Another Solar Thread

SamSpade

Well-Known Member
For most of us with single family homes - is it even possible to install enough solar panels to bring the bill down to zero?
Has anyone experienced this - and if you have, did you have to go to something else also - like gas heat?
Geothermal? What did it?
 

MR47930

Member
Lowered our electric bill in the winters from $400-$500 a month to <$100 by installing a pellet stove instead of using the electric heat pump. Looking to update our AC units (17 years old) with new, more energy efficient/high SEER units. Every time I replace a light bulb I make sure its replaced with LED bulbs. We bought black out shades for the south side of our house to keep the sun out in the dead of the summer. When we replace the AC units I want to replace the thermostats with a Nest or similar "smart" device. Solar just doesn't seem to be beneficial yet. I like the idea but the 30 year payback on your investment isn't ideal.
 

itsbob

I bowl overhand
For most of us with single family homes - is it even possible to install enough solar panels to bring the bill down to zero?
Has anyone experienced this - and if you have, did you have to go to something else also - like gas heat?
Geothermal? What did it?

We got our first "zero" bill last month.. with only 80% of panels that were suggested installed.

We upgraded our HVAC to 21.5 SEER (from 10 SEER) and a gas back up furnace (no more emergency electric heat), and converted the entire house to LED lights, more for the preference of the lighting than the savings.

We went with a gas tankless water heater a long time ago..

SO we have a zero electric bill, but still have a gas bill to pay, though even that bill is minor.

Zero meaning you can get your bill down to $15 - 20 a month.. even if you use NO electricity (after the solar difference is calculated) you still have to pay the fees and distribution charges.

Forgot to add.. we did end up trimming and/or removing several trees to make our solar more efficient. More trees to come down as we continue to try to broaden the bell curve

All told, last May 1267 kWh/ $180 used, this May, Zero/ $9.86 (distribution charges) with an additional credit of 150 kWh.
 
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Gilligan

#*! boat!
PREMO Member
For most of us with single family homes - is it even possible to install enough solar panels to bring the bill down to zero?

It's tough to do..and very expensive...but possible. It's not just the panels..the large array of storage batteries, battery charge controller, and large inverter to make the AC, all run the cost way up. I priced out a hybrid system for our off-grid island club and it was going to cost over 30 grand for just the components. Was going to complete the installation our self. But that said...that's not a good example for a single-family home because the club power duty cycle (3 days use followed by 4 days of no power required) allows for lower storage capacity and lower panel output. I'd guess the cost for a typical family home would be at least double the estimate I came up with..perhaps even more.
 

Gilligan

#*! boat!
PREMO Member
We got our first "zero" bill last month.. with only 80% of panels that were suggested installed.

We upgraded our HVAC to 21.5 SEER (from 10 SEER) and a gas back up furnace (no more emergency electric heat), and converted the entire house to LED lights, more for the preference of the lighting than the savings.

We went with a gas tankless water heater a long time ago..

SO we have a zero electric bill, but still have a gas bill to pay, though even that bill is minor.

Zero meaning you can get your bill down to $15 - 20 a month.. even if you use NO electricity (after the solar difference is calculated) you still have to pay the fees and distribution charges.

Forgot to add.. we did end up trimming and/or removing several trees to make our solar more efficient. More trees to come down as we continue to try to broaden the bell curve

Well that's quite an accomplishment! How much does that large of an installation end up costing?
 

itsbob

I bowl overhand
After doing the math and with the 30% "rebate" our break even point is 8 years.

We talked with Solar City and continuing to pay them for our electric with a $25 savings (on a 20 year lease) wasn't worth it, or the $72,000 in cash they wanted for us to buy the system wasn't feasible. After shopping around a LOT we ended on two companies in MD.. Paradise Energy Solutions, and 21st Century, financially it was a coin flip, but 21st Century seemed to do a better job at the site survey and actually looking at the house prior to install.

I think we would have been happy with either company but went with 21st Century.. they completed the install in December and in January we did our taxes and got 30% of the cost back. That 30% is what got us to make the jump to Solar.

Again, doing the math, Solar City you pay much more than a "normal" solar company buying the panels outright, and you lose the 30% rebate... Over the 20 year period I estimated your "lease" payments work out to 2 or 3 times the cash price going elsewhere..
 
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itsbob

I bowl overhand
Well that's quite an accomplishment! How much does that large of an installation end up costing?

After the rebate about the same as your estimate, a little less than 30k.. NO batteries. 42 panels and Inverter, and install..
 

