An idea that came too late

CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
Okay, nearly had a heart attack over the last electric bill here. Since then the weather has gotten worse: colder, snowier, windier. It's not supposed to do this in the Fraser Valley!
I found myself wishing I'd put all that solar system into the house down here, instead of the cabin. At least it could handle some of the load and reduce some of the costs. But not the major ones: this is an all electric house (something they sold people on 20 years ago when hydro-electric was really, really cheap).
To build a solar power system for an electric house is outrageously expensive, and would not be practical due to the fact those high power requirements only happen when you need heat (or hot water or cook). Likewise, retrofitting to gas is expensive due to the configuration of the house and the cost of replacing all appliances.
But then I found myself wondering why I hadn't installed the solar equipment on my utility trailer so I could pack it back and forth with me! The worst problem is that trailers don't ride smooth as cars, and I doubt the panels would like all that jarring. So I'd have to change the suspension, as well as several other aspects.
So my new project - for mental exercise only, you understand - is this portable solar plant. Utilizing the four 175w panels I've already got, with the MX60 & FX3524, batteries, and genset all self-contained.

Yes I know it's ridiculous and impractical. But it keeps the little gray cells active.:D

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,061 admin
    Re: An idea that came too late

    Yes, the trailer is impractical... But, simply just add up all of the hardware you will need. Take this link and calculate how much power it will generate in a year, then:

    co$t of part$ + repair$ + batterie$ for 20 years / (20 years * kWhrs/year) = $/kWhr

    And, realistically, figure out how much power you can use from it (perhaps, only six months a year, perhaps 50% less than predicted available output over summer months only (because you don't want to "kill your batteries" and cannot really control your loads that well anyways (going to unplug the TV and Fridge when the batteries are low and plug them in the next day after the sun comes up?)....

    co$t of part$ + repair$ + batterie$ for 20 years / (20 years * kWhrs/year of real energy usage) = $/kWhr (probably 2-3x your first cost estimate)

    Then, get you brain in gear and look at every load in your home and every point where heat is lost (water heaters, piping, windows, walls, ceiling insulation, etc.)... And figure out exactly what you can do to get your costs down... Understanding that for every $1 per month you save on your utility bill, you will save:

    $1 per month * 12 months per year * 20 years = $240 for the life of your home/how long you will live there...

    Not including the probable effects of inflation... So, easily you can spend $12-$24 for every $1 you will save, and make it back inside of a couple years...

    $1 of electricity is (probably) 10 kWhrs of power saved...

    Of course, sometimes the savings may not be so obvious... Say you switch every bulb to CFLs and saved 30kWhrs per month--But, if you use resistance heating in the winter, your heaters will probably have to run longer so that they will simply eat exactly the 30kWrs per month you just saved (at least during the winter heating season).

    Even though this is a "solar" forum--hearing about things you can (or have done) should be interesting for us all... Even those of us that have a couple days of hard freezes every 2 decades. :roll:

    I am sure, being born and raised in the (cold) area--Nothing I have told you here is anything new--and you have done more and know more than I could possibly know myself.

    What I may be able to add is the suggestions of doing everything on a spread sheet--work out costs and pay-back times.

    And, in the end, you will probably find out that you are really only close to breaking even on long term savings... And for me, my justification was that I know my cash flow now--and as I get older/towards retirement, I am not going to be able to guarantee my cash flow, the cost of building materials, appliances, and fuel inflation... Or my ability to do/contract the work to make the changes 20 years in the future.

    Some paybacks may only make money back in the summer (solar hot water)... But, a $1 save in the summer still looks the same as a $1 saved in the winter. I have always wondered how well a fresh air (energy recovery) heat exchanger would help in an otherwise well insulated home in a cold climate.

    And I saw these changes as a way to reduce and/or fix my heating/electrical costs at a point much lower now and for the future.

