Why did you choose solar

EdwardoEdwardo Registered Users Posts: 16
I'm getting discouraged...As much as my wife and I would like solar power i'm wondering if its worth all the headache.We do have a choice..Why did you choose to go with solar and are you glad you did?
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Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    If the choice is solar or BC Hydro's ten cent per kW hour, pick Hydro.

    I have solar because the cabin is no place near Hydro lines so grid power is totally impossible.

    Some places have expensive utility power or poor quality/undependable grid which makes solar more viable.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,497 admin
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    I went with conservation first... And if I knew then what I know now--I would have done even more conservation (insulated copper pipes, etc.--And even on a recent remodel, I could not get the contractor to insulate hot water pipes--People just ignore it). And, conservation (done right), I believe adds more value and comfort to a home vs Solar Power.

    I got GT solar because I did not trust the State of California. They are on a kick to constantly raise taxes, subsidize the "people with proper thought", and just doing anything they can that has the worst "unintended consequences" (taxes, regulations, stalling, delays, subsidies, etc.).

    I looked at GT Solar as a combination of reducing the obvious peaks in power pricing coming down the road (in our area, depending on a whole lot of variables, we can hit $0.50 per kWH--just insane). Plus, even though I think it is immoral for the state to subsidize (especially the relatively well off home owners and solar mfg/installers), it was still >$10,000 in "free to me" money. I am not stupid.

    In the end, what cannot go on forever, won't. Solar has its uses in life (off grid, far from utility power, etc.). And can be very nice if you are in an area that gets an ice storm or other issues and can lose power for a month or more... Anything less than that, off grid/solar hybrid power is hard pressed to compete with a small genset powering an efficient home. And in my location(major metro area), if we went 6 weeks without power, the water plants, sewage plants, etc. would all be shut down too (in some areas of the country, they will turn off water to prevent sewage spills/floods when pumping stations are down). So--Long living long term with Off Grid backup power still does not solve all problems here either.

    I am on my second solar array and (I think) third inverter. The installer and mfgs. have honored their warranties fine (if not pretty slowly--would have been a disaster if I was not on grid). All in all, my ~$5 per month electric bill is very nice. And today's system would cost about 1/2 what mine did ~10 years ago.

    In the end, you will see a lot of advertisements about how adding solar power to your home increases it value--I am not sure that is true. And with off grid systems, they require a fair amount of work to keep running well (as well as new batteries every 7-10 years or so, new electronics every 10+ years, etc.). So--buying and property with off grid power will usually require a fair amount of costs to repair/upgraded back to useful condition. And there are enough home buyers that see Grid Tied Solar homes as something to be nervous about (all that electrical wiring on the roof)--So, again, it may not add much value for many people, and for a few buyers, it may reduce the value of the home.

    Did I mention conservation yet? :p

    -Bill "my getting old rant" B. :blush:
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Eric LEric L Solar Expert Posts: 262 ✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    I went with solar because I liked it; I enjoy the challenge of building and optimizing the various pv systems I have had and have been willing to pay to do so (i.e., I see the extra cost of having solar power versus grid power as a discretionary expenditure, like another hobby).

    Of course I can't and wouldn't spend unlimited amounts on any hobby, so my systems have always been sized to what I am willing to spend on them (which, with low pv prices and d.i.y-ing everything, means a pretty big system, in my case).

    If you just want to save or make money, go to an investment forum. With low electricity prices across most of North America, I suspect that even many conservation measures discussed on this forum have an opportunity cost that, when measured against an intelligent investment, makes them a poor choice from a purely economic perspective (which is not to say I'm against conservation, of course).
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    I am going off grid with solar for 2 reasons. One is that we are getting gouged for electric power in this region, paying between 35 and 45 cents per kwh. On the other hand, natural gas is cheap here (due to the availability of the gas in this region) and in fact I could generate my own power from ng for less than they are charging us for power! The other reason is that I will be offsetting the use of dirty coal with the power I produce. So, even if I don't save a whole pile of money, there is an environmental benefit that, for me, really makes it worthwhile. I also enjoy building and using the system which is yet another hidden benefit.

