Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-16-2007, 09:17 AM   #1
Recycles dryer sheets
perinova's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 424
off the grid with solar energy

After looking at a map of sun exposure I came across that site selling kits to put yourself off the grid.

For those interested...
http://store.altenergystore.com/Kits...ge-Deals/c447/

Some low wattage kits seem not too expensive.
If you are considering this you need to make a computation including maintenance costs later on. For example I think that batteries may? need to be replaced every 10 years.
__________________

__________________
perinova is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-16-2007, 04:47 PM   #2
Dryer sheet aficionado
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 29
Re: off the grid with solar energy

We live in a suburban community and had a solar electrical system installed in September, 2005. We remain on the grid and sell our surplus electricity to our electric company. We don't have a battery system to store energy so we also buy electricity (at nite or during heavy usage). Our total electric bill last year was $386. This was due to a long string of 110 degree plus days in July and August. However, the anticipated payoff thru savings/earnings for the system is 8 to 10 years. Our neighbors have had electric bill exceeding $800 a month though more typically their bills are for around $200. The cost of the system was just over $29k but rebates and tax credits reduced our outlay to $16,500.
__________________

__________________
rogerc1944 is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-16-2007, 06:40 PM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,197
Re: off the grid with solar energy

Random thought:

If you were to go off the grid, you'd find yourself switching to all flourescent lighting, and using other techniques to decrease your electricity usage. If you do that first, you might find that your electric bill is so low that it wouldn't pay to switch to solar.

Our bill is under $40/month (10 KWH/day) and we're not doing anything dramatic, except not using the furnace (500 watts of fan to distribute the propane-heated air).

Our "sell your surplus to the power company" system here costs $7/month to be in, and you don't get paid if you supply more than you use.
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-16-2007, 09:26 PM   #4
Dryer sheet aficionado
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 29
Re: off the grid with solar energy

Our utility company doesn't charge anything to sell them our electricity. However, we don't get any money for surplus electricity. Basically, our meter runs backwards while generating and forward when we don't. This is settled up at the end of the year so the best we can get is no cost from the utility company. I should also point out that our utility company is investor owned and charges some of the highest rates in CA. We are happy to sell back to them as these same high rates.

We've always been pretty thrifty but this is also an opportunity to really move towards being "green". We also drive a Prius (44.6 mpg since 05/03). It is nice to be green but it is also nice to be comfortable.
__________________
rogerc1944 is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-16-2007, 10:02 PM   #5
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 273
Re: off the grid with solar energy

Al's right about switching to fluroscent bulbs.  Not sure about knocking your bills to nil, however a side benefit was noted during a power outage here.  We have the mini twists all around the house and after a major storm blew threw and knocked out power our bulbs remained lit, so I checked the voltage at the sockets and we had ~87 volts and the only lights in the neighborhood.
__________________
time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana
larry is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-16-2007, 10:15 PM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11,615
Re: off the grid with solar energy

Quote:
Originally Posted by larry
Al's right about switching to fluroscent bulbs. Not sure about knocking your bills to nil, however a side benefit was noted during a power outage here. We have the mini twists all around the house and after a major storm blew threw and knocked out power our bulbs remained lit, so I checked the voltage at the sockets and we had ~87 volts and the only lights in the neighborhood.
Wow, I wouldn't have guessed that. I would have thought the electronic ballast in the CF bulbs would be fairly sensitive to voltage. Thats good to know. Your neighbors with incandescent bulbs did have light: verrrry faint light. On the plus side-- a lamp rated for 115 volts will probably burn for 5 - 10 years if you run it at 87 volts.
__________________
"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." - R. Heinlein
samclem is online now   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-17-2007, 08:41 AM   #7
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: North Bay
Posts: 1,026
Re: off the grid with solar energy

2006 was our first full year of solar generation. Our year end settle-up with PG&E was -$38. So we generated $38 more in power than we used. I guess I didn't account for the case of mini-twist compact fluorescent bulbs I bought on eBay when I sized the system (3 kW for a family of 5 in northern CA). Actually they changed the on-peak and off-peak rates (in our favor) during the year and I think that's why we ended up leaving money on the table. I was surprised that the system performed at higher efficiency than Real Goods advertised.
__________________
scrinch is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-17-2007, 12:48 PM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Houston
Posts: 2,155
Re: off the grid with solar energy

scrinch, that's impressive. Can you elaborate on the numbers?

