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Old 06-11-2015, 10:09 PM   #61
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I am seriously tempted now to get just one panel and one microinverter, spend 1 hour to wire them up then to record the power output to see what kind of output I can get over a day of summer, a month, a year. It's as you say, an interesting hobby. And if it looks promising, I can scale it up.

Here's the cost: 1 250W panel ($275 new, $180 used), 1 microinverter ($155), a 110/220 1kW transformer ($45), hardware ($10). Total: $380-$485.

The transformer is needed because I want to plug this into a normal wall outlet of 110V, while the microinverter works with 220V output. This allows me to use a common Kill-a-Watt to log the power output.

So, let me see if I am reading this right...

You have to buy all that stuff to get electricity from one panel... and your max production is 250W.... does this mean you can power 250W of lights etc in your house? What is the conversion to KWH?

Also, you say you will plug it into a wall socket? Will this work? Would it not cause some kind of trouble in your house? Would that not only power that one circuit? Or would excess go back to the box and then go to all circuits?

I really do not know enough about electricity to know this...
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Old 06-11-2015, 10:58 PM   #62
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I am seriously tempted now to get just one panel and one microinverter, spend 1 hour to wire them up then to record the power output to see what kind of output I can get over a day of summer, a month, a year. It's as you say, an interesting hobby. And if it looks promising, I can scale it up.

Here's the cost: 1 250W panel ($275 new, $180 used), 1 microinverter ($155), a 110/220 1kW transformer ($45), hardware ($10). Total: $380-$485.

The transformer is needed because I want to plug this into a normal wall outlet of 110V, while the microinverter works with 220V output. This allows me to use a common Kill-a-Watt to log the power output.
Is the output of the inverter 2 or 3 wires? If 3 then you have 2 110 circuits as well as a 220 circuit. Note that amazon sells a 220 kwh meter for about $110 from EKM
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:05 PM   #63
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Unless you get a massive subsidy, and in Canada you might, it will be silly economically.
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:50 PM   #64
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So, let me see if I am reading this right...

You have to buy all that stuff to get electricity from one panel... and your max production is 250W.... does this mean you can power 250W of lights etc in your house? What is the conversion to KWH?

Also, you say you will plug it into a wall socket? Will this work? Would it not cause some kind of trouble in your house? Would that not only power that one circuit? Or would excess go back to the box and then go to all circuits?

I really do not know enough about electricity to know this...
A panel rated 250W only produces that power in the best of conditions (max insolation of 1kW/m^2), meaning no high cloudiness, fog, or dust, and the sun ray being perpendicular to the panel. As you do not rotate the panel to track the sun, the output will be lower in the morning and the afternoon, and only peaks at midday. Then, you may have about 90% efficiency of getting that to the grid due to losses in the wiring, inverter efficiency, etc...

And then, the midday sun is higher in the summer and at lower elevation in the winter, so unless you adjust the tilt angle with the season, you will not get the best for each season. Do you want to max out the power for winter or summer? An usual compromise is to have the panel tilt angle equal to your latitude, and leave it fixed through the year. In practice, people have their panels facing to whatever their roofs happen to point (and that is usually suboptimal).

Anyway, where I am in the SW where most days are cloudless, a south-facing panel tilted at an angle equal to the latitude (33 deg) will get an equivalent of 6 hours of max sunshine each day, averaged over a year. In June, I would get the equivalent of 7.5 hours of max sunlight (the daylight is longer than 7.5 hours, but the beginning and the end hours are at suboptimal angles for a fixed solar collector). In December, I would get 4.5 equivalent hours.

The above means that in June the 250W panel so oriented should produce 250W x 7.5 hrs/day = 1875 Wh, or 1.88kWh each day. At the peak rate of 22c/kWh, I would get about 41 cents of electricity a day in the summer.

It would be interesting to install just one panel+inverter and to log the data to compare to the above ideal number.

When I plug this into any outlet, the juice will flow over my whole house, and also into the grid. If I have my coffee maker on which draws 1200W, then only 950W is drawn through the meter, and that would be reflected in a lower charge at the end of the month.

