I think we're going solar

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

  1. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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    #181 JimboPalmer, Dec 6, 2021
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2021
  2. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Is your solar system grid-tied with battery backup? If I decide to install a solar panel, I want it to be 100% off-grid. But I think our current house is too large for that. I am not really interested in spending $$$ on the grid-tied system without battery backup which makes us still 100% dependent on the utility. Not knowing the details I am not sure if I am interpreting your numbers correctly, but at your location, your summertime peak production falls down to less than 1/3 in winter? I live quite a bit further north than you. This makes me think again about the limit of off-grid solar electricity production.
     
  3. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Batteries make it LOT more expensive. We have no batteries and, while we do depend on the grid as a result, it has not been a problem. We haven't had an outage of more than two or three minutes in the7+ years we've been in this house. I have an inverter I can connect to my car and fridge if we do get a major outage. So far, I've only tested it.

    Since it can be dark and rainy for several days in a row, it would take a lot of batteries to go totally off grid. It's not just a matter of something to get you through the night. And then, you have to replace the batteries when they wear out. Then again, the more batteries you have, the fewer cycles they'll have and the longer they'll last before needing replacement.

    My system puts out about 42 kWh on a perfect summer day, which is rare. Summer is rainy season here. Max power is 4.8 kW and that provides enough energy on the good days to more than compensate for nighttime and for the rainy days. The panels could make more, but it's normal to have a little less inverter capacity than panel capacity and let it clip when conditions are perfect since at most times conditions are less than perfect. No point in buying inverter capacity that'll hardly ever get used.
     
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  4. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Yes, I know how expensive it gets to have solar with battery backup especially with lithium batteries. Buying a backup battery just for a rare power outage is a total waste of money, more so than an expensive standby generator. I can use our gas/propane dual fuel portable generator for that power outage. I just wanted to confirm that @JimboPalmer that at his location he is able to get only 1/3 of peak production of summertime. If that is the case, I don't think it is possible to do 100% off-grid in my latitude. We have a very long winter with a very short day. For me, if I can't do 100% off-grid, then there is no good reason to install solar panels on my rooftop.
     
    #184 Salamander_King, Dec 6, 2021
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2021
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  5. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    It's possible; you just need to have enough panels, inverters, and batteries for those short days. Mucho dinero!!!
     
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  6. R-P

    R-P Active Member

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    I wouldn't have a chance in **** to go full solar. Summer is easily 30kWh on a good day. Right now (winter) I'm happy with 1kWh per day.
    But I'm in Europe at the latitude of Vancouver (little higher even), so no comparison to Florida ;)

    What's Solyndra? I doubt it has anything to do with my Solyndra's...

    (They are tubular ELECTRICAL solarpanels that should be mounted above a white surface for also capturig the reflecting light, I have two for fiddling around with (40€ per 165Wp unit, 5+ years ago), but they're not very convincing. Second pic is the best one I have to show the tubular rods covered in electrical solar-panel-strips.)
     

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    #186 R-P, Dec 6, 2021
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  7. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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    Yes I am grid tied, and have 24 panels of solar with a battery and a back up generator.

    My generator is over a decade old and is not as well tied to the solar as current models would be.

    In MS, the public service commission, would enforce Net Metering for private electric companies. Sadly I get my electricity from a municipal power utility, which not only does not pay me for electricity but refuses it from me for free. If my meter ever runs backwards, they will terminate my service and accuse me of theft. (My solar installer has configured my inverter to use 40 watts of city power even when I am on solar, so the meter runs forwards. So officially I have no solar the city can see; I am just extremely frugal).

    In the summer, the sun clears all my neighbor's trees and I get almost12 hours of usable light. Now their trees block a substantial amount of light except for 5 hours, and it is lower angle light. My battery still fills to about 95% on perfectly clear days, where in summer it is 100% full by 11:30 AM and could still be charging until 4 PM.

    https://www.myswitchelectric.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/pwrcell_brochure-image2-sized.jpg

    My set up has 8 panels each on 3 PVlinks and 18 kwh of battery. My garage is on a subpanel so during power outages the batteries power the refrigerator and freezer in the garage. the generator powers the main house during outages. ( a more modern layout could just use the generator to recharge the batteries when needed, and the batteries could be my back up power.

