How do we get more people into Solar?

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Comments

  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    so pvs are easy and cheap to build huh? you couldn't outdo any commercial pv in quality for the price and if you do then please submit the evidence of this here for us to incorporate.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    I have to agree with Neil. Having a few people build systems out of their home shop is not the answer. In fact it can be a part of the problem. I am not against a home owner doing their own instalation. In fact I am quite in favor of it. Some of the people who start with their own system will enter into the industry wjth at least some experience. I know of installers in my state who are only replying to 25% of their leads. ONLY REPLYING TO 25%. We need a lot more people in this industry to even make a difference in the overall numbers. When one of these coble shop systems fails, it makes the whole industry look less credible. I would say that if you have the skills and talent to make pannels yourself, try to get a job doing that. Use your knowledge and abilities to benifit more than just yourself. Who knows, you might come up with the next breakthrough and make yourself a million
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    Since this topic strongly intrests me, I have been keeping an eye on the veiws taly. Lots of people reading but no new posts. Don't be afraid. If your just lurking, go ahead and register and jump into the conversation. I have not had a single bit of spam come from here since registering. If you have other views that are not represented or agree with other posts, keep the discusion going. This could be where the "next great idea" comes from.
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    yes, please do join in if you have something to add. this is an open forum sponsored by northern arizona wind & sun for that very purpose and not for ads or spam. we do try our best at weeding out any spams that make their way into here, but alas, it does occassionaly happen. the moderators which consiste of bb and myself in addition to windsun do our best at keeping this forum a clean and spam free environment. bill and myself also are not employees, but rather volunteer our time here and there are many others who frequent this forum who are also to be considered volunteers as they give of their time and knowledge to help others here.
    do note that it is not a crime to not know some things so don't be embarressed to ask if you can't find the answer here.:D
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    I am not conected to the site but do tend to frequent several forums. The other point that I would like to make is that just because this site is run by a company in Northern Arizona, it should not mean that you have to live in that area to participate. That is one of the wondrfull aspects of the web. It alows for wide ranging discusion. I live in Vermont but that dose not mean that much.
  • nigtomdaw
    nigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    I live in Spain but have always felt after a short while from joining that I belong within the NAWS community, its strenght relies on its broad base and its tolerance of wide ranging topics with super Mods like BB and Niel and ex mod Crewzer along with regular posters some like me living the dream (nightmare;)) and others liker boB, SG and loads more at the cutting edge of RE + others Ive yet to fathom which make its content topline its history entralling , my moment or post so far of 2008 was Niels honest frustration at boB and Robin from the waist (hip) if you get my drift about there new MPPT CC and Robins reply was cool and Classic. I expect Niel as a true independant will be a honoured and chuffed select recipient of a B test Classic, FOC whilst us lesser beings will pay for the priviledge of being out there on the cutting edge of RE technology ! [BB:remove ambiguous abbreviation]

    I 4 one have openly volunterered to be a Beta tester and paying for such a privialage cos its cool to have what every wants whilst they are on a retail waiting list ,

    Without NAWS I would have never met such pioneers in the REW industry and for that NAWS I tip my hat.:cool:
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    [BB:remove ambiguous abbreviation]

    forgive my ignorance, but this means what?


    i also wouldn't call it a spat that i had as i do have great admiration and respect for both boB and robin as they have achieved much to help the solar industry. i expressed my frustration over the time factors on the classic. i would rather it only be classified as an over reaction on my part be it justified or not. who knows as it may give a push at times for them to go on for even i am very familiar with setbacks and things not going to plan.
  • nigtomdaw
    nigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    Neil I maybe didnt express myself well enough, it was a compliment on the dept of knowledge and content on this forum and your comments on the New Midnight Classic Charge Controller and the reply from the designers shows that NAWS is an interesting and up to date place to visit in the world or Renewable Energy. :blush:
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    OK, so bac to the point. I see this as a two part question.

    How do we get more consumers to go solar?
    Right now, "I THINK" (this is purly my opinion) that there are more people out there that want to go solar than the instalers can deal with. It seams to me that moast of the installers are focusing on the high end instalations. I am sure that this is where the most money is but it is a very small part of the population. I think many of the people who want small systems and are willing to focuse on conservation are getting overlooked.