    The real Achilles Heal of off grid systems are the batteries. I am hoping that new battery technology will eliminate this sore spot, giving us batteries that are cost effective and that could potentially last a life time. There are a number of different approaches being taken to produce a better battery than the Lead Acid. If so, that could be a real game changer both for individual off grid users, and for grid storage for renewables.

    I foresee in the future nearly every roof with solar panels. The power is there, why not make use of it.
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,925 ✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    I always wanted solar. I was researching, but up until recently I couldn't do it. I was watching ever-growing electric bills until they got to the point where solar would not be more expensive, we decided to go for it. It's fascinating to see it working. I'm very happy we'll be off-grid very soon.
  • MuskokaMuskoka Solar Expert Posts: 95 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    I went off grid / solar for a few reasons....

    When I built my full time off grid camp/home, the one and only estimate I got to bring the hydro in was well over $10,000. I'm about 300' from the road and was new to the area. One of my buddies that has lived in the area for a while informed me that his "Delivery Charge" was $90 a month, that's what got me started. Then, on top of that you have to pay a "Debt Reduction Charge", which is not a lot, but annoying just the same. Most folks I know around here are paying upwards of $200+ a month for hydro (very modest sized homes), my buddy is well over $300 a month. The majority of their monthly bills goes towards Delivery, Debt Reduction and Taxes. Just on principal alone, I was never going to hook up to the grid.

    I live by myself, so I can easily control all aspects of my electrical usage. I have been here almost 10 years, and have spent maybe $10,000 in my system over the years. I have all the power I need, 32" flat screen tv, 2 laptops, 1 powerful flight simulator / gaming computer (yes still like to game at my age), small electric fridge, propane fridge just quite, $1700 to replace, no thanks. I have a woodstove for heat, hot water on demand system, a propane stove for cooking. I have a composting toilet, and bring my own water in.

    I would not live any other way. It's not the life for everyone, but I love it. I lived in the "big" city for over 40 years, and was a slave to the "system". There is nothing like having an off grid home, on a 6 acre bush lot, with no neighbours to bug you, and most important, producing your own hydro. I love it in the winter, when the hydro lines are down from snow, and my buddies call and ask what I'm doing, and I tell them I'm waching the hockey game, and they say "ah that's right, your never without hydro". It's true, I'm never without hydro.

    Just some simple math:

    Bring hydro in.....$10,000
    If on grid $150/mth (very conservative) or $1,800 a year.

    I have been here for 10 years, that would be roughly $10,000 + $18,000 = $28,000

    Why would I want to be hooked up to the grid?

    Now, if you want to live in a 5,000 sq ft. home, have a wife, and a bunch of rug rats, then the grid might make more sense, or, your already on the grid. For me, it was a no brainer. Even if I were on the grid, I would still have solar. It's fun, and satisfying, watching everything work, just from the power of the sun.

    Glen
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,343 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    I went grid tie cause it made financial sense and made the greenie wife really happy. At the time we did it costs were about $6 a watt installed, the utility gave $3 a watt in rebate and the State kicked in $1000 and the Feds kicked in 30% of the balance. The payback was then right at 4 years considering we paying about $5000-$5500 annually to the utility on a TOU plan. We now pay the utility about $400-$500 annually for off peak power @ $0.055 kWh and have 2 electric plug-in cars to charge.

    Now the real rub, we did conservation as well, new 17+ seer 3 ton AC(heatpump) units (big move up from the 10 seer units), added insulation, replace appliances with Energy Star models, Replace desktop PC with Mac Mini's (by the way can't recommend that one enough), replaced all lighting with at least CFLs and we are gradually moving to LED, changed out the pool pump for a Intelliflo VFD unit. But we added loads as well, the new pair Chevy Volts, a new office/workshop with a 3 way minisplit 3 ton AC(heatpump) unit, got off the Nat Gas for heating and use the heat pumps.

    The key to a good grid tie is your utilities TOU plan and net metering plan. You have to know both of those inside and out to determine your real savings. While our net metering plan is not as lucrative as some of the California utilities, it still made sense to go grid tie. It allows us to bank up on peak kWh in the first 5 months of the year to use back over the summer months. If we wanted to cut the connection completely with an off grid system, we would have needed about double the amount of solar to meet out peak summer usage and I can't even imagine the size of the battery bank to produce the 3600 kWh needed in the month of July or August.

