Solar home panels

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wizardg's picture
wizardg
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Solar home panels

I was wondering if anyone had any experience with installing or having someone else install solar panels on their roof?

 It seems to me that in the event of whatever WTSHTF turns out to look like being able to generate your own electricity would be a tremendous asset - even if it is not enough to do all of what you do now.

 

 

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Re: Solar home panels

I don't know much, but I know that unless you have a lot of technical knowledge of the electrician's art and a certain amount of contractor-type skills -- plus specific knowledge of Things Photovoltaic -- then you'd best let a professional do the job.  In NY state there is a whole certification course (or two?) required before you can go out and do this  sort of thing.

Viva -- Sager 

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Re: Solar home panels
SagerXX wrote:

I don't know much, but I know that unless you have a lot of technical knowledge of the electrician's art and a certain amount of contractor-type skills -- plus specific knowledge of Things Photovoltaic -- then you'd best let a professional do the job.  In NY state there is a whole certification course (or two?) required before you can go out and do this  sort of thing.

Viva -- Sager 

This is prudent and wise if you are talking about educating already trained, professional tradesmen who are negotiating a maze of commercial and residential codes and marrying a variety of equipment, especially if you are looking at an integrated system that feeds into your normal house power to reduce grid dependence or even generate offsetting income,...then yes, stick to the professionals by all means!

If however, you are looking at a much simplified "emergency system" that spends most of its days charging a few car batteries that normally run a couple of night security lights and power a small camp refrigerator chilling a 12-pack, but which in an emergency could help you chill some meat and milk, give you a few hours of night-time light and radio, and basically fend of a bit of the fall of civilization,...its not a project that is too far beyond most DIY/handyman homeowners, just keep your hands outta the breaker boxes and be content with what you can handle and pay a professional for their training, experience and skills in what you can't handle.

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Re: Solar home panels

I have to agree with Sager - if you don't have the necessary experience it's best to work with a professional who has excellent references.

If you have construction, electrical or engineering background it's a pretty straight-forward proposition once you have ascertained the specs for your system. 

Big things to think about: siting (is any part of your roof/property able to get enough unobstructed sunlight), weight (is your roof assembly strong enough to take the added weight of panels and mounting hardware), and wiring (are you going to wire your solar outlets separately or try to slave the power from the invertor into your existing wiring -- and do you have enough access to do this without gutting all your walls, etc).

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Re: Solar home panels

I also find that cleaning and adjusting angles as the season progresses and the angle of the sun changes in the sky help to maximize output, so putting them on the ground is easier to maintain and get the angles right. If your house isn't perfectly situated and you still mount flat to the roof, you can quickly make a 210W panel into a 50W panel. Might as well get all the watts you are paying for, and a 2x4 structure at ground level is very inexpensive to construct.

If you do some research and have any kind of skills with your hands, you would be better long term to do it yourself and learn the ins and outs so you can maintain or even expand your system when resources are scarce. In my mind, it is just another skill to aquire, no different from gardening. Seems to me gardening is harder than installing PV arrays, but I'm a technical guy.

Bottom line - learn the science or have someone in your community who knows this stuff and barter with them.

Best,

Rog

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Re: Solar home panels

Also, if you're reasonably confident in your DIY skills but a little iffy on your electrical know-how, there are several pre-packaged systems that include the panels, cabling, regulators, inverters, batteries, etc... they're usually a pretty good deal and a good "starter project" for alternative power.

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Re: Solar home panels

What's the real scoop on solar?  I've heard bad things for 20 years...that they aren't worth it.  I'm sure that's BS, but I don't know how to find the real truth.

If you live in the northwest, i.e. cloud/rain most of the year, is it a total waste to try solar?  Do you need to live in the sunbelt or is a half-and-half place like the midwest ok?   

Do the homemade setups work?  What about the setups using a fresnel lens to superheat water into steam to power a generator?

 

Lots of questions...where's the definitive source on this?  And wind power too?  There's all sorts of homemade wind turbine things out there, but my guess is they don't replace the need for grid power. 