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Is the output of the inverter 2 or 3 wires? If 3 then you have 2 110 circuits as well as a 220 circuit. Note that amazon sells a 220 kwh meter for about $110 from EKM
I believe the inverter output is 2 wire, because that makes its electronic circuit the simplest. I found a 220V wattmeter for only about $40, but want the 110V output (via the transformer) because I can plug the experiment to the nearest AC outlet, with the panel just laid out on the ground wherever it's convenient. Else, I would need a long 220V cord going all the way back to the power panel at the electric meter.

PS. There are 110V micro inverters which are also cheaper than the popular Enphase models. They are not "name-brand", and I would need to research to see if they are reliable.
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Old 06-12-2015, 05:47 AM   #65
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For our system, we use Enphase microinverters and Enphase is the monitoring system. The inverters each report their diagnostic and output information over the power lines through a system called Envoy. You can access the information on a web site. Here's a picture of the output from the system yesterday- shows how much power each of the 32 panels produced.

There are reports and other views but I like to look at this one to make sure all the panels are reasonably consistent.

Information about the systems is also published on a web site at the summary level (if you're okay with it). I think this link will work to get a look. If others are interested in performance and output, you might be able to find a system near where you're located to see how they are doing.

https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/...gacy/grid/days
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Old 06-12-2015, 10:03 AM   #66
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The 48.7kWh daily production is impressive!

I look at my power consumption, and on the hottest day last year at Jul 24, 2014, with the 24-hr average temperature of 102F, I used 46kWh during peak time (1PM-8PM) at a cost of $10.64 (not including off-peak). Your solar array would supply most of that power requirement.
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Old 06-12-2015, 10:17 AM   #67
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Here's the hourly breakdown of the energy consumption on that fateful hot day.

I can see that even with a large 32-panel array like DaveMartin's, I would still draw net power from the grid. But perhaps I would have surplus on days not so hot.


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Old 06-12-2015, 05:13 PM   #68
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I honestly don't know how you got there from what I posted?



I merely tried to explain to you why you don't seem to see such an emphasis on discussions about cutting energy bills. I thought I explained that many/most of us simply don't have a lot of cutting to do there. As I said, your cuts are greater than my entire bill. So that could explain why it does not get as much emphasis as you might expect, right?



I never intended to say in any way that isn't 'okay for you to express an opinion on topics you are interested in and would like to see more of'. I'm interested in these topics as well, I might learn something about cutting my bill a bit.



So please continue to post (as if I can stop anyone!), and I will continue to read for any nuggets I can glean.



I also think the solar panel threads are more about payback, the environment, and general interest in technology. The payback is in the energy bill, but that's just a consequence. Heck, if a solar panel would reduce my food bill, or my property taxes, or my insurance rates and provide a 2 year payback, great - I don't care where the money comes from, ROI is what I'm mainly interested in (plus the other areas).



-ERD50

Same boat here, and reading about them does interest me though. I would estimate my total gas and electric bills (2 separate companies) probably average about $1200 a year...but I suspect over a third of that is in fixed costs just being connected to the grid. Utes have been adding to the fixed monthly connection fees everywhere, so those would still be there despite solar savings.
I wonder if the total projected cost savings from buying these include such things as maintenance and repair.... Moving them if a roof needs to be replaced or repaired...Will insurance cover these types of occurrences?
I see no solar panels in my small town of 10k. But our kilowatt costs are very low here, so either that is the reason or no one is knowledgable about the solar panel expansion.


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Old 06-12-2015, 06:50 PM   #69
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Same boat here, and reading about them does interest me though. I would estimate my total gas and electric bills (2 separate companies) probably average about $1200 a year...but I suspect over a third of that is in fixed costs just being connected to the grid. Utes have been adding to the fixed monthly connection fees everywhere, so those would still be there despite solar savings.
I wonder if the total projected cost savings from buying these include such things as maintenance and repair.... Moving them if a roof needs to be replaced or repaired...Will insurance cover these types of occurrences?
I see no solar panels in my small town of 10k. But our kilowatt costs are very low here, so either that is the reason or no one is knowledgable about the solar panel expansion.


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Same costs for me...about $1200 a year for heating ($400) and electric ($600), fixed charges included. The only solar panels around here are on government buildings.
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Old 06-12-2015, 08:30 PM   #70
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Same costs for me...about $1200 a year for heating ($400) and electric ($600), fixed charges included. The only solar panels around here are on government buildings.

