Solar panel system for the home?

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by recycleman, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Keeping the AC thermostat at 70F in AZ seems odd. Are you uncomfortable outside at night when ambient is 80F ? I'm just wondering if your AC has a humidity problem.
     
  2. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Senior Member

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    +1.

    110F in shade with 10% humidity in SW feels much better then 90F with 95% on east coast.
     
  3. wick1ert

    wick1ert Senior Member

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    It seemed from an earlier post like he has the attic fans, but just needs to hook them up. I sort of considered that the ventilation aspect and a completed item. Insulation is definitely a must, and minimum of 12" esp given the temps in AZ. I noticed a huge difference going from 6"-12" just in the temps at the ceilings.

    The reason I recommended some of the other options was the prices and the fact the OP mentioned not wanting or being able to take on much, if any, additional debt. The other items are much cheaper than the HVAC unit, and if his water heater is 15 yrs old, replacing it (they usually account for roughly 15% of electric usage) is a good preventative measure and will provide added efficiency.

    I agree that the insulation and attic ventilation (once hooked up) will also reduce the load on the HVAC unit. As will ceiling fans if the OP is willing to increase the temperature on the thermostat - well, in an indirect way, moving air isn't necessarily cooler but it feels cooler to people.
     
  4. npyle

    npyle New Member

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    I've been giving some thought to this as well--live in Cleveland, Ohio area--so I appreciate the good discussion.
     
  5. chogan2

    chogan2 Senior Member

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    If you live in AZ, can walk around in your attic, and have skimpy existing attic insulation, depending on what your attic looks like, you could be an excellent candidate for radiant barrier (assuming the builder didn't put it in when building). If you can see plywood on the roof, with no silvery stuff covering it, then you don't have it. It's a lot easier to put up on a rafter roof than on a truss roof. There are also companies that will paint the inside of your roof with radiant barrier paint, which is nearly as effective as installing sheets of radiant barrier, and is easier, for sure. (Otherwise, you are tacking sheets of aluminum-coated tyvek to your rafters.

    I don't have a good site to point you to on radiant barrier, but the idea is that shiny stuff (like tin foil) has high reflectivity (which you can see), but therefore also has poor emissivity (the ability to radiate heat off the surface). So you put up this aluminum-coated Tyvek, and it stops the infrared from you roof from being radiated downward into your attic. Sounds crazy but works. (Crazy because the tin-foil is on the inside of your roof, not the outside, so it takes a while to get your mind around the fact that it works by failing to radiate infrared forward, rather than by reflection.)

    Here's a DOE overview:
    Energy Savers: Radiant Barriers

    I use it to make light- and heat-blocking shades in my house. Works phenomenally well for that (though it does look a bit odd from the outside). For this to work, you need at least half-a-wavelength of air space for whatever you are trying to stop, on at least one side of the sheet (like an inch or two of air space on at least one side).

    Also, as long as we are talking cheap, I'll just mention that, while it surely might look goofy, painting your roof white works quite well. Behr makes paint specifically for covering asphalt composition shingle.

    Linked here, just so you know I'm not making this up:
    Roof Paint | Acrylic Latex Flat Finish | Behr Paint

    Near as I can tell, all the new commercial building and re-roofing of commercial buildings in this area area (Washington DC) is using white roofs. If you look at satellite view on Google, the white roofs stand out all over the area. Flat back roofs are 20th century tech.

    Separately, that's still a heck of an energy bill for a house that size. Do not rule out the possibility that they screwed something up royally when they installed your duct work. Might be worth taking off some grilles and checking.

    True story: I moved into my house four years ago. I have AC/heat pumps -- two air handlers and two ground-source units. One of the units ran all the time. Crappy air flow, but very warm air in the winter. I finally got the bright idea of taking off the air return grille and sticking my head in the air return to try to figure out what the problem was. Turns out that when they put them in, the ducting for the air return on that unit was funneled through a 6"x2" opening. All the air flow, for half my house, we being funneled through 12 square inches of free area. I cut a new air return (more like 600 square inches was the correct size for this), and the problem disappeared.
     
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  6. drees

    drees Senior Member

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    If you only have electricity - also look into a heat-pump water heater. Will be 3x more efficient than your current hot water heater, especially if the heater is located in a warm room. But unless you have the hot-water running all day I doubt it's a substantial portion of your bill.

    Cost is similar to a tankless hot-water heater but also has the benefit of cooling off the room that the water heater is located in.
     
  7. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Tell you what. Get your house appraised (presume for example your PV costs $60K) and see if it's even $8K more than your neighbor's identical house. This "increase the value of your house" story is simply NOT true. I wish it was, but appraisers do NOT even have a clue about how to integrate PV costs into a home. We're in the R.E. business ... we own PV ... we've refinanced and personally experience this whole deal. Yes, the PV sales people say it and I wish they wouldn't because it really takes away from their integrity ... though I can give them the benefit of the doubt that they pass on this story in ignorance.

