Solar, yea or nay

Raizinman

Platinum Member
Sep 7, 2007
2,284
4
81
#1
I'm considering going solar. My electric bill on average is $250 per month. A solar array on my roof will cost about $30K and handle about 90% of my electric bill. Solar panels have come down in price most every year and I thought this year with the 30% federal tax incentive would be the year I move to solar. The wife and I both work about 15 - 20 minutes from our home and switching to electric cars would prove to be an added benefit. Yes, we will make sure our solar will handle all our future needs. We calculated that our payback period should be around 10 to 11 years. Very few people here in Kansas have solar even though we have about the same amount of daylight hours as south California. I think having solar would also help our resale should we ever want to sell our home especially with utility rates which go up about 4% every year. I don't really see any cons to this and am not sure why others don't go solar. Would you go solar if you had an extra $30K sitting around?
 
Jul 12, 2006
95,549
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#2
I'm considering going solar. My electric bill on average is $250 per month. A solar array on my roof will cost about $30K and handle about 90% of my electric bill. Solar panels have come down in price most every year and I thought this year with the 30% federal tax incentive would be the year I move to solar. The wife and I both work about 15 - 20 minutes from our home and switching to electric cars would prove to be an added benefit. Yes, we will make sure our solar will handle all our future needs. We calculated that our payback period should be around 10 to 11 years. Very few people here in Kansas have solar even though we have about the same amount of daylight hours as south California. I think having solar would also help our resale should we ever want to sell our home especially with utility rates which go up about 4% every year. I don't really see any cons to this and am not sure why others don't go solar. Would you go solar if you had an extra $30K sitting around?
If I had $30k to spend, and earmarked for the home, I would do it without hesitation. I would need some major electrical overhaul, though, just to handle the system, and am probably looking at a minimum of $5k for that, which I don't think is eligible for the federal rebate.

Sounds like you need to hit up HD or wherever you can find one of those newly-established Tesla reps and look into a consultation on those solar tiles with a power wall (or two). With the current rebate and loan offer that you can get from Tesla, assuming regular external expenses, it actually seems like a reasonable-to-neutral proposition right now.

My simple online estimate that they gave me was suggesting about $140 per month in cost, added to mortgage for the recommended package, but then you subtract your power bill savings from that. Depending on the time of year, I end up actually paying about $10-50 per month over 30 years. ...not too shabby, but this doesn't include the other necessary expenses for me in my old house. There is a nice thread about that here in this forum
 

mztykal

Diamond Member
Apr 21, 2000
6,598
0
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#3
My electric bill was around $250 in Hawaii and I had my solar pv system installed last year. My bill is currently $50.00.

I have 25 Mitsubishi panels and a SolarEdge inverter. My system makes around 30kWh a day...

After the tax break my system is costing me 12k. Original price was around 27k.

Hope this helps!
 
Oct 14, 2003
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#4
Sounds like you need to hit up HD or wherever you can find one of those newly-established Tesla reps and look into a consultation on those solar tiles with a power wall (or two). With the current rebate and loan offer that you can get from Tesla, assuming regular external expenses, it actually seems like a reasonable-to-neutral proposition right now.
The Tesla solar tiles look nice, but they are more expensive and much less efficient. That'll be the trade-off.

Making it least visible means at certain angles the light wouldn't enter as much as the regular panels, and it seems depending on the tile you get, more than half of the tile isn't solar, meaning much low area efficiency.

After looking at all the data and the costs involved with it, I see solar as an emergency solution, where you'd still have power when rest don't.
 
Feb 4, 2009
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#5
The Tesla solar tiles look nice, but they are more expensive and much less efficient. That'll be the trade-off.

Making it least visible means at certain angles the light wouldn't enter as much as the regular panels, and it seems depending on the tile you get, more than half of the tile isn't solar, meaning much low area efficiency.

After looking at all the data and the costs involved with it, I see solar as an emergency solution, where you'd still have power when rest don't.
and they don't deal with cold well at the moment, however Kansas cold may be ok.

We put panels on our house two years ago. I'll say I was not for it but looking back my wife was 100% correct. After tax rebates, local incentives and the SRECs we are on target to pay for them on 70-something months. That will leave us with nearly 6 years of SREC payouts. Plus 15 more years of a zero electric bill. Then about 10 years off 50% electric, this is an assumption the panels efficiency drop after 15 years.
I do not know if Kansas has an SREC market but they are essentially credits you get by generating power that polluting industries buy to offset their emissions.
 
