Cost of Electricity and Solar Power

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by Mac in Wisco, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    Nifty mentioned his new solar power installation in another thread. His blog about it is here:

    http://www.nifty-stuff.com/solar-panels-energy-part-1.php


    That got me going and doing some research. What I found wasn't too promising for my situation.

    I have one very large, south facing barn roof that would probably hold 20 kilowatts of panels, more than I would ever be able to afford. I started researching the cost of the latest panels, inverters and mounts. I found that I could purchase the materials for around $4000 a kilowatt, not too bad a price. I considered doing the installation myself. I do everything myself and a project like that is right up my alley. With the new micro-inverters on the market, a small inverter is installed at each panel with plug and play cabling installed in between each and the only interconnect to the grid is a regular branch circuit back to a breaker at the service panel.

    I then went to look at incentives. Wisconsin's Focus on Energy will pay $1 for each watt for up to a 25% cost share. Then there is a 30% federal tax credit. The hitch on the FOE rebate is that it has be installed by a certified full service solar energy provider. I figured since I had a number of years working as an electrician and a degree in electrical technology I could get around that. Nope, the qualifications required are very extensive including having done two inspected installations in the past two years before they even consider you as an installer under their program. I could still probably work something out with one of our area installers though....

    Our power here is relatively cheap compared to Nifty's. We pay around 11 cents per kWh for the first 1500 kWh and 9.5 cents for any usage in excess of that. Our electric furnace and water heater is metered separately on a second service and we pay 6.5 cents per kWh for that power. Our electric co-op actively "sells" power consumption by providing incentives for people to install high efficiency electrical furnaces and other electrical appliances such as electric outdoor grills.

    So, I did a number of calculations. Our barn roof faces a 195 degree azimuth and has a 15 degree angle. A flat installation under those conditions would reduce the efficiency by 5%. Not too bad for working with what we've got.

    Using a 1% per year loss in efficiency and 2% per year inflation on the cost of power, with the above mentioned incentives, I found that the econo, DIY install would pay itself back in 16 years. A professional installation at $6000 a kilowatt would have a payback of 24 years. Hardly an incentive for most to do this in our area...

    I could get something of a return on investment by trying to game the system and doing it myself, but other than that I'm not too crazy on the idea of prepaying for 24 years worth of electricity.
     
  2. Spookwriter

    Spookwriter Overrun With Chickens

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    Toyed with the ideal myself. Can't justify the expense.

    Am now considering redoing the outside...adding 30 inch thick walls and a new raised roof.
    Even to the point of adding the second set of windows.

    Second thought is to simply add dirt against the short end of the house. That's the direction
    my wind comes from. County house..no close neighbors.

    Replaced the roof on my parents home this summer. Went with the metal style. Raised the roof
    six inches over the existing roof, trying to create a dead spot for the heat.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  3. Liamm_1

    Liamm_1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Solar is the thing of the future.
    This, coming from a certified, licensed installer.
    The govt. incentives are a joke.
    Your numbers of the system paying for itself, probably don't include the cost of rising energy prices though. They average about 6%/year
    Solar power is a great investment....if...you can afford it.
     
  4. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    Quote:I did include inflation of electrical rates. I used 2%.

    6% is probably a good number for California where they have actually seen that kind of inflation in the past decade, but the national average for the past decade was 2%. It was 1.1% for the previous decade. My research shows an expected average increase of 1.5 to 2% for the next ten years.
     
  5. vogelzang

    vogelzang Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG] so what happens at night? and what if a hail storm hit you and if the solar panels get damaged and you have to replace them that's going to cost alto.
     
  6. Liamm_1

    Liamm_1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    after reading nifty's blog, yes, he's a perfect candiate for solar. High usage...for me and many others, the math doesn't compute.
    I am in CA also, and yes, the standard energy cost increase is computed at 6%/year. it may be different elsewhere.
    As far as hail, we don't get that here really, althought most solar modules are rated to withstand hail up to 1 inch in diameter.
    Solar is very good for those who are in the higher tiered rates, and if we get a viable electric car, it will be good for us all. For me, that's what will send solar going crazy....
     
  7. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    Quote:At night they produce no power. This wouldn't be an off the grid installation. It would be tied to the power grid and offset our electric bill. If you produce more than you are using the electric meter would actually run backwards.

    They are hail proof, for the most part. If you get hail big enough to cause damage to the panels the hail is probably punching holes in your roof anyways, so you'd have bigger problems to worry about.
     
  8. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

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    Hey Mac what are your fuel costs per year for your furnace? If you're heating your house and hot water with oil or gas why not look into thermal solar. It's much less expensive, you could install it yourself, and you'll still be alive when you hit the pay back point.
     
  9. vogelzang

    vogelzang Out Of The Brooder

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    so is going to be able to cut your cost of the electric bill and pay it self off.
     

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