    So I have 13 electrical boxes on the outside of house and my wife had me build a wall around them so the don't clutter her view.

    https://scontent-ort2-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.6435-9/90346771_10221560144975346_791297142458155008_n.jpg?_nc_cat=110&cb=c578a115-c1c39920&ccb=1-5&_nc_sid=8bfeb9&_nc_ohc=e2xM0AIUNfkAX8uMZEC&_nc_ht=scontent-ort2-1.xx&oh=fc91627df7eda5f1c4216d2b7151b5d0&oe=61D41EAC

    https://scontent-ort2-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t39.30808-6/239586351_10225819814104412_8544567320402183330_n.jpg?_nc_cat=109&cb=c578a115-c1c39920&ccb=1-5&_nc_sid=0debeb&_nc_ohc=Myul9KNZd2cAX8Lsd6u&_nc_ht=scontent-ort2-1.xx&oh=719fc3cb4269606a37a3a2ebe433aede&oe=61B34498

    https://scontent-ort2-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t39.30808-6/250814527_10226255455595177_1188819694287252809_n.jpg?_nc_cat=106&cb=c578a115-c1c39920&ccb=1-5&_nc_sid=0debeb&_nc_ohc=ubI4SAha_RMAX89h4xv&_nc_ht=scontent-ort2-1.xx&oh=c464d00067d046af1bd03f1c7946bbe8&oe=61B307DD
     
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  8. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Thanks for the info. It is such a pity that in essence, your utility would not allow grid-tied solar panels. Our utility is not that bad, at least I don't think they are. We do have Net Metering in our state currently, but it was subject to political debate and under fire while Rep. Governer was in the office. For this reason, I have no confidence in a grid-tied solar system. It may sound good today, but who knows what happens a few years down the road. If I install a solar panel on my rooftop it would have to be for independence from the utility. But realistically, I don't think we can have enough numbers of panels and enough battery packs to run the entire winter totally off-grid using just solar power. At least not with keeping current lifestyle anyways.
     
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  9. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    No, I think it exactly has to do with those. The company that made them ended up declaring bankruptcy in 2011 after the raw-material prices of competing technologies took such a steep dive that the hoped-for competitive advantage of their tube technology kind of evaporated. Because the company had received a Department of Energy loan guarantee under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (and may have misled DoE in its application), its later bankruptcy was seized on in certain quarters as proof of ... something (subsidized R&D always being bad, funding agencies always being corrupt, or something like that). And the name continues to be favored in some quarters as a random reference to drop into conversations about solar power or renewable energy in general, especially in settings where the person doing the dropping doesn't expect to be asked just what relevance is being suggested exactly.
     
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  10. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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    I have a 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house in the heat of the MS delta.

    So my case may be extreme for the US, but i rarely if ever (i think i saw it once, you use some city power even though you are generating solar) exceed the 7 kwh my inverter can do. (The panels and inverter were $16,000)
    While I have 18 kwh of battery, I know that I could double that. (for another $16,500)

    I could add more panels, but without more battery, I do not think I would be more 'off-grid'

    Like a Prius camping, a modern generator could only come on to charge batteries when needed. If Natural Gas is cheap where you are, an off grid system could be doable.


    Generac Power Systems - Power Equipment and Generator Manufacturer
     
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  11. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Inside joke.
    Solyndra in the US is a joke about governments picking winners and losers in the "green" market.

    Solar is cheap enough here to be viable in the US without government kickbacks, but there's still room for additional price democratization for these systems.
    I often use Apple and Android as an example.

    The OP is proof positive.

    Sorry for letting the squirrel loose.
     
  12. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Over the past five years, my December average has been 16% of July average. But years vary, and December 2019 was only barely over 10%. With that pattern, off-grid winter solar is quite impractical here, a grid connection or other winter source is needed. Enough solar capacity to ride through the winter would be horribly expensive, greatly exceeding my roof area, and leave most of the expensive capacity surplus and wasted most of the year.

    I do achieve net-zero over the year by overproducing just enough in summer to cover the winter. None of its solar capacity is ever wasted (except when the grid goes down, which here is least likely to happen during bright sun), it all goes to someone. While a battery pack can store energy over a night or so, the grid is the only practical way to 'store' energy (as banked credits) across seasons.

