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Solar power for meeee!! by ryan.hess
Started on: 03-17-2011 03:51 PM
Replies: 136
Last post by: dratts on 01-30-2012 04:20 PM
ryan.hess
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Report this Post06-21-2011 11:01 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
Well, thanks to storms that weekend, I didn't get anything done. But today I measured, drilled and installed the mounts for one set of rails. The other set will go up tomorrow after work, and should go on a lot easier.

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Report this Post06-22-2011 08:28 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
Okay, no drilling yet, but I got one set of rails up.



By the way, looks can be deceiving. Those rails are 24 feet long.

[This message has been edited by ryan.hess (edited 06-22-2011).]

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Report this Post06-22-2011 09:28 PM Click Here to See the Profile for avengador1Click Here to Email avengador1Send a Private Message to avengador1Direct Link to This Post
Nice job installing the rails. It looks like your house could use a new coat of paint though.
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Report this Post06-22-2011 09:33 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
Telllllll me about it. The vomit yellow is next in a slew of things to go.
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Report this Post06-23-2011 09:36 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
Two more, and the rails are done. Tomorrow the electrician is coming to install a new 200A breaker panel, and install the conduit.

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Report this Post06-23-2011 10:11 PM Click Here to See the Profile for avengador1Click Here to Email avengador1Send a Private Message to avengador1Direct Link to This Post
I'm very interested in this as I too would like to do this someday. I also am thinking about adding some rooftop panels to heat the water for my pool and house.

[This message has been edited by avengador1 (edited 06-23-2011).]

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Report this Post06-24-2011 09:12 AM Click Here to See the Profile for proffClick Here to visit proff's HomePageClick Here to Email proffSend a Private Message to proffDirect Link to This Post
[QUOTE]Originally posted by ryan.hess:

Back on topic, I just picked up my SMA 2500 watt inverter from Miami. $500.




(cover open)[/QUOT

what the???
2500 watt inverter costing only $500
here its $1 a watt


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ryan.hess
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Report this Post06-24-2011 09:52 AM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
New here they're about the same.. I got lucky.
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Report this Post06-24-2011 10:57 AM Click Here to See the Profile for 82-T/A [At Work]Send a Private Message to 82-T/A [At Work]Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by ryan.hess:

I will be installing a 2600 watt solar system on my house in the coming 90 days. I just wanted to share my cost/benefit breakdown for those of you who still doubt solar energy.

13 Canadian Solar 200 watt panels - $3900
1 2500w SMA 2500 grid-tie inverter - $500
Misc install parts - $2000
Installation and permits/certifications - $2000

Total:$8400.

Power company rebate: $2/watt = -$5200.

Total out of pocket expense: $3200

30% 2011 Federal Tax Credit: -$2520

Actual system cost: $680.

Power production: 3700kwh per year, at 15c/kwh cost savings of $557/year. My power bill will be about cut in half. The system will pay for itself in 1.5 years (vs the 15 it would with no incentives). After that it’s like free money! I’m considering adding additional ground-mount panels and selling the excess power to the grid. Unfortunately I ran out of space on my south-facing roof.



Wow... I'm speechless. I made all these same calculations about 4-5 years ago, and the cost-to-me (installed) still came out to close to $20,000. Have the prices in the equipment dropped so significantly, or... what?

You're doing exactly what I wanted to do a few years ago also... man... I'd love to hear how it turns out, and if when it's installed, you end up getting hit with any other fees you weren't expecting. I definitely don't want to miss your follow-up post.

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Report this Post06-26-2011 12:19 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
Prices have come down a LOT in the past few years. These panels used to run about $4-5/watt. Now they're less than $2/watt. For good panels, not made in china. Chinese ones are hovering around $1.3/watt I believe. But they're not UL approved which may or may not be a concern. Also note that I did NOT go through a solar installer. For the same system, it would've cost me about $30k. I told them I already had the panels and the inverter, and they wanted me to sell mine and put theirs up. (HA) They just wanted to mark up everything they could.

I put two hours of work in this morning and got over 1/2 of them installed!



Unfortunately the electrician bailed on me on Friday due to "weather concerns", so he'll try again Monday.

[This message has been edited by ryan.hess (edited 06-26-2011).]

