Anyone have solar panels

Discussion in 'Gen 1 Prius Plug-in 2012-2015' started by alfon, May 31, 2012.

  1. Totmacher

    Totmacher Honey Badger don't give a carp

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    Thanks Hill, I think you nailed it as far as SunPower's efficiency vs. size vs. roof space. That ultimatly was the determining factor in my system. Because of my limited roof space (1700 sq ft 2-story). No one could hit my target yearly kWh Production except with SunPower's newer 20% efficient 327 panels. So even at the premium price for the SunPower equipment the price per kWh (first year production) was nearly 1/2 all the other quotes. And the yearly production per panel was about 35% higher then all other panels.

    I pulled the trigger yesterday and signed all the paperwork. Ultimatly the company I went with was Heritage Solar out of Newport Beach. My sales guy was Nate Martinez. I had 11 local installers give me quotes that tottaled over 18 different quotes.

    As I said before the key piece of advice I would give to anyone considering it is shop it around. Get at the minimum 10 quotes. It's not just a price and markup issue but systems can vary so much from installer to installer that in cases like mine, the more expensive, "premium" equipment could outproduce to the point it's actually cheeper.

    Anyone getting serious about it feel free to PM me your email and I'll send over all the info i have saved.

    Lastly a huge thank you to everyone that got in this thread and gave there 2 cents.
     
  2. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    With a 15 minute swap-out, I'd bet dollars to donuts you have no more than 2 rows against each other. On a roof that has several rows of PV next to each other ... you have to actually un-install a certain number of panels, just to get to the bad boy, then reverse the process to put the system back together. It's no big deal if the panels simply form the actual roof / where you can get underneith the system. Point being - both central & mico inverters have advantages and disadvantages. When we did our install, none of the contractors cared to mention some of those minor details.

    .
     
  3. schorert

    schorert Member

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    very true, very true...of the fifteen minute swap-out time...only two minutes was the actual swapping. if I had a three-row array and the bad panel was in the middle, maybe two guys required to remove a panel? I have seen photos of installers walking on panels...can you just walk to the bad panel and tip it up and make the swap?
    If you use a central inverter, can you identify a bad panel in the series from the ground or do you have to go up and start checking each one in the series?
     
  4. Becki

    Becki New Member

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    I am new to any forum and have no idea how to PM to give you my e-mail address! I also have a small roof and am looking at SunPower 327s and would appreciate any info you have. am in the process of getting quotes but space is the issue so SunPower may have to be it.
     
  5. Totmacher

    Totmacher Honey Badger don't give a carp

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    Sounds like you are looking at the exact challanges I was. I'll Message you my contact info.
     
  6. devprius

    devprius /dev/geek

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    Our Sungevity system was finally interconnected today (well, yesterday actually, PG&E swapped the meter in the morning, but I didn't turn the system on until I got home in the evening). 4.94 Kw DC / 4.31 Kw AC rated system using 26 Suntech 190W panels and a Power One PVI-5000-OUTD-US inverter. It has produced 22 Kwh so far today with another 2 or 3 hours of sunlight left. I'm pretty pleased so far.
     
    Andyprius # 1 likes this.
  7. wheezyglider

    wheezyglider Member

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    Congrats! That has to feel great!
     
  8. devprius

    devprius /dev/geek

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    It does. For the day it produced 31 kWh, which was enough to wipe out the previous 36 hours of use.
     
  9. Tony Luckey

    Tony Luckey New Member

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    The darling lady is a reporter from the Chico Enterprise-Record, which is the town newspaper here in Northern Calif. She had a great story about my 28 panels running my car. I have the only Prius Plug-In available in Chico this year. It runs on electric power for 12 miles, which is really fine as Chico's downtown is only a 3-mile drive. I've had the car for 5 months. I have put 16 gallons of gas in it and I am averaging 69.6 mpg. It cost $32,590, which is about $6K more than my 2006 Prius. This 2012 Prius Plug-In is absolutely superior to my 2006. The Plug-In has superb handling due to the extra weight of the battery being in the exact spot for aiding cornering. The seats are way more comfortable. The standard radio and sound system is terrific - I paid $2k extra for a JBL enhancement on my 2006 which wasn't as good as the standard in the Plug-In. There is a USB connection to use with the neat sound system. Just plug in the I-Pod with a million tunes. The A/C is terrific, but it was really weak in the 2006 car. The interior is extremely quite while the 2006 was extremely noisey.