    For now (assuming everything is equal to today--which it never is)--even if my energy costs went up by a factor of 10x--we would still be OK, and not have to install a wood stove and cut down the oak tree in the back yard.

    And, check around locally and compare your utility bill (is it high, low, average)... See if anyone else has attempted to reduce their bill (through your local utility, call a heating contractor, church, etc.)...

    I believe you have plenty to keep you occupied and out of trouble for a few years to come.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    Sounds like someone got cabin fever already:D:D

    If this is an double axle trailer, then with added shocks it could work.

    Now lets look at how much losses in km/l your car could/will lose dragging this stuff. Will it be worth the electric generated??
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    From the point of view that the same investment in solar could be used at both the cabin and the house, depending on where I'm at, it would increase the return on investment over having it at a fixed location. I have to move the trailer back and forth anyway
    But the trouble the extra engineering would be ...

    Our electric here @ 5/7¢ kW/hr is quite cheap, but in an all-electric house it adds up. I already don't heat three unused rooms, keep the other temps back, and have been increasing insulation this year.

    A propane stove and a tank sitting on the floor sounds good - except for spending $600 for the stove.

    Yes: cabin fever.
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    Had a second thought, buy moving the panels/batteries/electronics from spot to spot would reduce the chance of anything getting stolen.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    Cariboo,

    Heating is your biggest single load. Consider having a ground water, or earth loop heat pump put in. In the Lower Mainland the average winter temp might also favour a air heat pump. Maybe BC Hydro has some sort of rebate or incentive to change your heating system to something that might make more sense. Does the BC gov have any ideas with it's new green initiative like tax credits or rebates?

    Tony

    I agree that transporting the hardware would probably take more energy than it generates.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    Heating is definitely the problem.
    Unfortunately the house is built directly on a concrete slab: no space to run ducts or pipes. This makes conversion to a conventional heating system extremely pricey: the capital outlay would buy several years worth of electric.
    We had BC Hydro's "House smart" program in here over ten years ago: all the contractor did was muck things up horribly. Complaints were useless. Once bitten, twice shy - I am now reluctant to consult with them about anything!
    They do offer mild incentive programs to convert to more efficient usage, including appliances. I'm at the limit there: nothing more that can be changed out. I was probably one of the first in the area to change to CFL's. The counter-top oven is a vast improvement over the full-size electric range.

    Let's face it: I'm up against the wall here. Without spending ridiculous amounts of money there's no way to reduce usage or become more efficient that I can see.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    If you have natural gas available, or Propane look at these: http://www.rinnai.us/Products/ductless_heaters/overview.aspx

    I think Rinnai heaters are the greatest thing since sliced bread. I wouldn't put anything else in any house. May take a while to pay back but quick, nice, even quiet heat. Installation is a snap. 4" hole through an outside wall, gas pipe can come from anywhere,,over, under, around or through the structure. We have a rental cottage in Maine that we rent 12 months,,, way colder than the lower mainland. We heat is exclusively with 2 of these, one big on in the central part of the house, a small one on the sun porch. With both going full, we are using ~1/3 gal/hour. They modulated down to almost nothing once the house is warm.

    Tony

    PS There must be a good energy auditor in the valley somewhere? Where are you? I am currently in Bellingham.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,061 admin
    Re: An idea that came too late

    To be honest, at 5-7 cents per kWhr... You are probably using the cheapest form of energy you can get--and your electric rates are very cheap (unless you have access to cheap firewood). Or, use Tony's idea of a ground sourced heat pump.

    Try looking at this Fuel Price Calculator and plug in the prices of your power and various alternative energy sources that may be available to you.

    How much power do you use? Remember being OK at 10x the price... Well, my worst case billing (lots of summer afternoon electricity) is $0.58 per kWhr (no, really--sort of)... Of course, I don't use anywhere that amount of power, so my power rates are in the $0.09-$0.30 per kWhr because of my grid tied solar and the 225 kWhrs per month +/- that we use (we have natural gas for heating/cooking/hot water/gas drier--$20 during the summer, ~$65 during the winter).

