Review me

nightowltechnightowltech Registered Users Posts: 5
Don't know why I have not done this sooner but I am finally going to do it, I'm trying to getting off the grid. I am still very new at knowing what would be required but after last nights crash course in Solar Panel setups, I have come down to this as a starting kit I would like to invest but would like this communities input as to any factor I might not be considering. Mind you this is just to start I feel I may need more batteries and panels but would like to make sure that I am on the right track for expansion later.

I would eventually like to be completely off the grid and possibly sell some back to them for a change. I would like to know what would be a comfortable amount of panels and batteries for doing so? I was hopping for about 5000 Watts total output for my home. I think that would be comfortable? 3600 Watts now should be fine to start.

I have read that I should look for a sign wave inverter so that there is not much of a power problem with some devices like computers or hardware with variable speed knobs. Is the inverter I selected enough for that or would it be better to invest in a inverter that is labeled as "sign wave?" I thought that maybe if I ran some big capacitors in series it would help with power fluctuations?


Usage on the grid average: • Use: 23.33 kWh per day or 700kWh Month
Monthly Bill: $80 winter time and $120 summer time = $100 Per month Average.

Solar Panels. :
Kyocer Panel $550 235 Watts X2 $1100.00 making 470 watts

*Question: I was thinking because of cost just starting with one... but If I can afford it I would like to buy both. Is one enough?:confused:

Controller:
Outback MATE
$216.00

*Question: Best choice for me as I only plan on spending a total of $3800 on the whole setup. I may be able to squeezes a little more but not sure. It goes well with the current batteries and Inverter setup as it is also a Outback.

Batteries :
Surrette S460
[email protected] Amp/Hrs = $305.00; -would like to get x2 = 12v,@700 Amp/Hrs. = $610.00 or 4200 Amp/Hrs?? right?

*Notes: I feel these would be nice to start and build off it from there. They are heavy and are well known batteries for life use.

Inverters:
Outback GVFX3648
$1789.00

*Notes: This seems to be for the money the best one any other suggestions. It goes with my controller so operations will be easy to manage.

Thanks for your replies to this thread all opinions are welcome.

Comments

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Review me...

    i'm not so sure you'd want to be off of the grid all of the way for if you are then you can't sell any power back to them.

    i'll assume you mean to be grid tied. now did you want or need battery backup or would you just want to have a straight gt system as that is more efficient? in any case conservation is key as a watt saved does not need to be generated and allowed you a savings as a result. once you've made conservation efforts then you'd need to know the kwh you'd average per day to help calculate what the system would need to produce.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Review me

    First of all, an Outback MATE is not a charge controller.
    Second, Niel is perfectly correct in his questioning of reasons for doing so. It costs a lot to produce electricity off grid. There's no economic reason for doing so. Do you have another reason?
    Third, you have to start with your actual loads in order to design an off-grid system properly.

    Instead of just picking an array or inverter size, you need to look at daily Watt hours and maximum Watts. The latter figure will give you a clue as to what size inverter to pick, and the former will be the big determiner for the size of the battery bank. Once you know how much battery you need you can figure out how much solar panel and what charge controller to get.

    You can get a Kill-A-Watt meter for about $30 and measure the loads you intend to use. It will give you cumulative Watt hours. But beware that it doesn't pick up on quick surges such as caused by induction motors kicking on (i.e. refrigerators). Then you can look at what you want to run and see how much of it can be reduced. Conservation is key to off grid systems. It ought to be mandatory for grid systems as well!

    So, shall we start again? :D
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,433 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Review me

    Off grid solar, comes at about twice the price with about half the performance of grid tie solar. If you are serious about trying to sell some power back to the utility, Considergrid tie. I also suggest that you do a bunc more reading so that you avoid the most expensive pitfall of solar,, that is the Read, Fire, Aim syndrome!

    Good Luck, keep in touch and welcome to the forum.

    T
  • nightowltechnightowltech Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: Review me...
    niel wrote: »
    i'm not so sure you'd want to be off of the grid all of the way for if you are then you can't sell any power back to them.

    i'll assume you mean to be grid tied. now did you want or need battery backup or would you just want to have a straight gt system as that is more efficient? in any case conservation is key as a watt saved does not need to be generated and allowed you a savings as a result. once you've made conservation efforts then you'd need to know the kwh you'd average per day to help calculate what the system would need to produce.

