Anyone considering Solar PV for home or biz ?

Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
Just curious if anyone is either considering Solar PV or has already installed it at their home or small business ?
If so why, or if you have already how did the install go and are you satisfied with the result ? Here in Illinois, the Solar PV business has been booming , coincidentally starting right around 5 years ago, when I started my ebike biz.

A lot of it is now incentive driven with decent money from RECs, which the state began offering or improved upon a few years ago thanks to a 'deal' or settlement with a major utility who happens to own nukes that taxpayers funded for that same utility who over ran budgets big time back in the 70's and 80's, and is now trying to keep them afloat financially but is struggling due to so much wind power and solar PV that has been artificially subsidized. Theoretically grid tied solar in right proportions could be a good marriage with nukes, but when a utility messes up their operation, over uses coal plants for decades, sells those off, and then bilks ratepayers and tax payers again, with warped rate schedules, that theory goes up in smoke. Our rates are actually not horrible, not the cheapest, but certainly nothing close to California or Hawaii.

So economically , even with RECS, it's a fairly long payback. The jury is still out on whether it truly would help home value. Being grid tied means you can send excess back and get more money, so you could oversize a bit, and get better paybacks, which I think many are doing here.

Environmentally is it the right thing to do ? Depends how long panels really last, and what happens during the mining of materials for panels themselves and disposal, since there is a lot of toxic materials involved. Our state has one of the highest percentages of nukes and gas, and had shutdown much of it's coal plants. Now has a lot of very high efficiency combined cycle gas fired generation, often used to handle demand peaks.

Anyhoo, just curious what others are contemplating or actually doing ? If battery storage is added to the equation, and electronically cleaner power can be had, versus brown out laden grid power that's definitely appealing. On it's own not enough to cough up some big bucks. I'm actually solar PV certified to do audits, so people can determine viability for their home or business, but never pursued any money making endeavor. It was more just to learn the ins and outs that I took the course work, got certified, and met a great instructor who has one of those now booming solar PV install businesses here in the state.

P.s. electric cars could actually help 'save' the nukes, since they can be charged at night, suck a lot of power, and nukes are really bad for having to run at part load, which happens since so much less power is consumed at night. Evs could really smooth out that valley if we ever got enough of them. But by then these ancient nukes here would be long retired. Doubt any new ones will ever be built.
 
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Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Yeah. My system is a 7kw rooftop with two inverters that can be either on or off grid (when battery prices drop).There are a few details in the green room post number 6 in off topic. But the solar is icing on the cake after doing everything else ... siding, insulation, air sealing, heat pumps, etc. first.
 
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Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
Yeah. My system is a 7kw rooftop with two inverters that can be either on or off grid (when battery prices drop).There are a few details in the green room post in off topic. But the solar is icing on the cake after doing everything else first.
Awesome !. Did you first work on your home efficiency, to reduce energy consumption ? What state do you live in, and how much of it was covered by Federal or state incentives ? How long has it been installed ? Was it installed using microinverters for each panel ? What would you differently, if you had to do it all over again ?
 

Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
It would be cool, to be NET ZERO. Although, I wouldn't want to install anything massive in terms of kw output. Between 5 and 7 kw would be fine by me. Ground mounted on a pole, with tracking is appealing, but pretty certain my neighbors would not find it attractive. Although, I don't find their sheds, or broken down gazebo's particularly appealing either. I cant plant enough trees to screen all their eyesores out from my view, and the terrible paint job on the house behind me, is absolutely a killer now that my very large apple tree which covered it all during the warm season, has died. :( OTH, that dood sort of deserves to have a pole mount, reflecting right into his bedroom windows. (I wouldn't do that for vengeance, but the thought is fun). If he's put a dime into house maintenance in the past 20 years, that would be a lot for him. His wife and kids left him many years ago. ( Old guys by themselves after a failed marriage are not a very good match for a high maintenance large 4 bedroom house...sort of sad to see everyday...as if they are hanging on , rather than literally moving on and creating a new life )
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Part of the economics of a PV system is the amount of electricity your home uses. That use can be directly offset by solar production with the excess going toward SREC's which you can sell. In my state of PA, the SREC market price fluctuates considerably making the payoff difficult to calculate.

I looked into a 7KW system 5 years ago but decided against it when the break even point coincided with the life expectancy of the system. Another factor was the roof install would have voided the 40 year warranty I have on my shingles.

My neighbor put in the same 7KW system around that time. Last year, a solar panel failed in the middle of his array and the company that manufactured them went out of business. He couldn't find a replacement with the same form factor so the array had to be jury rigged with a different size panel. Other than that, he seems happy with the system. He has electric heat though and uses all the solar power he generates. The cost of SREC's isn't that important to him.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
In 2015 I purchased 12kw of solar panels at an auction for about $10,000 (marijuana farm going out of business). I sold 4kw of the panels and was able to purchase the charge controllers and a nice Outback Power inverter and pay for much (but not all) of the install. My total out-of-pocket costs for an 8kw solar array and a grid tie inverter has been about $12k. I'm waiting for a deal on batteries (there was one operation surplusing Li-Po batteries out of Ohio last winter but with the COVID could never get hold of them) before I go totally off-grid.

