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  1. #1
    T.W.O.
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    Solar panels, care to share? Is it worth it???

    Ok, I'm considering it. Not so much for going green but money saving. I'm thinking about buying not leasing.

    What's the skinny on the solar panels?

    Do I need the battery for power outage?

    How do I save the money? Is it from drawing power mainly from solar and using only the power credit?

    If I have power credit how do I get pay?

    Thanks guys.

    Happy Holidays

  2. #2
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    I think the idea is that solar energy is transferred to battery cells in the home if you are off grid. The harvested energy needs to either go to the grid or to a storage vessel. So I would imagine you need a battery backup if you were connected to the grid and the power went out. Depending on your system, you could end up supplying power to the grid, but I do not know exactly how that works. They do require some upkeep and you obviously need to have good sun. Some systems will have cells that are fixed in place and some can be rotated to maximize the angle to the sun. They work best when clean and unobstructed of course. I would be interested to know how it works as well. One option might be to call your energy company and ask them about using the cells and whatever reimbursement plan they have.
    Last edited by dbhammercycle; 12-07-2013 at 09:29 PM. Reason: energy is neither created or destroyed in a closed system
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  3. #3
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    I don't have solar power, but from what I understand, here in CA you can sell back excess to the utility company if you generate more than you can use. I'm not sure about the details, but I do know that this was not the case before the Brown administration. I had a tenant back who was in the process of starting up an RV storage yard with covered parking, and he had intended to generate electricity on the rooftop space and collect rent from RV owners, who often have no place to park their rigs when they are t home.
    He had a number of challenges, but the deal breaker was when he found out that at that time, he could not sell excess power back to the utility. I't too bad, because it sounded like he had a pretty god idea there.
    If he re-did it today, it would be a money maker, for sure.
    Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.

  4. #4
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    When I lived in the UK, I had a buddy who looked at doing this (although with wind turbines - not enough sun!) but the amount the utility company paid for the excess (about 2% of what it would cost you to buy) wasn't worth making it part of the consideration...

  5. #5
    duh
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    Where I live in Ontario my friend has solar panels but he sells it back to the grid and makes money. He has had it for 6 months and says it does well but if it was only for him you still would need to be on the grid for when the sun doesn't shine.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tone's View Post
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  6. #6
    official eMpTyBRain
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    mimi, a client of mine has a whole bunch of them on his roof here in So Cal. He says he about breaks even on his electricity bill. Sometimes he pays a few bucks for power, and sometimes he comes out ahead with credit.
    ...and proud member of the anti-sock puppet desolation

  7. #7
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    Re: Solar panels, care to share? Is it worth it???

    Here in Utah my understanding is that you sell it back to the grid and that same value that you buy it. Your electricity meter literally runs backwards if you are generating electricity that you are not using.
    I know some people that are looking into it or have them. We have great sun 6 months a year and OK Sun the other 6 months. With the right size system, a neighbor only paid for electricity for 3 months last year (and much less than otherwise would have paid for those 3 months) and essentially used what they generated the other months, sometimes taking from the grid and other times feeding back into the grid.
    Taking into account the cost of the system minus federal and state rebates, it would take me 15 years to recoup the cost of the system. Since the size of the system is based on your average energy usage, that 15 years is the same for my neighbor with a system 2/3 the size that I would need as well as another neighbor looking into a system 3x larger (BIG house! ).
    I believe the federal tax credit is 30% the cost of the install. Then you need to find out what kind of rebates your state gives for the cost of the system as well as whether they buy back the excess electricity at an equal rate to what they sell it or not. Figure out your average electricity usage so you can decide how big a system to get. Here it runs about $4/watt, so a 6.5kw system is about $26,000 before rebates. For my neighbor, that generated anywhere from 400kw to 1200kw per month depending on the time of year (800 kw monthly average for the year). Snow and short days in the winter kill those months.



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  8. #8
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    Thanks guys.

    I know I probably won't lease. I know so far that it would take about 5-7 years to break even, well then what. I have free power(give and take a few $$$) for the rest of the panel's life which is 25 years? So basically, forget the upfront purchase, as soon as I install the unit and use less power than I can generate, I don't have to pay for electricity? Is that the idea?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawg View Post
    mimi, a client of mine has a whole bunch of them on his roof here in So Cal. He says he about breaks even on his electricity bill. Sometimes he pays a few bucks for power, and sometimes he comes out ahead with credit.
    Yep, one thing we got in spades in SoCal is sunlight, eh? Central to southern Arizona is another place where photovoltaic panels can really do well.

    We got plenty of clouds today, and some intense rain in San Diego. During the hardest part, I just happened to be on my bike riding down to my buddy's shop in OB.

    I'm wearing glasses again for the first time in close to 20 years, and I'd forgotten about the 'special' experience of riding relatively fast in the rain with glasses on. What fun!
    Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Ray View Post
    Yep, one thing we got in spades in SoCal is sunlight, eh? Central to southern Arizona is another place where photovoltaic panels can really do well.

    We got plenty of clouds today, and some intense rain in San Diego. During the hardest part, I just happened to be on my bike riding down to my buddy's shop in OB.