Oct 14, 2003
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#6
We put panels on our house two years ago. I'll say I was not for it but looking back my wife was 100% correct. After tax rebates, local incentives and the SRECs we are on target to pay for them on 70-something months. That will leave us with nearly 6 years of SREC payouts. Plus 15 more years of a zero electric bill. Then about 10 years off 50% electric, this is an assumption the panels efficiency drop after 15 years.
That's pretty good. How much electricity in KWH do you figure you use in a day? Don't you have to include the costs of replacing the battery?
 
Feb 4, 2009
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#7
That's pretty good. How much electricity in KWH do you figure you use in a day? Don't you have to include the costs of replacing the battery?
No battery, we average $65 electric credit per month. We haven’t paid an electric bill since they were installed, we produce more than we use. January & February we pull from out credit. However we haven’t had a lot of snow the past two winters.
 
May 24, 2003
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#8
I've been thinking about it even though we don't really get enough day light for most of the year for it to be viable to go off grid (which is where you would save a lot since it's the fixed fees that make hydro so expensive). It would still be cool to have, and at least put a small dent in the bill, which keeps going up every year. I would try to run all my server stuff off it. I have room for about 3kw or so on the south side. The other parts of the roof are not viable due to trees.

Only issue I found for me is solar panels are expensive to ship. I only found a few sites that sell within Canada but it's like $200 to ship just a single panel let alone enough for a full array.

The issue would also be the extra work of having to go clear the snow every morning, but I guess you can just make that part of your routine and get up earlier. Eventually try to find a way to automate it maybe, some kind of hydraulic push broom or something that runs every hour or so. Freezing rain would be the biggest issue though. If you get it then you're pretty much screwed for the rest of the year unless you get a warm day where the ice melts. I guess enough light would go through the ice that you'd still generate SOME power, just not full capacity.
 
Feb 4, 2009
20,492
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#9
I've been thinking about it even though we don't really get enough day light for most of the year for it to be viable to go off grid (which is where you would save a lot since it's the fixed fees that make hydro so expensive). It would still be cool to have, and at least put a small dent in the bill, which keeps going up every year. I would try to run all my server stuff off it. I have room for about 3kw or so on the south side. The other parts of the roof are not viable due to trees.

Only issue I found for me is solar panels are expensive to ship. I only found a few sites that sell within Canada but it's like $200 to ship just a single panel let alone enough for a full array.

The issue would also be the extra work of having to go clear the snow every morning, but I guess you can just make that part of your routine and get up earlier. Eventually try to find a way to automate it maybe, some kind of hydraulic push broom or something that runs every hour or so. Freezing rain would be the biggest issue though. If you get it then you're pretty much screwed for the rest of the year unless you get a warm day where the ice melts. I guess enough light would go through the ice that you'd still generate SOME power, just not full capacity.
I live in the Northeast, so I get snow but likely less than you.
I did a test on the second snow which was around 5” of snow. I took the roof rake and added a form pipe cover and brushed off a corner of the panels. When I came home about 1/3rd was clear. You just need a small amount clear for the rest to melt.
Also most panels are “slippery” small amounts of snow stick but big amounts slide off. Sounds like a train inside when it happens.
Finally I think I remember an option to have some kind of heat strip that would melt snow but I’m not certain about that.

Edit: if you’re going the DIY route don’t forget you’ll probably need to reinforce your roof. Solar company drilled in some extra lumber on the roof, essentially doubled up on the 2x4’s plus added 3 or 4 horizontal supports. The company we used tends to reinforce everything and reviews said they were excessive about it so you may not need that much support.

Disclaimer: don’t tell my wife she was firmly against me cleaning them off.
 
May 24, 2003
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#10
Yeah was thinking about reinforcement too, I guess a full array + the racking adds quite a lot of weight, and the panels also act as a sail in the wind so it will pull a lot more on the roof. I would most likely use large bolts going through the joists and then have to go in the attic to put the bolt and washer on the other side. Then while I'm there I could reinforce everything. Downside is I have blown insulation, not going to be fun to be in there lol. Really I wish I had a property big enough for a ground mount setup as that would be simpler to manage.

But yeah my main issue is actually sourcing panels. I'm hoping as the prices come down the popularity increases and maybe we'll actually get some kind of local store that sells them. You can get them at Canadian Tire but they are like 5x what the normal price should be. I don't want to pay more than say, $1.5 per watt. At Canadian Tire you're paying like $6 per watt. Like $600 for a 100w module lol.
 

