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Old 09-26-2021, 02:00 PM   #61
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Solar hot water has been a viable technique for (SWAG, here) 100 years. My dad built his own system for his business 65 years ago. He took a 30 gallon tank from an old hot water heater, painted it flat black, plumbed it into the hot water feed line and built a miniature greenhouse around it. He used aluminum foil to build a reflector system to take fuller advantage of the sun all day long. I wonder why the emphasis has been on electricity production which is (finally and apparently) viable in many locations. In probably 2/3 of the USA, solar hot water would be a snap and it would be inexpensive to install. I've seen thousands of such installations throughout the south and many in Hawaii. YMMV
Those were popular in Phoenix in the late 70's to early 80's. They invariably leaked and most were out of commission within 10 years or less. I have removed the remnants from several of the rentals...
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Old 09-26-2021, 02:24 PM   #62
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Those were popular in Phoenix in the late 70's to early 80's. They invariably leaked and most were out of commission within 10 years or less. I have removed the remnants from several of the rentals...
+1

In the late 70s to early 80s, there was a big boom in solar water heaters. Remember that this was during the energy crisis, with long lines at gas stations.

I installed one in my 1st home, with parts purchased at a store selling to DIY'ers. There were contractors doing this, and Sears and other stores offered installation also.

When I bought the current home, the previous owner already had one installed. It was only a couple of years old then, but I already had to do periodic check ups and maintenance to keep it working. It often was just a simple poor electrical connection to the temperature sensors that kept the system from working. And there was the occasional pump or valve leak, etc...

I finally lost the system after 15 years due to a freeze.
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Old 09-26-2021, 11:36 PM   #63
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The Tesla roof wouldn't work but I have seen lots of solar installations on flat roofs where the panels are attached to a pitched frame.


Yes, here in Palm Springs the recommended pitch is 7-10% depending on the vendor. I was just commenting that the beautiful sleek Tesla roof wouldnít work for us because the panels canít be flat. Given the cost, itís moot anyway.
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Old 09-27-2021, 12:09 PM   #64
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+1

In the late 70s to early 80s, there was a big boom in solar water heaters. Remember that this was during the energy crisis, with long lines at gas stations.

I installed one in my 1st home, with parts purchased at a store selling to DIY'ers. There were contractors doing this, and Sears and other stores offered installation also.

When I bought the current home, the previous owner already had one installed. It was only a couple of years old then, but I already had to do periodic check ups and maintenance to keep it working. It often was just a simple poor electrical connection to the temperature sensors that kept the system from working. And there was the occasional pump or valve leak, etc...

I finally lost the system after 15 years due to a freeze.
IIRC, those thermo-syphoning units in the picture Chuckanut posted are better than 1970s designs...for one thing, no pump is required.

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Old 09-27-2021, 12:12 PM   #65
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Those were popular in Phoenix in the late 70's to early 80's. They invariably leaked and most were out of commission within 10 years or less. I have removed the remnants from several of the rentals...
I guess my dad missed his calling. His was in operation until he changed his business and no longer needed the extra hot water. I'm guessing his lasted 25+ years or more - no leaks or issues. YMMV
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Old 09-27-2021, 02:15 PM   #66
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IIRC, those thermo-syphoning units in the picture Chuckanut posted are better than 1970s designs...for one thing, no pump is required.

Thermosiphon

Thermosyphon Solar Water Heaters - Ideas and Building Tips

There were thermal-siphoning systems for residential usage, back in 1980 too. The brand I still remember is Solarhart. Just looked on the Web, and this company is still around.

Here's a photo. It's bulky, and looks obtrusive on the roof. And one can see a bare copper line. I wonder if it is a drain line, because it is not protected from freeze. The design uses a heat exchanger with the circulating fluid in the panel being an antifreeze. The water tank has an electric backup heating coil to keep it from freezing.

The Solarhart is not cheap.

