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Anyone Have Solar Power for their Homes?

My wife and I have long wanted to have a solar powered home. Last year we stayed at a cabin in Maine that was totally off-grid via solar power and a generator that sometimes kicked in if we used the washer and dryers at night.

Does anyone use solar power? What's your experience?

interpippo
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Re: Anyone Have Solar Power for their Homes?

I'm very interested, but I still think it is early for autonomy from sor network. Maybe I'm wrong.

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Re: Anyone Have Solar Power for their Homes?

You're right. Even for the off-grid home in Maine we weren't using a ton of electricity and all it took was using the drying machine for the generator to kick on at night. Nevertheless, we do wish to reduce our reliance on the utility companies.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Anyone Have Solar Power for their Homes?

And you can greatly reduce your reliance with solar power, even if you are not off the grid.

My partner and I are starting to look into solar power for our house, even though we need to save our pennies for another year or so to afford it. Currently we estimate $20,000 for a system that will meet most of our power needs most of the time. The cost will be recouped in a few years by energy savings and rebate checks from selling power back to the grid. But solar is making great gains recently and costs are starting to come down. If we wait a year or two, it may be less $$.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

ccar2000
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Re: Anyone Have Solar Power for their Homes?

I have a solar power set up. I am still on the grid, you cannot get away from the power company unless you have a battery bank at least. If you have a generator in California the AQMD will want to talk to you about operating permits, fuel storage tanks and..... Edison still charges me connection and transmission fees which is currently @ $2.50/mo. They plan to start charging a $10/mo minimum this year. My power bill went from a flat rate of $152/mo to $400/yr, zero maintenance and repairs. My system is five years old now.
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imafan26
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Re: Anyone Have Solar Power for their Homes?

It depends on when you are using most of your electricity. Solar power here is connected to the grid. You pay extra for a special cut off switch to separate your units from the grid. If the grid goes off, so does your solar, unless you have that bypass switch. It is a safety precautions for the electrical workers so there is not so much juice in the lines from solar panels to electricute them.

Average system is about 20 panels. Average cost here $1000 per panel, but some places allow rebates. In the early days of solar here, between the electrical company rebate and the government rebate the net cost was about $2000. The rebates have ended and the electric company is now limiting the number of solar systems in each area. Max 10%. The have also altered the solar deal. Customers under the old deal are grandfathered in and they have an average bill of $17 a month. The new solar customers and customers who add panels to their old system are getting half the credit for the power their system generates during the day and an increase in what they have to pay for what they use at night. It is still less than someone without solar panels at all but more like $60 a month for them.

The newer systems are more efficient than the older ones but solar batteries are still new. Power cannot be saved so it goes into the grid and the meter runs backward. They will use their reserve power at night.

If you do most of your cooking, cleaning, washing, bathing, and running of power tools mostly in during the daylight hours you do have savings. Most people work during the day and when the solar power is generated and they use most of the electricity at night after the sun goes down. There isn't going to be a great advantage if you are off the grid and using power at night until they improve the solar battery technology which is coming. It does pay if you use most of your power during the day when it is being generated and you go to sleep early especially if you are off the grid. It depends on your lifestyle.

I don't use enough power to be worth having a system. The break even point is $140 a month. My bill is usually around $120 and I maximally conserve. I have timers on my two water heaters. I have 2 refrigerators and a chest freezer that use the bulk of the electricity. I do 3-4 loads of laundry a week in cold water and although I do use a dryer, I could save $10-$20 a month if I dried my clothes on the line. All of my lights except for a couple of closet lights are cfl and Flourescents and I hardly have them on. I turn them off when I leave the room and I sleep early so my house is literally in the dark on most days. I am even on the computer with the room lights off. I have the tv's and lamps I don't use unplugged. It saves me a lot of damage from power surges to leave them unplugged. Water costs more than electricity so I don't let the shower run when I take a bath and I save water from the shower and sink to flush the toilet. I use the electric range to cook breakfast, but I cook usually a stew, spaghetti, or casserole once every 4 days or so, and I cook a pot of rice with eggs once and I have boiled eggs and rice for the week. I don't like to cook after work, so I will eat leftovers heated in the microwave or open a can of beans and eat it straight out of the can for dinner, so I may not use the range for cooking anything more than breakfast for days.

