Help!!!!Very new to alternative energy

SystemSystem Posts: 2,511 admin
Hello everyone,
I am very new to solar/wind energy and I need a little help getting started. We are 1st time home buyers who are looking to save on energy and help out the enviornment. We would love to have a home that would decrease the amount of energy that is used form oil but we live in maryland and we have limited funds. Does anyone know where we could find information on getting started with solar panels and windmills also is it easier to add solar panels to a new home or an existing one? Does anyone know of any websites/companies that would walk you through this process step by step? Any information would be greatly appreciated

Comments

  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Help!!!!Very new to alternative energy

    Solar or wind is on the bottom of the list ...

    First, add insulation, R40 minimum for the attic
    Second, get high efficiency appliances, including getting a high SEER heatpump if you home uses that technology for heating/cooling

    Once you have done this THEN you can start looking into solar.

    First, would be solar thermal for the hotwater
    Next, maybe PV for gridtie electric

    and NEVER, wind ... there are no products out there for home owners that are worth buying.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,008 admin
    Re: Help!!!!Very new to alternative energy

    Ditto what SG says... I would add double pane windows too.

    Also, if you are ever going to go solar--check your location... Both for existing orientation, structures, trees, and power lines (even a little power line shadow will kill Solar PV electric output while the shadow is even on one panel--Solar Hot Water/Thermal is a bit better in this regard).

    And look at what can happen in the future too... nothing like a new addition or redwood tree on the next door property that you have no control over blocking your panels.

    Lastly, if you install a wind turbine (again, not recommended at all), you will need a hundred feet or more from your property line (it if falls, it falls on your property) and needs to be ~30 feet above any obstructions that may be up wind.

    For conservation, get a kill-a-watt type meter. Use it to measure you plug-in appliances to see how much power they really do use.

    In reality, for electric conservation, you should be aiming at 100 kWhrs per month (usually a good size for an off-grid system). In a moderate climate (SF CA)--I can get down to ~175 kWhrs per month--but really am around 200-250 kWhrs per month (family of four, home office). But that is done with no A/C, and natural gas appliances.

    Even a 175 kWhrs a month is a surprisingly small amount of electricity...

    175kWhrs per month/(30 days * 24 hours) = 0.243 kW or a steady load 243 watts all month. 2x100 watt lights + 50 watt light... Or one desktop PC, network, monitor, and printer that is never turned off.

    In the end, the power you never use (through conservation) is power you never had to produce in the first place. And if you use Air Conditioning, power that was never consumed (and eventually turned into heat), never has to be cooled with expensive electricity.

    Sign up for Home Power Magazine. There are lots of good articles in it that can help you avoid many of the basic mistakes. They have some sample issues/articles on line (PDF files) you can read and see if they are of any interest.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Help!!!!Very new to alternative energy

    in addition i'll add for you to read as much on it as you can and this forum isn't a bad place to start. many people up and decide they'll do this and jump into it so fast it's fire, ready, aim. this wastes their time and money and can cost even more in the long run to get things up and operational.
    there are different paths and options you'd need to consider in addition to conserving power. also, you can get somewhat familiar with different products out there and our forum sponsor has many of the popular and reliable brands. this link in addition to their online store has some general info on it too.
    http://www.solar-electric.com/
    you may also be able to get help with your project with rebates by clicking onto your state at: www.dsireusa.org
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Help!!!!Very new to alternative energy
    BB. wrote: »
    (even a little power line shadow will kill Solar PV electric output while the shadow is even on one panel

    Hi Bill. My own sense is that most utility line shadows are diffuse enough not to have much affect on array output.

    But I would love to learn more, where can you direct me to back up this claim?

    Of course, the less shadowing the better, but this is not blocking light to an entire cell or string of cells in a module.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,008 admin
    Re: Help!!!!Very new to alternative energy

    I looked for the post here--but could not find it... Somebody posted a graph of their output--and during part of the day, they had some utility line shadows that took down their power output by some 20% (not sure--it was more than 10% but probably less that 50%)....

    What you have to remember is that when a cell does not get as much light as those around it--the cell stops producing as much current--so the entire rest of the string's current is reduce also (solar cells are more of a current source vs voltage source--and once there is enough sun to reach near Vmp--then the current output is roughly proportional to the sun energy on the panel).

    So, any reduction in output current reduces the entire string's current... And if you have bypass diodes installed, you still loose quite a bit of voltage (it is not one bypass diode per cell--but per group of cells--). So, that string, with some cells blocked, drops in voltage--and if you have several strings in parallel--depending on the controller and the conditions, either the whole string voltage will drop to the Vmp of the impaired string--or simply stay at the higher Vmp--and that impaired string will output very little current--because is operating way above its "current" Vmp...

    In any case, it is difficult to predict what your system will do from my computer--The sun angles and seasons will sweep the shadows across your arrays and will probably be present only for portions of a day--So will power line shadows kill 25% of your--probably not. Will it cut your production by 5-10% (or possibly more)--perhaps...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,361 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Help!!!!Very new to alternative energy

    Those would be MY utility line shadows.

    The poles east of my house, easily seen in the background, the 3 wires cast a shadow about an inch wide on my panels. Those are not 10 gauge wires on that pole, I'd guess they are at least an inch fat, maybe 2. Nearly all my daily graphs have 3 dropouts, I assume from the 3 shadows.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,008 admin
    Re: Help!!!!Very new to alternative energy

    Mike,

    Didn't you post a plot showing the sun/shadows progressing across your utility lines?

    It looks like it may have fell of the board during the last major upgrade...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,361 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Help!!!!Very new to alternative energy
    BB. wrote: »
    Mike,

    Didn't you post a plot showing the sun/shadows progressing across your utility lines?

    It looks like it may have fell of the board during the last major upgrade...

    -Bill

    I did, but I don't have it handy now. I'll try to remember to look when I get home
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

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