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Old 09-27-2021, 06:39 PM   #67
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There were thermal-siphoning systems for residential usage, back in 1980 too. The brand I still remember is Solarhart. Just looked on the Web, and this company is still around.

Here's a photo. It's bulky, and looks obtrusive on the roof. And one can see a bare copper line. I wonder if it is a drain line, because it is not protected from freeze. The design uses a heat exchanger with the circulating fluid in the panel being an antifreeze. The water tank has an electric backup heating coil to keep it from freezing.

The Solarhart is not cheap.
Do they pay back? My understanding is (until recently) solar hot water heating was the only solar that actually had a quick pay-back (obviously, only in areas where they work - i.e., don't freeze and get sun often enough.) Also, no need to rely on a local utility to accept your excess without ripping you off or changing the rules once you have invested.

The old ones I recall in the south and in AZ looked very similar to the one my dad made. Most were just naked tanks painted black and mounted on the roof. The word "ugly" comes to mind. The one in the picture looks great by comparison. I happen to think solar panels on roofs look crappy, but I would agree that it's worth the "look" to get the juice. YMMV
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Old 09-27-2021, 06:50 PM   #68
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I don’t really understand the reasoning linking the subsidies to incentivizing poor installs. If your system is poorly designed or in a bad area for generating power, you’ll have to upsize the system to see the output you need. The subsidies only cover a fraction of the cost. You’ll spend a lot more out of pocket to get the output you need.

Maybe there are unscrupulous dealers out there that aren’t honest about output? ....
There absolutely are unscrupulous dealers out there. Some people get all bug-eyed at the idea of getting money back. It clouds their reasoning. And some dealers will take advantage of that.

Again, if the goal is to produce solar energy, then the subsidy should be based on production. There should be some official estimator in place, and the installer should be held responsible for meeting the promised production numbers (within some margin of error).

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... ETA, maybe you’re saying that the subsidies enable solar to be cost effective in locations it might otherwise not be? I think that’s the point of the subsidies though?? We pay $.30-.54/kWh, so it was a pretty easy decision. Still, the tax credit was nice. .
No, that should not be the point of the subsidies. I'm actually against pretty much all subsidies, but if we say that we want to support solar to improve the environment, then OK, lets do that in the most efficient way possible. For any given number of $$$ (money is a limited resource as well), lets get the most solar production we can.

If we subsidize places where it isn't cost effective, we aren't making the best use of those $. If we subsidize, we should do so in places with the most sun, and maybe factor in if the solar will be replacing coal or NG (NG being relatively cleaner). Get the most bang for the buck, so we can get the most solar.

Maybe do it as a reverse auction (I just thought of this, so bear with me!)? Say they offer up a subsidy of $0.01 per kWh for every solar kWh produced? No takers? Raise it to $0.015, etc, etc, until that years subsidy money is gone.

See what that will do? It will get you the most production for the taxpayer's money. It's a win-win.

That also means there will probably be no subsidies for residential rooftop solar, and that's a good thing. Residential is expensive, there's no economy of scale, and it's dangerous (look up the BLS stats). A crew on an industrial site, flat roofs on a big box store, school, warehouse, etc, or ground level install is far safer than showing up at residence for a few days, dealing with slopes and site specifics. Those residential roofs rarely are optimal angles, trees grow up, and each needs to be permitted and inspected.

If someone is truly a proponent of solar, they would be fighting these inefficient subsidies and fighting residential solar. Show me I'm wrong.

It's not just solar. For example, the credit for an efficient furnace is the same % of purchase price in a very cold climate as a mild climate. But the cold climate furnace will run much more, so the efficiency is a bigger factor. Sure, the mild climate may spend a bit less for the furnace, but it's not proportional. So again, if you are going to subsidize, match the subsidy to the goal. How much energy will you save on average between the 80% furnace and a 94% furnace in that climate. Why pay for anything not related to the goal?