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Re: Solar home panels

Strabes,

check this place out :-

Centre For Alternative Energy

http://www.cat.org.uk/information/aboutcatx.tmpl?init=2&subdir=information

You'll find books and links galore, plus they are happy to talk with you by phone or email about system designs and they're absolutely free.

A hot water system design can also be found here, with an array of information that covers A through Z about sustainable living...

Best,

Paul

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Re: Solar home panels
strabes wrote:

What's the real scoop on solar?  I've heard bad things for 20 years...that they aren't worth it.  I'm sure that's BS, but I don't know how to find the real truth.

Currently solar is not going to beat coal, natural gas, nuclear, or hydro on a large scale. They are much more efficient and the technology is currently better. In large scale electricity, solar and wind can not compete, there would need to be massive subsidizing by governments, most of which couldn't afford it (not that they would let that stop them!)

On a home scale, over a 20 years or so they should pay for themselves. Even sooner if electricity prices go up, which is likely in my opinion. They also can get you off the grid, which is a good thing in my opinion. And, if you believe that carbon is a pollutant you will be CO2 free... :)

Now, assuming there is a large scale collapse, or even a slow decline with brown outs and black outs, having an off grid house, or at least enough electricity to power lights at night will make a would of difference to your family.

You should be able to do it in almost anywhere in the US, depending on how many things are blocking the sky. It will not likely replace grid power unless you invest quite a bit of money.

Solar is better than wind unless you are in a very windy area with little sunlight.

Shell just got out of both wind and solar because it currently isn't profitable.

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Re: Solar home panels

Solar (and wind, to a lesser extent) not only do not make sense financially, but they do not make sense in terms of ERoEI. If you look at the massive amounts of oil that go into a single PV panel, it takes over 20 years in most climates to make that energy consumption back.

If you are buying solar and wind right now, it's not to save money or oil. It's because you are concerned that in the future you may have a vastly reduced ability to buy them, or perhaps even are on your own to produce energy.

Solar is one source of many that need to come into play to replace the grid in the average home. If you are not concerned about grid failure, I wouldn't buy. If you are, look closely at everything you can do to produce (or more importantly save) volts and amps.

Solar, in some form, will most likely fit into every home that is leaning toward self reliance. Good news is that once the initial purchase is behind you, save theft or a tree falling on them, they will last 30+ years and serve you well every day there are captuable photons.

Not sure, just get a couple and do net-metering (assuming you live in the US

 

Rog

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Re: Solar home panels

Thanks for the info.  I can't believe we haven't made more progress...I remember as a kid 30 years ago seeing a neighbor put panels on his house and he took them down a couple years later after he realized they were a waste of money.  Sounds like we've made little improvement.  That's too bad considering how much solar energy smacks us in the face everyday.

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Re: Solar home panels

Strabes, aside from the ERoEI issues, the efficiency of Solar PV for home-use is a sliding scale of factors. In the PNW, for example, with its many gray days your panels may only have 2-3 hours of strong sunlight per day and only be about 70% effective at utilizing that. But keep in mind, not all PV needs perfect "blue sky" sunlight to work, just to work at top efficiency... you'll still get at least a trickle on most gray days.  Since most panel are rated by peak production of 4-5 good hours, you'll have to do some jiggering of the numbers to estimate what your system will actually give you. If you have only a few smaller panels, that might just be enough juice for a few low-wattage lamps in the evening and to recharge your laptop & other battery-operated electronics... but probably not enough to run a refrigerator all day (except maybe if it's specifically designed for "off grid" like the SunFrost models). Solar Thermal is much less temperamental about "blue sky" sunlight, so these systems can work really well to augment your domestic hot water system by pre-warming the water or to supplement heating with radiant floor systems.