The farm where I work has a couple of alternative energy systems. There is a windmill. it operates one small aerator.
Solar panels. It takes 2 solar panels to run one fan. I don't know how many panels it takes to run a pump but the solar panels on the roofs of the buildings supply about 60% of the farm's total electricity.

If you have enough wind and room, a wind turbine can generate electricity even at night. The wind farms here had the potential to generate clean low cost energy, but my opinion is that community opposition and strong opposition of the electric monopoly which did not want to buy power they did not own caused many of the operations to shut down. They could provide the power but needed to connect to the grid and the electric company did not want to pay them for the power they generated. The turbines were shut down because the blades could come loose and fly off. The turbines are on mountain ridges, all they might hit would be a cow and if the blades are maintained and tightened they should not pose a danger to anyone. Maui electric has the largest wind farm in the state and the local utility owns it. The wind farm in Kahuku on Oahu did not generate as much power because even though it was windy there, it was not steady enough to keep the turbines going. The turbine technology is also improving and newer ones are more efficient and need less wind to operate.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Hawaii

The life of a solar system is about 20 years. It will not generate full power for the entire time. Like storage batteries, they lose capacity over time and become less efficient. The panels have to be cleaned and inspected every 6 months. Usually the company here that installs the system has a service contract to do that. You have to have a pretty new roof to install a solar or hot water system on the roof. They charge to dissassemble and reassemble the systems if you have to do roof repairs. If you live in an area with high winds like tornadoes and hurricanes, check your insurance policy you may have to have additional coverage for damage to the panels. Solar water heaters don't store a lot of hot water for a large family and again, it is better to use the hot water in the day time. On cloudy days, the water may not be hot enough. Solar panels will generate less power on cloudy days, but they do still generate some power.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Re: Anyone Have Solar Power for their Homes?

I don't have solar power. I would love to, however. Just yesterday, I was reading about Tacoma's new community solar project. Here is text about community solar taken from their webpage:

"Tacoma Power is building a community solar project, and solar units will go on sale to Tacoma Power customers on Feb. 23. Community solar enables customers to join together to support local solar energy. It is a more affordable way to receive the benefits of solar energy, and does not require home ownership, the right location, a load-bearing roof or the high cost of installing solar panels. We build four 75-KW projects on our property, which will be fully funded by customers who purchase solar units. Each unit will cost $100. Customers who buy solar units will receive an annual Washington state solar production incentive payment, as well as payment for the electricity produced from the project. The estimated total payments for each $100 solar unit is $161.70. Estimates are based on National Renewable Energy Laboratories' solar projections for this area. Actual incentive payments may vary. The project will feature solar panels and inverters manufactured in Washington state and installed here in Tacoma."
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Anyone Have Solar Power for their Homes?

Wow! That's terrific!

How much savings you will get from your solar system and how long before it pays for itself, does depend on how much electricity you use.

For me it will be a good deal, because we have an all electric house - electric home heat pump for heating and cooling, electric hot water heater, electric stove, washer and dryer, etc. So all that will be switched over to solar power. If you use gas for a lot of that, then your solar system will save you a lot less (and reduce your carbon footprint by a lot less).
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

HoneyBerry
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Re: Anyone Have Solar Power for their Homes?

Tacoma Power is not mu utility company, so I won't be participating in their community solar program. My utility company offered wind power and I did purchase some. The cost was more than the regular power so the benefit was for the environment rather than for saving money. I need to check up on that program and see how it's doing. Wind power has it's down side, of course, just like everything. It takes up so much space and birds fly into the spinning blades. I like the community solar idea. I hope that my utility company comes up with a community solar program similar to Tacoma's.
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imafan26
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Re: Anyone Have Solar Power for their Homes?

Savings also is determined by your electrical costs. Plants that use hydro power are much cheaper than plants in Hawaii that depend on diesel fuel. There are more solar farms being built to provide clean energy, but again until storage batteries improve, they still have to generate electricity another way and for most households the demand is higher after the sun goes down.
This article on solar farms explains how electricity flows in solar systems.
https://convergence-energy.com/uncategor ... arm-works/
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

HoneyBerry
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Re: Anyone Have Solar Power for their Homes?

Thank you. Interesting article.
Greenhouses really are just simple solar charged structures.
Passive solar can lower the bill if it is done right. I have a windowed room on the west side that gets hot from the sun. It provides some energy benefit, I am sure, but it cannot be measured.
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