    .
     
  8. ryogajyc

    ryogajyc Active Member

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    An appraisal is merely an educated estimation of house value and may not necessarily be accurate. And as you say, appraisers are not familiar with solar, in which case they would probably disregard it entirely in the appraisal. The plus side is that would mean a solar owner wouldn't have to pay property tax on it, tho' I suppose it makes getting a larger loan using the house as collateral more difficult.

    Anyhow, I can google plenty of articles that state that the actual house sale value increases such as this article, where researchers looked at actual home sales.
     
  9. bzyrice

    bzyrice Active Member

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    What if u just put in a few solar panels to run the ceiling fans in the house? Just like the prius? Is there a viable way to do that? I would try that! Not sure how much money that would save tho..
     
  10. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Merely? Um, banks NEVER give loan approval for amounts above appraised value. So call it merely if you like. Their voice is the voice of God to banks. The mortgage industry is NOT what it was 10 or 15 years ago. It's not even what it was, just 3 years ago. Unless you're a chash buyer, you'll get what ever the bank (and thus, the appraised value) says, unless you're a cash buyer ... and cash buyers (which happen to be less than 5% of all offers) ALWAYS low ball ... even in multiple offers. Ultimately (btw) - when ever you find an article about how much PV increases property value - all you have to do is how the authour knows to look to see what side of the bred that the butter is on. If the article is not written specifically by the PV industry, you'll find it's written by a collateral group ... the power industry ... the DOE, etc. I mean, think about it logically. You buy a house for what:
    Schools?
    View (lake front / mountain top / beach, etc)?
    Neighborhood?
    Safety (low crime area)

    And that's it. You DON'T go out looking for a home with no electric bill. You buy as much house as you can afford, with the above kinds of issues ONLY. No one thinks, "gee I'd rather buy a crappier house so I can get cheep electricity. So if some jerk weed (like me) tries to get an extra $20K - $40K for their home, above market cost . . . good luck trying to rake in the offers.

    .
     
  11. bedrock8x

    bedrock8x Senior Member

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    I agree, this is like putting in a $40K swimming pool, the value of the house will not increase by $40K, likely you will get $10-$15K worth when you sell your house.

     
  12. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    With a Swimming pool, you have to leave it behind - at least PV can be removed / taken with you to the next home. If we ever move, that's what I'd do ... in a heart beat. No way am I leaving all these bad boys behind ;)

    [​IMG]


    btw . . . was it just me? . . . or did anyone else not understand the OP:
    9.4 ?? Is that supposed to mean a 9.4kWh rating ? Even if a DC rating, based on a low efficiency panel, that'd easily cost over $25K AFTER rebates, including state rebates with the most generous incentives (like Colorado). If a 9.4kWh sized system only covered 60% yearly costs, you'd have a Pre-solar monthly bill of over $400 in even states with the least expensive per kWh costs. The OP is in Chandler ... their city's local web site says their cost per kWh is between $0.045-$0.140/kWh
    http://chandleraz.gov/default.aspx?pageid=354
    Just wondering.
    I'd get a few more bids . . . maybe shore up those numbers so you know exactly what you're actually buying (inverter(s) ... their efficiency - panel type - AC or DC rated, etc)
    .
     
  13. drees

    drees Senior Member

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    I haven't seen any off-the-shelf setups like that - only solar powered attic fans.
     
  14. wick1ert

    wick1ert Senior Member

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    I'm curious to know what, if anything, the OP has decided to undertake or already has undertaken after this thread.
     
  15. bzyrice

    bzyrice Active Member

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    You got a link for that? Maybe I will install a solar powered fan in my garage.. just to start playing with solar power.. that would be something I would like to play with..
     
  16. drees

    drees Senior Member

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    Let me google that for you - solar attic fan
     
  17. bzyrice

    bzyrice Active Member

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  18. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Hopefully all the ideas listed on the first page - solar hot water - low e windows - higher efficiency lighting - insulation, etc ... the low hanging fruit.
     
  19. icarus

    icarus Senior Member

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    One can build a small stand alone battery based PV system to run anything like.

    Be advised however, that any battery based system (batteries are required for an non grid tie system) costs about twice as much and yields 1/2 the performance of a grid tie system. Not a bad way for a hobiest to start.

    I encourage anyone who is Interested in PV to visit us here:Solar Electric Power Discussion Forum by Northern Arizona Wind & Sun - Powered by vBulletin


    Icarus
     
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  20. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    Thanks icarus for pointing out that the only way to go 100% off-grid with a PV system is to either install a lot of big expensive battery storage, or stop using electricity whenever the Sun isn't shining.

    And a big second to chogan2's remarks on radiant barrier. We installed one when our roof was replaced 15 years ago, and it reduced A/C season electricity use by 20%.
     
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