Of course, nothing is worth the peace of mind of having "free" electricity that is independent of the grid if there should ever be a problem. Note that "free" doesn't include the cost of the equipment, just the collection and delivery after installation... but I kinda like the buy once approach rather than pay someelse forever model.  Anyone living or building somewhere where grid-tie is either not available, extremely expensive, or highly unreliable will tell you having your own "powerplant" is money well-spent whether it is a fueled generator, solar, wind, micro-hydro or any combination thereof. The hardest part is to wean your power-consumption down to either what your system can generate regularly, or coming up with the cash to buy a huge system to cover a large consumption. The Law of Diminshing Returns applies to individual power systems just like any other system, and "a penny saved is a penny earned" (or in this case, a kilowatt).

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Re: Solar home panels

Amorphous Silicon PV Cells, have a an "Energy payback" period of averaging 2.2 years. So in effect you get 27.8 years of power "for free" IIRC actual EROEI would be 6.8 (not guaranteeing the math) assuming a maximum life span of 30 years, since there aren't any A-Si PV's of that age yet, that's estimated, however current Mono-Crystalline and Poly Crystalline panels do not currently fail due to the PV cells and have a projected lifespan of 40 years, generally they suffer a mechanical breakage for instance the external housing fails.NREL has some data that corroborates this EROEI and Energy Payback here

Obviously local conditions have an effect on this, and yes I'm ignoring the energy cost of shipping and installation, however whatever the power installation there is some energy cost in shipping and installation, I suspect that in comparision to a coal powered power plant the installation energy cost would be significantly lower, in particular when you consider the maintenance energy cost of mining, and transporting coal to the plant. If someone comes back with data that can prove or disprove this position it would be greatly appreciated.

However to discount this technology as a huge failure at this time is a little premature, since they have a fixed energy cost of creation, and no maintenance energy cost, the overall benefit is definitely positive. Remember too that as we Cross Peak Oil, and other Fossil Fuels the EROEI for extraction begins to increase too, at some point in the future we will hit a point where the energy cost of running that coal plant is so high that just running the plant costs more energy than it produces (i.e. an EROEI < 1).

Iif we keep plugging away at the same energy sources at some point we're going to reach a point of energy debt where we can no longer climb out of that debt we've created at all. I think it far more prudent to consider alternate energy, solar include, to get ourselves out of an energy hole we're falling into before we reach the same point in energy that correlates to the position we're in with financial situation. i.e. we can no longer pay our debts.

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Re: Solar home panels
strabes wrote:

That's too bad considering how much solar energy smacks us in the face everyday.

Strabes, I've enjoyed reading your posts, and I have learned a lot from you on matters financial, so I will attempt to return the favor.

We have made progress! The only problem comes in when you compare any other energy source to oil. Oil is the storing of eons of solar energy "smacking us in the face" and we are trying to get the same amount of usable energy on a daily basis that took countless centuries to form into oil. This is not an easy task, short of replicating the sun's energy as nuclear fusion here on Earth. For now, since we still have oil, it makes sense to buy PV, wind, etc. in preparation for a time when we don't have access to those barrels of stored solar energy. In the future without cheap oil, building PVs and the like will become counter-productive to energy gains, and I envision they will no longer be mass produced. That said, you still have time now to capitalize on them today!

In my climate, I find the best way of living off-grid to nearly the same lifestyle as the grid allows is a combination of all solar energy options, including the indirect ones.

With the wind we have right now in my area, I can charge my batteries in a couple of hours for over a day's worth of electricity. Happily, the sun is out too, and I have maximum charge and today is a good day for laundry, pumping, woodworking, etc any big use of electricity. I find that Magnets For Less http://www.magnet4less.com/index.php?cPath=8 is the most cost effective place to shop in terms of cost / watts. They also offer parts ( for example, I bought just the fiberglass blades from them and built my first 3KW system complete with tower for $700) if you are willing and able to do much of the technical stuff yourself. Problem with wind for most folks is they live in a subdivision which presents social issues with installing a big propeller (that will kill birds and bats!) in the sky.