I'm mainly interested in real life economics. My rough calculation (a few years back) tells me that solar energy is a no-win situation in terms of dollars. Is it not true with your case? Thanks.
__________________
Sam is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-17-2007, 12:52 PM   #9
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,616
Re: off the grid with solar energy

Hey, Brewer, looks like they're givin' it away again in New Jersey!

http://www.sciam.com/print_version.c...E8434DE54E3453
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-17-2007, 02:35 PM   #10
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,197
Re: off the grid with solar energy

That's an encouraging article. Storing the energy in hydrogen and using it for his car, too! If that could become practical and affordable...
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-17-2007, 02:51 PM   #11
Moderator Emeritus
laurence's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: San Diego
Posts: 5,234
Re: off the grid with solar energy

Nords and T-Al talked about this earlier, I followed their advice and switched out all my bulbs with compact florescents. Bill went from ~$85 to ~$65 immediately. We can't afford a solar system at this point. I drive a stick shift Volvo that gets 28 mpg combined, when it falls apart on me and they have plug in hybrids, I'll explore a solar system.
__________________
laurence is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-17-2007, 05:37 PM   #12
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,264
Re: off the grid with solar energy

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
That's an encouraging article. Storing the energy in hydrogen and using it for his car, too! If that could become practical and affordable...
All sorts of great ideas become practical and affordable when oil hits $120/bbl.

If there was some effective way to tax the pollution from conventional sources, we could see the 'true cost' of these energy sources, and many renewable sources might look cheap.

But, it really would be a nightmare to calculate the total impact of coal (mercury, acid rain, particulates, CO2), versus, say, bio-diesel (soil erosion, fertilizer, pesticide, deforestation, habitat destruction). It's the whole paper/plastic thing writ large.

How much energy and pollution does it take to create a solar panel anyway?

Course, politicians won't do it, and people would cry at the taxes. But I would like to see at least some baby steps (as part of an overall plan - not just hodge podge feel good changes.

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-17-2007, 06:03 PM   #13
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: North Bay
Posts: 1,026
Re: off the grid with solar energy

Quote:
scrinch, that's impressive. Can you elaborate on the numbers?

I'm mainly interested in real life economics. My rough calculation (a few years back) tells me that solar energy is a no-win situation in terms of dollars. Is it not true with your case? Thanks.

Gotta be quick cause I have to get to w*rk. Net cost after CA Energy Comission rebate and CA/Fed tax credits was $10,678 for a 2970W grid-tied installation. Total power bill for 12 months in 2004/2005 was $1070. Total bill for 2006 was $0. I switched to a time-of-use meter where the summer on-peak rate is $0.29 and all other rates are about $.09 or $.10/kWh. Making assumptions for maintenance, degradation of performance with time, etc, the ROI of the investment is about 5% plus the inflation rate of the cost of power. I made the decision to intall solar before the feds passed the 2005 Energy Act, and the $2000 tax credit (for 2006) was an unexpected boon (system comissioned Jan 06).
__________________
scrinch is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-17-2007, 06:44 PM   #14
Moderator Emeritus
laurence's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: San Diego
Posts: 5,234
Re: off the grid with solar energy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
Nords and T-Al talked about this earlier, I followed their advice and switched out all my bulbs with compact florescents. Bill went from ~$85 to ~$65 immediately. We can't afford a solar system at this point. I drive a stick shift Volvo that gets 28 mpg combined, when it falls apart on me and they have plug in hybrids, I'll explore a solar system.
Oh, and that's gas and electric (one company-one bill) and that includes a 240 powered Jacuzzi. I can live with it.
__________________
laurence is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-17-2007, 11:23 PM   #15
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 13,260
Re: off the grid with solar energy

I looked at the site and it does not look that great to me... the upfront costs are hugh...

Is anybody here from the South when we have to use a LOT of electricity to air condition our houses I have a 5 ton AC which uses a good amount of electricity... so, spending $20K to $35K to get a system doesn't seem like a good investment..