    PS we still are not done with the conservation items, but they are just not low hanging fruit now.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,994 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    I 'went solar' to support an emerging technology, back in the 90's. With a small system that provided lights and fan, minor amusment, in North Florida.

    I understand that we live with the blessing and curse of cheap energy in the form of oil. A blessing in the way cheap energy makes thiungs possible and the curse in the fact that it is a finite resouce that we will run out of at some point.

    I kinda never escaped from using solar...

    ...After having wandered the eastern United States for most of a year(1999) on a bicycle, I found I had very small use for energy, and lived witha 10watt panel and a couple small SLA batteries. When I was building an 'A' frame I figured to use the 220 watt array I had already owned would provide most of my needs, vaugly planning on about a 600 watt array to provide some refridgeration. When that fell through (major theft) I found I moved my array to my weekday camper (where I had been camping out for work 4 nights a week) and found it provided my needs for almost 5 years and cheaper than paying the $25 a month(user fee) + the $4-5 of electric I would use. I later purchased land and after careful calculations figured I had about a 8-12yr break even point on doing solar at a cabin when I decided I was too old and unhealthy to endure Missouri's Summer with out A/C. I had been in the cabin 4 years, using up the golfcart batteries from my small setup and had just purchased a large forklift battery when I found a deal on a late model Mobile home and a couple acres of land ($12K owner had to sell to buy a place with his fiancee) So I already had the battery and choose to take the mobile home off grid. It really doesn't have a break even point unless Coop electric goes up 50% in the next 10-15 years, which is not unlikely.

    I'm OK with the choices I have made and will endever to make this work out to be cost effective, I like that solar is NOT a problem. I don't feel there is any trouble maintaining an off grid solar system. I think Bill believes this since he has to deal with the problems people have here. Most people don't post that "My system works fine and has provided me with electric for 7 yrs with no problems..."

    I don't think if you had a choice in a northern climate where you would not get much sun in Dec Jan, that I would be happy. I don't use or like a generator. I do feel the best thing about being "off grid" is you think about what flipping the switch means.

    Someday I'll have to run the numbers, since I've figured out that I should be able to work with a minimal battery, I may even be a net producer of electric. Most off grid systems don't produce as much energy as it takes to create the system and recycle the batteries. If it's a green choice your making particularly with an electric company who makes most of it's electric with hydro. I'd choose the elctric Company...
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    Well I'm not totally off grid as it powers my mini-split heat pump when I need heat and it's too warm to run the wood stove. Other than that, I live off grid. Always dreamed of producing my own power since I was a kid, and the dream finally came true. All DIY, beginning to end. The very tiny hydro supplements the solar during the short dark days of Winter, and the combination of the two is totally awesome! Not for everyone of course, as one has to be inclined and able to look after such a system. I am, and for me it's a huge pleasure to see everything working well. If I had a a choice of a million dollars, or what I have here, I'd keep what I have. The knowledge that for me, life could continue as normal for months if the grid went down, gives great peace of mind. My own garden, wood supply, water supply, electricity supply, 2 freezers full of food, a small, easy to heat home with super insulation and passive solar heating in Winter. Solar hot water in Spring, Summer and Fall, and heated by the wood fire in Winter. I've got it made, no wonder I wouldn't trade it for a million dollars!
    But this life is not for everyone, meaning I live a life of conservation, and the vast majority of people have no idea how to do that. They grow up viewing terrible energy waste as a normal way of living, therefore see not their wasteful ways, nor would they be willing to live in other than the wasteful ways they've always known.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    i chose solar because i'm a bit nuts compared to the average person by their definitions of what is nuts or normal.:confused: i'm normal in my mind.:roll: It does serve a purpose too unlike some things average people say are normal to do.
    hey, at least i'm honest about it.:-)
  • gww1gww1 Solar Expert Posts: 963 ✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    I got into solar for about the same reason I have did everything else in my life.

    I used to do drugs. I still smoke cigarettes.