    You may not hit our kWhr price ever--but our state government has decided to protect us from ourselves by implementing punishing energy rates if you use more than "they allow".

    Insulation, double/triple pane vinyl windows, point of use hot water for sinks, sealing doors/air leaks, energy recovery heat exchanger (fresh air ventilation without the heat loss), possibly some sort of heat pump, and more insulation... About all I can think of.

    If you get any sun at all during the winter, perhaps looking at some way to better capture that... :confused:

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SolarJohnSolarJohn Solar Expert Posts: 202 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    You might consider a corn or pellet stove to supplement or replace your existing electric heating system. I can heat my home comfortably on about one bushel of corn per day. The cost of corn fluctuates, but currently it's about $3.50 per bushel in the U.S. That's about $100 per month if you have to use the stove every day. The price of corn spiked last year, but at $7.00 a bushel it is still cheaper than electric heat I suspect.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    It's the holidays,,,don't get me going on the merits of burning food for heat. I know, I know, if you live in the corn belt, and it's surplus it MAY be okay...not for me though.

    One of the critical issues with pellet/biobrick stoves is there is a North American shortage of raw material for pellets. One of the by products of the economic down turn has been a significant slow down in sawmill production. Sawdust is the major component in pellets and biobricks. The shortage is so acute that in some places they are using virgin fibre to make pellets, where they were once able to use wood waste. I'm sort of on the fence as to whether or not (sub)urban folks should be burning wood. By the time you calculate the transport costs (energy) it often is no bargain, and it may not be a bargain in carbon emissions either.

    As always,,the law of unintended consiquences can bite us in the butt.

    Tony
  • SolarJohnSolarJohn Solar Expert Posts: 202 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    I know there are those who believe that burning corn for heat is wrong, and I respect the opinions of others, but I see nothing wrong with it. If I thought that my use of corn was contributing to starvation anywhere in the world, I would stop today. If the demand for corn rises, farmers will simply grow more of it. I live in the corn belt, and I know a few farmers. I know they have choices when it comes to what they plant in their fields. Last year the cost of corn was high, but in previous years corn was available for less than it cost farmers to grow it. Market fluctuations are going to happen, whether I burn corn or not.

    Unlike fossil-fuels corn is carbon-neutral, a plus for the environment. And I believe it is a better choice than wood (pellets) because it only takes one year to renew.

    Because I use less electricity (from coal-fired power plants), and less natural gas, my "carbon footprint" is smaller and therefore I contribute less to global warming. Some may not believe that global warming is man-made, but most people do believe that fossil fuels are running out. Someday, everyone will be using bio-fuels in one way or another. By using a renewable resource (corn), and by generating my own electricity (with PV), I'm preserving non-renewable natural resources (oil, coal, and natural gas) for future generations. My grandchildren will appreciate what I've done for them, and cutting my utility bills is just icing on the cake! And yes, I understand that starvation happens in many parts of the world. This occurs mainly because of an inability to preserve and store food, not from an inability to grow crops.

    John
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    John,

    I understand fully and respect your choice about burning corn. I understand that it is carbon neutral, but I have a bit of trouble with the rest out your statement.

    "If corn becomes short, farmers will just grow more of it" This assumes that the planet has infinite capacity to produce bio-mass. The fact is, if farmers grow more corn, they might well grow less of something else.

    Second, growing corn is not benign. There is considerable fossil fuel spent in the planting, cultivating, spraying, harvesting of corn. There is considerable discussion about the genetic diversity of current corn seed stocks from giant multi-nationals.

    Corn is also grown with no small measure of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides etc. that have questionable impacts on the environment.
    Multi-nationals have had huge sucsess marketing corn for all kinds of thing from corn sweeteners to chemicals. The family farmer has not always won and had often been the victim of wild market swings due in part to commodity speculation.