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Old 09-27-2021, 07:02 PM   #69
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There absolutely are unscrupulous dealers out there. Some people get all bug-eyed at the idea of getting money back. It clouds their reasoning. And some dealers will take advantage of that.

Again, if the goal is to produce solar energy, then the subsidy should be based on production. There should be some official estimator in place, and the installer should be held responsible for meeting the promised production numbers (within some margin of error).



No, that should not be the point of the subsidies. I'm actually against pretty much all subsidies, but if we say that we want to support solar to improve the environment, then OK, lets do that in the most efficient way possible. For any given number of $$$ (money is a limited resource as well), lets get the most solar production we can.

If we subsidize places where it isn't cost effective, we aren't making the best use of those $. If we subsidize, we should do so in places with the most sun, and maybe factor in if the solar will be replacing coal or NG (NG being relatively cleaner). Get the most bang for the buck, so we can get the most solar.

Maybe do it as a reverse auction (I just thought of this, so bear with me!)? Say they offer up a subsidy of $0.01 per kWh for every solar kWh produced? No takers? Raise it to $0.015, etc, etc, until that years subsidy money is gone.

See what that will do? It will get you the most production for the taxpayer's money. It's a win-win.

That also means there will probably be no subsidies for residential rooftop solar, and that's a good thing. Residential is expensive, there's no economy of scale, and it's dangerous (look up the BLS stats). A crew on an industrial site, flat roofs on a big box store, school, warehouse, etc, or ground level install is far safer than showing up at residence for a few days, dealing with slopes and site specifics. Those residential roofs rarely are optimal angles, trees grow up, and each needs to be permitted and inspected.

If someone is truly a proponent of solar, they would be fighting these inefficient subsidies and fighting residential solar. Show me I'm wrong.

It's not just solar. For example, the credit for an efficient furnace is the same % of purchase price in a very cold climate as a mild climate. But the cold climate furnace will run much more, so the efficiency is a bigger factor. Sure, the mild climate may spend a bit less for the furnace, but it's not proportional. So again, if you are going to subsidize, match the subsidy to the goal. How much energy will you save on average between the 80% furnace and a 94% furnace in that climate. Why pay for anything not related to the goal?

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Old 09-27-2021, 07:20 PM   #70
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Do they pay back? My understanding is (until recently) solar hot water heating was the only solar that actually had a quick pay-back (obviously, only in areas where they work - i.e., don't freeze and get sun often enough.)...
It's definitely a YMMV thing here.

Solar PV for electricity may not pay back if your rate is 10c/kWh. Raise it to 30c/kWh or higher, and man, solar business is booming all over the place.

My SIL in San Diego told me of a guy she knew. She did taxes for him or something, I forgot. He made a 6-figure income, doing solar installation. Not bad for an immigrant, with no prior experience or training. His company trained him. Perhaps he worked long hours, but a lot of people work long hours for much less pay.
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Old 09-27-2021, 07:57 PM   #71
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It's definitely a YMMV thing here.

Solar PV for electricity may not pay back if your rate is 10c/kWh. Raise it to 30c/kWh or higher, and man, solar business is booming all over the place.

My SIL in San Diego told me of a guy she knew. She did taxes for him or something, I forgot. He made a 6-figure income, doing solar installation. Not bad for an immigrant, with no prior experience or training. His company trained him. Perhaps he worked long hours, but a lot of people work long hours for much less pay.
Our electricity is $0.30+/KWH. Solar IS big, but is reaching saturation because the electric company will allow only so many customers to net out their electric bill. They can not integrate the variable loads and they still have to be ready to cover everyone's usage even though we are (generally) a very sunny place. Once in a while, the sun goes behind the clouds. (Just don't tell the tourists.) I assume the sophisticated systems (and storage) required would cost WAY more than it would save to allow everyone to tie into the grid with solar.

