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    Thread: Solar panels

    1. #21
      ricshaw's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by kimini View Post
      700-800 kWh, or around $200/month.
      Then you may be a candidate for solar.

      Quote Originally Posted by kimini View Post
      I'm just starting my education and understand just enough to be really dangerous...

      I know that once a year, PV system users have a "truing up" billing, where the balance is paid off between them and the utility. If you used more than you made you own them $X. If you made more than you used, they owe you, but here's the big catch. The amount they pay you per kWh is somewhere around $0.027, yup, 2.7 cents. It's so close to zero that it's a big reason to not oversize a PV system. That said, there's always future additional uses, an electric car is a big one, typically upping usage by 20-50%.

      I know I didn't really answer your question, because I'm not sure. Still reading to better understand just that.
      Basically the utility pays you their wholesale cost of buying electricity at the end of the year if you produce more than you use.

      It was explained to me that another reason you do not need a solar system that produces 100% of your electricity need is, as you know, the utility charges you on a usage tier plan. The 1st tier charge per KWh is reasonable and would not warrant investing in solar. So people who use very little would not benefit from buying a solar system. Energy hogs, like Koi pond hobbyist, electricity costs go into the 3rd and 4th tiers, which is a lot!!


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    2. #22
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      Quote Originally Posted by kimini View Post
      I'm just starting my education and understand just enough to be really dangerous...

      I know that once a year, PV system users have a "truing up" billing, where the balance is paid off between them and the utility. If you used more than you made you own them $X. If you made more than you used, they owe you, but here's the big catch. The amount they pay you per kWh is somewhere around $0.027, yup, 2.7 cents. It's so close to zero that it's a big reason to not oversize a PV system. That said, there's always future additional uses, an electric car is a big one, typically upping usage by 20-50%.

      I know I didn't really answer your question, because I'm not sure. Still reading to better understand just that.
      Yes, I pay a balance once a year if I use more than I generate. But I'm not on a time-of-use plan... just straight tier pricing. I just didn't understand how the time-of-use calculates when one has a solar system large enough to cover 24 hours usage.

      And yes, the amount they pay a user for excess generation is a very small, so it doesn't pay to build a system larger than you need. If they paid the user rate, the farms around here would be covered with solar panels.... at least mine would be.

    3. #23
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      I agree that solar sales guys are not the most honest guys. Thatís why we donít have any in my company. I'm an electrical engineer with around 15 years designing and installing solar systems. I have done around 30MW of PV systems including design and installation. The key with solar is what do you want to do? There are different types of systems that all work differently and depending on your rules the system will perform better. Grid tied systems (micro inverters, string inverters) need a grid connection to work and you need to have an interconnection agreement with the utility. Most utilities use the ďnet zeroĒ model in wish the excess energy you produce during the day you can use at night or on another day. To put this in numbers if you produce 1000W and you only use 500W then the extra 500W goes to the grid (the meter runs backwards). This 500W excess you can use it when you need it. However if at the end of the year you have produced more than you have used the Utility has to buy from use the excess but at a far cheaper price than they sell the energy to you. These systems are very good if you can use them and they are far cheaper than other PV systems. These systems work great if you have a very reliable utility grid because they disconnect as soon as the utility fails in order to protect linemen working to restore power. They can also be programmed to work as grid tied with battery backup. But as in the case where I live (Puerto Rico) Hurricanes can hit us at any time so we need Emergency generators and/or batteries. In some states selling back to the grid is already prohibited (Hawaii for example) so they have to use battery based systems. The good thing with battery based systems is that you have redundancy in case of grid failure plus there are many programmable configurations that can save even more energy in the long run. For example in time of use markets you can program the system to use the batteries on peak hours where the cost of energy is high and either charge with solar or with the grid during cheaper rates of the TOU. Other configurations can also include load support that you can program the system to only use PV power or battery (charged exclusively by PV) to run the house loads with the Utility providing the power that the PV canít produce (cloudy days).
      Someone also mentioned system leasing, in my opinion these contract are not good at all for the end user. Most of the contract terms are for 20 or 25 years. This means that you will still have to buy the energy at a reduced rate but the system is not yours. They say no initial investment, no maintenance as their catch but in the end you pay around 4 to 4.5 times the cost of the system if you buy it or you make a loan to pay for the system.
      In my house after 2 major Hurricanes (Category 5) within one week of each other passing over our island last September I had my system working all day and night and only when the batteries were low did the diesel generator was used. Everything is automatic so I donít have to be in my house to do anything. The inverters control the generator and turn it on when needed. Battery based systems are all we are doing on a residential level with large commercial systems going battery less systems (the batteries are just too expensive for big systems).
      As far as pricing of the systems goes a good price for a grid tied system is around $2.50 to $3.00 per watt installed. This price also depends on permitting and utility agreements. Battery based systems are more expensive, from $4.00 to $6.00 per watt but have other benefits that can outweigh the cost, like having emergency power during an outage. These prices depend on system size and complexity.

