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wpollockwpollock Registered Users Posts: 2
My name is William and I live in the greater Sacramento, Ca. area. Is this the correct forum to gather useful information regarding whether installing a residential solar system is a sound and logical choice?

Thanks

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,811 admin
    Welcome to the forum WP.

    Yes, we can talk about installing solar... First--Suggest measuring and understanding your loads. In general, it is usually cheaper to replace old appliances/HVAC systems with modern energy efficient models--And to ensure you that you have good insulation in the walls and ceilings.

    Second--In California, today it can be cost effective to install pure Grid Tied solar (solar panels => GT inverter => main breaker panel, no breaker or backup solar power) than to buy energy from your local utility (paying less than $0.15 per kWH vs $0.13 to $0.30 or more per kWH in my area).

    HOWEVER--California is coming pretty quickly to the point where they are going to remove the subsidies that GT solar users have and go from Net Metering (buying/selling solar GT power at "retail"--I sell power on summer afternoons at $0.30 per kWH and buy off peak at $0.10 per kWH) to something different.

    If you install GT solar power today--They will grandfather your present (good for the GT customer) rates for 20 years--If you buy your solar some time in the future--The payback picture may be quite different (you sell power at $0.04 per kWH and buy power at $0.15-$0.30+ per kWH).

    Do you have A/C in your home? Do you have clear southern facing roof area for panels? Is there no shading from ~9am to 3pm or more (no trees, buildings, power line shading)? Does your utility support Net Metered solar power?

    Do you plan on buying the system outright, or are you looking at leasing?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • wpollockwpollock Registered Users Posts: 2
    Thanks for the reply Bill.

    I am considering leasing a system from someone such as Sungevity. I will be discussing the size system they recommend based on my SMUD utility statements average Kwh per day usage for the last four months. My southern roof is completely free from any shade and have been told it is ideal for solar panel installation. Because I can't say for certain I will be living here for the next 20 years I am considering leasing the system rather than purchasing knowing that I will lose some of the full benefit as far as utility cost savings. The flip side is it appears that selling a home with solar in place and operating can increase value from 4% to 7% depending on location so while not a major money maker it is still something positive.

    The home, built in 1996, does have original HVAC system(gas furnace). gas water heaters, clothes dryer and cooktop. I plan to update my kitchen oven and dishwasher as well as replace all of my incandescent recessed cans with retrofit leeds while rebates are still being offered. I would like to consider installing two solar powered attic vent fans( my house is one story with a U-shaped footprint) if I can find a model for a concrete tile roof that is within a price range I can afford. Insulation wise( mine is blown in), I would rather not open the can of worms when it comes to exterior walls. As for the attic,I have a decent amount of fill except in one area over my master bedroom and which I plan to increase with bat type since it will be more economical for me to install(read me doing the installing) as opposed to having a company come and blow more in.

    I have no doubt new windows would also be a plus but I have quite a few and with age and hope for retirement getting closer find that expense somewhat daunting as well.

    I would be happy to share my quote from Sungevity once I have my discussion for thoughts before I move forward.

    William
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,811 admin
    wpollock wrote: »
    I am considering leasing a system from someone such as Sungevity. I will be discussing the size system they recommend based on my SMUD utility statements average Kwh per day usage for the last four months. My southern roof is completely free from any shade and have been told it is ideal for solar panel installation. Because I can't say for certain I will be living here for the next 20 years I am considering leasing the system rather than purchasing knowing that I will lose some of the full benefit as far as utility cost savings. The flip side is it appears that selling a home with solar in place and operating can increase value from 4% to 7% depending on location so while not a major money maker it is still something positive.

    Personally, I would not count on GT solar adding any value to the home. Please check with a local real-estate agent. There have been cases where buyers have walked away from solar homes and/or demanded array removed because they did not trust that newfangled stuff on roof (worry about fire, did not look good, etc.).

    Check the lease agreement about what happens if you move--Can you remove the panels at some point if needed, etc.

    Also check how they do the billing (many will increase $/kWH costs over time--Saving you a bit of money, but no where leaving you with a "predictable/stable" power bill into the far future.

    If you are not going to be in the house for 7+ years--I would seriously think of not installing solar GT and doing just the conservation part of the project.

