Going solar - a cheaper option, anyone?
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  1. #1
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    Default Going solar - a cheaper option, anyone?

    Hello,

    I am planning to install a PV solar array on my house in the spring and I would like to know if any of you guys here have solar panels and what's their efficiency? I have a budget of less than $15,000 so I have to carefully plan this one.

    I got few quotes from different companies and now I have to choose between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. I got recommended the mono- version because of higher efficiency, but they cost much more compared to the other type.

    I was reading here that efficiency is not an important factor, but the solar companies told me it actually does, especially for locations that don't get enough sunlight.

    Now I'm confused, because the price difference is quite big. I would love to hear from anyone here that has a solar system, if you can provide me few details about it. I would appreciate it!

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    Solar. Keep in mind that after 15+ years of over $30 billion per year in subsidies, solar only provides 0.5% of our energy, the other 99.5% comes from coal, oil, nuclear, hydro, and wind. In other words, it doesn't work - if it wasn't for the subsidies, even that tiny 0.5% would not be on-line.
    I would keep the $15,000 and invest it - maybe a 7% mutual fund that doubles about every 10 years (rule of 72).

    As the technology advances, the performance differences between a single crystal and poly is getting quite small. If cover a slightly larger area with polys, you get the same performance as you would get with single crystal technology.

    Our electric bill for our 2000 foot total electric home is about $2200 per year. Your $15k would pay our total bill for over 7 years. Or, the return from $15000 almost pay the electric bill.

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    It all depends on what you want to DO with the solar. Are you powering your whole house? Trying to get cash by selling back to the power company with a grid tie system? Perhaps visit with a few people who are doing something similar in your area and see what they have.
    If you don't get enough sunlight...is solar the way to go? Microhydro, if you have running surface water, can be quite cheap.

    Also consider that solar panels and batteries have a lifespan. Ask local people what that is. Company estimates tend to be off because they don't know local conditions like the amount of grit in the wind that will affect the surface of the panels. If they lifespan of the two types of panels differs, that changes the long term expense.

    I also found that WHICH solar person you work with makes all the difference. It took me going through 3 different solar contractors to find the one who understood my situation. The first specialized in mobile units on RVs, the 2nd in cattle tanks in remote extremely sunny spots, and the last lived off grid and powered a low-electric-use home. The 3rd was closest to my goals and better understood my needs. The cost dropped when I found the right contractor.


    My brother in Iowa put a big array on his new house (over 30,000$) and got enough back in subsidies to pay for half. He is grid tied and sells back to the power company. It will be many years before it pays itself back, but he operates on a higher level of cash flow than I do.

    I live entirely off grid in Idaho and put in solar to power my well and my next home and am less than 10,000$ in so far. The cost of hooking to the grid was between 10 and 20,000$ so for me it was an immediate savings. I will not tie into the grid. BUT I also choose not to have a fridge, washing machine, dryer, or electric heating of any kind.

    My friends in Washington put in solar strictly as back up should the grid go down. They spent about 20,000$ for 4 panels and a 4 battery box. The system was hooked only to their fridge and a deep freezer and some lights. No grid tie. They got the tax rebates and that is all. They have sold the place and the solar may have paid itself back during the sale. Hard to sort it out from the other improvements.

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    Have you looked into the Tesla solar roof?

    It seemed like a good option for us, despite having just put a new roof on a couple years ago. Then we found they wanted us to cut down the two 50 yr old maples in the yard. That made it a no-go for us, but your situation is probably different.
    Stop trying to organize all of your family’s crap. If organization worked for you, you’d have rocked it by now. It’s time to ditch stuff and de-crapify your world.

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    With the Tesla solution you are paying for brand. Most normal (cheap) panels are waterproof and can be used in replacement for the top cover on the roof.

    The downside with the cheapest solar panels is that they are slightly less efficient per square meter (or square feet). For most people that isn’t an issue since you have a lot of available room on your roof. Just make sure you compare the kWp cost, and not the cost per panel.
    Total paid/saved: $214 900
    Total goal: $304 900
    To do: $90 000

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    Many people live off the grid and use solar. You just need enough panels to do the job and batteries to house the electricity. There is some upkeep to it I here by watching the control panels, etc, but I think it would be entirely worth it. I'm trying to talk my husband into to solar or wind power. It's always windy here in Texas!