    Having said that, I do understand the desire and the need to reduce fossil fuel use for a variety of reasons, but not all alternative are created equal. Having said that, I do not believe that wood is a viable answer either except for those that have access to wood that would otherwise be wasted, and live in a location where localized air pollution is not an issue,,and they burn well seasoned wood in a clean burning stove.

    Happy new year,

    Tony
  • SolarJohnSolarJohn Solar Expert Posts: 202 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    Thanks for your comments Tony. I agree that corn production is not as environmentally friendly as it could be due to pesticides and the fossil fuel used to plant and harvest. But my choices are to burn fossil fuel directly for heat, or indirectly via corn. I don't see that it makes much difference either way, except that I'm not using a natural resource that is non-renewable, and in short supply. Additionally, I'm a few years away from retirement, and I would like to move to a place with a few acres of land that I could use to grow corn in an environmentally friendly way. I bought this antique corn-sheller, but I digress. My ultimate goal is to use no fossil fuel at all. I would drive electric vehicles, and use electricity from PV and wind. My lifestyle would not have a negative effect on anybody, as far as I can tell.

    This discussion began as a brainstorming exercise to help caraboocoot cut his electric bill, most of which is the result of home heating. I still believe burning corn is a viable option, but I don't know how much he's currently speding on electric heat.

    Regards,
    John
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    Those Rinnai heaters look interesting. I will contact a couple of the local agents and see what the outlay would be. Something of a problem finding enough wall space to put them in; this is a badly configured house!

    The main problem is definitely how inexpensive electricity is here. It makes any capital expense have a rather long pay-back time, especially in conjunction with our (usually) mild winters. I have been concentrating on improving the insulation factor, which hasn't been easy in a badly-built Tudor-style house.

    I know from growing it that corn isn't as 'carbon neutral' as some might think: a lot of diesel gets burned before you have a finished product. In my last year of farming we went "organic": yields were up and costs were down, but it took even more fuel because of the extra work involved to make up for the missing fertilizer and herbicide. Drying a batch, btw, uses a lot of propane.

    Originally I was toying with the notion of getting a better return on investment from my solar equipment by making it transportable between the two residences. I still doubt the panels would stand much moving in this manner, and the 3 kW/hrs per day the system produces would not make much of a dent in this house's energy bill.

    Now it's gone cold again, and we've had more snow!:cry:
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    CC,

    You're right, cheap electricity is the enemy of conservation/RE. Changing out to Propane Rinnai probably has a pretty long pay off.

    A couple of energy saving things to consider. Heat loss through glass is considerable. What is not understood by many is the function of muliple layers of glazing. In simple numbers, a single pane of glass has an R-value of ~1 (Not exactly 1, but for the sake of this discussion a good enough number) Achieving this R-value requires a still film of air on both the inside and the outside of the pane. Add a wind on the outside, and a draft on the inside from a forced air furnace or fan, and the R-value drop to almost zero. Adding a second layer of glass DOUBLES the R-value of the window to ~R-2, largely due to the dead airspace between layers. Once again, add an outside wind, or an inside draft and the R-value drops back to ~R-1 Add a third or forth layer of glazing and you can see the effect. Exotic gases, low e glass etc can add a small bit to these numbers, but despite the hype you hear, the numbers basically hold true).

    The reality however is that even a R-3 is a terrible R value relative to the rest of the wall structure. A 2x4 wall with standard fibreglass insulation will have a aggregate R-value of ~R-15 depending on components. (2x6 will yield ~R-22) So you can see that the window looses ~7-10 times as much heat as the wall next to it. The heat loss comparison is even worse comparing windows to ceiling/roof structures.