    I got into it cause I decided it would be neat to built a turbine from junk.

    Then I got hooked. I mean hooked.

    I only had about a 60 to 70 dollar electric bill except maby 2 months of $200. 16 sams club batteries will cost more then that. I could have added more insulation in my roof and did some caulking and probly did much better.

    I didn't do it to save the world, "not that I mind if it is saved". I was away from home for a couple of years due to work. I was bored and built some panels. Then I bought some stuff then bought some more panels so I could fill the stuff I bought. Then I bought some more stuff.

    I couldn't even put much of it up as where I am at now there is not room. I will go home this year and have plenty of room and time as I retire this year. I don't believe I will save money. I believe I am sick. I just find it very interesting.

    Who needs to make sense?
    cheers
    gww
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar
    niel wrote: »
    i chose solar because i'm a bit nuts compared to the average person by their definitions of what is nuts or normal.:confused: i'm normal in my mind.)

    I honesty believe this may apply to many of us who chose to life off grid. I know it applies to me. I don't think the way most on grid folks do. Never did.
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar
    Most off grid systems don't produce as much energy as it takes to create the system and recycle the batteries.

    Photowit, just wondering what source you got that from? My understanding is that the solar panels alone have less than a 2 year pay back in energy return. In an off grid system, the batteries would undoubtedly have the worst energy return (from a standpoint of the entire system). Lead acid batteries have a large recycling infrastructure already in place, and the lead, acid, and other components can easily be reused. But I would think there still would be a pay back.

    I have my fingers crossed that better battery technology is not far off, which will make it much better. I think the more we strive to get off of fossil fuels, the better off we will be. And more of our energy will then come from these renewables as well (ie to manufacture the systems). This won't save the world, but it will help make it a better place to live. Need to look no further than the pollution problems that certain areas of China are now dealing with!
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,994 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar
    northerner wrote: »
    Photowit, just wondering what source you got that from? My understanding is that the solar panels alone have less than a 2 year pay back in energy return. In an off grid system, the batteries would undoubtedly have the worst energy return (from a standpoint of the entire system). Lead acid batteries have a large recycling infrastructure already in place, and the lead, acid, and other components can easily be reused. But I would think there still would be a pay back.

    For the most effiecently built panels (which I have a few of Evergreen) the return of energy based on grid tied system is 16-18 months(I think they were claiming 12 months at the end), but with an off grid system you must have 4x the number of panels for the same amount of energy availability, then add in the batteries and balance of system... I think if I ran the numbers, since I'm using in essence a 1 day storage during the summer (my major usage to run an A/C, but our heat comes with sun) I might be a little on the plus side, but then again I have too much array as well.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar
    Photowhit wrote: »
    For the most effiecently built panels (which I have a few of Evergreen) the return of energy based on grid tied system is 16-18 months(I think they were claiming 12 months at the end), but with an off grid system you must have 4x the number of panels for the same amount of energy availability, then add in the batteries and balance of system... I think if I ran the numbers, since I'm using in essence a 1 day storage during the summer (my major usage to run an A/C, but our heat comes with sun) I might be a little on the plus side, but then again I have too much array as well.

    I would question the 4x the number of panels required. Efficiency of a battery system is about 70 %. In my case, there is very little loss, as all my components are inside and the losses will be in the form of heat, which contributes to heating the home. So efficiency is even better factoring that in. Also, I am making use of extra energy, that would be otherwise lost on most battery systems, using the waste not output of the CC. I could see that in a very warm environment, you would not have some of these benefits.
  • MuskokaMuskoka Solar Expert Posts: 95 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    Were not nuts living off grid, we were nuts living on the grid.;)

    When my sister comes to visit from the city, she shakes her head and smiles.

    I take that as a compliment, she's always said I was the smartest in the family, and I have the least from a financial standpoint. I also don't have any debt, none.

    So, in the end, who's really nuts. I wake up evey morning with a smile on my face, can't be too bad.

    Glen
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,994 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar
    northerner wrote: »
    Efficiency of a battery system is about 70 %.