    4. #24
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      An update from when I started this thread, I decided to hold off on spending money on a PV system. Why? Talking with people who are really into solar equipment and systems, they suggest instead trying hard to minimize usage rather than playing the game of installers, the city, and SDGE's virtually opaque billing methods. What they charge, and when, coupled with being able to raise rates whenever they like, made me hold off.

      Another factor is that our particular situation requires ground mounts on an uneven hillside, serious boring and trenching through clay/sandstone for the cables, and permits for hurricane-capable mounts. The mounts alone would be one-off custom units and very expensive. I also fear when it's all done, it would be an enormous eyesore.
      Last edited by kimini; 06-27-2018 at 06:52 PM.

    5. #25
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      Eyesore? After paying that much money you should be proud that you are green and bought solar.

    6. #26
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      I have a solar birdbath fountain.



    7. #27
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      Quote Originally Posted by ricshaw View Post
      Eyesore? After paying that much money you should be proud that you are green and bought solar.
      I don't have solar, the entire point of my post.

    8. #28
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      Quote Originally Posted by jnegr View Post
      ...In some states selling back to the grid is already prohibited (Hawaii for example) so they have to use battery based systems.
      I'm curious if you know what is the reasoning behind it being prohibited?
      --Steve
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    9. #29
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      I have a solar powered sun dial , and I painted it with glow in the dark paint so that I can tell what time it is at night .

    10. #30
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      Quote Originally Posted by kimini View Post
      I don't have solar, the entire point of my post.
      My point was after paying that much money a person should be proud that they are green and bought solar.

    11. #31
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      After in-depth analysis some things turn out to not be as green as sold.

    12. #32
      BWG is offline Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by icu2 View Post
      I'm curious if you know what is the reasoning behind it being prohibited?
      Nothing is free. It takes planning and infrastructure ($$$$$$$) from the utility to be able to do this. Users of the utility have to pay for this to happen. The Gov should offer subsidies only to home systems with batteries and no buy back power. Solar farms planned and controlled by the utility are the way of the future. Home solar should be a personal choice that others shouldn't have to pay for.

    13. #33
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      Any opinions on Telsa's solar roof?
      -Rain

      :I CAN'T BRING THIS SHIP INTO TRTUGA ALL BY ME ONESIES, SAVVY?:

    14. #34
      ricshaw's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by rainblood View Post
      Any opinions on Telsa's solar roof?
      Looks good... and expensive.

    15. #35
      BWG is offline Senior Member
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      Tesla Solar is floundering with closures announced and layoffs of workers. A competitors solar roof product has more features and is less cost. Too early and costly to use any of this type of product.
      Last edited by BWG; 06-28-2018 at 03:00 PM.

    16. #36
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      Too expensive and unknown at this point to be a lab rat. Just imagine the consequences of it failing, both in terms of lost output, or having to pop them off to fix a water leak.

    17. #37
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      It’s only expensive in the short run.
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    18. #38
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      Quote Originally Posted by kimini View Post
      An update from when I started this thread, I decided to hold off on spending money on a PV system. Why? Talking with people who are really into solar equipment and systems, they suggest instead trying hard to minimize usage rather than playing the game of installers, the city, and SDGE's virtually opaque billing methods. What they charge, and when, coupled with being able to raise rates whenever they like, made me hold off.

      Another factor is that our particular situation requires ground mounts on an uneven hillside, serious boring and trenching through clay/sandstone for the cables, and permits for hurricane-capable mounts. The mounts alone would be one-off custom units and very expensive. I also fear when it's all done, it would be an enormous eyesore.
      Minimizing usage is of course the easiest and most efficient way to save on your bill. Edison's ability to change rates at any time is one reason I wanted to go solar because I know it will never get cheaper because utilities have little reason to cut costs or personnel.