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Report this Post06-26-2011 12:25 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 82-T/A [At Work]Send a Private Message to 82-T/A [At Work]Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by ryan.hess:

Prices have come down a LOT in the past few years. These panels used to run about $4-5/watt. Now they're less than $2/watt. For good panels, not made in china. Chinese ones are hovering around $1.3/watt I believe. But they're not UL approved which may or may not be a concern.

I put two hours of work in this morning and got over 1/2 of them installed!



Unfortunately the electrician bailed on me on Friday due to "weather concerns", so he'll try again Monday.




That's awesome Ryan...

Are you concerned about the roof still being weather-tight? How about hurricanes, do you have to take them off during a hurricane? I had a good quarter of my roofing shingles come off during the last major hurricane, and my neighbor actually lost part of her roof.

One other thing, have you thought about going with a solar water heater panel too at some point... maybe later on down the line?

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Report this Post06-26-2011 12:37 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by 82-T/A [At Work]:
That's awesome Ryan...

Are you concerned about the roof still being weather-tight? How about hurricanes, do you have to take them off during a hurricane? I had a good quarter of my roofing shingles come off during the last major hurricane, and my neighbor actually lost part of her roof.

One other thing, have you thought about going with a solar water heater panel too at some point... maybe later on down the line?


Nope, I sealed and flashed all roof penetrations. We had a nasty storm the other night, and I went into the attic to double check everything was still dry. The panels do not need to be removed in a hurricane, but they are rated to 120mph winds. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess. Homeowners insurance will cover damage to anything attached to your home. I called and double checked that I didn't need an additional rider.

I don't think I want a solar water heater. They're much more work and maintenance. I don't think the savings is there either...

[This message has been edited by ryan.hess (edited 06-26-2011).]

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Report this Post06-26-2011 01:01 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 82-T/A [At Work]Send a Private Message to 82-T/A [At Work]Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by ryan.hess:


Nope, I sealed and flashed all roof penetrations. We had a nasty storm the other night, and I went into the attic to double check everything was still dry. The panels do not need to be removed in a hurricane, but they are rated to 120mph winds. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess. Homeowners insurance will cover damage to anything attached to your home. I called and double checked that I didn't need an additional rider.

I don't think I want a solar water heater. They're much more work and maintenance. I don't think the savings is there either...




Man, that's awesome. I'm real impressed too that you do all that work yourself. I do all my own landscaping, and other stuff... and I just painted my house from top to bottom (real proud... hahah...). Even though I had to do some finishing work on my home addition, like cutting marble, grouting tile, and some tile repair, I definitely don't think I have the skills yet to install a full solar array on my roof. I definitely intend to do this. I'm moving, but I'm keeping my house in South Florida. When I come back in 10 years, I'd like to do all that stuff to my house, including re-doing the kitchen as well.
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Report this Post06-27-2011 08:05 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand.... they're up.

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Report this Post06-27-2011 10:06 PM Click Here to See the Profile for tbone42Send a Private Message to tbone42Direct Link to This Post
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Report this Post07-01-2011 12:07 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
Well, good God what a week.

I am NOT happy with the electricians. I fought them tooth and nail to stick to the plan, and I wish I would've wired it myself. They STILL managed to wire it backwards, and connect the AC neutral to the DC minus circuit - something that should NEVER occur, EVER. I am surprised the inverter didn't blow up.

Plus now I have this **** glued to my roof!



Uggggghhhhhh. It looks terrible and there is no way this is going to pass code inspection!! The junction box is 10x bigger than it needs to be, because there is nothing in it! It is literally a pass-through. All of this should have been moved over to the left 12", and hidden under the panels... actually - mounted TO the panels.
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Report this Post07-01-2011 12:27 PM Click Here to See the Profile for avengador1Click Here to Email avengador1Send a Private Message to avengador1Direct Link to This Post
Maybe you can screw or lag bolt those things down. I remember trying to find a small plastic electrical junction box once. I think the one I ended finding was as big as that one.
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Report this Post07-01-2011 01:38 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 82-T/A [At Work]Send a Private Message to 82-T/A [At Work]Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by ryan.hess:

Well, good God what a week.

I am NOT happy with the electricians. I fought them tooth and nail to stick to the plan, and I wish I would've wired it myself. They STILL managed to wire it backwards, and connect the AC neutral to the DC minus circuit - something that should NEVER occur, EVER. I am surprised the inverter didn't blow up.