    Well we regularly do the math here for people stating that the throughput of the system with combined losses is 50-52%, and that doesn't include the needed waste in an off grid system, you must produce more than you use by a wide enough magin that you on average over produce when your using the most energy or damage your batteries, and you must have some extra storage to gap those days of clouds, or have other energy input, often from fossil fuels. You simply can not get to even 70% even in a DC only system.

    When creating a system we look at production vs use, typically Winter is the lowest production and the hardest time to produce enough energy, if you use 2Kwh a day in the winter and average 2.5 hours of solar isolation, and you can expect 4 days of little production, you need a pretty big battery bank and on all those sunny days you simply waste all the energy you can't store. Then when summer comes around and you have 5 hours of sun on average per day, you waste huge amounts of electric. This is the normal model no A/C heavies loads in Winter due to needing more lighting and being inside more (more entertainment/TV/Sat/Stereo. Of course with a grid tied system there is little waste someone else just uses your extra production.

    For me The winter is about right maybe 2Kwh, 19Kwh battery bank, but it isn't my major use, which will be summer running an A/C When I may use 12-15 Kwhs a day, but since the demand comes with the sun/energy the model might work better...
    ...not suggesting others go out and A/C their homes, I'd rather build a berm home but I'm not willing to do what it takes to make the money to do that.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar
    Muskoka wrote: »
    Were not nuts living off grid, we were nuts living on the grid.;)

    When my sister comes to visit from the city, she shakes her head and smiles.

    I take that as a compliment, she's always said I was the smartest in the family, and I have the least from a financial standpoint. I also don't have any debt, none.

    So, in the end, who's really nuts. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face, can't be too bad.

    Glen

    Glen! You just described me and my situation - - I wasn't aware you even knew me! Hahaha
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar
    You simply can not get to even 70% even in a DC only system.

    That happens to be my overall average so far and is actually improving slightly over time. I measure energy in with the charge controller versus energy used measured with an accurate EKM meter. In the past month I took in approximately 140 kwh through the charge controller with a 1.4 kw solar array, and I utilized 100 kwh of that. Of course, some of the energy is used directly, and will help the overall efficiency.

    And as mentioned previously, I make use of the "lost" energy as all the components are located in the home, which will assist with heating. Summer (and part of the spring and fall) is the only time one won't benefit from the extra heat produced by the system. And as mentioned, I make use of the extra energy that the system produces. Heating water will be my next project.
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    I also figured out a great way to benefit from off grid power in summer, when you have way more than you need. Just string out cords to all your neighbors and offer them cheap power. Free beer perhaps.:D
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,497 admin
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    Measuring power output from the Charge controller can be miss-leading...

    Most solar charge controllers (especially for solar panels) are "series controllers"... They only let through the amount of energy to "recharge" the battery and supply "daytime loads".

    If the battery is full, and the there are no other loads--The series charge controller (typical MPPT and PWM solar type) will simply turn off the current from the solar panel. And, at that point, the charge controller will stop "logging" AH/WH "generated".

    This is a question that comes up on occasion... Could not a "smart" MPPT charge controller, for example, just sample Vmp/Imp once every 5 minutes and use this information to "estimate" the amount of available energy (Watts*Time) vs the actual charging energy (used to float the battery bank and run any daytime loads).

    If you have a dump load--That is another issue... The charge controller (in theory) is always outputting its maximum energy (solar, wind, etc.) and any excess is diverted to the shunt load(s). So, in that case, you have the actual amount of energy collected and used (depending on how the logging is setup and such--Many people do not log the output of their direct connected wind turbines--So there are still some unknowns).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Lee DodgeLee Dodge Solar Expert Posts: 112 ✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar
    Edwardo wrote: »
    I'm getting discouraged...As much as my wife and I would like solar power i'm wondering if its worth all the headache.We do have a choice..Why did you choose to go with solar and are you glad you did?

    I chose a modest-sized (3.15 kW) grid-tied solar PV system as part of a net-zero source energy strategy to demonstrate that with the proper choice of energy conservation and solar systems (thermal and PV) with a net increase in cost of less than $30,000, a production new home could be designed as a net-zero energy home. Details at http://www.residentialenergylaboratory.com/. There were very few headaches involved... just a change in roof design to optimize the solar performance, and write out a check to the installer. Of course, grid-tie systems are much easier to design and use than off-grid solar systems.
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar
    BB. wrote: »
    Measuring power output from the Charge controller can be miss-leading...