    And you know that standard GT solar does not provide any backup power (if your utility power goes down, the GT solar power turns off too).
    The home, built in 1996, does have original HVAC system(gas furnace). gas water heaters, clothes dryer and cooktop. I plan to update my kitchen oven and dishwasher as well as replace all of my incandescent recessed cans with retrofit leeds while rebates are still being offered. I would like to consider installing two solar powered attic vent fans( my house is one story with a U-shaped footprint) if I can find a model for a concrete tile roof that is within a price range I can afford. Insulation wise( mine is blown in), I would rather not open the can of worms when it comes to exterior walls. As for the attic,I have a decent amount of fill except in one area over my master bedroom and which I plan to increase with bat type since it will be more economical for me to install(read me doing the installing) as opposed to having a company come and blow more in.

    Natural gas is usually the most cost effective heating medium at this time... It is possible that a Heat Pump type water heater can save you money (especially if you can get cheap solar power). Note that even heat pump water heaters have their issues for some folks ("waste" is cold/dry air--Great in summer, not so good in winter for cooler climates--venting outside air to heat pump is sometimes needed to prevent over cooling part of the home). Some folks believe that Heat Pump water heater is, overall, a better solution that the standard hot water thermal solar panels + all the plumbing/pumps/possible anti-freeze loop, etc.

    LED retrofit will be great--Can help you home run cooler and save A/C costs. I have done that in my home. Better than the CFL solution so far.

    Solar powered attic fans... I believe a waste of money. They do not move much air (for the price). Almost as good as just opening more vent holes in the roof and eves to increase air flow (one person after a few years realized all of his solar fans had failed--Yet the attic remained cooler than before installation).

    Attic insulation, insulation heaped over in ceiling HVAC ducting is supposed to be great. Opening the walls is probably not needed. Shading against sun (trees/trellises/even solar panels) is a big help too. Making it so low winter sun can come in windows to heat home in winter can help too.

    Concrete tile roof + solar panels--Can be a big can of worms. Check with your roofer and see what they recommend. My roofer was thinking of getting into GT solar since he spent so much time fixing solar panel roof panel installs after the electrical contractor had leaks when the winter rains hit. He figured the electrical side was easy vs the roof issues.
    I have no doubt new windows would also be a plus but I have quite a few and with age and hope for retirement getting closer find that expense somewhat daunting as well.

    I am glad I put in windows. I had an old stucco home with no wall insulation. Put in double pane low E windows and the west facing bedrooms were dramatically cooler after all was said and done.

    Had another friend that put in double pane widows/doors and they did not find it to change their home's energy usage much (much newer home with full wall insulation, also stucco). Still liked the noise reduction and reduced air leaks...
    I would be happy to share my quote from Sungevity once I have my discussion for thoughts before I move forward.

    Review the leasing agreement in detail... And the "what ifs". Those can really hurt years down the road.

    -Bill

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,347 ✭✭✭✭
    If you are going to be in the house for a while reconsider a purchase, even if you have to make a small note against the house. Personally I had to carry some of mine for about 6 month till the tax deal and Utility rebates came in. I had cash for the rest of it. With a low interest note you might find your utility cost will go down enough to cover the note and maybe then some. The only issue then is to get a reputable company with many references and take a drive by and at lest look at a couple of the companies installs. Talk to the owners if you can.
  • bazzah0bazzah0 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Hi Barry here ,an Australian living in Sweden.
    I am new to the forum .
    Sorry to jump in on your topic and change the subject but l cannot find anywhere to start a new forum .can you help me .l have looked in the FAQ but l cannot find the +New topic . I am using google web browser on mobile maybe that is the problem.
    Hope you can help
    Thanks
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,811 admin
    If it is like my cell phone... Go to the sub forum where you want to make the post (just "close enough"--There is overlap):

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/

    Pick a sub forum (like Solar Beginners corner):

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/forum/solar-electric-power-wind-power-balance-of-system/solar-beginners-corner

    Then just above the list of threads (above the first red bar), you should see a "+ New Topic" Button. On my laptop, the button is to the left of the screen. On the mobile version, it floats.. It may be on the right or left side of the screen next to the "Subscribe" button.

    -Bl
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • bazzah0bazzah0 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Thanks for the help found it now
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