    The 28 Chint CHSM6610P panels are producing about 279 KWh per week. They are rated at 235 watts each, and all have Enphase M215-60-2LL-S2x individual converters. They have produced 3.95 MWh since 7 Mar 12 when I turned the system on. I now only pay $4.44 a month to the electric company, which is the fee to let me use 'their' grid. Chico gets the same sun hours as Phoenix and I have nearly zero shading on the panels. The panels are not easy to clean, and I do get a lot of pollen and dust on them. The city water can't be used as it has too much minerals in it. I bought a 20 ft. telescoping pole and first use plain city water on a microfibre pad, flip over the pad and squeegee as much water off as possible, then use a second pad to wash with distilled water, then some old towels to wipe off the distilled water. Takes a little over and hour to do 25 panels ( can't reach 3). Regardless, I have stored 1.1MWh on my account (this is the amount my meter has spun backwards). I have produced 4.46 MWATS. I'm totally elated with my solar panels and my Prius Plug-In Chico cheers, from a happy Tony
     

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  10. devprius

    devprius /dev/geek

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    Tony, do you have a link the Enphase monitoring site so we can see what your system produces during the day? The nice thing about the Enphase micro-inverters and monitoring is that you can see what an individual panel is doing. And if you have shading issues on a single panel, it doesn't knock out the rest of the panels nearby. In a central inverter setup, a single panel getting shaded can mess up the whole string. Luckily the setup I have appears to have no shading issues to speak of, so a single central inverter made sense.
     
  11. devprius

    devprius /dev/geek

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    Here's some photos of the panels on my roof. The panels are well hidden from street view due to the orientation of the house, the fact that we live on a hill, and the placement of a neighbor downhill from us. You literally have to walk across the street and down several house before you can even catch a glimpse. We had a new roof put on prior to the install. There are 2 rectangular low-profile vents that were installed as part of the re-roofing. By doing this, Sungevity was able to to double the size of the system since they could put panels right over them and still allow airflow. The rest of the vents you see are all connected to the sewer system, so they have to be left uncovered.

    roof-prior1.jpg
    Bare roof prior to the install, facing northish

    roof-prior2.jpg
    Bare root prior to the install, facing southish

    roof-after1.jpg
    Facing northish after install

    roof-after2.jpg
    Facing southish after install

    front.jpg
    Closeup of 9 panels up by the front of the house.

    front-installing.jpg
    Panels getting installed

    installing-1.jpg installing2.jpg installing3.jpg
    More install pics
     
  12. Tony Luckey

    Tony Luckey New Member

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    Here is my 12:30 pm report. I have 14 panels facing the rising sun, and 14 facing south. All are at a decent angle. and only the bottom front left panel gets any shading and that is minimal and only for an hour at the first crack of sun.
     

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  13. Tony Luckey

    Tony Luckey New Member

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    A neat discussion group is [email protected]. They talk about lots of information regarding solar panels. You might become a member. Some of the discussions are a bit advanced for me, but overall this site helped me learn a lot. Please note the black ones on the front by the car cost a bit more than the 14 aluminum framed panels on the back side of the house. Often you cannot see the black panels from the street. You can see a silver one peeking over the side of the roof line (actually two show, but the high one is barely visible).