    Most solar charge controllers (especially for solar panels) are "series controllers"... They only let through the amount of energy to "recharge" the battery and supply "daytime loads".

    If the battery is full, and the there are no other loads--The series charge controller (typical MPPT and PWM solar type) will simply turn off the current from the solar panel. And, at that point, the charge controller will stop "logging" AH/WH "generated".

    This is a question that comes up on occasion... Could not a "smart" MPPT charge controller, for example, just sample Vmp/Imp once every 5 minutes and use this information to "estimate" the amount of available energy (Watts*Time) vs the actual charging energy (used to float the battery bank and run any daytime loads).

    If you have a dump load--That is another issue... The charge controller (in theory) is always outputting its maximum energy (solar, wind, etc.) and any excess is diverted to the shunt load(s). So, in that case, you have the actual amount of energy collected and used (depending on how the logging is setup and such--Many people do not log the output of their direct connected wind turbines--So there are still some unknowns).

    -Bill

    Yes, I'm aware of that Bill. I am starting to make use of that extra energy, by using the waste not output from the Midnite CC. It's not perfect, but does utilize a good percentage of the extra that would not be used otherwise. It may work better if the CC could communicate the amount of available extra power to another device or inverter, in order to get a smoother more regulated output. I find that using the waste not output causes a fluctuation in the inverters output if the loading is heavy, and thus causes the lights to flicker.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    Unless you have some other power source (gen, wind or hydro turbine) then what you read on the controller is what you use even if it isn't the full potential of the system. You can't possibly be using any more than what your ultimate supplier gives, providing the batteries are being fully recharged. If they're not, you'll soon know. The hard (and expensive) way.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,994 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    I think Bill already answered your reply. You aren't measuring what the panel could produce, but rather what the batteries needed. I might even suggest your system is unhealthy from what you've reported, since much of the time when your batteries are near full top 90% or so, Your charge controller will tapper the charging current back, though perhaps you had a sunny month and managed to top off your batteries regularly.

    But as Bill stated your just measuring the charging not the available energy which would pass through to the grid in a grid tied system. Off grid systems need to waste energy to remain healthy.

    The newer charge controllers do help utilize the extra energy, with their ability to start opportunity loads like water heating. I'm looking forward to figuring out how to get my washer to run as an oportunity load, perhaps starting the cycle then switching curcuits so my Midnite Classic will turn the power back on when it reaches float...
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar
    Photowhit wrote: »
    I think Bill already answered your reply. You aren't measuring what the panel could produce, but rather what the batteries needed. I might even suggest your system is unhealthy from what you've reported, since much of the time when your batteries are near full top 90% or so, Your charge controller will tapper the charging current back, though perhaps you had a sunny month and managed to top off your batteries regularly.

    But as Bill stated your just measuring the charging not the available energy which would pass through to the grid in a grid tied system. Off grid systems need to waste energy to remain healthy.

    The newer charge controllers do help utilize the extra energy, with their ability to start opportunity loads like water heating. I'm looking forward to figuring out how to get my washer to run as an oportunity load, perhaps starting the cycle then switching curcuits so my Midnite Classic will turn the power back on when it reaches float...

    I'm measuring the charging, yes which is equivalent to the available energy from the array. The only time this will be reduced is when the charge controller goes into absorb and then float. However, I'm making use of that extra with the waste not mode of the charge controller. I also mentioned that my overall efficiency is 70%. That explains the difference in the energy put into the battery, to the actual energy used. The reason it's not 100 % is due to losses that are converted to heat. I am also making use of that heat energy, as the components are in my home, so that energy is lost electrically, but is used to assist in heating my home in a cold climate.

    So to sum up, I'm still charging my batteries properly, going through the normal absorb and float. I am at the same time achieving an overall efficiency of about 70 %, usage vs input from the charge controller. There is significantly little lost from the array and charge controller, through the use of the waste not mode of the charge controller. It makes use of the extra power when the batteries go into absorb. Make sense?