PV is great because there is little maintenance, and once you have the system running, there is little added cost. Be prepared to spend north of $10K for a system that is going to come close to being on the grid for a small, very efficient home. This number heads higher very quickly if you want to live as most folks do today without grid support. One way to minimize costs is to eliminate the batteries and electronics, and go with net metering. This situation has you selling power to the electric company (yes, you are still grid tied and therefore beholding to them) when you are producing more than you need, literally turning the meter backwards. Then when the sun is down, you pull from the grid for your needs. A properly sized system can have you at a $0 electricity bill when annualized.

If you want to live off grid, you will need to find a way to store energy. The sun doesn't shine at night, but electricity usage continues in most homes. This means batteries, which means DC vs. AC. You will need an inverter and a charge controller to perform the function of providing AC current as needed to your fuse box from the DC source that is your battery. I personally have 2 forklift batteries with a total of 2500+ AH at 24 VDC, meaning 4000 pounds of lead. I have (2) of the 12-125-17s shown here: http://gbindustrialbattery.com/Forklift_Battery_Sizes_and_Specifications_Zone15.html

And (2) of the the Xantrex 6048 inverters here: http://store.altestore.com/Inverters/On-Grid-Off-Grid-Capable-Inverters/Xantrex-XW6048-InverterCharger-865-1000/p5956/?source=hp123_XantrexXW6048Inverter/Charger%3fsource=adwords&gclid=CM6s2fjCupkCFSQhDQod0HSy4w

If, on the other hand, if today was not as active in what the sun provides either directly with PV or indirectly with wind, I have a 30KVA diesel genset to smooth out the highs and lows. With 1.5 hours of running the generator (it produces 200A at 220VAC at 1800 RPM), I can fully charge batteries if there is no wind or sunshine. This generator is also powered by the sun in that oilseed is harvested and converted to biodiesel. Again, indirect solar energy, I'm just speeding up the process that created petroleum in the first place. I am currently in the middle of a project to put the generator mostly underground to minimize temperature fluctuations (helps battery efficiency and prevents biodiesel from gelling during 20 degree days in the winter) and noise, and then I will see my system as complete. I am currently grid tied, but the flick of a switch and I go off grid without a noticeable change in the house. You can imagine that a lot of blood sweat and tears have gone into this system, but there is definitely a sense of well-being knowing that I am not totally dependent on the grid for survival.

Other options include steam (cut down a tree, make a kilowatt for every 15 pounds of seasoned hardwood) but there is a steep price on the front as well, and a much more hands-on and potentially dangerous approach. If you are lucky enough to have a stream or river nearby, you can directly convert water currents into electrical ones. A bio-digester will take organics and manure and convert it to methane which can be used anywhere you would use natural gas including electricity generation. Wood gasification is another way to go, and can run an internal combustion engine if liquefied, but this gets pretty technical. Overall, what I have found is that you will need at least 3 alternative energy sources to round each other out to replace a modern convenience like the grid or the oil pipeline. Wood, coal, moving water, PV, wind, methane, they are all forms of solar energy and you need at least 3 to make up for fossil fuels, combined with massive energy savings in the house.

Anyhow, this may be more information than you wanted. If I can help you design a system that works for you, let me know.

Best,

Roger

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Re: Solar home panels

Gungnir,

You posted while I was still typing mine, so my post is not in response to yours.

I have data that refutes yours, however I need to carfully re-read both reports to understand where the differences in ERoEI results are coming from. At this point, I am not sure which report to believe.

Reguardless, I think our message is similar, in that PV does make sense depending upon how it is applied, I wouldn't have spent the money if I didn't believe that! So reguardless of the ERoEI factor (my fuzzy math detector is beeping) we should clearly look at PV as an option.

Best,

Rog

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Re: Solar home panels

Solar panels are  gradually becoming cheaper and more feasible. I live in the Southwest, where solar makes somewhat more sense than it does in, say, New England. But solar technology is still not to the point where it is a "no brainer", even here in Texas where the sun is dependable. It's expensive and finicky, though it does work. But so far it is not very cost effective. There is also the problem of not being able to store the energy without a very expensive battery array. I'm fascinated by "flow battery" technology (in which the electrolyte is stored externally from the battery), but it's exceptionally expensive.  Google it to learn more about flow batteries. I think they hold much promise for the future.

