
There are several avenues to actually make $$ having your own system, it isn't much money overall, but you can cover your energy bill and still make a little on the side. Average ROI is about 7 years if you purchase your system outright.

Here are the details of what I signed up for: It's a solar lease. Sounds shitty until you see the details. Companies are now doing solar leases for 20 years, and they are very popular in CO right now as well as Socal.

* Cliffs on house: 5,400sf, Littleton, Co, Huge south facing garage roof (1200sf garage) with no trees that can block sunlight.

* $0 down, $90/mo. on a 7.35kw system (30x 245w panels). Covers 100% of my energy use on a net metering system. Meaning I push back energy in the sunny months and take it from the grid in the winter, but on a year cycle it covers 100% of the energy use.

* My average electricity bill is currently $120/mo so immediately save an average of $30/mo

* $90/mo solar bill cannot rise and edges inflation and escalating energy prices. Contract states I owe a total of $21,600 over the 20 years. If I were to buy the system and have it installed it would run over $40k.

* They guarantee the annual production of the system. If the system cannot meet their guaranteed production they either pay the difference or make your system larger.

* Any excess energy produced at the end of the year I get paid by my utility company. It's no longer the full rate (since the program is popular), but a discounted rate which is about 70% the normal rate. They have a tiered system in place.

* Fully insured by them against anything and everything. Under no circumstance would I be liable for any damage or repairs, etc. Hail, kids baseballs, theft, etc. They cover everything. Because of this it does not need to go on my homeowners policy. They also cover the roof in the event of any future leaks.

* Opportunity to buy system at end of lease for $0 or they will uninstall it for free. Obviously if they are still around they will try to sell whatever is new at that time.

* States in the contract if the company goes bankrupt they must still honor the warranty sections.

I have already had the consultation, drawings are complete, permit has been pulled and installation is scheduled for 4/16-4/17.

Will post pics of completed system. What do you guys think? I couldn't see many downsides. A friend of mine is doing the pay up front method because we have some serious tax incentives here in CO. But even under the best ROI scenario he won't see a return for 5 years.
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Old 04-05-2013, 10:11 AM   #6
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My in laws have owned a vacation home in central Oregon off the grid for 20 years. No electricity and approximately 300 homes. All use solar panels and battery storage. They have an inverter and a generator as back up. You have to monitor the usage, but it works great. The system has not been upgraded for 10 years. We know the newer panels are much more efficient. Just have to decide what to do.
Beautiful spot! Looks like my kind of vacation area.
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Old 04-05-2013, 10:28 AM   #7
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It actually sounds like a Win Win deal. You use the solar and it is supplimented when you need the A/c from the grid. Does this mean your bill will never be more than $90 even if you use more electricity during the Summer for A/C? How do you heat your home? Gas/Heat pump/Electricity?

PS my wife just inherited 30% of the vacation home....
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Old 04-06-2013, 02:33 PM   #8
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Has anyone had any experience with wind turbines ?

I know they are expensive and noisy, but a lot of new designs have come out lately and their 'cut on' point has been lowered to about nine miles per hour, as opposed to the twelve mph that was constant for many years. Has anyone here ever used one ?
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:16 AM   #9
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Has anyone had any experience with wind turbines ?

I know they are expensive and noisy, but a lot of new designs have come out lately and their 'cut on' point has been lowered to about nine miles per hour, as opposed to the twelve mph that was constant for many years. Has anyone here ever used one ?
I have not used one but am interested as well.
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:29 AM   #10
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It actually sounds like a Win Win deal. You use the solar and it is supplimented when you need the A/c from the grid. Does this mean your bill will never be more than $90 even if you use more electricity during the Summer for A/C? How do you heat your home? Gas/Heat pump/Electricity?

PS my wife just inherited 30% of the vacation home....
We pay $90 for the solar and pay our utility company for any power we use over what the solar produced. However, we get credits on our bill if we produce more than we consume. If we are a net producer of electricity in a 12 month cycle we get a check from the utility company for the difference, and they also waive all metering fees for the year if you are a net producer (metering fee is $5/mo here).

We use natural gas heat / Electric Air Conditioning.

Months when temperatures are moderate and sunny will be our peak production months. Basically where we are located March-June and Sept-Nov will be the peak net production months July-Aug are the highest gross production months but they are also the heavy A/C months so we may not net produce during those months. The system is also heat-sensitive meaning it's efficiency is best when it is cooler out. We have a lot of blue sky sunny winter days in CO so those are the best scenario for production even though the sun is not in the sky as long.