The panels are statically mounted on my roof, which makes them problematic in winter and when snow is on them (my roof is mostly flat). If I were to do it again I'd mount two 4kw arrays on poles where I could easily adjust their angle for optimum solar gain and to get rid of the snow.

The only real problem is that in cold weather the array can produce quite a bit more than 8kw, and that typically causes a breaker to pop. So on cold morning in April and May I often have to reset the breakers.

This system basically zeros out my power bill, and by now has substantially paid for itself. The next project is going to be to (1) get an adequate set of batteries, and (2) redeploy at least some panels on a pole, and (3) replace my propane boiler (for heat) with an electric one.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
My local bike shop is in Amish country in a town that is off the grid by choice. Eight panels on the roof and eight batteries on the floor runs the lights, fans, power tools, phones, and computer.
Attempt to link

My LBS and passing traffic
 

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Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Awesome !. Did you first work on your home efficiency, to reduce energy consumption ? What state do you live in, and how much of it was covered by Federal or state incentives ? How long has it been installed ? Was it installed using microinverters for each panel ? What would you differently, if you had to do it all over again ?
Too many questions, but here goes. I live in Pennsylvania, a cold and cloudy state with cheap electricity. My house was built in the late 1950s as an all electric tract house. A "mid century home"" as the realtors say today. The roof and water heater were both over 30 years old, the siding was peeling off, it has baseboard heaters that struggled to keep ice from forming on the leaky windows, and it took hundreds of dollars a month to heat. So yeah, I did a lot of energy efficiency upgrades to cut my use by a third before solar, a mini split and heat pump water heater, and I installed modern woodstove in the decorative only fireplace. Pics in the green room.

A small house with an attached garage means a big south facing roof .. covered two thirds of it with panels to generate about a third of the already reduced electricity requirements. Net net zero is not going to happen, but 5 years later, the payback looks to be 15 years from install if the grid stays reliable, much sooner if the brownouts start here. YMMV.

PS no natural gas on my street, wife has an allergy to fuel oil, and a woodstove is a lot more fun (and work) than a thermostat.
 
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indianajo

Well-Known Member
It rains too often here for solar to pay. Besides, the way they install them, roof leaks are a serious hazard. Rich person (coats & ties required) 1st Presbyterian installed them, had a crew out patching leaks in 2 weeks. Vendors need to hang panels by gravity from the roof hip, no holes drilled, but nobody has ever done that.
LiIon batteries at 1000 cycles life is also a barrier to me. No cancer in my family, my heart is fine due to the bike riding, I might last 35 more years if a car doesn't hit me. LiIon batteries might require 10 replacements by then. When they come up with a system that stores energy in a weight lift/drop, I might be interested. I have a nice chimney that I could fill with a weight & cable. I could use a disconnect from my summer property, the electric company makes a mess cutting down tree limbs I have to clean up. 10" deep ruts 250' long from the truck tires twist my knees if I step into one. 8" diameter tree limbs with tangles 40" high lay all over the paths where I walk. I'm thinking of going wind power out there, I'm on top of a ridge, but all the available systems put $2000 in electronics at the top of a steel tower. Too much of a lightning risk. It is bad enough replacing $500 control boards zapped by lightning on gas furnaces.
As far as energy savings my electricity use is <350 kw a month, ~$45. Natural gas for heating is under $110 a month in January February. I use 100% efficient gas heat, no furnace. Yeah shredded newspaper insulation! In the walls. Glass wool in the attic. No plastic vapor barrier, this house breaths in winter.
 
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Art Deco

Well-Known Member
It would be cool, to be NET ZERO. Although, I wouldn't want to install anything massive in terms of kw output. Between 5 and 7 kw would be fine by me. Ground mounted on a pole, with tracking is appealing, but pretty certain my neighbors would not find it attractive. Although, I don't find their sheds, or broken down gazebo's particularly appealing either. I cant plant enough trees to screen all their eyesores out from my view, and the terrible paint job on the house behind me, is absolutely a killer now that my very large apple tree which covered it all during the warm season, has died. :( OTH, that dood sort of deserves to have a pole mount, reflecting right into his bedroom windows. (I wouldn't do that for vengeance, but the thought is fun). If he's put a dime into house maintenance in the past 20 years, that would be a lot for him. His wife and kids left him many years ago. ( Old guys by themselves after a failed marriage are not a very good match for a high maintenance large 4 bedroom house...sort of sad to see everyday...as if they are hanging on , rather than literally moving on and creating a new life )
Ground mounts and trackers didn't pencil out
for me. With 350 watt panels, its cheaper to add a couple panels than a tracker and that produces a bit more power. And mowing around a regular ground mount sucks... the local university has 18 acres of ground mount panels and they rent sheep to graze the weeds down ...