    I would like to have battery backup and be gt = grid tied, as well. For sure... my vocabulary regarding this subject is not quite up to par so please bare with me. Your correct I don't want to get off the grid but I would like to know more or less some of the steps I should take in considering a power system and what equipment would be required. Relying more on my ability to power my home for my needs and becoming less reliant on SCE to power me. I have made conscious efforts to become more self reliant, conservative and efficient by making sure lights are off. Low wattage bulbs. Having a yard that requires low water to maintain. Growing my own food. I would like to drill for a well but that's for another project. Perhaps with solar power when I do put a well in my pump can be setup for Solar power. So for now I look to solar power for my electric needs. At this time I will not be able to power everything because of finances but it would be nice to put a BIG dent in my electric bill and maybe I will learn something too. I am an avid electronics person as I have an AAS for Electronic Engineering so I do understand the general concepts of what I need to do it's just getting a knowledge of the equipment that is out there to do it. I have about $3800 bucks to start with. ;)
    Instead of just picking an array or inverter size, you need to look at daily Watt hours and maximum Watts. The latter figure will give you a clue as to what size inverter to pick, and the former will be the big determiner for the size of the battery bank. Once you know how much battery you need you can figure out how much solar panel and what charge controller to get.

    Is this the information your talking about?:confused:
    SCIs' bill to me says, Total electricity you used this month in kWh = 599. Daily Usage: 2 Years ago 27.93 kWh; Last year 20.53 kWh; This year 19.97 kWh.
    So I figure 599 kWh per/month / 30 days a month gives me the 19.9666----7 they say I currently average. Looking at the chart they layout it looks like I top out at about 38 kWh per/day in the summer time.
    You can get a Kill-A-Watt meter for about $30 and measure the loads you intend to use. It will give you cumulative Watt hours. But beware that it doesn't pick up on quick surges such as caused by induction motors kicking on (i.e. refrigerators). Then you can look at what you want to run and see how much of it can be reduced. Conservation is key to off grid systems. It ought to be mandatory for grid systems as well!

    I will take a second look at the items I intend to use and pick up a Kill-A-Watt meter to test as you suggest. I have just laid it out in my head and figured 3600w total power distribution would be enough to start. But perhaps pen and paper with accurate numbers would make better sense.

    I am reading more about all this for sure I don't intend on spending money without making sure. I just started looking into this last night. I do appreciate your replies and look forward to learning more which I am sure to pick up fast on. :D
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,433 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Review me

    Just as an FYI, if your grid is fairly reliable, a generator is much cheaper, and very much more reliable way dot have emergency power. You should realize that batteries are ver expensive (in big enough sizes to be useful) they give you limited run times, and they have a finite life span.

    for way less than the price of a large battery bank, you can buy a great standby generator with virtually unlimited run time, and small fuel use.

    Please take the time to read some more about grid tie, as well as off grid solar systems before you commit to spending any money.

    Tony

    PS (Changed to the real computer from the Ipad so I can type).

    A typical grid tie system will cost ~$5-8 per watt installed (the bigger, the cheaper per watt) A battery based off grid system will cost ~ $8-10 per watt. A typical grid tie system will run ~ 75% efficiency. A battery based system will run ~50% efficient, (and probably less in the real world).

    I suggest you go here to see how much energy you can really harvest in your location, and what the value of the power is likely to be: http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/calculators/PVWATTS/version1/

    Plugging in Bakersfield CA just for example, with a 4 kw system, yields 3-500 kwh/month, or ~ 5800 kwh/year.

    Tony
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Review me

    To further what Tony said, in terms of saving money on your electric bill this is bound to be a false economy. As a rule-of-thumb, Grid Tie solar produces power at a rate of about $0.50 per kW hour over the life of the equipment. Off-Grid is about double that. "Hybrid" (GT with battery back-up) somewhere in between. How does that compare to your local electric rate? If your local utility allows selling back to the grid, definitely get whatever information they have regarding that program. GT is something that must be done with the cooperation of the utility.

    You're probably going to find that $3800 doesn't get you much, unless there are some great rebates available to you. One way to get into solar inexpensively is with the microinverters. These are GT only set ups, with one inverter per panel (about 200 Watts each).

    Our host NAWS has a large selection of equipment you can look over as a reference, even if you choose not to buy from them: http://www.solar-electric.com/
    There are some sample GT system quotes here, and also some info on the microinverters I mentioned: http://www.solar-electric.com/gridtiesolar.html

    Yeah, I know: a lot of reading. :p But it's better to wade through the info before you spend the money, eh?
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,433 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Review me

    I should have mentioned that, my cost suggestion(s) are exclusive of any utility, state or local rebates, nor any state or federal tax credits, all of which might serve to reduce your costs significantly.

    Tony
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Review me
    icarus wrote: »
    I should have mentioned that, my cost suggestion(s) are exclusive of any utility, state or local rebates, nor any state or federal tax credits, all of which might serve to reduce your costs significantly.

    Tony

    Funny, that; as Ontario has such a program but BC does not. :p
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,433 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Review me

    Yea, but the $.81/kwh feed in tariff is causing much travail. It seems that they have suspended the program at least temporarily. I haven't been following it much.