    NREL or some other climate-zone-aware solar calculators should have reasonable estimates for winter vs summer energy production for or 'sorta' near your location. They use actual recorded solar radiation histories, not just a generic latitude input.
     
    #192 fuzzy1, Dec 6, 2021
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2021
  13. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    I agree 100%. If the winter solar production is that low, then it is totally impractical and financially prohibitive to install solar panels to cover our current electricity needs year-round with off-grid battery storage. I am just not interested in net metering. There is no saving and while it may add a smidgen of renewable energy on the grid for others to use, it claims no self-sufficiency independent of utility.
     
  14. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    I'm doing it for Climate Change remediation, not for independence from the utility (publicly owned, not private). Meeting the later goal is significantly more costly, usually.

    I'm also a believer in doing both conservation (efficiency upgrades) and renewable production together, ideally (practical resources allowing) meeting somewhere in the middle. This helps better guide the labor and investment. Nearly all homes start with some relatively low hanging fruit for conservation, but at some point production becomes less costly than additional conservation.
     
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  15. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Net metering is by far the most economical way to get the most renewable energy you can at the lowest price. Right now, I'm only saving maybe $10/month. Next year, that looks like it'll be more like $20-40 a month.

    Yes, during the night I'm using electricity generated with natural gas. But during the day I'm not only using solar power, some of my neighbors are also using solar as I pump clean electricity back into the grid. And it's not just a smidgeon. So far, since May, I've produce over 1.5 MWh more than I've consumed.
    Screen Shot 2021-12-07 at 8.29.32 AM.png
     
    #195 jerrymildred, Dec 7, 2021
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  16. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    The saving is based on the monthly loan payment you are making for the panel isn't it? To be fair, you are not saving anything until you have paid off the loan. You are in debt until then. What I don't like about net metering is that it is 1 totally dependant on the utility company, and 2 totally dependant on the political climate. Just a few years ago, our state had an idea of abolishing net metering. Thankfully it did not materialize and we had a change in political leadership since then. But another change could happen any time over the next 25+ years of the life of the panel.
     
  17. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Another way you can look at it: sometimes a capital outlay needs to happen before an opportunity to save can be realized. Debt is a tool that allows you to put those events in the time order that works. If you are then (a) paying less than you would have been without the outlay, and (b) that savings exceeds what the financing is costing you, then to say that isn't saving anything might be an instance of being blinded by debt-aversity.

    Debt financing can be overdone, and debt-aversity can be overdone. In my own case, looking back, excessive debt-aversity is probably by far the larger reason my current financial position isn't stronger than it is.

    That's definitely a risk that is hard to plan around.
     
  18. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    I concur. You can think of debt as an investment for future profit. But, to my mind, it still is not a saving. Saving is a 100% safe way to increase the net wealth... investing is not so safe way to bet on future profit. Sure, investing $35K on solar panels by taking a loan and betting on the future profit after it is paid off is far safer than investing the same amount of money on crypto... But that is still risker than saving. At my age, taking a loan that does not mature for the next 20 years is something I would not like to get into.
     
  19. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    My checking account says differently.

    Only by the difference between the value of the asset and the balance on the loan.

    And the price of electricity Is not dependent on those things? Ending net metering in Florida would be a REALLY hard sell. There are almost a dozen houses with solar power just within two blocks of me.

    Well said! How many people can pay cash for a house? How many businesses would exist if they were unwilling to borrow capital?
     
    #199 jerrymildred, Dec 7, 2021
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  20. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Maybe ... assuming you are every bit as careful to compute opportunity cost and inflation risks, etc., against your savings, as you are to compute servicing costs and cash-flow risks against your debts.

    For much of my adulthood, I tended to think carefully about the risks of debt and gloss over the risks of savings, and if we were to figure how much that blind spot has cost me overall, it would surely be in the high five figures if not six. (What has kept it from being even worse is the extraordinarily low-inflation environment of the last dozen years, which we probably can't count on forever.)

    Kind of insidious, because it felt so very safe all that time.

    Yeah, that's the sucky part; we get older and learn more about the choices we could have made more prudently, while at the same time the range of prudent choices going forward gets narrower.
     
    #200 ChapmanF, Dec 7, 2021
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