I have no doubt a serious, ambitious person could make a good living installing solar. Without the incentives, I'm not so sure. I'm guessing most areas will eventually saturate unless massive infrastructure changes are made (probably at public cost.) No expert and I haven't even looked at any numbers. I could see solar going bust at some point unless these massive changes are made. No special insight, mind you. Just my opinion based on what I've seen in the Islands where we have the highest electrical costs in the nation AND likely the most favorable climate for solar - not TOO hot and never cold, mostly sunny except in rain bands caused by the mountains, etc.

The one possible saving grace for solar in the Islands would be if most folks installed solar (NOT connected to the grid) for their own use and ESPECIALLY once "everyone" has an EV to charge with their own solar. THAT could work in the Islands but not everywhere.

Again, YMMV.
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Old 09-27-2021, 09:35 PM   #72
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^^^ While electricity is expensive in Hawaii, you don't use that much to make it worthwhile to have AC. Some poor Californians have to run AC.

Here's one of the 3 TOU rates from SCE (Southern California Edison).

June to Sep TOU-D-4-9PM: 44c/kWh for peak period of 4-9PM, 27c/kWh off peak.

Wowza!

My Phoenix TOU rate in July-Aug is this: 24c/kWh for 2-8PM, 7.3c/kWh off peak.

The peak rate is less for the shoulder months of May, June, Sep, Oct at 21c/kWh. For the winter months, the difference between on-peak and off-peak is a lot less.

If I had to pay the SCE rate, using my usage in Sep 2018 (prior to having my solar system), I compute the monthly bill to be close to $800.

PS. In several of our trips to Hawaii, although we were either right on the beach or in a Waikiki high rise, I still wanted to have the AC on. It's because of the humidity. I am so used to the dry air of the Southwest.
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Old 09-27-2021, 10:00 PM   #73
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I am in Phoenix, not in California. Here's my solar experience.

In Aug 2018 (prior to solar), I used a total of 2550 kWh, at a cost of $333.

In Aug 2021, my grid usage was reduced to 448 kWh, at a cost of $65.29.

Both above bills include a fixed charge of $20.

The pre-solar usage of 2550 kWh consisted of 1882 kWh off-peak, and 668 kWh on-peak.

The post-solar usage of 448 kWh consisted of 405 kWh off-peak, and 43 kWh on-peak.

My large lithium battery helps minimize the usage during the on-peak period which extends to 8PM, way past sunset.
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Old 09-27-2021, 10:21 PM   #74
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^^^ While electricity is expensive in Hawaii, you don't use that much to make it worthwhile to have AC. Some poor Californians have to run AC.

Here's one of the 3 TOU rates from SCE (Southern California Edison).

June to Sep TOU-D-4-9PM: 44c/kWh for peak period of 4-9PM, 27c/kWh off peak.

Wowza!

My Phoenix TOU rate in July-Aug is this: 24c/kWh for 2-8PM, 7.3c/kWh off peak.

The peak rate is less for the shoulder months of May, June, Sep, Oct at 21c/kWh. For the winter months, the difference between on-peak and off-peak is a lot less.

If I had to pay the SCE rate, using my usage in Sep 2018 (prior to having my solar system), I compute the monthly bill to be close to $800.

PS. In several of our trips to Hawaii, although we were either right on the beach or in a Waikiki high rise, I still wanted to have the AC on. It's because of the humidity. I am so used to the dry air of the Southwest.
I agree that you need AC in Waikiki. There's relatively little cloud shade and it's a long way from the Ko'olaus and across a large lee expanse of heated city before any remaining trades reach the hotels.

Actually, there are probably more houses in Hawaii WITH AC than without. It very much depends upon your location, altitude and especially your orientation to the trade winds. Both places we've owned were oriented almost perfectly to take advantage of the trades. Our best Island friends were located in the same town-house complex on the Windward side. Their condo (similar size, construction, floor plan) was oriented 90 degrees to ours. Our (non-AC) electric bill rarely topped $75/month and theirs occasionally exceeded $400 - but he w*rked from home.