    So, in real terms, instead of spending huge amounts of money upgrading windows (beyond double glazing) your money is way better spent adding insulation in the walls and the ceiling. As for the windows, making or buying insulated window coverings has a much bigger payoff at a much lower cost than adding another layer of glazing. An insulated shade can be had with ~R2-8, depending on what you used. Window insulation (nightshades) have the added benefit of reducing heat loss not only due to their R-value, but they also reduce airflow across the glass from the inside, thereby decreasing the heat loss of the window structure itself. We use a proprietary window quilt product called warm window fabric. It is multiple layers, including foil and vapor barrier. Sewn into a Roman shade with wool covering, has an aggregate R-10,,, not bad starting from R-1.

    Other ideas,, consider an evacuated tube solar hot water system. I have installed small flat plate systems in the Lower Mainland and they produce 100% of hot water needs from April-Sept. In December they produce maybe 20%. Evacuated tube systems are way more efficient.

    I would at the very least, add insulation to any electric hot water heater tank, but ideally, I would install a demand propane (Takagi, Rinnai, Paloma) water heater. The savings are considerable, and the installation costs are reasonable. Works especially well with pre-heated solar hot water.

    Try to find a blower door energy auditor. By creating a partial vacuum in the house with a sealed door allows you to find as many places as possible where air is infiltrating. Remember, every Cu Ft of air that comes into the house cold, has to be heated to room temperature. Consider a whole house air/air heat exchanger. Every Cu Ft exhausted needs to be replaced with fresh air. Houses need fresh air changes, but to throw away the Btus doesn't make a lot of sense. Caulking, weather stripping, foam outlet covers etc can reduce heat loss/infiltration considerably.

    Finally, consider adding as much insulation as you can. Starting with the roofing/ceiling and working down. Adding blow in insulation in an attic is quite cheap and will pay off very quickly. (Make sure you keep attic vents open however!) There is no such thing as too much roof insulation. Current standards are ~R-40, if you get get R-60 in and maintain venting, go for it.
    Walls a harder nut to crack. When it's time for a renovation, add rigid foam on either the inside or the outside of the building as you can. Your kind of screwed with the slab on grade floor. The only thing I can think of would be to add a layer of foam on the slab, put plywood over the foam and new finished floor. (Probably not cost effective, since you have to cut all the doors or reframe the opening etc,,, but if you are going to a major reno,,,)

    Turn down the heat as much as you can live with, and use programable t-stats. Do as much zone heating as you can, and if possible change the zone management system to allow you to heat the important areas without heating the unused spaces. Close off rooms that are unused, draw the curtains in those rooms 24/7 unless there is some solar gain to be had. Buy a fleece sweater! It seems obvious, but I keep my house ~5f colder just by putting on a sweater! Buy your wife an electric wrap so that she can sit on the sofa and be warm even though the house is cool. (Why not heat just the person rather than the whole house?)

    I guess this goes back to the basic mantra we recite to all the newbies. Your first RE dollar should be spent on conservation, followed by conservation, and finally followed by more conservation. After that, Solar space and hot water heating, and then and only then does PV solar begin to make sense. As I said, you are especially handicapped by having very low KW pricing.

    Good luck,

    Happy New Year to ALL<

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,061 admin
    Re: An idea that came too late

    Do you have a kWhr meter of some sort installed (even temporarily) on your major loads (guessing; heating, hot water, cooktop/stove)?

    If you are just using an amp meter and not measuring the on time too--then you are just guessing if the hot water heater (example) is running 4.8kW for 10 minutes a day or 4 hours per day...

    I would suggest you identify the top two (or three) energy consumers (over the winter season, and/or over the year) and figure out how much each is costing you in round dollars.

    Personally, I have used old mechanical utility meters and just wired/plugged them in between the loads...

    Another, way cheaper and "cooler" with the wife method may to be measure your load's (say each wall/base board heater) watts reading, and tie a cheap electric hour meter (such as a "Hobbs" meter) in behind the thermostat in parallel with the heating element... You take the "on time" readings once a month and multiply the time by the watts*$/kWhr and track your costs that way (instead of a big/hassle filled/possibly expensive watt/kW Hour meter). The small meters would be easy to move around, and may be available at your local salvage yard (old generators, industrial equipment, etc.).