    Some other lessons I learned in the process of getting the panels installed: Prices differ a lot between installers, so get about 5 estimates. One company was totally controlled by its main Hq. and I couldn't make any deals or changes at all i.e. you get the panels and inverters they want. The company I went with made several deals with me, which saved me some money. (like I picked out the panels and inverters). Make sure your roof shingles are in good repair. I had a new roof installed a month before the panels were installed. I really lucked out as my 9-year old shingles looked good, but a roofer found hundreds of hail-damage pock marks. So, insurance paid for the new roof. It took me about 3 months from start to finish as there is a lot of Electric Company rules to follow. Several companies I did not go with wanted me to install fewer electric panels than 28. They said I didn't need 28 panels. I insisted that I wanted a 5kW system ( they measure the systems two ways, the lower number is what the system actually produces). During the time they are trying to sell you a system, they always use the higher number, like 6.510 KW system. Later it became a 5.00 KW system. It is not a lie, just be sure to look for the two ways they measure output.
    Below is what I am currently producing and it also shows what was produced the past week as well as total output from start (notice the total output is in MWh = which is 1000 KWh. You can see I am generating about 1000KWh per month, but the previous 2 months I only used about 550 KWh per month. But now with the A/C unit working, I am usually breaking even. So I believe I got a perfect size for my house. My panels often produce over 5 KWh, (a few times over 6KWh) but that is only when the sun hits all the panels at once. It is now 4:30 pm and only the back panels are working hard and producing 2.48 KWh.
    In Calif. people pay on a tiered basis. That means that one pays at the lowest rate .14 cents a KW, but it goes up to .32 cents a KW if you use a lot of electricity, like when the A/C runs. Once a year in Calif. the electric company will zero my electric meter (which runs forward and backward) and pay me .04 cents a KWh if I have saved or banked electricity. I'm expecting to get a check for about $400/$500 each year.
     
  14. devprius

    devprius /dev/geek

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    It took 9 months to get the solar installed on our roof. This is mostly due to us needing to put a new roof on before we could proceed. So that delayed us by at least 4 to 5 months. The second biggest delay was getting PG&E to approve the system and swap the meter. That took 6 weeks from when the installer submitted the paperwork. Another delay (a good one, actually) was that when we put the new roof on, they had to come back out and re-evaluate things. As a result, they were able to redesign the system so that it was twice the original size. Once we signed the new contract for the larger system, it took exactly 3 months to get the system up and interconnected.

    We're in California, PG&E territory, so we're well acquainted with the tier system and the outrageous pricing. Our system is designed to get us out of tiers 4 & 5, and possibly eliminate tier 3 over the course of our "production year". I doubt I'll ever have a generation surplus for the year, but I might end up with a small monetary credit, of which they'll zero out when the year is up. So far we have produced 31 kWh the first day, 28 the second day, and today looks like it'll be around 23 or 24. When I read the meter last night, we had a total generation surplus of about 6 kWh.
     
  15. larryakoch

    larryakoch Junior Member

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  16. DLee

    DLee Junior Member

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    My PIP charges in 3 to 3.5 hours and shows a 900 Watt charge rate. Each charge is about 2.7Kwh, not the full battery capacity. A tpical residential system in full sun will produce this energy in about an hour.

    Solar is great except where there is cloud cover.
     
  17. devprius

    devprius /dev/geek

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    Even when there is cloud cover, my system still produces a fair amount of power.
     
  18. DLee

    DLee Junior Member

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    I have three arrays on two properties. Each sees a great drop in production with clouds or marine layer. This should always be calculated into the payback when considering solar. My properties are in Sothern California, so they have wonderful energy production. One property is covered by marine layer many mornings, so the arrays are oriented for afternoon production. The other property is in the mountains, near the USGS Solar Observatory. That location has the highest solar incidence in the United States. Where allowed, wind may be a better alternative for some locations.
     
  19. devprius

    devprius /dev/geek

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    Unfortunately, due to the size and orientation of our roof, a southeast orientation (116 degrees azimuth) was the only option for us. Our solar installer guarantees about 6100 kWh for the year. PVwatts was a bit more optimistic at around 7100 kWh for the year. I have no illusions that December will be as good as July was. Or that I won't get some low summer production days (last Saturday was a whopping 8 kWh. Sunday was better at 18 kWh, but last Friday was 30 kWh). Anything is better than doing nothing...
     
  20. HillCountryEVer

    HillCountryEVer New Member

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    I'm planning a DIY approach and currently I like the Westinhouse Solar Panel system available from Lowes. Each panel has a micro-invertered built in, the mounting system is very simple and almost invisible, internet monitoring is available for the system and they recently upgraded to 235W panels.

    Shop Westinghouse Solar 20-Pack 235-Watt AC Solar Panel Grid-Tied Kit at Lowes.com

    Does anyone else have experiences with this system?
     
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