Those on the lee side of the Island and especially those living on the Ewa plane almost always need AC despite the trades. We happen to be located leeward just over the Ko'olaus from the Pacific. So the trades climb the mountains, drop their moisture and zoom down hill right into our apartment. Many folks do not have this luxury and $300 to $500 electric bills are not uncommon. Paradise ain't cheap! YMMV
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Old 09-27-2021, 10:52 PM   #75
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One thing that makes one ponder. Hawaii electric rate is 32.76c/kWh, according to this.

It would want to install a solar system even more than I would in California. Throw a big battery in there too.

Of course, if you don't have room for the panels, then there's not much to do. But if I had a suitable home, I would have panels all over the place.
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Old 09-27-2021, 11:59 PM   #76
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One thing that makes one ponder. Hawaii electric rate is 32.76c/kWh, according to this.

It would want to install a solar system even more than I would in California. Throw a big battery in there too.

Of course, if you don't have room for the panels, then there's not much to do. But if I had a suitable home, I would have panels all over the place.
True. Of course, our building is condo and there would be no way to add individual apartment solar arrays. We could deploy a lot more solar in the Islands because of our climate, but again, HECO can (or will) only accept so much. I think it will take a totally rebuilt "grid" to manage any significant amount of solar energy. Storage is also a main issue like anyplace else. The technology is available but still isn't as robust as probably needed to eventually replace our dependence on oil (maybe 85 to 90% of our energy usage).
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Old 09-28-2021, 12:48 AM   #77
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^^^ While electricity is expensive in Hawaii, you don't use that much to make it worthwhile to have AC. Some poor Californians have to run AC.

Here's one of the 3 TOU rates from SCE (Southern California Edison).

June to Sep TOU-D-4-9PM: 44c/kWh for peak period of 4-9PM, 27c/kWh off peak.

Wowza!

My Phoenix TOU rate in July-Aug is this: 24c/kWh for 2-8PM, 7.3c/kWh off peak.

The peak rate is less for the shoulder months of May, June, Sep, Oct at 21c/kWh. For the winter months, the difference between on-peak and off-peak is a lot less.

If I had to pay the SCE rate, using my usage in Sep 2018 (prior to having my solar system), I compute the monthly bill to be close to $800.

PS. In several of our trips to Hawaii, although we were either right on the beach or in a Waikiki high rise, I still wanted to have the AC on. It's because of the humidity. I am so used to the dry air of the Southwest.


This is exactly why we are looking at solar.
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Old 09-28-2021, 07:59 PM   #78
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If I were building new, I would look hard at a solar system and 24v appliances along with efficient insulation. For existing, I think you get a better ROI if you invest in more efficient appliances and insulation before you consider solar. I am not saying solar might not be a good choice. I am just saying it should not be your first choice.
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Old 09-28-2021, 09:26 PM   #79
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If I were building new, I would look hard at a solar system and 24v appliances along with efficient insulation. For existing, I think you get a better ROI if you invest in more efficient appliances and insulation before you consider solar. I am not saying solar might not be a good choice. I am just saying it should not be your first choice.
Sounds reasonable. Conservation is typically cheaper than adding more energy input. Building for conservation from the ground up is much easier than retrofitting an energy inefficient structure. The TRICK is to find a builder who buys into that and has experience. YMMV
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Old 09-28-2021, 09:41 PM   #80
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If I were building new, I would look hard at a solar system and 24v appliances along with efficient insulation. For existing, I think you get a better ROI if you invest in more efficient appliances and insulation before you consider solar. I am not saying solar might not be a good choice. I am just saying it should not be your first choice.


As part of our 2020 remodel, we put in all new energy efficient windows and doors, plus replaced and enhanced all of the insulation throughout. Even so, our electricity bills were in the $550-$750 range all summer.
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