    Searching around the web, I found some Hobbs Meters for $15-$30 dollars (from Ebay to retail).

    And, from the land of high energy costs (California), a lot of your conservation efforts will be probably be addressing many "small" issues... Here, we cannot even buy a shower head or sink faucet that gives more than a couple gallons per minute... But, that low flow shower head probably keeps my gas costs down to $15 per month instead of $75+ per month with my two kids and their love of long showers (all year long).

    And, those energy recovery devices (exchanges the heat between outgoing heated air with incoming cold air) will probably be a big help, if, like some in my family, just can't stand a "stuffy" home and you are forced to allow more outside air exchange that you would like for energy efficiency.

    -Bill

    PS: And, other things, like a small ceiling/circulating fan if you have high ceilings and people are cold because the heat is up near the ceiling. You probably will not find one thing (like an outside wall with missing insulation) that will cut your bills by half.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    Electric costs for last year averaged $100/month, which is far below what any of our clients pay. It's just that after spending 6 months at the cabin this summer and finding that even with propane and generator gas the expense is 1/3 of the electric bill here, you start to think there's someplace else to save.
    I've pretty much hit the wall on reducing usage, I'm afraid. I know the heating aspect is the big consumer, but alterations there are prohibitively expensive. As for major renovations or over-hauls - it just isn't in the budget and can't be justified against the return with our cheap hydro rates.
    So continuing with the insulation improvements looks like the best avenue to pursue at this time.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,061 admin
    Re: An idea that came too late

    $100 per month--You are not doing bad at all, price wise for a family home.

    That would be somewhere around 1,600 kWhrs per month (no other gas/propane/oil/etc. bills I presume). And I assume that most of it is Hydro--so that is a politically correct power source too (except for those that have problems with dams--you can't win).

    Other than insulation and shower heads--unless or until your power rates go up a whole bunch--It is not a fair comparison to compare your kWhr usage against others that have natural gas or some other heat source.

    For example, our average non-winter gas usage is ~19 therms per month:

    19 * 100,000 BTU / Therm * 1/(3.414 BTU per Whr) * 1kW/1,000W = 557 kWhrs

    And maybe a bit more than twice the gas use in winter (~1,200 kWhr equivalent in natural gas).

    So, if I had an all electric home, I would be using, very roughly, 1,400 kWhrs per month (just cool in the 40's day/night, no snow, not very windy or rainy in our area).

    Your energy use does not look bad at all when everything is converted to electric usage for a cool area... My own usage is probably 1/2 to 1/3 "average" for our area (excluding the solar panels which more than "zero out" my electric usage).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: An idea that came too late

    I'll break my cherry with this first post, but I wanted to ask a few questions about the posts.
    I notice that some technical data is listed under your post body, is this a representation of your systems?
    I didnt notice if there were off-grid systems only or grid tie in as well.
    I am contemplating establishing a small business installing solar PV arrays. The incentives coming soon are just to good to let go, and I want my business to be clean and low impact on the environment and help build a better society at the same time. Perhaps your like me and see rooftops covered with solar arrays everywhere you go (in your head) and the possibility of what could be is very nice. No one could deny that a home with it's own power supply would be much more likely to sell in todays market than one with a marble and granite kitchen or bathroom.
    Now I know somewhere right now there is some one coming up with the same idea (maybe 50 somebodies, Chaos is the natural order HA!) and I dont have a really big problem with that. Competition keeps everything honest and fair unless you happen to be an Energy Company.
    I'll give thanks now to the Energy people, without your prior investments the USA would not be anywhere close to what it is now.
    But I refuse to believe we can stand by and allow the Energy companies to invest in Solar Wind and Geothermal RE by taking the money from our bill increases and investing in those same systems. If they use the same equipment we use, only on a larger scale, and feed power back into the grid then what exactly are they producing? or charging us for?
    Its like we pay them to build these systems, that we should all be putting on our own homes, and they reap the rewards of not only generating free power but making us pay for it in return. Think about it a minute and what I am saying will make sense if you dont think it does.
    Every major energy/power provider/producer is taking the increased profits from your higher energy bills and investing it in Renewable Energy resources, including buying up the rights to large tracts of space for Wind/Solar energy production farms. While promising new "Clean Coal" power plants and hybrid fuels.
    I didnt intend for this to be a rant against power companies, they are just doing whatever they can to make money. We demand the power they produce and complain about the price we pay for it. The technology is here now to help produce that power in larger quantities on a smaller scale. Federal, State, and Local Government agencies are being directed even now to jumpstart business's that install and sell RE power systems.
    I hope and pray to be as successful as some of the people I have seen on here, I commend you on your independence and hope to see every one as independent as you are. Please comment's are welcome and so is constructive criticism, even sarcastic wit is appreciated but lets keep it friendly and polite. Thanks
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,061 admin
    Re: An idea that came too late

