I think we're going solar

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by jerrymildred, Feb 5, 2021.

  1. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    We haven't signed anything yet, but it's looking like solar power for our house is within our reach. The estimator was here and we came up with a plan that would make our payments for the equipment the same as our average electric bill over the past year.

    We're close to needing new shingles, so we're waiting on an estimate for that so we can roll that into the project and get the 26% tax break on the shingles, too. Since we'll need them soon anyway, the timing is just about perfect. The interest rate on the loan is crazy low. 0.99% to 1.99% depending on how many years.

    It should take just a few days to get all that together. The time lag will come from the county. They said it's taking 3-6 weeks these days to get a building permit.

    Even though it won't reduce our electric cost till it's paid for, it will lock it so it won't keep going up. Our average bill has gone up probably $15-20 over the past 5 years.
     
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  2. TMR-JWAP

    TMR-JWAP Senior Member

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    Can I ask what your current average kwh per month is?
     
  3. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    It depends on the season. Over the past 12 months, it's varied between 525-1031 kWh per month. That 1031 was the only time we've ever gone over 1,000. Average for the past year is about 758.
     
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  4. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    what do they get for a kwh down there jerry? i thought fl was cheap
     
  5. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    As long as it's under 1,000 kWh in a month, it's 11.206 cents per kWh plus the straight $11.40/month customer charge for the honor of being a Duke Energy customer. Anything above 1,000 kWh is more expensive.

    So, yes, compared to your third world category prices in MA, it is cheap here, which is why I pondered the question for so long. The monthly loan payment for the system is very close to what we normally pay on average right now. However, the cost of electricity isn't likely to go down since it's already gone up about 15% since we moved to the States. With solar, the cost per month stays the same rather than going up. And, when the loan (which is only 0.99% APR) is paid off, the electricity is free for the life of the equipment other than the monthly fee we pay for being on the grid.
     
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  6. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    it was 11yrs ago .....
    Our 8K AC rated system was put in. Not only did it pay for the use of electricity throughout the house (net zero) , it paid for the fueling of 2 plug-in cars over the years ..... such that the entire very expensive system back then (over 5X the cost one pays modernly) and our payback, where the system amortized itself, took just 6 years. Electric costs keep going up, as does the value of spinning the meter backwards (offset credit) . Great minds think alike!

    DANG!!
    compared to our minum 26¢ ??
    (that's only for the first measly 400 kwh) then quickly going over to the "bend-over" rate above 750 kwh ??
    Some of us might become criminals if we could get away with electricity that cheap
    11yrs ago - before solar, our average bill was $250/month. Worst 1month bill ever was nearly $600.
    Love love love the solar.

    ps
    Most of the solar threads appropriately go to the environmental section for the obvious reasons.
    .
     
    #6 hill, Feb 5, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2021
  7. TMR-JWAP

    TMR-JWAP Senior Member

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    I average right around 2900kwh per month over the last 24 months. Been thinking a little about solar, but I don't know if I have the roof area or acreage to support it. Around 11 cents a kwh on average. Timing it with a shingle replacement is ideal. Glad that worked out for you!
     
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  8. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Any thoughts of DIY? The solar, that is, not the re-roofing. That is how I did it. The roofers did the south side first, then I started in on the solar there while they worked the other side.

    We also also moved an exhaust vent and a solar tube skylight to improve the solar module layout field. One was put in line with another vent, the other shifted across the ridgeline.

    :eek: At that consumption, it may be worth an energy audit first to look for conservation measures and efficiency upgrades, before advancing on the solar project.

    Before significant conservation and efficiency upgrades began (seven years before our first solar phase), my all-electric home averaged about 900 kWh/month, though varying considerably by season. My best-oriented roof section isn't large enough to hold that much solar in this climate zone. But by the time my solar capacity was expanded to make this a net-zero-energy house, total energy consumption had been cut in half, so that roof section was sufficient to hold enough solar capacity and still have room to spare for future expansion to cover a plug-in car.
     
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  9. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Our house in Honduras was 800 square feet. Electricity was about 50 cents/kWh. Our bill was often over $400 with the A/C set at 81º.

    Thanks. I debated back & forth for a while on that. @Tideland Prius, if you want to move this to environmental, please feel free to do so. Putting it here was essentially a mental coin toss since I couldn't decide.

    Yeah, I think that was the deciding factor. The warranty on this equipment will run out just before I turn 92, so it's not like I'll get the full savings potential. But it'll also add to the house's value when we have to move into a nursing home. :whistle: So, getting 26% off on some nice GAF dimensional shingles is a big plus. Our neighbors just paid $10,000 for a house about 15% bigger than ours. Because we'll pay cash, our cost will be $8,141 before the tax break.

    I thought about it. But all the permitting and then paperwork with the electric company, the tie in for net metering, and so on. It's worth it to me to not have to hassle with that. And I work full time, so when would I find time to do it all? These guys knew about new equipment that I wouldn't have known about that make it cheaper & more efficient than what I would have come up with. And the software they used for designing the system was amazing.