      The ground mount we have wasn't as complex as I thought it would be. I did most all the work myself but our solar installer brought his new gas powered 2-person auger to help. I told him that wouldn't work due to the rocky soils we have. After about 15 minutes of the machine trying to break our wrists, he agreed. But digging the holes with a shovel and my harbor-freight jack hammer wasn't difficult.

      If I remember correctly, I used a 12" cement tube to pour the 30" deep footing piers and embedded 1.5" metal pipe risers in the center of each, aligned by using a string-line. Our installer supplied all the 1.5 inch fittings I needed (different from regular plumbing fittings) to hold the horizontal 1.5 inch pipe. After I had the basic grid of pipe installed, his aluminum mounting system simply bolted on top of my grid and was installed, along with the panels, in a single day. The bottom of my panel array is about a foot off the surface of the hillside and the top is about 4 feet above the surface. I put a small fence along the top and it is basically invisible to anyone visiting the farm. I did have to remove a tree that shaded the area in winter.

      Trenching to the house was straight-forward, with the exception of having to cross a 6" thick concrete driveway. Trenching was harder than the mounting system. I found that whenever a solar company did an estimate of trenching there was a lot of padding in the estimate to cover problems they might have, especially in my area where rocks and boulders are common. Doing it myself saved me a lot of money. And hiring a firm that is used to doing trenching in your area may be cheaper than using the solar installers, who will probably subcontract it out anyway.

    19. #39
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      Quote Originally Posted by icu2 View Post
      I'm curious if you know what is the reasoning behind it being prohibited?
      Like BWG said connecting to the grid in small scale is not complicated but when everyone is connecting at the same time the consequences can be difficult to combat. The utility has to make sure that the system is reliable and all the fluctuations in voltage (Power) have to taken into account. When we design a solar farm we have to have weather predicting models and simulations in order to try to predict the weather in advance so that bad weather doesn't damage any equipment on the utility side. This is done on a Solar farm where a cloud can significantly reduce the output enough to cause problems of voltage regulation on the utility if the ramp down of power is not done correctly. To put it simply imagine you have 30,000,000Watts of power producing at peak power and then a big cloud comes in and all the power goes to 15% of the previous output and this happens in 60 seconds, the utility on order to prevent plants from shutting down or brown outs they have to quickly accelerate their turbines in order to cover what the cloud covered in Power from the plant. With modern plants it's covered up to a certain amount of time by batteries so they are not the problem. Now imagine 50,000 houses with 3,000 Watts each and a cloud covers them quickly. The utility still has to cover the power that the residential system won't be able to produce. It's a logistical problem on the utility side but we as end customers are the ones that can cause these problems. For example Hawaii allows PV systems if they don't sell to the grid. The incentives there made everyone install systems but the utility was too slow to react and in the end they had many problems.

      All hope is not lost on PV systems for these places since most battery based inverters can be programmed not to sell to the grid but still support the energy demands of the house, this is done with batteries. The utility can become a backup for rainy days or when there is high energy demand that the PV system can't cover. This way you can have a system the works almost off grid but the system size can be reduce and you don't depend only on batteries.

      On the Tesla topic they are very good at marketing and company image. They are in financial problems with every year being in the red. This can be due to creative accounting or that they are really in trouble. Their system has one major drawback, the systems can't operate completely off grid. There are a lot of companies that have similar or even better products cheaper but they don't have the mainstream media coverage or such a strong marketing campaign.

    20. #40
      ricshaw's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by jnegr View Post
      Like BWG said connecting to the grid in small scale is not complicated but when everyone is connecting at the same time the consequences can be difficult to combat. The utility has to make sure that the system is reliable and all the fluctuations in voltage (Power) have to taken into account.
      I do not understood the above. Where I live we are already connected to a electrical power grid. We live in the city and my house like everybody else is connected to the grid. When homeowners install solar, many where I live have, they remain connected to the power grid. There is no consequences to the grid. The homeowners with solar are contributing power to the grid during the peak hours of electricity usage. At night the homeowners with solar are getting power from the grid, just like they did before they installed solar panels. Very few people with solar, where I live, choose to install battery systems and disconnect from the grid. The cost of the batteries and battery maintenance/replacement cost does not offset any cost savings of leaving the grid. Staying on the grid, with batteries, would not be cost effective.


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