Raizinman

Platinum Member
Sep 7, 2007
2,284
4
81
#11
I’ve been looking at the 305-Watt Solar Panels ($350 each) and looking to put up about 45 to 50 of them across my barn and home to give me about 15,000 watts. These panels are: 64 inches tall x 37 inches wide and weigh 44 pounds each. This does not include mounting hardware. So, to install 40 of them on my house would weigh 1760 pounds not including hardware. Fortunately, we custom built our home out of steel and this additional weight is pretty much nothing for this house. Our wood barn would be able to support 10 of these panels with a total weight of 440 pounds. This should supply about 90% or more of all our future electrical needs which would include: HVAC, hot water, lighting, oven/grille and for charging two electric cars. Our electric company will take the electricity we produce during the day and credit us 1 for 1 for electricity we use. This is what is called a ‘Grid Tied’ system (no batteries).
 
May 24, 2003
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#12
An extra thousand pounds on a properly built roof is probably not a big deal. Think of how much weight there is when there is 6+ feet of snow for example, it's probably more. With solar you'll want a way to take the snow off so any weight that would be added by snow you'll be removing anyway.

Speaking of which I kind of came to the conclusion that my roof is just not steep enough for solar and the amount of work required to take snow off every morning is just not worth it for me. I did the shed as an experiment, and it was a constant battle especially because at one point we got freezing rain and it pretty much ruined them for most of the year. The snow/ice crust was just impossible to get off. I was producing around 10 watts most of winter.

This is my array, just 400w. Was hard finding panels but eventually found some on Amazon for a decent price. The bigger ones are super hard to find in Canada. Most sites don't actually show prices or have a buy option. The ones that do have a buy option want your virginity just to ship.

This is my shed array:



This is what they looked like most of the year, that snow is a crusty/icy type snow and does not come off:



They are finally clear now, but at this time of year we got lot of crappy wet/crusty type snow that really sticks but it does melt after a few days.

If I was to do this more serious like in an off grid setup, I would go with 3 large arrays (at least 10kw or so) of vertically mounted panels facing east, south and west. Key is to have them vertical so the freezing rain does not stick and it would also not require having to constantly go take snow off as normal snow would not stay on them. Worse case you might get driving freezing rain but hopefully it only affects one of the arrays and not all 3. We don't get lot of freezing rain here thankfully, but it only takes once to make an array inoperable for rest of the year. There's different things I could do to try to melt it off though, like a wood fired boiler system or nichrome wire or something. Nichrome wire is simplest but it would require a very large battery reserve.
 
Jun 18, 2000
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#13
Red, that's a lot of hoops to jump through. Solar doesn't seem like a good option that far north.
 
May 24, 2003
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www.uovalor.com
#14
Yeah for residential setting, not worth it due to lack of room. With more room and enough to go off grid then it's worth it for the cost savings. For my shed it's fine as it's not really critical but would not rely on it for anything important. For a larger property with room for a ground mount system, then there's more options, such as just ridiculously oversizing the array, and having it vertical. I kinda would have to oversize it anyway, need a large battery bank, bigger is better, and need to be able to fully charge it in about 7 hours so it can have power for the rest of the "day" when it's dark as the days are very short here for a good part of the year. In the summer months the days are longer and I would have tons of excess power. With a big enough inverter could easily run central A/C. I'd pretty much keep the house/cabin/shop etc at like 20C just because I can.

Ideally in an off grid setup I'd have a backup propane generator too. If the battery voltage dips below say, 48.0 volts for a 48v system, it would fire up the generator for an hour or so to power rectifiers to bring it back to 54v.

It's my dream to eventually buy property and do this though. But on my current property, trying to do it roof mount is not not worth it due to lack of room, and bad angle. I was originally going to do it just so I can power my server stuff, but after seeing how much work it is to take snow off, and the hit freezing rain does, I figured it's pointless. Could get good years where we don't get freezing rain but it's really hit and miss. The first freezing rain of the season basically means the panels are a write off for the rest of the year.
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
42,740
250
126
#15
An extra thousand pounds on a properly built roof is probably not a big deal. Think of how much weight there is when there is 6+ feet of snow for example, it's probably more. With solar you'll want a way to take the snow off so any weight that would be added by snow you'll be removing anyway.

Speaking of which I kind of came to the conclusion that my roof is just not steep enough for solar and the amount of work required to take snow off every morning is just not worth it for me. I did the shed as an experiment, and it was a constant battle especially because at one point we got freezing rain and it pretty much ruined them for most of the year. The snow/ice crust was just impossible to get off. I was producing around 10 watts most of winter.

This is my array, just 400w. Was hard finding panels but eventually found some on Amazon for a decent price. The bigger ones are super hard to find in Canada. Most sites don't actually show prices or have a buy option. The ones that do have a buy option want your virginity just to ship.