Wind power is also "iffy" here. In order to take good advantage of a wind turbine generator, you need a fairly steady wind source. Here in Central Texas we don't have that, but our neighbors to our west do. Ranchers out in the western part of our state are cleaning up by leasing land to utilities, which are installing wind farms atop mesas and other high spots. Good on those landowners! Their lives have -- heretofore -- been a hardscrabble existence. It's good to see them prospering by leasing land to power companies. I suppose I must also mention that a drive to the west along I-20 from Dallas to El Paso will either fill you with dismay at the blight caused by those wind farms, or fill you with encouragement about the future. You choose.

We must all do what we can to cope. In my case, I have 87 acres, which includes a fairly dense woodlot. So I'm experimenting with wood gasification technology. Basically, it's entirely feasible to run an internal combustion (spark ignition) engine on wood gas, which burns cleanly. An engine fired by wood gas can run a generator to provide electric power, or it can power an auto or truck. This is ancient technology that is proven. My plan -- should it work -- is to provide a backup source of electric power for those times when the grid is down. Should Peak Oil occur tomorrow (please -- I am not about to get into an argument about when that will happen) I figure that we will -- at least at first -- see scheduled periods of electrical outages. If we know ahead of time about those outages, we can supplement them with locally generated power. Hence the woodgas project.

It has a good chance of working, but I wear both a belt and suspenders, figuratively speaking. My alternative is biodiesel. I have enough information to know that I can cultivate up to 20 - 25 acres of oilseed (i.e., soy, sunflowers, canola, etc.) and produce biodiesel from the seeds. It's straightforward technology -- not very tough -- and the equipment to produce biodiesel from oilseeds is commercially available and relataively inexpensive. Biodiesel will run a compression ignition (diesel) engine. More important, it will allow me to feel confident that I can run a diesel tractor and work the land.

If I still lived in the city, I believe I would be concentrating on container gardening, attempting to grow as much produce as possible in a small area. It is astonishing how much can be produced from a small vegetable garden, intensively cultivated. The produce is tasty and it is so satisfying to grow one's own food.

Okay, so I have strayed way away from the central theme of this posting. So sue me or ignore me. I'm trying to be helpful. If you live on 1/8th acre. forget it. But if you own or have access to some land, these thoughts might be helpful.

 

Ready's picture
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Re: Solar home panels

BSV,

Good to hear from you.

I tried to return your email, but was blocked both by my Yahoo address and my work address. Can you send me an email from another address I can reply to?

Best,

Rog

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Re: Solar home panels

Could anyone post a recommended basic solar panel system that could be purchased with a budget of around $5,000?  Any links to recommended suppliers?  We're thinking about getting a system but don't know where to start.  We're needing something off grid as an emergency backup when the power goes out around here.  Even in a mild TSHF scenario, we are so far out in the country that we would be the last to see electricity restored if it went out on a large scale.

 

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Re: Solar home panels

One point about the viability of solar energy -- I remember reading in John Michael Greer's book, The Long Descent, that while solar panel technology doesn't pencil out in flat terms (I believe he said it takes about as much energy to create a solar array as it will generate over it's rated lifespan), in this time of deindustrialization, he does see a compelling argument for using solar panels essentially as a banking of currently cheap energy. Buy and install them now, when the price of oil is cheap (and there are federal rebates, for  that matter), and be able to withdraw that energy over the next 30 plus years, when electricity costs will become very, very high.

I find that a compelling argument. The only thing that's held me back from buying solar (aside from cost!) is not knowing if this is the house we'll be in for the next 30 years. Have any of you built/seen designs for solar arrays that can be moved to another property without significant risk of damage? Would a backyard array work better for that? I hate to give up valuable sunny gardening space for a ground-level array, but perhaps it would make sense to do so....

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Re: Solar home panels

From what I last understood PV panels are partly so expensive because of growing the silicon crystals. In manufacturing they are mostly assembled and built by robots or automated manufacturing lines. I interivewed at one in Camarillo, CA a few years back. I'm thinking about going for it again, solar would be a good job.