    I believe there is a wide range of system owners here (and a few designers, retailers, mfg. reps, installers and contractors too)....

    From small off grid to Grid Tied...

    Mine is a 3 kW (rated) Grid Tied system.

    After reading here for a few years, I don't think there is a representative system...

    The off-grid tend to be small (usually no rebates available in the US). The Grid Tied tend to be larger--partially because some states offer 1/3-1/2 off or (a few) more.

    But that is just from what I have read here--and that is just based on population of posters to this forum.

    There are probably more wind and water power systems out there--but our host does not sell too much in those areas, so there is probably a bit of skewing of posters as a result too.

    Regarding commentary, it would probably be better most of that was directed to the new " Energy - Hype Meets Reality" sub-forum.

    Even though we do have some fun in these other sections, we try to direct the posts towards helpful/goal oriented results (based on original post topic).

    To answer one of your questions--I am not sure that my Solar Panels add that much value to my home... $30,000 at 6% interest is ~$150 per month (principle only)... (actually ~$30,000 before rebates, ~$20,000 after).

    The amount of power offset is ~4,800 kWhr per year, or ~400 kWhrs per month. At $0.12 per kWhr, that is $48 per month of electricity...

    I know that if I purchased a home and they tried to increase the asking price $10,000 or more over the price of the same house next door, without solar--I would think very hard about it. The increase in interest would exceed the (current) cost of power generated by the panels.

    Conservation upgrades are probably more cost effective (every dollar of power saved is a $ that I don't have to pay for every month--for life). And people have a pretty good idea of what construction cost are and, again, will probably only pay $0.50 on the $1.00 for those too (some upgrades may approach $1 on the $1, such as bathroom/kitchen upgrades).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    Just a few quick comments:

    notritchyrich: if you're planning on starting your own solar install business. LEARN! Not to be mean, but there's nothing worse than someone who sells this stuff and doesn't understand it. Pardon my venom: I've had exactly that experience and wasted hours trying to explain things to a salesman.

    BB: I actually asked one of my real estate agent clients about the re-sale value of homes with solar. She says it's a crap shoot, because many potential buyers are actually afraid that any such system might be dangerous or a very large repair expense waiting to happen (what isn't?). So even though the system has capital value, it can turn away potential buyers!

    If we've proved anything with this thread it's that it is easy to conserve when your wasting. The more efficient you get, the more difficult it is to find ways to save. (I calculated the power cost from my cabin system: approx. $1 per kW/hr over the expect life of the equipment, as is typical. Doesn't compare to 7¢ per at all! But the nearest power lines are 24 kms away.)

    Thank you everyone for your input; it's been very interesting!:D
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: An idea that came too late

    CC,

    $100 per month, $.07 kwh,,, that in Canadian $$,,, now around what $.80 USD? Can't get too much cheaper than that!

    Good luck,

    Tony
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: An idea that came too late

    very enlightening thread! i have learned a lot here!
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