    T

    PS For those that don't know, Ontario was offering $.81 kwh for each and every kwh a PV system can put out, regardless of load. I know folks with grid connected remote camps who have installed 10 kw systems, they will be printing money!
  • solarvicsolarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,060 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Review me
    Don't know why I have not done this sooner but I am finally going to do it, I'm trying to getting off the grid. I am still very new at knowing what would be required but after last nights crash course in Solar Panel setups, I have come down to this as a starting kit I would like to invest but would like this communities input as to any factor I might not be considering. Mind you this is just to start I feel I may need more batteries and panels but would like to make sure that I am on the right track for expansion later.

    I would eventually like to be completely off the grid and possibly sell some back to them for a change. I would like to know what would be a comfortable amount of panels and batteries for doing so? I was hopping for about 5000 Watts total output for my home. I think that would be comfortable? 3600 Watts now should be fine to start.

    I have read that I should look for a sign wave inverter so that there is not much of a power problem with some devices like computers or hardware with variable speed knobs. Is the inverter I selected enough for that or would it be better to invest in a inverter that is labeled as "sign wave?" I thought that maybe if I ran some big capacitors in series it would help with power fluctuations?


    Usage on the grid average: • Use: 23.33 kWh per day or 700kWh Month
    Monthly Bill: $80 winter time and $120 summer time = $100 Per month Average.

    Solar Panels. :
    Kyocer Panel $550 235 Watts X2 $1100.00 making 470 watts

    *Question: I was thinking because of cost just starting with one... but If I can afford it I would like to buy both. Is one enough?:confused:

    Controller:
    Outback MATE
    $216.00

    *Question: Best choice for me as I only plan on spending a total of $3800 on the whole setup. I may be able to squeezes a little more but not sure. It goes well with the current batteries and Inverter setup as it is also a Outback.

    Batteries :
    Surrette S460
    [email protected] Amp/Hrs = $305.00; -would like to get x2 = 12v,@700 Amp/Hrs. = $610.00 or 4200 Amp/Hrs?? right?

    *Notes: I feel these would be nice to start and build off it from there. They are heavy and are well known batteries for life use.

    Inverters:
    Outback GVFX3648
    $1789.00

    *Notes: This seems to be for the money the best one any other suggestions. It goes with my controller so operations will be easy to manage.

    Thanks for your replies to this thread all opinions are welcome.
    I think someone should have told you by now that you have some mistakes in your calculations. Someone already told you a mate isn,t a charge controler. 2 6v [email protected] 350 Amp/hours in series doesn,t make [email protected] amp. It makes [email protected]
    Amp/hours. #2 you will not get 470 watts from 2 solar panels after the derating and losse.s. You will need to spend lots more than the amount of money you are thinking of. There is wireing cost and racking need for the solar panels ect. You will need permits, Probably a plan to the electric co, buy permits and get electrical inspections, ect. I am not trying to discourage you as everyone has to start somewhere. Maybe you need to do a lot more research as there are lots of rebates that you might qualify for. I have a friend that had a big array with 56 185 watt solar panels. He told me the installer gave him an interestfree loan for a year while he collected his rebates. It cost him $70,000.00 to start with. After he collected all the rebates his system cost him $28,000.00 and he only has a $10.00 electric bill per month. You might be able to do a small GTI by using the money you were going to use on the big inverter and batterys. Just get the inphase inverters and more solar panels. If you decide to do that you need to find out which solar panels that work with the Emphase inverters. I think You should be able to get an inverter and solar panel for about $600.00 each set. solarvic
  • nightowltechnightowltech Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: Review me
    icarus wrote: »
    Just as an FYI, if your grid is fairly reliable, a generator is much cheaper, and very much more reliable way dot have emergency power. You should realize that batteries are ver expensive (in big enough sizes to be useful) they give you limited run times, and they have a finite life span.

    for way less than the price of a large battery bank, you can buy a great standby generator with virtually unlimited run time, and small fuel use.

    Please take the time to read some more about grid tie, as well as off grid solar systems before you commit to spending any money.

    Tony

    PS (Changed to the real computer from the Ipad so I can type).

    A typical grid tie system will cost ~$5-8 per watt installed (the bigger, the cheaper per watt) A battery based off grid system will cost ~ $8-10 per watt. A typical grid tie system will run ~ 75% efficiency. A battery based system will run ~50% efficient, (and probably less in the real world).

    I suggest you go here to see how much energy you can really harvest in your location, and what the value of the power is likely to be: http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/calculators/PVWATTS/version1/

    Plugging in Bakersfield CA just for example, with a 4 kw system, yields 3-500 kwh/month, or ~ 5800 kwh/year.