    I'm wearing glasses again for the first time in close to 20 years, and I'd forgotten about the 'special' experience of riding relatively fast in the rain with glasses on. What fun!
    Yeah, it's sunny pretty much all year here. Plus the green movement is everywhere, so I'm pretty sure I'd get a decent tax break and rebate from both Fed and state. I'll go back and study the bill(s) and see how much (big) I need

  11. #11
    Ride More, Whine Less
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    To start, I would look at replacing all of your light bulbs with LEDs. That may cut your power bill substantially for a fraction of the cost of solar panels.

    You will also want to check to see what local approvals you need. For example, there are several homes here with solar panels. One high profile home has run into trouble with his home owners association. They told him no. He didn't care and had them installed anyway. Now there is a legal dispute. I hope he wins because alternative energy is where we need to be moving.

    Do you have a lot of wind where you live? If so, one of these look to be an option too. Home Wind Turbine | Pika Energy They work in tandem with a solar array.

    And, I think most people work off net energy. You get a credit if you make more than you use. I don't think that many people get credit from solar alone.

  12. #12
    jalepenio jimenez
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    it's not solar, but if you're talking wind power, here is an interesting design for wind energy:
    UGE | Empowering you with renewable energy
    good luck in your investigation. already i've learned from this thread - led lights being cost effective and way less $$ than a wind or solar generating system.
    I dig, chop, strangle, yank, stomp, annihilate, mutilate, eradicate, and FU goatheads

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudflap View Post
    it's not solar, but if you're talking wind power, here is an interesting design for wind energy:
    UGE | Empowering you with renewable energy
    good luck in your investigation. already i've learned from this thread - led lights being cost effective and way less $$ than a wind or solar generating system.
    Interesting but I don't know if they are offering the consumer level or not. Plus it's probably be pretty hard to get a permit unlike a dime a dozen solar panels

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudflap View Post
    it's not solar, but if you're talking wind power, here is an interesting design for wind energy:
    UGE | Empowering you with renewable energy
    good luck in your investigation. already i've learned from this thread - led lights being cost effective and way less $$ than a wind or solar generating system.
    The LBS around the corner from me has one of those . . . in addition to a full solar array on the roof. They are a LEED Platinum building. Unfortunately its a terrible shop (as far as bike shops go).
    Alcohol may lead nowhere, but it sure is the scenic route!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by heyyall View Post
    To start, I would look at replacing all of your light bulbs with LEDs. That may cut your power bill substantially for a fraction of the cost of solar panels.

    You will also want to check to see what local approvals you need. For example, there are several homes here with solar panels. One high profile home has run into trouble with his home owners association. They told him no. He didn't care and had them installed anyway. Now there is a legal dispute. I hope he wins because alternative energy is where we need to be moving.

    Do you have a lot of wind where you live? If so, one of these look to be an option too. Home Wind Turbine | Pika Energy They work in tandem with a solar array.

    And, I think most people work off net energy. You get a credit if you make more than you use. I don't think that many people get credit from solar alone.
    While we are enjoying the energy saving of the led bulbs at our house I'm still not happy with the performance, and the replacement cost. Most claimed to have long bulbs life but in real life it's not much more than the ones they replaced. I know because I just went thru the costco family packs we bought not too long ago.

    As for the panels I just thought that it may be a good idea to take advantage of the fed and state's rebate and paying less on the bills. I don't mind investing on the house long term if it would ended up saving later.

  16. #16
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    How a residential photovoltaic system will work financially for you depends largely on the state regulations your local utility company operates under. I live in Hawaii and just took the plunge by installing a PV system on my roof. MECO, our local utility, offers Net Metering - I stay connected to their grid (I have no storage devices), and generate power during daylight hours, while also consuming power to some degree 24 hrs/day. At the end of the month, as long as my system is sized properly so I generate more than I consume, I pay nothing for power other than a set $18/month base "administrative" fee. But I get nothing for any power I generate beyond my consumption. As far as up-front costs, my system was right around $20,000, but I'm looking at 30% of that off my fed taxes, and 35% off my state. So my ROI will take a little less than 4 years, after which my normal utility bill of $180/mo will only be $18. And of course, by then, the cost of energy will likely have risen and will continue to rise.

  17. #17
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    Definitely check your states metering arrangements but also consider that PV panels lose a huge amount of efficiency when they are shaded by anything. Even a nickel sitting on the panel will reduce its efficiency considerable. So if you have trees, power lines or light poles that will cast a shadow you will be less efficient.

    Also consider the alignment of your home. It should mostly face south with its long axis that way your panels can have less spacing between them so they are less self shading. As well consider your roof slope and that less slope will require more supports/armatures which add money to the array. Also ensure that your roof is in a state of good repair as mounting will add weight to your roof and more punctures in it and a weak roof could fail. Finally there should be a way for you to get up there to inspect and clean the roof so your roof materials need to be something you can walk on safely.
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  18. #18
    duh
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    to continue what rockcrusher said it is actually a good idea to redo your roof shingles before you put on the panels. You want the roof to outlast the panels.
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  19. #19
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    I will add that not all roofs will handle the extra weight of solar panels, should be consideration #1.

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