It makes me wonder, and I could be wrong on this so it would be interesting to hear a rebuttal. But I wonder if people have to be aware of "lazy math" going on. As an example... A person who buys a new car instead of fixing the old one because of affordable $400 a month payments, all the while not factoring in sales tax, increased personal property tax, and higher insurance cost. These all being forgotten and just focusing on the car payment.
The fixed monthly connection use cost is still there, plus all of the above scenarios I mentioned could drag down true savings.
Obviously it is becoming more cost effective, but is it truly as inexpensive if the other variables are factored in as a possible net add on cost? Just speculating and like I said I could be wrong.



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Old 06-12-2015, 09:01 PM   #71
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In addition to those costs, there is also the lost earnings the additional capital cost could have otherwise generated, or the interest that would have saved if had been applied towards the mortgage.
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Old 06-12-2015, 09:05 PM   #72
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Obviously it is becoming more cost effective, but is it truly as inexpensive if the other variables are factored in as a possible net add on cost?
I think the costs are probably fairly foreseeable (except maybe the very long term reliability/performance of the panels). But we probably don't see many of these installations nationwide because, even with the federal subsidies, they just don't make economic sense except in places with high electric rates (for natural or manmade reasons).

More unforeseeable than the costs are the benefits. If electric rates go up a lot in the hinterlands, I'll be sorry I didn't put up panels using the gummint money. OTOH, if rates only go up as fast as inflation, lots of early solar adopters might have been better off investing in something else.
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Old 06-12-2015, 09:06 PM   #73
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On of the beauties of the public utility is that you don't have to do anything, just pay the bill. No responsibility for any maint., repairs, upgrades, etc. Right? Of course not. Prices are set to recover all overhead costs of running a utility.

So, with a car, it might be argued that the 'hassle' factor of finding a legit auto mechanic, (do you know one?) learning how to do the repairs yourself, recognizing when there's even a problem like bald tires even is outweighed by fixing those costs under one easy monthly payment with a full bumper-to-bumper warranty.

I have a 10 year old truck and a brand new 2015 car for the wife. I love to work on my truck. She couldn't tell a bald tire from a new tire if they were both cleaned and wiped down with shiny stuff. She could easily be sold a left handed smoke shifter to fix a problem with her transmission. So a new car with a full cover warranty is the best option.

She sure can cook though! I can open a can of SPAM. Sometimes without hurting myself....
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Old 06-12-2015, 09:43 PM   #74
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I think the costs are probably fairly foreseeable (except maybe the very long term reliability/performance of the panels). But we probably don't see many of these installations nationwide because, even with the federal subsidies, they just don't make economic sense except in places with high electric rates (for natural or manmade reasons).

More unforeseeable than the costs are the benefits. If electric rates go up a lot in the hinterlands, I'll be sorry I didn't put up panels using the gummint money. OTOH, if rates only go up as fast as inflation, lots of early solar adopters might have been better off investing in something else.

The 800 pound gorilla hiding in the closet though appears to be this, and I do not have an answer for mind you. Lets say that a significant number of people "go solar", but still stay connected loosely to the grid. Average daily power consumption need from the Utes goes down significantly. However, PEAK maximum backup power from Utes is still necessary if not mandated. This would cause a tremendous increase in cost per kilowatt as peak backup power is expensive in itself to maintain. If successful meaningful battery backup power is not invented the costs for maintaining the grid will still be fixed and at a higher cost.
I don't think we would immediately see the death spiral of Utility company viability because the grid will still be needed. So I wonder if the costs will just be shifted to higher monthly connectivity fees, thus negating a big savings in going solar?


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Old 06-12-2015, 10:33 PM   #75
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The 800 pound gorilla hiding in the closet though appears to be this, and I do not have an answer for mind you. Lets say that a significant number of people "go solar", but still stay connected loosely to the grid. Average daily power consumption need from the Utes goes down significantly. However, PEAK maximum backup power from Utes is still necessary if not mandated. This would cause a tremendous increase in cost per kilowatt as peak backup power is expensive in itself to maintain. If successful meaningful battery backup power is not invented the costs for maintaining the grid will still be fixed and at a higher cost.
I don't think we would immediately see the death spiral of Utility company viability because the grid will still be needed. So I wonder if the costs will just be shifted to higher monthly connectivity fees, thus negating a big savings in going solar?