Plus now I have this **** glued to my roof!


Uggggghhhhhh. It looks terrible and there is no way this is going to pass code inspection!! The junction box is 10x bigger than it needs to be, because there is nothing in it! It is literally a pass-through. All of this should have been moved over to the left 12", and hidden under the panels... actually - mounted TO the panels.



Jesus, I don't want to make your mood worse than it is, but yeah, all of that stuff could have been mounted down the side of the panel, then drop down right at the bottom there using actual plastic solid conduit, and then have it drop down, and go inside eves on the underside, and run through the attic.

Sorry man...

You could rip it all up, but then you'll soon have issues where he drilled all those holes in your roof... damn... what a piece of **** job that guy did...

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Report this Post07-01-2011 07:15 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by 82-T/A [At Work]:

Jesus, I don't want to make your mood worse than it is, but yeah, all of that stuff could have been mounted down the side of the panel, then drop down right at the bottom there using actual plastic solid conduit, and then have it drop down, and go inside eves on the underside, and run through the attic.


That's what's going to happen, minus the attic pass-through.



Unfortunately that glue is still there.

New junction box is 4x4x2". Old one was 8x8x8"... for a pass through!!!

[This message has been edited by ryan.hess (edited 07-01-2011).]

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Report this Post07-01-2011 07:46 PM Click Here to See the Profile for fierobearClick Here to Email fierobearSend a Private Message to fierobearDirect Link to This Post
Were they union electricians, by any chance?
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Report this Post07-01-2011 08:10 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 82-T/A [At Work]Send a Private Message to 82-T/A [At Work]Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by ryan.hess:


That's what's going to happen, minus the attic pass-through.



Unfortunately that glue is still there.

New junction box is 4x4x2". Old one was 8x8x8"... for a pass through!!!




That's already looking a million times better... damn... WTF was the guy thinking? It sucks you had to pay for that bull **** ...
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Report this Post07-01-2011 09:36 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Formula88Send a Private Message to Formula88Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by 82-T/A [At Work]:
That's already looking a million times better... damn... WTF was the guy thinking? It sucks you had to pay for that bull **** ...


That he knows better than some stupid college-boy engineer?
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Report this Post07-02-2011 07:08 AM Click Here to See the Profile for topcatClick Here to Email topcatSend a Private Message to topcatDirect Link to This Post
I feel you on the shotty job wiring the panels. I had a similar situation with a landscaping company that installed my in ground sprinkler system. They installed the control panel outside of the back door on the exterior wall of the house. Since I have a concrete patio, they ran the wires inside of a PVC pipe along the floor of the patio, around the back door of the house to the control panel. Talk about an eyesore! I was not at home when they completed the job, otherwise I would had stopped them before they had it installed. They were the lowest bidder for the job, and I know why. They were trying to cut cost by not digging the extra 150 feet to install the panel in the garage.

I took the panel off, dug the trench around the patio and ran a wire thru the garage wall, and installed the panel where it belonged - in the garage.

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Report this Post07-08-2011 03:11 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
Alrighty, that looks a little better.



Passed inspection, no problems. As always, unexpected costs drove the final price to ~$10,500. I had to upgrade to a 200A panel from a 150A panel, the solar panels cost a bit more because I missed a sale, and of course I had to redo some electrical work myself (at added cost of course).

Actually it was kind of funny... yesterday the electrician came over to give me my final bill. (I paid a deposit of $1100 on a total of $2475.) He then had the gall to say the job would cost me $3300. I railed on him about how his workers wired the inverter backwards, how they could've blown it up (and added $1500 to their cost), and how I had to rewire 1/2 the job myself. I couldn't believe my ears, and he sure as hell couldn't justify where the extra $900 went. I ended up paying $2400 despite my better judgement saying I shouldn't have paid 1/2 that. Unbelievable.
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Report this Post07-08-2011 03:35 PM Click Here to See the Profile for tbone42Send a Private Message to tbone42Direct Link to This Post
Ryan,if you dont mind, as soon as you start saving on your electric, could you give us an idea how much is coming off your bill (or being paid back to you) in a month? Just curious, and you are the only person I have access to that has done this. Thank you.
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Report this Post07-08-2011 03:44 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jaskispyderSend a Private Message to jaskispyderDirect Link to This Post
Beautiful! Of course, here we could only use (roof mounted) solar about 5 months out of the year.... not real practical, but wind is.... once the costs come down
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Report this Post07-08-2011 03:48 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by tbone42:

Ryan,if you dont mind, as soon as you start saving on your electric, could you give us an idea how much is coming off your bill (or being paid back to you) in a month? Just curious, and you are the only person I have access to that has done this. Thank you.