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    I'm trying to talk my husband into to solar or wind power. It's always windy here in Texas!
    "wind" has been proving to be successful, the US now gets about 10% of its energy from wind.
    'Solar' , OTH, provides only about 1/2 of one % of US energy, despite major gov't efforts to force it to work, we(taxpayers) are spending $30B/year to force it to work - that's been going on for over 15 years and it's still failing, many solar companies have gone bk, despite the subsidies - and they can no longer find customers even with the gov't paying half for the installations. The Physics simply isn't there, you can't capture sun energy if the energy isn't there to capture - no matter how efficient the panels become.

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    Quote Originally Posted by old guy View Post
    Solar. Keep in mind that after 15+ years of over $30 billion per year in subsidies, solar only provides 0.5% of our energy, the other 99.5% comes from coal, oil, nuclear, hydro, and wind. In other words, it doesn't work - if it wasn't for the subsidies, even that tiny 0.5% would not be on-line.
    I would keep the $15,000 and invest it - maybe a 7% mutual fund that doubles about every 10 years (rule of 72).

    As the technology advances, the performance differences between a single crystal and poly is getting quite small. If cover a slightly larger area with polys, you get the same performance as you would get with single crystal technology.

    Our electric bill for our 2000 foot total electric home is about $2200 per year. Your $15k would pay our total bill for over 7 years. Or, the return from $15000 almost pay the electric bill.
    I get your point. But with solar you would save on the long-term. If solar panels have a warranty of 25 years that's quite a lot isn't it? Also, when you count that grid energy will get more and more expensive...
    Also the solar technology is advancing pretty fast. Maybe I should wait few more years and see how the situation is then...I have the feeling that the solar trend will keep growing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MaggieTrudeau View Post
    It all depends on what you want to DO with the solar. Are you powering your whole house? Trying to get cash by selling back to the power company with a grid tie system? Perhaps visit with a few people who are doing something similar in your area and see what they have.
    If you don't get enough sunlight...is solar the way to go? Microhydro, if you have running surface water, can be quite cheap.

    Also consider that solar panels and batteries have a lifespan. Ask local people what that is. Company estimates tend to be off because they don't know local conditions like the amount of grit in the wind that will affect the surface of the panels. If they lifespan of the two types of panels differs, that changes the long term expense.

    I also found that WHICH solar person you work with makes all the difference. It took me going through 3 different solar contractors to find the one who understood my situation. The first specialized in mobile units on RVs, the 2nd in cattle tanks in remote extremely sunny spots, and the last lived off grid and powered a low-electric-use home. The 3rd was closest to my goals and better understood my needs. The cost dropped when I found the right contractor.


    My brother in Iowa put a big array on his new house (over 30,000$) and got enough back in subsidies to pay for half. He is grid tied and sells back to the power company. It will be many years before it pays itself back, but he operates on a higher level of cash flow than I do.

    I live entirely off grid in Idaho and put in solar to power my well and my next home and am less than 10,000$ in so far. The cost of hooking to the grid was between 10 and 20,000$ so for me it was an immediate savings. I will not tie into the grid. BUT I also choose not to have a fridge, washing machine, dryer, or electric heating of any kind.

    My friends in Washington put in solar strictly as back up should the grid go down. They spent about 20,000$ for 4 panels and a 4 battery box. The system was hooked only to their fridge and a deep freezer and some lights. No grid tie. They got the tax rebates and that is all. They have sold the place and the solar may have paid itself back during the sale. Hard to sort it out from the other improvements.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. My plan is to power the entire house...basically to be more independent. I don't see a bright future for grid energy prices to be honest. I'll go and talk with more solar companies because so far I got different quotes for similar systems...so that's definitely something I need to research more. As the solar market is competitive, people will come with different prices and quality too.

  11. #10
    Registered User MaggieTrudeau's Avatar
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    The technology will keep getting better! The minute I installed I was "out of date" but that's OK. It functions well and as I maintain it through the years I will upgrade the batteries (currently lead-acid because that is the best bet when they have to be outside rather than in a heated space) and add maybe 2 panels. As long as the components are good and the contractor will back their work (my current solar guys warrantee their work and materials), it's like anything else. You make a choice and take a risk. Good luck!

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