I'm wondering is solar really worth it...

Blindowl1234Blindowl1234 Registered Users Posts: 43 ✭✭
After almost two months of experimenting with two solar panels with a total of 125 watts I'm questioning is solar really worth it on a large scale. I'm fine with my little setup and how its working. Only problem is it puts out 50% of rated watts on a typical day. However I read all the posts here on what I consider a large setups and can't see it being cost effective at all. In Ohio this time of year we're lucky if we get 8 hours of sun a week. A battery bank for say a 3 kw or 5kw setup would cost a small fortune, not even figuring the cost of solar panels. Unless you have no access to the the grid, I don't see that solar is saving anything. That might explain why I see almost no solar large solar setups anywhere near me lol. In our area I could spend $20K on a setup and it wouldn't offset my electric bill enough in my remaining lifetime (Age 56 now) to pay for itself. I'm also unable to use the 30% tax credit too. Solar for me is something neat to mess with but I'd never see spending $20K on it since the payback time would be unbelievable. So what am I missing here with solar?

Comments

  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,163 ✭✭✭✭
    If you don't have a grid service available it will make sense.... if you want power at the switch it is going to cost you a good chunk of change...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • bill von novakbill von novak Solar Expert Posts: 870 ✭✭✭✭
    After almost two months of experimenting with two solar panels with a total of 125 watts I'm questioning is solar really worth it on a large scale. . . . . So what am I missing here with solar?
    You are comparing the wrong things, IMO.  There are two systems worth considering:
    1) Off grid.  If you have no grid access, solar can be cheaper than an equivalent generator based system due to lower operating costs.  (Battery replacement, rather than generator replacement plus fuel.)
    2) On grid.  If you have grid access, then grid-tied solar is quite cheap, and payback times are often under 10 years.
  • DanS26DanS26 Solar Expert Posts: 240 ✭✭✭
    You live in Ohio.......that's coal country and if you are grid tied it means relatively low cost electrical energy.

    To compete you have to be a low cost producer......if you're handy you can build a grid tied system, at current parts cost, at around a 6 to 7 year payback.  If you have to pay someone to build your system it may not payback at all.  That's why you don't see much solar activity in the Midwest at the homeowner level.
    18.2kW Kyocera panels; 2 Fronius 7.5kW inverters; Nyle hot water; Steffes ETS; Great Lakes RO; Generac 10kW w/ATS, TED Pro System monitoring with PVOutput.org
  • DanS26DanS26 Solar Expert Posts: 240 ✭✭✭
    ......... I'm also unable to use the 30% tax credit too. ............


    A lot of retirees have that problem.....no earned income and resulting tax to offset.

    A good strategy if you have a regular IRA is to convert that IRA to a Roth IRA which will generate a tax bill.  Then you can use the 30% solar credit to offset.  Works well and you are in total control and can match up the tax and credit to zero out.
    18.2kW Kyocera panels; 2 Fronius 7.5kW inverters; Nyle hot water; Steffes ETS; Great Lakes RO; Generac 10kW w/ATS, TED Pro System monitoring with PVOutput.org
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,023 ✭✭✭✭
    DanS26 said:
    ......... I'm also unable to use the 30% tax credit too. ............


    A lot of retirees have that problem.....no earned income and resulting tax to offset.

    A good strategy if you have a regular IRA is to convert that IRA to a Roth IRA which will generate a tax bill.  Then you can use the 30% solar credit to offset.  Works well and you are in total control and can match up the tax and credit to zero out.


    Brilliant!

    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
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,023 ✭✭✭✭

    Grid tied works in Ohio river valley if you can get the tax credit. and They use to be one of the states with a renewable energy credit system that was functioning. My brother lives in Cincinnati and has paid for his system in less than 7 years even with a easternly facing array. Though I think he had a local rebate as well as the 30% tax credit, and a bit of credit income, though he thought they would be worth more in the future so he didn't tie in a long term plan, and they became worth less in future years.