From what I have read on DIY solar, unless you can adequately seal the cells from moisture, the lifespan is greatly reduced. In part why sometimes its better to buy pre made panels for long term usage. If you just want to make a few panels as a SHTF hedge, I dont think it would be a bad idea. rebeccayi0904 on Ebay has great deals on cells. She includes the wires and everything you need. The soldereing is time consuming, so if you plan to make a lot of panels, be prepared, or buy cells that are already tabbed. I ran across a few DIY articles on the net of people who made panels on masonite and plexiglass. Some cool stuff.

In tinkering around with the panels I have made. For simple as possible in a SHTF even, you could rely on a inverter, car battery, and your panels. Its definately not the best option, but you could do it with those three components. You will have to watch the battery voltage closely and keep it from going over 14v. One 60 watt panel at 18 volts can run the battery voltage up quick if you aren't using anything. You could use a voltage regulator from a alternator, but I'm not sure what the voltage drop would be.

I have thought about doing some type of step by step and putting it out on the net for people. The true free diy solar articles are only handful. My set-up also might not be the easiest to reproduce, but it could at least give some ideas.

For people just interested in the DIY aspect, they now have inverters that plug directly into your wall. You can build some small panels, put them in a window, plug them into the inverter, and any power produced from the panels is dumped back into your house lines. In my opinion, probably the simplest set-up if you are just looking to improve any way you can without spending large amounts for all the equipment.  

SPM's picture
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Re: Solar home panels

Barry, have you heard of coal gassification?

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Re: Solar home panels

You guys need to find out about Dyesol.

 

www.dyesol.com

 

This is a thrid generation solar product. The product is essentially a paint, rather than silicon pannels (typically 2nd Gen solar). They'e manufacturing things like steel profiled roof sheeting painted in their paint to produce entire buildings that are solar receptive. Their doing the same thing with tiles for facades, painted in the Dye.

This must certainly be the way forward in the solar industry.

Yeah?? Your thoughts?

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Re: Solar home panels

hystrike,

That is a very interesting technology. In fact, it is biomimetics: using a similar process that plants use in the photosynthetic process to convert photons into electrons rather than glucose.

Imagine painting your house with these substrates and hooking some wiring up for twenty years of free power.

However, it sounds like there is much research to be done before that kind of simplicity comes to fruition.

When I first read through I thought, cool, a new toy to play with; but check their prices. A thousand bucks for a liter of electrolyte? LOL....I'll put it on my Christmas wish list.

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Re: Solar home panels

Thats some pretty interesting stuff. I would love to paint my roof and have power for 25 years.

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Re: Solar home panels

We've just finished installing a 7 KW solar panel system here in Phoenix AZ. The details design, products used and cost are on the Dropbox community database -- you can sign up and download at http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/community-database-established/18169.

The system begins to make economic sense when the utility company and tax incentives are taken into account. I think is is nearly a no-brainer if you think there is a reasonable chance that TSHTF is likely to happen

I took a course from Sharp electronics who makes panels and my wife & I did much of the install ourselves. Happy to share any knowledge that we have and assist wherever possible

Jim

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Re: Solar home panels

You wouldn't be able to do that in California. You have to be a certified electrician, and carry additional certs for solar design and installation. California is nasty with the rules and regs. An average 3kW system is $15,000 installed, after all rebates. Last time I checked, I'm not sure now. Its funny to me, with such a large usage of energy here that they wouldn't incentivise better than they have. Some states after rebates its almost free.

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Re: Solar home panels

If you site them somewhere where it rains every day, yes it will take a long time to payback, but I estimate my PVs paid off in ~ 2.5 years here in Australia.  We have triple junction amorphous panels BTW, US brand (US64, made by UniSolar, bought out by another crowd, you can easily find them on the net).  I chose those because they have a much lower embodied energy, being manufactured at 350 deg C instead of the 1300 deg C that crystalline technology requires.  They also do not have glass covers.  The downside is they are inefficient (6.5%) but then we have enough roof space we could install twice as much again if we wanted to....