    That is a lot of juice! Having lived where electricity was half a dollar for a kWh, we are real energy pinchers. Even at our relatively low rate of consumption, I've done my own audit. The only thing that I need to do is get a couple single pane sliding glass doors replaced. In fact, I'd really like to get one removed and convert that wall into one with a window since both doors go to the same small lanai. That's a project I can tackle on my own once I retire.

    Here's the initial layout of the panels. They are going to try to reorient and arrange them to get all 20 on the south facing roof to make it more efficient. That's where the best sunlight angle is.
    Initial Panel Layout.jpg
     
    #9 jerrymildred, Feb 6, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2021
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  10. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Congratulations! Yeah, I would love to have the PV panel on our south-facing roof to alleviate the high cost of electricity in our area. For the last three years, I have revisited that idea many times, but every time I came to the same conclusion, that the payoff time is just way too long even with the fed tax credit. I have not totally given up on the idea yet, but the cost of installation has to come down by 70% or so to make the project worthwhile for our situation.

    The average monthly consumption seems to be similar to ours. May I ask what is the cost of PV installation to cover this usage?

    I just saw your photo of the roof. The 6.8kW system and annual 9945kWh production are unbelievable numbers for us Northerners. Wow, you live in the Sunshine State indeed. For our annual production of ~10000kWh, I need at least a 10kW system, preferably larger to account for our shorter winter cloudy days. The lowest quote I got so far is ~$25K installed. That's 10+ years of payback time even with our very high $0.21/kWh utility cost. This makes no economic sense to forge ahead with the project.

    Just curious, if your system is a grid-tied PV system, don't you still have to pay at least the monthly fee to the utility?
     
    #10 Salamander_King, Feb 6, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2021
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  11. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    We added panels to our house about 4 years ago:):

    6A50CCE1-0233-4F22-A766-40248F09D339.jpeg

    This was pre- Prime though, so PG&E would only allow us to go so big with the array:cool:.

    But this year (or next) we'll add more to it;).

    Good luck with your work(y).
     
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  12. Zythryn

    Zythryn Senior Member

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    You may want to take a closer look at the math.
    In Minnesota (45 degrees latitude) we get about 11,500 kWh out of an 10kW array. Our angle of orientation is optimized for winter, so we could easily get a bit more out of that on an annual basis.
    We have a electricity cost of $0.115/kWh and our payback is eight years (3 and a half years to go).
    We then have free electricity for another ~27 years.

    If you are planning on staying in your house for a long time, even a 15 year payback still makes financial sense.
     
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  13. Merkey

    Merkey Active Member

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    Why would PG&E limit the size?
     
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  14. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    So I don't sell more back to them;).
     
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  15. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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    In MS, a private electric company has to provide Net Metering, and the Federal Utility (TVA) does on it's own, but Co-Ops and Municipal Systems are not under the Public Utilities Commission's authority and do not need to offer Net Metering.

    Greenwood Utilities will not let me even give them excess electricity. My set up is rigged to use 40 watts of city electricity at all times, just so I do not violate that and give them free electricity.
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    I already had a extremely reliable Generac stand by generator, so I choose a Generac Inverter, installed in March and approved in June by the Utilitiy so I could begin using Solar. After fighting the Utility for Net Metering for six months, I added a Generac battery in January.


    Generac Power Systems - Clean Energy


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    It is winter, so daylight is short, but I generate electricity from 9 AM to 4 PM, then run on batteries to 7 PM. I am off grid about 10 hours a day, except that 40 watt trickle to keep the Utility at bay.

    Now if I had a Plug In car. (a previous owner of my house repaired vending machines, so I have 8 240 outlets in my garage)
     
    #15 JimboPalmer, Feb 6, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2021
  16. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    I have done the math so many times. Had an estimator come out and do the site evaluation twice in the last three years. Each time, the estimate always comes up to be needing at least a 10kW system to offset 100% load of the annual consumption of ~10000kwh in our location with shorter daylight and some shades by all the trees surrounding our house. The initial estimate 3 years ago was $37K installed. The price has come down substantially since then and the latest quote is ~$25K installed. But that's still 12 years of the payback period. And the biggest drawback is that after 12 years, we are not likely to be living here. If I put that money in an investment account now and get a modest 8% return. I will have $65K saved at the end of 12 years. I can buy/built a tiny house with an off-grid 3kW solar system and retire there.
     
    #16 Salamander_King, Feb 6, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2021
  17. Merkey

    Merkey Active Member

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    Good luck with that 8% annual investment return.
     
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  18. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    My very conservative balanced funds retirement account has made an annualized ~12% returns in the last 15 years. More aggressive professionally managed Roth account has made ~16% annualized return last 10 years. The annualized 8% return is very doable. But, of course, everyone knows that the past performance is no guarantee of future results. Still, putting $25K on a rooftop to recoup the cost in the next 12 years is not much of ROI.
     
    #18 Salamander_King, Feb 6, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2021
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  19. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    We rigged the system by using lots of juice during the year prior to install so that we could get a bigger system. Yeah we had to pay Upfront for the electricity but now in the end it worked for us
     
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  20. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    Should've done something similar, but I got a decent bonus from the year prior, so we went ahead with it;).

    Looking to add more soon to offset what we didn't get earlier:).

    Very electricity costs are a benefit(y).
     
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