Join the Solar Freedom Cause to Reduce Rooftop Installation Costs by 50%

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body-join-the-solar-freedom-cause-to-reduce-rooftop-installation-costs-by-50.jpg The issue: Although panel prices have plummeted in the past five years, installling a rooftop system in the U.S. costs twice as much as it does in Germany. The cause: According to Solar Freedom Now, a new grassroots organization led by industry veterans Barry Cinnamon, Ron Kenedi, Jesse Pichel, Paula Mints,*and Tom McCalmont, it all boils down to "

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  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: Join the Solar Freedom Cause to Reduce Rooftop Installation Costs by 50%

    I totally agree. This country is going to have to choose between whether it wants to have affordable solar or a paperwork industry. Between: an industry installing solar or an industry of inspectors. As long as the dirty fuel industry gets a free and or subsidized ride on polluting side effects in order to provide cheap power, I think the solar industry ought to get a free ride on the permitting processes. Keep the high code standards, require licensed installers and final inspections, but eliminate permits in exchange for registrations - like in Vermont and Germany.
  • Mike at Energy CommissionMike at Energy Commission Solar Expert Posts: 50 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Join the Solar Freedom Cause to Reduce Rooftop Installation Costs by 50%

    An outdoor deck extending from a second story bedroom is more dangerous to build especially in high seismic zones, than a UL approved, NEC code compliant plug and play solar system. Yet, people have to make full submittals, wait weeks and weeks and pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for a PV permit. A second story deck can be permitted using a pre-approved City standard (provided by City) detail, done over the counter, requiring no submittal for a couple of hundred dollars, all that is needed is the field inspection by the City inspector. Residential electrical permits are no plans and OTC as well, Australia does not require any building permit or City inspection for residential 4KW or less, they just have to show a qualified installer did the job. There is absolutely no reason for the paperwork we see today for PV solar permitting.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Join the Solar Freedom Cause to Reduce Rooftop Installation Costs by 50%

    There is only one reason for all the paperwork: the bureaucrats do not understand solar and so are afraid of it. In those circumstances they always do everything possible to protect themselves from liability (to put it nicely).

    I would love to have an explanation for my latest run in, but if I demand one it will be all the more difficult the next time I want to pull a permit.

    And then they wonder why so many people skip the process whenever they can. :roll:
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,348 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Join the Solar Freedom Cause to Reduce Rooftop Installation Costs by 50%

    It is bad enough here they require a permit to swap a hot water heater.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Join the Solar Freedom Cause to Reduce Rooftop Installation Costs by 50%
    solar_dave wrote: »
    It is bad enough here they require a permit to swap a hot water heater.

    That would be a bit difficult for them to know about. ;)
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,058 admin
    Re: Join the Solar Freedom Cause to Reduce Rooftop Installation Costs by 50%
    An outdoor deck extending from a second story bedroom is more dangerous to build especially in high seismic zones, than a UL approved, NEC code compliant plug and play solar system.

    As far as I know, there cannot be any plug and play code compliant GT solar system unless the home is equipped with a specific branch circuit for solar power. You cannot, safely, add more than a minimal amount of solar power to an existing 120 VAC branch circuit without an increase risk of wiring overheating/fire hazard.

    Add local requirements for Hurricane/earthquake/fire protection/etc... I don't see it getting any easier in the US (risk adverse government, and building departments can be a source of cash and sending updates to the tax accessor's offices to raise our property taxes).

    The only "safe" way to add solar for most homes is to install a new branch circuit to the main panel. And, most locations (in metro areas) are going to require permits.

    The "whole" code thing could go another way--Privatized. Licensed contractors would be responsible/liable for the entire job (design and installation). The whole system is set up to "not trust" the contractors. And, unfortunately, that is sometimes the case, the licensed contractors are not trust worthy (not that the inspectors found the problems either).

    It comes back to a well educated consumer learning to use the building inspector to make the contractor do the job correctly.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,348 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Join the Solar Freedom Cause to Reduce Rooftop Installation Costs by 50%
    That would be a bit difficult for them to know about. ;)

    This is true, but I had a real estate agent ask about permits for a change out, fortunately they were in place by the plumber who did the work.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,058 admin
    Re: Join the Solar Freedom Cause to Reduce Rooftop Installation Costs by 50%

    Water heaters "done wrong". Yea old Mythbusters:

    There are still water heater explosions once in a while. From here:

    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?4709-Water-Heater-Explosion
    In the 50's, when the Southern states decided an electric heater was as safe as a light bulb and removed the requirement for a T&P valve, Domestic Engineering magazine had pictures of destroyed houses, and dead bodies, just about every week.

    And in the same thread, an article about an electric water heater with a capped Pressure and Temperature safety valve. Looking through Youtube, it seems that many people do cap them when they start to leak.

    They say you should test the T&P valve every year--But I never do, they always seem to leak after I try, so I stopped. At least we don't have hard water here. Folks claim that T&P valves can jam shut with calcium build up.

    And it appears to not be rare that the water heater gas valves can receive debris from the gas line and fail to turn off the gas (I did not know this).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Join the Solar Freedom Cause to Reduce Rooftop Installation Costs by 50%
    And it appears to not be rare that the water heater gas valves can receive debris from the gas line and fail to turn off the gas (I did not know this).

    This tends to happen when installers fail to put traps on the line at the heater (cheaper and easier than doing it right). Otherwise any such crud (and water) will fall in the trap before it gets to the valve.

    We had the opposite problem with messed up installations where we used to live: it was the regulating agency that was having contractors do things wrong. Cost us $12,000 for a new septic because they approved a filtration system next door that continually pumped water on to our land and flooded the field! Believe it or not, the regulations were changed to licensed contractor installs the next year. Didn't help us any, but will prevent future victims of uneducated bureaucrats who think they know what they are doing.
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: Join the Solar Freedom Cause to Reduce Rooftop Installation Costs by 50%

    I think the larger view is that in the effort to ensure building safety, we are missing the larger dangers of energy security, energy independence, and climate change. The record of safety in the solar industry is extremely high, which I attribute to the high standards of dedicated manufacturer's, installers and a few persistent code writers. For all their extra cost, I don't see that planning departments are really adding that much benefit to the industry. Our world is like the Titanic, burning fuel speed ahead, while we rearrange the grounding on a few solar deck chairs. The oil industry gets to blowout holes in the bottom of the ocean, the coal industry gets to remove mountaintops and start unstoppable fires underground, the gas industry gets to frack up the ground water, and they all threaten a change in the climate, but oh no - that terrible, dangerous solar power needs to be heavily regulated.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Join the Solar Freedom Cause to Reduce Rooftop Installation Costs by 50%
    An outdoor deck extending from a second story bedroom is more dangerous to build especially in high seismic zones, than a UL approved, NEC code compliant plug and play solar system. Yet, people have to make full submittals, wait weeks and weeks and pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for a PV permit. A second story deck can be permitted using a pre-approved City standard (provided by City) detail, done over the counter, requiring no submittal for a couple of hundred dollars, all that is needed is the field inspection by the City inspector.
    A guy down the street from me had a second story deck; it was connected to his house and supported only on the other side on posts. He had a big party one night up there, and with the kegs and the dancing, at about 3AM the deck separated from the building and flipped over on the way to the ground. I don't think anyone was killed, but there were a lot of ambulances.
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