    Tony

    I checked out the site you mentioned thanks. The results for my location are:

    "PVWATTS v.2: AC Energy and Cost Savings"

    "Station Identification"
    "Cell ID:","?????????"
    "State:","?????????"
    "Lat (deg N):", ?????
    "Long (deg W):", ???????
    "PV System Specifications"
    "DC Rating:"," 4.0 kW"
    "DC to AC Derate Factor:"," 0.770"
    "AC Rating:"," 3.1 kW"
    "Array Type: Fixed Tilt"
    "Array Tilt:"," 34.5"
    "Array Azimuth:","180.0"

    "Energy Specifications"
    "Cost of Electricity:","12.1 cents/kWh"

    "Results"
    "Month", "Solar Radiation (kWh/m^2/day)", "AC Energy (kWh)", "Energy Value ($)"
    1, 5.43, 502, 60.67
    2, 5.93, 484, 58.49
    3, 6.75, 611, 73.84
    4, 7.28, 628, 75.89
    5, 7.33, 637, 76.98
    6, 7.34, 601, 72.63
    7, 7.29, 601, 72.63
    8, 7.48, 617, 74.56
    9, 7.32, 600, 72.51
    10, 6.87, 601, 72.63
    11, 6.09, 534, 64.53
    12, 5.16, 479, 57.89
    "Year", 6.69, 6894, 833.14
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,007 admin
    Re: Review me

    That 0.77 derating is for a Grid Tied system (solar panels + Grid Tied inverter--No batteries, no emergency power). Use something like 0.52 derating factor for a pure off grid system.

    A 4kW system will cost around $5-$8 per watt installed--or $20-$32,000 (and there may be local and a 30% federal tax credit).

    A off-grid system or a Hybrid System (GT + Off-Grid) will probably cost 2x as much (batteries, more panels to make up for losses, etc.).

    You can make a Grid Tied system that will cost you are $0.15 to $0.30 per kWHr assuming 20 year life and replacing one inverter after ~10 years or so...

    An off grid system becomes very expensive--On the order of $1-$2+ per kWH -- because you have to use batteries for energy storage (~2-3 days for most people). And you have to replace the batteries every 5-15 years (plus have the savings to replace inverters, charge controllers, etc. every 10+ years or so--Even if they are repairable, after 10 years it becomes very difficult to find some of the parts and the factory will probably stop supporting repairs).

    Just to give you something to aim at--Look at a "cost effective" off-grid system at around 100 kWH per month (3.3 kWH per day, around 1,500-2,000 watts of solar panels).

    Of course, you can go bigger, but the costs and maintenance issues go up accordingly.

    Stick with Grid Tied if you are after saving money (or at least breaking even).

    Go with Hybrid GT/Off Grid if you have grid power but are hit with lots of week long power outages or may have 1-2 months outages every year...

    A Hybrid system you may get down to $0.45 per kWH -- Not cheap, but better. Plus you can still use the grid for "storage" most of the time.

    Off-Grid--Only do that if you do not have utility power in your area and it will cost more than $10,000-$30,000 or so to string wire to your location.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,653 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Review me

    I live off grid, and have done it myself, in a state and county that allows that.

    While I believe a grid tie system is currently close to parity with the grid in expensive locations that charge for more for peak hours, all factors, including the 30% tax credit. For areas that do true net metering, something to check in your local some do dual meters and pay wholesale for the feed in current, and/or other discouraging tachtics.

    I think off grid has a realistic multiplier of 4x the cost of grid tied, since you either have to over build your system, or have backup systems. If your going solar to save the planet, off grid doesn't payback the amount of electric that it produces with a battery storage system. I'm NOT saying it can't be cost effective, just not as enviromentaly friendly as the gridtie. I would love everyone to experience it for a month, you would learn a lot about how you use electric, and reduce your usage a lot very quickly.

    I have some 30+ year old panels, that still produce well, so the productive life is well past the warranty. And likely the cost of grid current will continue to go up, infrastructure has lagged behind demand. If your a very low watthour user, user fees appear to be on the rise making the cost per Kwh higher, my situation.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • nightowltechnightowltech Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: Review me

    Thanks for all your input. I at least now have an idea of the kind of equipment options there are. A lot of research to do and time to safe for a system that I will find beneficial to my circumstances. I was wondering if someone could post some quality names for equipment to keep an eye for?

    Thanks also for the links and excel calculator for v-drops this should be an interesting project to say the least. It would be interesting to see what kind of power I could generate from different avenues at my disposal. I think a hybrid system of some sort will be my ultimate design as I am a man that likes to have a backup on backup. I would like to keep posting my results here as I learn more about solar and wind. My options for the use of both is not closed to ideas. Until then I will just keep using the Arc Reactor dad left me... lol j/k of course.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,007 admin
    Re: Review me

    Even if you don't purchase from our host, you can start looking for good product on their website:

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

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nightowltechnightowltech Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: Review me
    BB. wrote: »
    Even if you don't purchase from our host, you can start looking for good product on their website:

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

    -Bill

    I will check it out thanks.
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