    How do we get more trained and knowlegeable people into the field?
    This is not an easy industry to break into. The rgulation at least in the north east is in constant flux. It takes a sizable investment to get started. Training takes a long time and there is no way to speed it up. There are several small companies in my state up and running but not enough to meet the demand. But when I set out to set up acounts with supliers, they would not even return my calls. It was like it would be too much of a hassel to deal with. I fanaly had to go with a west coast wholesaler and deal with the shipping. The silver lining is that the difference in time zones makes it possible for me to work a 14 hour day and still get to talk to a person.

    Go ahead and tear my opinions apart. I would love to know how far off base I am.
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    tf,
    i'm not sure if i'm reading you right and maybe you can clarify. are you saying you have troubles getting an installer just because you are small potatoes or because they are just too busy with larger accounts and this is why fewer people are getting into solar? most good electricians can do the wiring of pv systems and i'd imagine a good roofer could mount your pvs unless your state has made other requirements. anytime government gets involved things can go the wrong way as it can be regulated to death and even knowledgeable people can screw something up at times even though no ill will may or may not have been intended. (wiles)
    as to guidelines, this is a tough one because it varies between the states with no standard in place from the federal level. sure the nec is there, but that gets overridden even on local levels, if they accept it at all, and i can understand why some may not recognize the nec as it contradicts at times or gets rediculous at times. ul is there too and i see now they are now approving batteries.:confused: we used to ask why the approval of pvs be needed when batteries needed no such approvals, half joking of course because battery approving is bordering on rediculous and is going to add to the costs of the batteries greatly as they have added to pvs and anything else that needs approved. (just because you're in an area that doesn't have these requirements(ie another country), you are paying more because of it)
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?
    niel wrote: »
    tf,
    i'm not sure if i'm reading you right and maybe you can clarify. are you saying you have troubles getting an installer just because you are small potatoes or because they are just too busy with larger accounts and this is why fewer people are getting into solar?

    I got into instalation because the local companies were not responding to inquiries under $50k. I realy think that this is holding the industry back.


    most good electricians can do the wiring of pv systems and i'd imagine a good roofer could mount your pvs unless your state has made other requirements.

    Good electricians are to busy doing their own thing to spend the time dealing with somthing "new". Every time another subcontractor comes in it drives the cost higher. Each sub has their own schedual and the conflicts drag the process out to an unacceptable length.

    anytime government gets involved things can go the wrong way as it can be regulated to death and even knowledgeable people can screw something up at times even though no ill will may or may not have been intended.

    We do not have any zoning in our town, builders are not required to be licenced, the state dose not require engineers or architects for residential construction. At a recent town meeting there was a proposal to regulate PV and place it under zoning but nothing else. Dose this make sense?


    as to guidelines, this is a tough one because it varies between the states with no standard in place from the federal level. sure the nec is there, but that gets overridden even on local levels, if they accept it at all, and i can understand why some may not recognize the nec as it contradicts at times or gets rediculous at times. ul is there too and i see now they are now approving batteries.:confused: we used to ask why the approval of pvs be needed when batteries needed no such approvals, half joking of course because battery approving is bordering on rediculous and is going to add to the costs of the batteries greatly as they have added to pvs and anything else that needs approved. (just because you're in an area that doesn't have these requirements(ie another country), you are paying more because of it)

    For someone who is trying to "do it right", how do you figure it out? With such a limited number of qualified installers available it is dificult to meet the demand. Without the standards it is difficult for someone getting started.




    I am curently building four houses. I am bucking the national trend by building small 960sqft starter homes. In order to drive renewables, I am including PV systems in all four of the houses. This will also help to set the realestate comparables in the area in order to make it easier to get financing for renewables. I feel that renewables will not make a big difference untill they reach the level of being able to be put into most new construction. I see the trend of more and more people getting involved in this at the high end but I just don't see it trickling down to the median level yet. There are places in rural areas where off grid systems could reduce the initial cost of the home but the banks wont finance it because there are no comparables. How do we get the homes built without financing and how do we get financing with out having hames built?



    I have some of my own answers to these questions but just spouting my own theories dosn't do much to get a discusion going.