Now, if I was out in the back woods and it would cost me $5K or so to run a line to my house.... then the system might make more sense... but then you can't sell any back... you ARE off the grid..
__________________
Texas Proud is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-18-2007, 11:07 AM   #16
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
cute fuzzy bunny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Losing my whump
Posts: 22,697
Re: off the grid with solar energy

I ran the numbers last year. It'd take us roughly 10-12 years to pay back the initial costs, presuming electric rates dont go up at a sharper rate than they have. We simply wont be living here that long. And we live in a nearly perfect place for solar - 320 days of sunshine a year, high summer daytime cooling costs and low winter heating costs.

There are some improvements in the technology that are supposed to be coming along in the next 3-5 years that might double or quadruple the efficiency and therefore some of the costs and size of the arrays.

If I were building a house from scratch, I'd consider it. Retrofitting doesnt look too good right now.

Plus according to my realtor buddies, having a solar array on your roof actually limits buyers. Some people dont "get" it and it raises a little flag that there might be some complexity, something that might break, or some other rube goldberg problem with it. So you're not assured of recouping your capital costs when you sell either.
__________________
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
cute fuzzy bunny is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-18-2007, 11:12 AM   #17
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
tryan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,449
Re: off the grid with solar energy

How can electricity be "sold back" to the power company? Wouldn't a back feed thru the meter cause an explosion? What's the special equipment - and who pays for it??

Thanx!
__________________
FIRE'd since 2005
tryan is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-18-2007, 11:14 AM   #18
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
cute fuzzy bunny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Losing my whump
Posts: 22,697
Re: off the grid with solar energy

You might need a new electric meter, which the electric company will usually install for free. Power from your inverter that isnt consumed by the house simply flows back into the grid and either spins your meter backwards or turns a second meter that shows electricity "sold back".
__________________
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
cute fuzzy bunny is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-18-2007, 12:07 PM   #19
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,616
Re: off the grid with solar energy

Quote:
Originally Posted by tryan
How can electricity be "sold back" to the power company? Wouldn't a back feed thru the meter cause an explosion? What's the special equipment - and who pays for it??
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute 'n Fuzzy Bunny
You might need a new electric meter, which the electric company will usually install for free. Power from your inverter that isnt consumed by the house simply flows back into the grid and either spins your meter backwards or turns a second meter that shows electricity "sold back".
The little wheel in the meter just spins backwards and the dials count down.

A digital meter gives the power company tremendous flexibility like remote reading, time-of-day "peak" metering with variable rates, and a bunch of other bells & whistles that consumers don't care about. However you can no longer watch the little wheel spin backwards. It's a bummer.

"Net metering" means that the power company reads your meter every month and does the math. If your reading is higher then you give them money. If it's lower then you don't. California's PG&E makes it tremendously more complicated than that, and HECO is trying to imitate their big brothers, but we're happy with the system and looking to expand.
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: off the grid with solar energy
Old 01-18-2007, 12:18 PM   #20
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Houston
Posts: 2,155
Re: off the grid with solar energy

Quote:
Originally Posted by scrinch
Gotta be quick cause I have to get to w*rk. Net cost after CA Energy Comission rebate and CA/Fed tax credits was $10,678 for a 2970W grid-tied installation. Total power bill for 12 months in 2004/2005 was $1070. Total bill for 2006 was $0. I switched to a time-of-use meter where the summer on-peak rate is $0.29 and all other rates are about $.09 or $.10/kWh. Making assumptions for maintenance, degradation of performance with time, etc, the ROI of the investment is about 5% plus the inflation rate of the cost of power. I made the decision to intall solar before the feds passed the 2005 Energy Act, and the $2000 tax credit (for 2006) was an unexpected boon (system comissioned Jan 06).
Thanks. I will try to recalculate. May be things have changed for the better since a few years ago. I have no plan to do anything for my current house. May be the next one. But most likely just to satisfy my curiosity.

One last question: Would you have done it if there were no tax break/credit?
__________________

__________________
Sam is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
FPA's sem-annual report & Rodriguez's view on energy wildcat FIRE and Money 0 11-23-2006 02:08 PM
PsyopRanger's Crazy Investing Style PsyopRanger FIRE and Money 38 07-06-2006 10:35 AM
Solar Power JPatrick FIRE and Money 39 01-29-2006 11:41 AM
Alternative Energy - Hopeful Signs Emerging Danny Other topics 3 11-29-2005 08:06 PM
Vanguard Funds' take on energy moves justin FIRE and Money 0 09-01-2005 11:07 AM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:48 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.