Absolutely! The rainy season has been hitting us harder than usual, and it's been raining at noon rather than the typical 4pm, but it should be interesting. Progress Energy is scheduled to come out to install a new meter in 2 weeks. I can't turn it on until then...

The typical monthly electric usage is ~800-900 kwhr, and I should get about 2kw out when the sun is out. 5 hours of sun x 30 days = 300kwhr. That *should* equate to about $42/mo. Whether that pans out, we'll see. I should have a good estimate 7 days after the new meter is in...

[This message has been edited by ryan.hess (edited 07-08-2011).]

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Report this Post07-08-2011 04:09 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jaskispyderSend a Private Message to jaskispyderDirect Link to This Post
It will be interesting to see the ROI and the longevity.
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Report this Post08-11-2011 04:58 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
Okay, last couple months have been HOT.

In July, my statement was 1100 kwh. (average daily temp 83, daily high 92, 37kwhr/day) and in June it was 1109 (average daily temp 81, daily high 91). I expect it should be similar this month.

The system has been online for 9 days, and I can post some preliminary data. I will have to install a new inverter, however, as part of the deal with Progress Energy is the system MUST be new. So, another $1600 went bye-bye last week.

But, in the last 9 days, the meter says I have used 279kwh, and put 27kwh back onto the grid. So the net usage was 252kwh, which works out to about 27.6kwhr/day. Carry that out to a month and it's about 828 kwhr, for an approximate savings of 272kwhr. I don't know for certain how much the system is putting out, but the new inverter will have a screen that I can find out for sure.

Again, these are all estimates. I'll have hard data once my power bill comes in.
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Report this Post08-12-2011 07:00 AM Click Here to See the Profile for twofatguysClick Here to Email twofatguysSend a Private Message to twofatguysDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by ryan.hess:

So, another $1600 went bye-bye last week.


I didn't know we had the same electric company..

"What...Your trying to save money? Well that'll cost you..."

Pricks.

Brad
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Report this Post08-12-2011 11:14 AM Click Here to See the Profile for fierobearClick Here to Email fierobearSend a Private Message to fierobearDirect Link to This Post
FYI, I had a quote done on a 11kw system, but the whole thing came to a screeching halt because I couldn't get financing. Evidently, you have a loan modification on the house, that's an immediate show stopper. Interesting.

Anyway, here were the $ numbers (rounded off a bit):

System cost: $60,000
Incentives/rebates: -$2,200
Total payment: $58,000
Fed tax credit: -$17,000
Net investment: $40,600

Current average monthly electric bill: $253
New average electric bill (to utility): $39
Monthly payment to solar company: $310

So...IF I could get it financed, I'd be paying around $60 a month more. Also, we're on a reduced rate from the utility because of income level, so I'm actually paying less than the $253/month. Technically, that shouldn't be a factor in comparing the monthly cost, but when it affects your bottom line, it has to be factored in anyway.

[This message has been edited by fierobear (edited 08-12-2011).]

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Report this Post08-12-2011 01:44 PM Click Here to See the Profile for JazzManClick Here to Email JazzManSend a Private Message to JazzManDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by fierobear:

Also, we're on a reduced rate from the utility because of income level, so I'm actually paying less than the $253/month.



Tell me how that works, we don't have anything like this in Texas AFAIK.
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Report this Post08-12-2011 02:08 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by fierobear:
11kw system...

System cost: $60,000


That's fairly expensive, but in line with private solar companies.... They don't get many customers, so they charge everything they can to make it to the next install.

You should have no problem getting the cost down to ~48,000, especially if you hire an electrician yourself (check references!). Using your numbers, the final investment should be about $32,000, amortized over 30 @ 5% gives you a payment of $170/mo.
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Report this Post08-12-2011 02:10 PM Click Here to See the Profile for twofatguysClick Here to Email twofatguysSend a Private Message to twofatguysDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by JazzMan:


Tell me how that works, we don't have anything like this in Texas AFAIK.