    Sorry if some of my rambling is a little incoherent. I am just getting back on my feet from being sick for a while.
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    "I have some of my own answers to these questions but just spouting my own theories dosn't do much to get a discusion going.


    Sorry if some of my rambling is a little incoherent. I am just getting back on my feet from being sick for a while."

    firstly, sorry to hear you were sickly. get well soon.

    actually, you should spout theories for discussion sake and as a builder you are incorporating systems from the start and i think that's great. i'm sure the lending institutions kind of said something to you about the pvs and should now know it's a good thing there where you are. it is unfortunate, but it seems that almost any kind of a loan is hard pressed to obtain these days let alone one for solar. i know what you are saying though that these lending institutions haven't much of a clue on solar and instinct says fear the unknown. that may be a key to it in getting such lending institutions to have knowledge about these systems, but i still feel most of us won't get a loan anyway due to the shakeyness of the economy and wall street. yea now they're skiddish?:confused::cry:
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,412 admin
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    Interestingly, new construction (I don't remember if it was in California or not) caused some really big problems with getting solar into a good sized home development...

    Basically, the power company is assuming about 0.5-1.0% of their customers will have solar grid tied power (pushed here kicking and screaming by state lawmakers--solar PV costs money for a utility company and does not make good business sense to support home owners with installs/net metering).

    The builder tried to build xxx number of homes with grid tied solar... Using my home as an example, I output during the day roughly 2.5x kW vs the 1 kW average power I consume... So, to electrically wire for a "solar PV GT" subdivision, they utility (using my guesstimate) would have to wire out ~2.5 times heaver lines and transformers for the solar homes. And, at the same time, the utility would only be getting $6 per month vs $100 per month per customer (using my billing as an example)...

    So--the utility said that they would only approve GT connections for ~1% of the homes in the subdivision. (I don't remember the details--examples sort of show from an engineering/business viewpoint how all of this plays together for a large customer base).

    You can argue that this is not fair--but it was a real problem (I don't ever remember reading how this all shook out).

    One could look at going Off-Grid / Battery Hybrid--but that will almost increase the costs of power to the home owner by 4x (extra equipment and battery costs and replacements over the coming decades).

    I would really like to see more thermal solar (hot water, home heating)--that seems to have even fewer installers/sources in my area. But the costs of maintenance for extra plumbing, tanks, and pump repairs does make it a bit more of a challenge to keep running than solar PV GT systems. Other issues like Freezes, where to put the plumbing, how long collectors will last also make solar thermal less interesting too.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?
    niel wrote: »
    "I have some of my own answers to these questions but just spouting my own theories dosn't do much to get a discusion going.


    Sorry if some of my rambling is a little incoherent. I am just getting back on my feet from being sick for a while."

    firstly, sorry to hear you were sickly. get well soon.

    actually, you should spout theories for discussion sake and as a builder you are incorporating systems from the start and i think that's great. i'm sure the lending institutions kind of said something to you about the pvs and should now know it's a good thing there where you are. it is unfortunate, but it seems that almost any kind of a loan is hard pressed to obtain these days let alone one for solar. i know what you are saying though that these lending institutions haven't much of a clue on solar and instinct says fear the unknown. that may be a key to it in getting such lending institutions to have knowledge about these systems, but i still feel most of us won't get a loan anyway due to the shakeyness of the economy and wall street. yea now they're skiddish?:confused::cry:

    We have two local banks in the area that now have loan programs specificly for eficiancy and renewables. With the new constrution I am trying to make it so that the homes qualify fo such programs as FHE and VA financing. My local bank has come to my marketing presentations and is the financing behind two of the build loan projects that are under build right now and finaced a rof replacement that I did earlier this year. In that case we qualified the home by putting a standing seam steal roof on that will get a PV system using seam clamps as soon as the rest of the improvements are paid off. This was a case whare there had been extensive ice dammage caused by improper insulation. I had to replace about 1/4 of the sheathing because it had rotted out from bring in contact with the insulation. He could not get a loan for the repairs but when we presented it as a precursor for installing PV the bank went for it. It might have helped that it was the first aplication for the new "Green Lend" program.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?
    BB. wrote: »
    Interestingly, new construction (I don't remember if it was in California or not) caused some really big problems with getting solar into a good sized home development...