The upside is they're cheaper, they work far better in hot conditions, and most importantly, part shading.

The whole idea of 'profitability' is entirely mindset......  when you last bought a car, did you ask the dealer how long the car would take to pay itself off?  Would you take NEVER as a good answer?

Mike

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Re: Solar home panels

"If you look at the massive amounts of oil that go into a single PV panel, it takes over 20 years in most climates to make that energy consumption back."  This simply NOT TRUE!

Check this out:  www.solarpv.com/paybackstudy.pdf

BTW, solar power has had a bad rap mainly because of incredibly poor installations at times.  I have personally seen amateur (and, unfortunately pro) installations to make your blood curdle.....  poorly sized ANYTHING, from wiring to circuit breakers and batteries can make even the best gear simply not work when all put together.  If in doubt, fuggedaboutit.....  hire someone competent.

Mike

EndGamePlayer's picture
EndGamePlayer
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 2 2008
Posts: 546
Re: Solar home panels

We went a whole different direction. Instead of costly solar panels on our MN roof - we painted the south facing metal roof black to absorb winter sun. After we partioned off that side from the north side, we added a single solar panel to run the filtered hot air (free heat) into the living space during winter and duct worked the hot air outside during the summer. It runs through a thermostat so the only time it can move air is at 90 degrees or highre. The cost was for paint, a solar fan unit and about 2 weeks worth of spare time work. It adds about 50% of our heat (spring & fall) with wood being our main extreme winter heat source. We don't need AC because now the roof doesn't get hot. That's a lot of heat from 1 single solar panel. I guess people are doing the same thing with side-wall units in boxes too. The roof unit is not so intrusive looking but we might add side-wall panels (home-made) sometime in the future.

EGP

S Schauermann's picture
S Schauermann
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 21 2009
Posts: 34
Re: Solar home panels
suesullivan wrote:

One point about the viability of solar energy -- I remember reading in John Michael Greer's book, The Long Descent, that while solar panel technology doesn't pencil out in flat terms (I believe he said it takes about as much energy to create a solar array as it will generate over it's rated lifespan), in this time of deindustrialization, he does see a compelling argument for using solar panels essentially as a banking of currently cheap energy. Buy and install them now, when the price of oil is cheap (and there are federal rebates, for  that matter), and be able to withdraw that energy over the next 30 plus years, when electricity costs will become very, very high.

I find that a compelling argument. The only thing that's held me back from buying solar (aside from cost!) is not knowing if this is the house we'll be in for the next 30 years. Have any of you built/seen designs for solar arrays that can be moved to another property without significant risk of damage? Would a backyard array work better for that? I hate to give up valuable sunny gardening space for a ground-level array, but perhaps it would make sense to do so....

Sue, 

     Solar panel production technology has evolved to the point that an Evergreen Solar panels' energy payback is as short as 12 months. A very durable good with no moving parts, it is warranted to still produce within 10% of of its rated output for 25 years! Very few investments will even come close. Especially when dwindling fossil fuel resources send traditionally generated electricity rates through the proverbial roof. It may even come to a point where you produce your own or do without. We probably won't even be having the payback discussion at that juncture.

    A top of pole mount may be your solution for not using up ground space and being portable. The added advantage is the ability to track the sun from east to west. Can't do much about the shadow it will throw, though.

 Regards, Spencer

bhilder's picture
bhilder
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 26 2009
Posts: 3
Re: Solar home panels

Hi,

I have built some 12 volt / 36 watt solar panels from 0.5Volt x 3.0Amp waffers that I purchased on eBay. 

For anyone who is interested in learning whats involved in making your own panels, or wants to have an appreciation of the workmanship in commercially available panels please see:

http://www.quadmodsusa.com/solar.pdf

In terms of Canadian dollars, I found that hardware costs run $1.50 to $2.00 per watt to build your own.   Please be aware that it can be pretty time consuming and challanging to build your own. 

Thanks,
Brett.

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