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Old 06-19-2016, 09:41 PM   #101
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A sun tracking system to rotate the panels to follow the sun is simple. However, to build it to stand up to wind load and storms makes it more expensive. And mechanical parts need maintenance, and labor is costly if you cannot do it yourself.

I recall the parallel with solar water heaters 35 years ago. After the energy crisis in the 70s, there was a rush to install them. Quite a few designs used parabolic trough mirrors, which promised to provide hot water even under subdued sunlight. Alas, they all failed within a few years. Even the simpler fixed-mount panels have all busted when their freeze sensors failed and the first frosty night hit.

If I had more land, I would build a system on-ground to play with. I have land up in my high-country 2nd home, but I hardly use any electricity up there to make it worthwhile. In my city home, where I use lots of power for AC cooling I have no land to do anything.
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Old 06-22-2016, 01:07 PM   #102
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Permit was issued by the city and install is scheduled for 7-21.

All seems to be going according to the time estimate. 1 month to design and permit, 1 month for materials and install and another other month probably for PG&E to approve and go online.
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Old 06-22-2016, 01:17 PM   #103
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If you can, get your PTO (permission to operate) at the beginning of the billing cycle, not the end. I got mine 4 days before the end of a billing cycle. This resulted in a true-up of only 11 months, not 12. As you might guess, July is one of your largest months, so if PTO is granted at the end of July, the first year true-up will only be 11 months and could fall short of what an actual year's worth of generation would be.
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Old 06-22-2016, 01:22 PM   #104
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So, it's not the solar that causes the fires, but having to deal with the solar array when a fire from another cause starts. I wonder if in a widespread wildfire, the firefighters might let the solar equipped houses burn when they are deciding which houses to save with a limited capacity to fight the fire.

Did you order the parts yourself or did you use the bid to get the turnkey bid reduced? Was your installer a large vendor or small local guy?
I used a turn-key contract. However, because I KNEW the retail costs of the components, having not only shopped, but had a hard bid for materials delivered, it gave me tremendous advantage for negotiating the contract. I wanted my contract written, separating out the labor from materials. They wouldn't go for that, but I did it for them based on my costs. I'm sure their costs, at wholesale, were even better.

The primary reason I went with a turn-key is because I have no skills in submitting plans and design to the county to get the permits. They do. They got my permits in 3 days and took care of the inspections.
I have skills to seek out the quality of components, bids on materials, installation even, but the paperwork.... eh, not so much.
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Old 06-22-2016, 01:37 PM   #105
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Was your contractor local or was it someone that does installs throughout Northern California? How did you pick the contractor?

With regard to the fire issue, did your insurance increase as a result of the solar installation?
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Old 07-21-2016, 02:22 PM   #106
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The racks are up;



And the wiring is done;



Pretty neat & clean. They didn't even need to get in the garage, I guess it's all outside. The panels are not here yet, hot demand it seems.

Soon I'll be able to freeze myself out if I want at very little expense -
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Old 07-31-2016, 03:08 PM   #107
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Any updates, Robbie? Watching with interest as I'm in placer county, California. It's been triple digits all week long.
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Old 07-31-2016, 03:13 PM   #108
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I had Solar City put in a small (2.4KW, 10 panel) system a year ago. It is sized to provide about 45% of my usage and it has been doing that. The original plan was for more panels on the main house roof, but for unknown reasons they changed this to be on the garage only.

Since there are NO incentives in New Hampshire, and my overall usage is so low, I decided to go with the Power Purchase Option so I paid nothing for the system and pay SC for the power at a few cents per kWh less than I would pay the utility. I am saving about $8-$10 a month - not a big deal - but I like contributing at least a little to renewable energy. The system has had zero problems over the past year. I was a bit skeptical at how it would perform over winter, but it's been fine - snow tends to slide right off.
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Old 07-31-2016, 03:30 PM   #109
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Still waiting for the panels. Once available they say up in running soon after.
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Old 07-31-2016, 04:24 PM   #110
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Since there are NO incentives in New Hampshire, and my overall usage is so low, I decided to go with the Power Purchase Option so I paid nothing for the system and pay SC for the power at a few cents per kWh less than I would pay the utility.
When you need to replace your roofing materials, do they come out to remove/reinstall the racks?
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Old 07-31-2016, 04:48 PM   #111
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When you need to replace your roofing materials, do they come out to remove/reinstall the racks?
Yes, though the roof was new the previous year so I don't expect to have to do this in the panels' lifetime. They're also responsible for all maintenance of the system.

--

I should point out a possible issue, depending on where you live. Your city/town may consider a solar installation to be an "improvement" to your house and increase your house's taxable value, even if you lease the system. Many communities offer exemptions for solar systems. Mine did but passed it back in the 1990s and capped the exemption at $5K of value. They also had no clue what to do with leased systems.

I griped about this to the chairman of the Board of Aldermen and he put through a change to exempt all the value, but I have to reapply for it each year.
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Old 07-31-2016, 09:27 PM   #112
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When you need to replace your roofing materials, do they come out to remove/reinstall the racks?

That was one of my concerns. We spoke with Solar City and Vivant and they charge ~$500 which was acceptable to me but one of them did not have any details in the PPA contract.


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Old 09-07-2016, 01:09 PM   #113
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OK, back in the saddle! They called today to advise they will be delivering the panels Friday and the install will be Saturday.

Only 7 weeks late. Oh well, at least they will be up and running before the end of the year so I can cheaper juice and my massive tax credit -
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Old 09-07-2016, 08:53 PM   #114
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Going Solar

Glad you will be saving some dough soon... Just need to find your IP address and get it blocked from being sent to MO, ILL, and Indiana. I have too much money invested in cheap coal loving utilities.
I dont need any "solar problems" here.

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Old 09-09-2016, 03:17 PM   #115
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Panels were just delivered;



11 panels with 11 microinverters, install guys will be here tomorrow -
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Old 09-09-2016, 04:28 PM   #116
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Can we come watch?

I want to do this, but I haven't found a contractor yet that I trust. I'm tired of getting nagging energy reports from PG&E about the summer electric usage. I have two sliding glass doors and a large window facing directly west. The window is partially shaded by a tree, but not the doors.
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Old 09-09-2016, 04:32 PM   #117
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Glad you will be saving some dough soon... Just need to find your IP address and get it blocked from being sent to MO, ILL, and Indiana. I have too much money invested in cheap coal loving utilities.
I dont need any "solar problems" here.

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That's now two things we agree upon mightily, Mully!
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Old 09-09-2016, 04:40 PM   #118
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Can we come watch?

I want to do this, but I haven't found a contractor yet that I trust. I'm tired of getting nagging energy reports from PG&E about the summer electric usage. I have two sliding glass doors and a large window facing directly west. The window is partially shaded by a tree, but not the doors.
How about an awning above the sliding glass doors ?
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Old 09-09-2016, 04:44 PM   #119
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There's not a lot of east-west coast power sharing. South / midwest / east yes.



detail

Yeah, my electric bill was over $200 last 2 months.
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Old 09-09-2016, 05:13 PM   #120
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How about an awning above the sliding glass doors ?
Looked into that, as well as a covered patio. The way the eaves are built, there has to be a significant slope to the awning or the patio cover. Haven't been able to find anything that would work. Sunscreens are used in Arizona, but I can't find them here.
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