    Basically, the power company is assuming about 0.5-1.0% of their customers will have solar grid tied power (pushed here kicking and screaming by state lawmakers--solar PV costs money for a utility company and does not make good business sense to support home owners with installs/net metering).

    The builder tried to build xxx number of homes with grid tied solar... Using my home as an example, I output during the day roughly 2.5x kW vs the 1 kW average power I consume... So, to electrically wire for a "solar PV GT" subdivision, they utility (using my guesstimate) would have to wire out ~2.5 times heaver lines and transformers for the solar homes. And, at the same time, the utility would only be getting $6 per month vs $100 per month per customer (using my billing as an example)...

    So--the utility said that they would only approve GT connections for ~1% of the homes in the subdivision. (I don't remember the details--examples sort of show from an engineering/business viewpoint how all of this plays together for a large customer base).

    You can argue that this is not fair--but it was a real problem (I don't ever remember reading how this all shook out).

    One could look at going Off-Grid / Battery Hybrid--but that will almost increase the costs of power to the home owner by 4x (extra equipment and battery costs and replacements over the coming decades).

    I would really like to see more thermal solar (hot water, home heating)--that seems to have even fewer installers/sources in my area. But the costs of maintenance for extra plumbing, tanks, and pump repairs does make it a bit more of a challenge to keep running than solar PV GT systems. Other issues like Freezes, where to put the plumbing, how long collectors will last also make solar thermal less interesting too.

    -Bill

    My development is only 4 houses. The original concept ws to be off grid so as to eliminate the cost of brining the utility power in. FHA would definitly not go for that. The overall goal of the project is to bring the initial cost of the home as low as possible and keep the operating cost to a minimum as well. This keeps more mony moving about in the economy. I wanted to use hydronic for the heat but the bank insisted on having a conventional back up so it drove that option out.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?
    My development is only 4 houses. The original concept ws to be off grid so as to eliminate the cost of brining the utility power in. FHA would definitly not go for that. The overall goal of the project is to bring the initial cost of the home as low as possible and keep the operating cost to a minimum as well. This keeps more mony moving about in the economy. I wanted to use hydronic for the heat but the bank insisted on having a conventional back up so it drove that option out.

    Let us (me) know how fast you sell the homes, how big the interest in them is, etc.

    I like the idea of what you're doing and HOW you're doing it. Showing the demo trailer is a GREAT way to show that the ideas are sound and doable.

    I'm putting a 6kW system on my house, grid-tied. After this latest bail-out bill, I will look closely to decide if I want to push off the commissioning of the system until after Jan 1st. if there is a lot more rebate $$. We shall see.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?
    Let us (me) know how fast you sell the homes, how big the interest in them is, etc.

    I like the idea of what you're doing and HOW you're doing it. Showing the demo trailer is a GREAT way to show that the ideas are sound and doable.

    I'm putting a 6kW system on my house, grid-tied. After this latest bail-out bill, I will look closely to decide if I want to push off the commissioning of the system until after Jan 1st. if there is a lot more rebate $$. We shall see.

    All four homes are sold. Number one was listed in May. I have closed on two and hav the other two under contract for turn key closings in late Dec and early Jan..


    So far I have a ;ist of four more as soon as I can find the right land.
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    tf,
    did you provide some basic knowledge to the new owners on what it is they have gotten along with maintence and what to expect? i'd hate to think some of them would believe they can use as much electric as they want to and some are that unknowing.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: How do we get more people into Solar?

    I am building the houses using the same system that will be installed in the house. The buyers come by frequently and we discuse the performance f the system. In fact, I moved the trailer out of optimum alighnment with the customer so that he could see the effect on performance. He has also been with me servicing the batteries. When he stops by we frequently discusse the weather and the amount of power being used. Today we had 7 people working on the house in bright sun but pulled the bats down to about 80%. Turns out that for some reason the charge controler never woke up this morning. Instead of stresing out he took my spare mannual home and is trying to figure out for himself why it did not wake up. Tomarow we will try his aproach to corecting. As I see it this is some of the best training i can provide him.