Nothing like it here either, Except perhaps OCAC which a person almost has to be destitute to get.

Heh, here if they just stopped charging a higher rate for people that rent it would be a better world. (I was told it's because renters are more likely to default.)

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Report this Post08-12-2011 06:16 PM Click Here to See the Profile for JazzManClick Here to Email JazzManSend a Private Message to JazzManDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by ryan.hess:


That's fairly expensive, but in line with private solar companies.... They don't get many customers, so they charge everything they can to make it to the next install.

You should have no problem getting the cost down to ~48,000, especially if you hire an electrician yourself (check references!). Using your numbers, the final investment should be about $32,000, amortized over 30 @ 5% gives you a payment of $170/mo.


That's less than a mid-line SUV and, unlike the SUV, this system will still be paying for itself 20 years down the road.
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avengador1
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Report this Post08-18-2011 09:16 PM Click Here to See the Profile for avengador1Click Here to Email avengador1Send a Private Message to avengador1Direct Link to This Post
Here's an article about a guy who is supposed to be completely of the grid and selling power back.

http://energy.aol.com/2011/...%7Csec1_lnk3%7C87592
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ryan.hess
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Report this Post08-18-2011 09:26 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by avengador1:

Here's an article about a guy who is supposed to be completely of the grid and selling power back.

http://energy.aol.com/2011/...%7Csec1_lnk3%7C87592


Thanks for the article!

"Strizki, 55, invested about $500,000 in the operation, and says the cost has now come down to $175,000"....."Strizki now generates 21 kilowatts, or about twice as much power as he needs, and sells the extra to the power company, netting him about $25,000 a year."

So basically, if you were to get a huge loan for 175,000... Maybe it would cost you $1200/mo in loan payments (over 30 yrs), and you could potentially make $10,000/year selling electricity. I think his numbers are inflated a bit. My 2.6kw cost 11k (installed!), multiply by 10 and I get 110k. It should be significantly cheaper due to quantity. 2nd mortgage time?
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Report this Post08-18-2011 09:47 PM Click Here to See the Profile for fierobearClick Here to Email fierobearSend a Private Message to fierobearDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by JazzMan:


Tell me how that works, we don't have anything like this in Texas AFAIK.


You have to qualify for the financing, and the tax break is from the Feds to the Solar company.

The quote I got was from "The Solar Company", but they may be only in California.

www.thesolarco.com

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Report this Post08-18-2011 09:48 PM Click Here to See the Profile for fierobearClick Here to Email fierobearSend a Private Message to fierobearDirect Link to This Post

fierobear

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quote
Originally posted by ryan.hess:


Thanks for the article!

"Strizki, 55, invested about $500,000 in the operation, and says the cost has now come down to $175,000"....."Strizki now generates 21 kilowatts, or about twice as much power as he needs, and sells the extra to the power company, netting him about $25,000 a year."


$500,000 for 21kW? Where did he buy the cells, at Radio Shack?

I think you could do a lot better than $500k.

edit, never mind. He built all sorts of other stuff, like hydrogen tanks.

[This message has been edited by fierobear (edited 08-18-2011).]

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Report this Post08-18-2011 09:53 PM Click Here to See the Profile for fierobearClick Here to Email fierobearSend a Private Message to fierobearDirect Link to This Post

fierobear

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Member since Aug 2000
 
quote
Originally posted by ryan.hess:


That's fairly expensive, but in line with private solar companies.... They don't get many customers, so they charge everything they can to make it to the next install.

You should have no problem getting the cost down to ~48,000, especially if you hire an electrician yourself (check references!). Using your numbers, the final investment should be about $32,000, amortized over 30 @ 5% gives you a payment of $170/mo.


My current (no pun intended) plan is to start buying solar panels one or two at a time, when I have extra money, and build the system over time. Eventually, the ROI will make it a decent investment, especially if I can get it running before California's "Cap and Tax" kicks in, which will jack the price of electricity through the roof. Eventually, I hope to be making all of the power I need, and this stupid state can charge whatever they want for power and I'll be locked in. Unless they find a way to tax solar generation. I wouldn't put it past them.
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