    You can look for other rebates and incentives here;

    http://www.dsireusa.org/

    Battery based system will cost you more than grid unless electric costs more than 30 cents a Kwh and you are a good do-it-yourself type person. I have one and am as cheap as anyone I know or have heard of (at least who will give numbers) and I'm above/around 20 cents a Kwh. (with incentives)

    Understanding how grid tied system work may help you understand how they can be cost effective, when there are so many cloudy days back to back. Most Net Metering plans are based on energy produce over a year. With an array designed to off set your electric bill, you will have months when you produce more electric than you use and those extra Kwh credits roll over month to month, until you have months when you use more than you produce.


    Also Grid tied systems work very much more efficiently than battery based system, since you must have an array large enough to charge your battery bank fully often, even in the cloudy days, but once charge battery based system, simply stop producing having no where to store the energy. But grid tied system push energy back to the grid so they run above 95% efficient.

    Typically an off grid system will require 3x the array size of a neutral grid tied system and/or require another source of power like a generator.

    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
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    DanS26 said:

    A good strategy if you have a regular IRA is to convert that IRA to a Roth IRA which will generate a tax bill. 
    Photowhit said:

    Brilliant!

    I think it's a very good idea.      --vtMaps

    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • Solar2Solar2 Registered Users Posts: 28 ✭✭
    There are other reasons for going solar beyond offsetting your electric bill.

    1.  A ground coupled heat pump arranged to run from solar power, (and grid if you have grid available),
         can save you even more than just offsetting your electric bill.
         Heat pumps will put 3-4 times the energy in the form of heat into your house than it takes to run them.
         This makes solar practical as a way to heat your house, provide air condx and DHW.

    2.  Electric cars are becoming practical for local driving (80% of driving is close to home).
         Most of the year, a large solar array will give you electricity beyond what you will need for household.
         An electric car is  good place to put that extra capacity.
         Electric cars average 4.5 miles per KwHr.
         Fuel cost for the average car is around 10 cents per mile.
         This means each KwHr you put into an electric car will offset 45 cents of anthropogenic fuel.

    3.  Reliability.  Some times it is nice to have another option to gird.

    4.  Environmental, Sustainability.  Even though I don't like the S word because it often misused,
         we are going to have to come to grip with the large carbon foot print of our present lifestyle.

    18 Kw PV;  2000 AHr FLA Bat; 12 Kw Inverter;  20 Kw Kohler, LP, low speed, double muffled,   Home built, ground coupled heat pump, VFD enabled;  Leaf
  • Blindowl1234Blindowl1234 Registered Users Posts: 43 ✭✭
    Photowhit said:

    Grid tied works in Ohio river valley if you can get the tax credit. and They use to be one of the states with a renewable energy credit system that was functioning. My brother lives in Cincinnati and has paid for his system in less than 7 years even with a easternly facing array. Though I think he had a local rebate as well as the 30% tax credit, and a bit of credit income, though he thought they would be worth more in the future so he didn't tie in a long term plan, and they became worth less in future years.

    You can look for other rebates and incentives here;

    http://www.dsireusa.org/

    Battery based system will cost you more than grid unless electric costs more than 30 cents a Kwh and you are a good do-it-yourself type person. I have one and am as cheap as anyone I know or have heard of (at least who will give numbers) and I'm above/around 20 cents a Kwh. (with incentives)

    Understanding how grid tied system work may help you understand how they can be cost effective, when there are so many cloudy days back to back. Most Net Metering plans are based on energy produce over a year. With an array designed to off set your electric bill, you will have months when you produce more electric than you use and those extra Kwh credits roll over month to month, until you have months when you use more than you produce.


    Also Grid tied systems work very much more efficiently than battery based system, since you must have an array large enough to charge your battery bank fully often, even in the cloudy days, but once charge battery based system, simply stop producing having no where to store the energy. But grid tied system push energy back to the grid so they run above 95% efficient.

    Typically an off grid system will require 3x the array size of a neutral grid tied system and/or require another source of power like a generator.