    Actually, I'll go one step further and say that when my system is used for electrical power and heating, overall efficiency is nearly 100%. Any of the waste energy is converted to heat, and that helps heat my home. The only down side is that heat is not distributed evenly throughout the house, but please don't give me any ideas. Next thing, I'll be installing ducting to circulate the heat, hahaha.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,994 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    I wish you the best of luck!
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • Coach DadCoach Dad Solar Expert Posts: 150 ✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    The reason I went with solar is purely cost savings. Yes I’m glad I did…

    Background:
    I have an off grid cabin that is about 400 yards from the road. We use the cabin on weekends about every other weekend and we have between 2 and 3 week long stays there per year. So it is not used more than it is actually used.

    Connecting to the Grid:
    - The estimated cost for running electricity to it was between $12,000 and $14,000.00. (2 quotes from electricians)
    - The power company charges a minimum monthly service charge for being connected to the grid of $30.00 before you pay for any electricity. So that is an annual service charge of $360.00
    - I would estimate that the monthly charge for actual KW usage would be minimum of $5.00 per month (about $60.00 per year conservative estimate)

    Going off-grid:
    - I installed my off-grid PV system complete for $10,000.00 I will be receiving $3,000.00 (tax credit) from the federal government for a final cost of $7,000.00 for installing the system.
    - I’ve used about 5 gallons of gas in the generator during the past 11 months due to lack of sun or need for extra power. (5 gal X $4.00 per gal = $20.00 per year)

    My estimated savings on the conservative side:
    - Install savings: $5,000.00 ($12,000 - $7,000 = $5,000)
    - Actual power annual usage savings: $40.00 ($60 for kw - $20 for gas = $40)
    - Actual service charge/off grid maintenance savings: Break Even (If I have to replace the batteries every 5 years (should be more like 7 years) I can apply the $360.00/yr that I would have spent for the power company service charge. So at the end of 5 years I would have $1800.00 to apply towards replacement batteries. I’ll call that even.)

    Trade-offs
    - The trade-off is that my 4000 watt inverter can’t come close to the power output of a 200 Amp grid system but I have the capacity to run everything I need at the cabin.
    - The trade-off is that I have to keep an eye on the State of Charge and run the generator if it gets too low, but it hasn’t been much of an issue for the past 11 months.
    - The biggest trade-off is that I’m running a propane refrigerator which I turn on when I get there and turn off when I leave. I will be switching to an electric refrigerator sometime in the next 3 months. I plan to still turn it off when I leave with the eventual hope to leave it running 10 months of the year.

    Since I’m only at the cabin from Friday night until Sunday afternoon (on average), I didn’t want to spend my precious time up there maintaining batteries so I went with AGM batteries. Unlike many of the people on this forum who are against the usage of AGM batteries, I have found that it is nice to not have to worry about measuring SG and adding water all the time. But I could have saved a little more money on the system if I went with wet batteries but they require maintenance.
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    Why solar?
    1) I'm an independent minded cuss that just don't like relying on large organizations for the necessities.
    2) Makes sense to me to get power directly from sunlight -the source of all other energy.
    3) Its renewable and won't run out.
    4) Its clean.
    All things considered, solar really is the most ideal form of power available, and now that it is more affordable - is our best option.
  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why did you choose solar

    I'll repost again. Sorry to sound like a broken record.

    Our ranch borders a majestic desert mountain national forest and wilderness landscape. Our off grid system helps protect this view shed as well as assure our back country ranching values and lifestyle. We work very hard to maintain it.

    The cost of bringing in the grid exceeds our off grid investment. And, the local area grid experiences frequent power spikes and outages which is hard on wells, appliances and our routine. More grid intensifies development and land speculation which adversely impacts wildlife corridors, livestock management and reduces hunting opportunities in my country.

    We didn't build our large off grid system to make a green political statement nor save money. We did it to perpetuate our ranching heritage and preserve something for our children's children.

    There are many reasons to do things which are not necessarily driven by money. For us it's not a matter of what's cheaper but what's better.
    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
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