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I think something like this is exactly what you will get similar to state of Washington thinking of implementing a per mile tax to replace gas tax due to so many going hybrid in Washington reducing gas tax revenue.State takes first step toward pay-by-mile road tax | www.kirotv.com But this is probably a decade away at this point in most states.
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Old 06-12-2015, 10:42 PM   #76
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I think something like this is exactly what you will get similar to state of Washington thinking of implementing a per mile tax to replace gas tax due to so many going hybrid in Washington reducing gas tax revenue.State takes first step toward pay-by-mile road tax | www.kirotv.com But this is probably a decade away at this point in most states.

Running man, If the commenters on your article link represent the local area people, I don't think they are very enthusiastic about a potential pay by the mile road tax.


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Old 06-12-2015, 10:59 PM   #77
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... Lets say that a significant number of people "go solar", but still stay connected loosely to the grid. Averagedaily power consumption need from the Utes goes down significantly. However, PEAK maximum backup power from Utes is still necessary if not mandated. This would cause a tremendous increase in cost per kilowatt as peak backup power is expensive in itself to maintain...
This already happens in Germany. The government has to pay big money to utility companies for them to maintain their generators and to stand ready to fire up on days when solar and wind powers fail to deliver. Yet, there are days when solar and wind generators produce so much, and there's no place to dump it.

The problem is a lot tougher than some laymen would realize. Anyway, I love renewable energy, and hope that someone will come up with a solution.

Perhaps each solar residential system could be required to have a battery system like the one Musk is pushing. It would not run your A/C for very long (needs larger batteries than his 7-kWh $3000 battery which can run my A/C for less than 1 hour) but can help buffer the momentary overload.
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Old 06-12-2015, 11:30 PM   #78
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It makes me wonder, and I could be wrong on this so it would be interesting to hear a rebuttal. But I wonder if people have to be aware of "lazy math" going on. As an example... A person who buys a new car instead of fixing the old one because of affordable $400 a month payments, all the while not factoring in sales tax, increased personal property tax, and higher insurance cost. These all being forgotten and just focusing on the car payment.
The fixed monthly connection use cost is still there, plus all of the above scenarios I mentioned could drag down true savings.
Obviously it is becoming more cost effective, but is it truly as inexpensive if the other variables are factored in as a possible net add on cost? Just speculating and like I said I could be wrong.



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You have to use quite a bit of electricity to have solar panels pay. Plus that electricity has to be expensive. But it CAN pay in places like California where electricity rates are as high as 30+ cents per kWh or here in Arizona where air conditioning is on all the time for 3-4 months of the year and it's not unusual for a home to use more than 3,000 kWh in a single summer month. My solar investment here in Phoenix will be paid off in under five years and from then on, it's all gravy and tax-free. And yes, I did detailed calculations to establish those numbers.
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Old 06-12-2015, 11:39 PM   #79
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I think something like this is exactly what you will get similar to state of Washington thinking of implementing a per mile tax to replace gas tax due to so many going hybrid in Washington reducing gas tax revenue.State takes first step toward pay-by-mile road tax | www.kirotv.com But this is probably a decade away at this point in most states.
Sounds fair to me. Can't let hybrid car and EV drivers get away with free driving on public road.

But I wonder if they are going to charge more for bigger vehicles? Probably will. On toll roads and bridges, they usually charge 2x for my class C motorhome relative to passenger cars. Some places base it on the number of wheels, some on the length or height.
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Old 06-13-2015, 10:40 AM   #80
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We're using plenty of electricity at the lake (at $0.147/kwh... YIKES!). But when my neighbor had a solar consultant come to quote panels we learned that between the mature trees and the valley we sit in - we are loosing 40% of the available sun.

Then I heard on the radio there's an installer who can finance the job for 20 or 30 years. That makes the math REALLY easy (did the electric bill drop by more than the monthly payment). Set the savings aside for maintenance.

Waiting for someone else to be the FIRST one in on this one.
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