    Photowhit, I'm 20 miles east of Cincinnati so I'm curious how your brother's system works for him. I'm guessing it's grid tied. This week we've had two partially sunny days, one of them today. I think we saw maybe 3 hours of sun between the clouds. Also I'm paying about 6 cents a kilowatt for electric so that's no where near what some folks pay. Thanks to all for the comments and ideas I think I'll keep it on a small scale. This house is about as energy efficient as it can get for a 60 year old house. Fairly decent insulation, central A/c and heat pump fairly is fairly new, and furnace is propane and 95 % efficient for back up heat.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,842 ✭✭✭✭✭
    vtmaps said:
    DanS26 said:

    A good strategy if you have a regular IRA is to convert that IRA to a Roth IRA which will generate a tax bill. 
    Photowhit said:

    Brilliant!

    I think it's a very good idea.      --vtMaps

    More info on a offshoot of this from a friend. A very good friend who will remember me.....The ROTH may be changing soon.

    "The maneuver emerged as a loophole in 2010, enabling high-income investors who had heretofore been shut out of direct Roth IRA contributions because of income limits to get some money into the Roth column through "the backdoor." While direct contributions to Roth IRAs remain subject to income thresholds (in 2016, contributions are not allowed for single taxpayers with modified adjusted gross incomes of more than $132,000 or for married couples filing jointly with MAGIs of more than $194,000), income limits on conversions from traditional IRAs to Roth were removed in 2010. That gave high-income investors who had been shut out of direct Roth IRA contributions a workaround: They could contribute to a traditional IRA, then convert to a Roth later on. The conversion is a tax-free maneuver, assu ming the investor has no other traditional IRA assets that have never been taxed and the new traditional IRA hasn't gained in value since the contribution was made."


    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • JohannJohann Solar Expert Posts: 240 ✭✭✭
    I experimented for 1 year with different set-up and equipment.
    Of course the output will be less in the winter in most cases. Also it depends how full your battery is. A battery that is charged already will take less power and it may seem that the solar panel will not put out.
    Our grid power goes out constantly, so solar was a better and quiet option.
    Generators are noisy and will suck plenty of fuel.  My panels payed themselves by not having to buy fuel for a generator every time the power goes out. So far this year we had already about 10 outages which last from 4 hours to 12 hours.
    My batteries so far been free, at least for the last 3 years when I started the solar thing. I just tell everyone I know and work with to give me their worn down car batteries and if they need a CORE battery I just give them a really dead battery that I can not use anymore.  Generally, car batteries are a bad idea for solar, but if they are free why not use them.
    I use my system mostly for lighting inside my house and for the shed and for some fans and other things every day and in emergencies a lot more things are hooked to it.
    This year, I will divert some of the solar panel power that the battery is not using.
    2 years ago, I experimented with 1 car battery and a solar panel and a Air Conditioner  window unit and it ran for 20 minutes.



  • Blindowl1234Blindowl1234 Registered Users Posts: 43 ✭✭
    Johann, Similar situation here with my solar. Running a handful of Led lights at night and that works ok so long as we get sun about every 3rd day. In winter that doesn't always happen here with sun. To do anything much the whole back of my roof would have to be covered in panels to even produce much real power in winter. I've not really crunched any hard numbers but it would cost way more than I think I'd ever want to spend. We've got a 3500 watt generator which will keep the important stuff going in a power outage. We usually only lose power for a few hours a couple of times a year. 
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,346 ✭✭✭✭
    DanS26 said:
    ......... I'm also unable to use the 30% tax credit too. ............


    A lot of retirees have that problem.....no earned income and resulting tax to offset.

    A good strategy if you have a regular IRA is to convert that IRA to a Roth IRA which will generate a tax bill.  Then you can use the 30% solar credit to offset.  Works well and you are in total control and can match up the tax and credit to zero out.
    This is one of the exact reasons I planned the solar for before I retired and did the work during a very peak earnings year.
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