Another great thing I forgot to mention is they provide a very cool solar monitoring system. Everything is tracked online and production numbers are updated to the server every 30 minutes so you can track your production over the course of each day/week/month/year. It also stores lifetime production and CO2 offset. I was really impressed when I tested it out online.

Not sure to say congrats or give my condolences regarding the inheritance. I guess congrats on the inheritance sorry for your loss if there was one.
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:46 PM   #11
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This is what I want.........free energy............

With Sterling Allen, starts at 40 minutes..






http://pureenergysystems.com/about/p...terlingDAllan/


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Flanagan
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Old 05-23-2013, 10:01 AM   #12
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Well here is the completed installation, this photo is about 4 weeks old. Still waiting for Xcel Energy to come and put the net metering system in so I can turn it on!

The box on the left is where the new meter goes, just a piece of cardboard in there right now.

When they were wrapping up the install the guy buypassed the box and turned it on. Instant 6.5kw at about 10AM which was awesome! The panels face about 210degrees so 30 degrees west of south. Should get peak power between 1 and 4 pm.

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Old 05-28-2013, 10:36 AM   #13
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badass!! i've installed and worked on a bunch of solar pv systems. it's refreshing to hear from someone with actual experience! not just spouting off what they heard on fox news about solar never paying for itself and being a dumb idea.

isn't it great having inflation proof sun generated clean energy produced on your roof? are you on time of day pricing? you could possibly improve your energy savings and production even more. wash clothes and dishes at night with cheap electricity while producing and gaining credits for your expensive day production. a perfect match!

what about an electric car? the premium on an EV is about $10k. electric vehicles are $0.10 per mile cheaper than a gas one at today's prices. over 100,000 you've paid for that premium and haven't pumped a single gallon or done a single oil change!
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:18 PM   #14
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Update:

So I just signed the final piece of paperwork with xcel (my energy company). Basically they give you two options for what to do with excess energy:

Option A is they pay you for your energy production once every 12 months. The "solar rewards" program they have is tiered, the first 5MW of customers that signed up got full price back $0.11/kwh, second 5MW tier got $0.09/kwh and so on. I was in the 3rd tier and would get $0.07/kwh.

Option B is they rollover your energy month to month, year to year, FOREVER, with no limitations on how much you can bank, etc. You are never reimbursed for the additional power you produce. The only drawback is any excess energy produced in this option is never transferable. If you don't use it you lose it.

SO after running a few numbers it was clear that option B has a very, very substantial benefit. The plan is to bank all of the power for a few years and then get an electric vehicle. I would like to wait until a decent sized fully electric car can achieve 300 miles on a single charge before I purchase one. Not sure why but that's the number that makes me feel comfortable. I am hoping that will happen within the next 5-7 years. By that time we should have enough energy banked to drive it completely FREE for quite a while.

System should be interconnected this week
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Old 06-03-2013, 03:22 PM   #15
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You have a 5400 sqft home and pay $120 per month in utilities without solar panels?
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:14 AM   #16
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do you use any natural gas? another upgrade you should do if you haven't is install a heat pump water heater asap. what are your daily driving habits?
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:26 AM   #17
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You have a 5400 sqft home and pay $120 per month in utilities without solar panels?
The $120/mo is just the electricity. Our heat and water heater are gas. That portion of the bill can be up to $200/mo on it's own.
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:29 AM   #18
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do you use any natural gas? another upgrade you should do if you haven't is install a heat pump water heater asap. what are your daily driving habits?
I just put in a brand new efficient water heater. I couldn't make the ROI numbers work on a heat pump model.

I currently don't drive daily (work from home) but my wife has a 20 mile commute each way, which is where we would utilize the electric car. It needs the 300 mile range because she often has to drive her own car to work meetings throughout the day. However, if pressed I'm sure we could convince her company to install a hookup in their parking lot. They are electrical engineers after all.
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:38 AM   #19
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The $120/mo is just the electricity. Our heat and water heater are gas. That portion of the bill can be up to $200/mo on it's own.
Must be nice.

My total utilities bill averages $500 with a much much smaller house.
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:45 AM   #20
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what numbers did you use? the most efficient gas ones are 2-3 times less efficient than hpwh. you can get them now at lowe's for like $700. how much was your gas water heater?

your goal should be to get off of natural gas. what is your monthly service charge for using gas? why not go with a heat pump for your heat? either air source or geo? average high in winter is in the 40's in CO.

a ford cmas or something similar would let you do mostly all electric with extended hybrid range.
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