This is my shed array:



This is what they looked like most of the year, that snow is a crusty/icy type snow and does not come off:



They are finally clear now, but at this time of year we got lot of crappy wet/crusty type snow that really sticks but it does melt after a few days.

If I was to do this more serious like in an off grid setup, I would go with 3 large arrays (at least 10kw or so) of vertically mounted panels facing east, south and west. Key is to have them vertical so the freezing rain does not stick and it would also not require having to constantly go take snow off as normal snow would not stay on them. Worse case you might get driving freezing rain but hopefully it only affects one of the arrays and not all 3. We don't get lot of freezing rain here thankfully, but it only takes once to make an array inoperable for rest of the year. There's different things I could do to try to melt it off though, like a wood fired boiler system or nichrome wire or something. Nichrome wire is simplest but it would require a very large battery reserve.
Have you put a coating on them yet?

https://www.glassparency.com/solar-panel-protection-solar-panels/
 
May 24, 2003
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#16

I had thought of it but was worried about how it may react with them, but nice to know that they have coatings actually made for solar. The tricky might be to find a place to actually buy it at though... solar stuff seems to be so hard to buy.

Not sure how good it would really do though, even on the car when we get freezing rain the only way to really get rid of that crust is to let the car run for an hour or so. If it's ONLY freezing rain it's not so bad as it's just a transparent ice layer, but most of the time it's mixed with snow and it just makes a crust.
 

RPD

Diamond Member
Jul 22, 2009
4,163
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#17
California has a 30% rebate and it starts going down after this year. I had to move my family into a larger house end of last year, PG&E bill in the winter (with MIL at home all day, got over $585 a month), the AC units were the oldest I've seen and knew I had to replace before summer. The rule of thumb is don't get solar unless you plan on living in that house for 10 years. I looked at paying PG&E as money out the door, at least with solar it's going to something tangible, increasing the value of the home AND the monthly payment on the loan for solar is less than most months that require conditioning.

After doing some research and getting bids, I had a 10.4kW system installed for $29k (ended up being a little more out the door because I financed, NOT LEASED), but no one could come close to this $ per kW.

Still waiting for PG&E to come out and OK it so I can start selling power back to them, but for now, during the afternoon while just one AC unit is running I'm still power negative. The amazing part was it only took them two days to install.
Racks:

Finished day 2:
 
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May 24, 2003
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#18
Wow and I thought my Hydro One bill was bad, yeah at $500+ per month in hydro it's a no brainer. Especially if you live in an area that has practically constant sun all year round and no snow to worry about it becomes very low maintenance. IMO solar should be standard as part of a house build in places like that. With a big enough system you can even be off grid, that's where you save the most as you're not paying any delivery fees or anything like that. That's where they really get you.
 

RPD

Diamond Member
Jul 22, 2009
4,163
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#19
I forget when it takes place, maybe 2020 but all new homes in CA will require solar.
 
Feb 6, 2011
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#20
wow 29k USD for 10kw , solar in the US is expensive! in Australia i have a 20/25kw (inverter/panel ) system and that was 19k AUD ( about 13k USD) and i bought high end inverters ( 2x 10kw 3 phase with AC and DC side monitoring) and sweet spot in terms of price/perf/warranty on the panels.
 
May 24, 2003
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#21
It's the batteries that tend to be expensive. That, or if you get a pro to install it then there is labour costs, and solar is such a niche thing that most pros will charge quite a lot for it I imagine.

I think the key is to go as modular as you can so you can grow the system. Start with a small system that is easy to expand over time.

For my shed I spent maybe a bit over 1k. 400w of panels, MPPT charge controller (forget rating, like 30 amps), 300w inverter, and 80ah 12v battery. That's on the expensive side for the size of the system though, but it's because it's so hard to find panels in Canada that I had to make due with the 100w ones from Amazon. 100w panels are more expensive per watt than 200w+ ones. I did eventually find a site that sells the big 200w+ ones and does not charge an arm and a leg for shipping though, so kept them in mind for future projects.

Kind of on the fence about doing the house, I only have room for around 3000w due to physical space/roof shape, shaded area etc, and the amount of work to keep the snow off, and the fact that freezing rain completely ruins them, makes it less worth while. Suppose if I can do a melt system for the freezing rain, and automated brushes for the snow it would be doable though. I may run power to the house from my shed though. Could setup a separate solar electrical panel and a couple plugs around the house. Ideally I'd want a transfer switch to go on normal AC, depending on what loads I decide to put on it. Ex: TV.
 

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