GURPS

INGSOC
PREMO Member
I'd guess the cost for a typical family home would be at least double the estimate I came up with..perhaps even more.


I did 'back of the napkin' estimating a few yrs back ... $ 60k to get the house 'off the grid'
 

itsbob

I bowl overhand
No batteries.

Panels are warranted for 20 years.. (LG panels so not too worried about them going out of business)

Mechanics (like Inverters) are warranted for 15..

There really isn't much to a solar install on the roof.. unplug and remove the panels, remove the rails, and the mounting hardware wouldn't be difficult to shingle around.. part of the design I would think. I can't imagine it would add more than $500 - 1000 for a new roof install.


After you remove the panels, and the rails (the panels actually attach to rails ran from one mounting point to another.. there aren't many mounting points left on the roof.
 
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SamSpade

Well-Known Member
Lowered our electric bill in the winters from $400-$500 a month to <$100 by installing a pellet stove...

Can I ask you a few things?

Do you have to keep a really large supply of pellets on hand?
When you installed it - was it a simple matter of attaching it to existing duct work?
Did you replace your heat pump - do you use it for AC during summer?
Did you need to have an external flue or chimney running up the side of your house for the stove?

What size is your house? Mine has two zones (large extension over the garage) and one source for heat isn't enough.
 

SamSpade

Well-Known Member
After the rebate about the same as your estimate, a little less than 30k.. NO batteries. 42 panels and Inverter, and install..

Wow. *42* panels? How much roof is that? I'd have to think you have every inch of your roof covered.
 

BadGirl

I am so very blessed
Wow. *42* panels? How much roof is that? I'd have to think you have every inch of your roof covered.
Shoot, that is just the back of the house, as we still have a fair amount of open area with no panels. We still do not have any panels on the front of the house, or on either side of our garage. If we panel'ed the entire roof, we'd need about 125 panels, and we ain't rich enough for that. :nomoney:
 

itsbob

I bowl overhand
Wow. *42* panels? How much roof is that? I'd have to think you have every inch of your roof covered.

December 1st right after the install of the panels (not hooked up at his point) at just about 2 PM..

This isn't the most efficient roof to have them on, we have a garage roof that is Perpendicular to this one that would get a lot more morning sun.. but not as large an area.

You can see from this picture why we had to thin the forest a bit.. Currently we start getting shade on the back roof about 5PM but nowhere near as bad as this..
 

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Gilligan

#*! boat!
PREMO Member
. NO batteries. 42 panels and Inverter, and install..

The system I designed has to have the battery storage because it's completely off the grid. So that part would not apply to a regular home...I realize that.
 

itsbob

I bowl overhand
The system I designed has to have the battery storage because it's completely off the grid. So that part would not apply to a regular home...I realize that.

We've been thinking about if for years.. but always in the back of my mind was.. What's coming?? How much are the prices going to come down??

Finally just bit the bullet.. now I'm sure for everyone else, the prices will come down and new more efficient systems will be coming out this year..
 
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MR47930

Member
Can I ask you a few things?

Q:Do you have to keep a really large supply of pellets on hand?
A:Yes, we keep 4+ tons on hand for the winter and I stash up in the summer when prices are low. 2 tons fit on a pallet if stacked ~8ft high.
Q:When you installed it - was it a simple matter of attaching it to existing duct work?
A:It's not hooked into duct work, its basically a super high powered space heater that hardly uses any electricity.
Q:Did you replace your heat pump - do you use it for AC during summer?
A:We haven't replaced our heat pump yet. We plan to replace the outside AC units next spring when we get our 2017 tax return. We do not use electric heat at all anymore since getting the pellet stove.
Q:Did you need to have an external flue or chimney running up the side of your house for the stove?
A:Not necessarily, we replaced a direct vent gas fireplace that was useless so the vent for the pellet stove is the same hole, straight out from the house (different vent pipes).
Q:What size is your house? Mine has two zones (large extension over the garage) and one source for heat isn't enough.
A: 2300 sq feet main floor and upstairs. We have 2 heatpumps but our house is somewhat open concept so the heat from the pellet stove travels upstairs nicely. We do have 1000sq ft finished basement that is underground, and that gets chilly in the winters since it is unheated (heat travels up, not down). We bought one of those infrared space heaters and I'll wear sweats and slippers when I'm down there watching football on the 70".

Answers in italics above.

Anyone look into the Tesla solar tiles? They look like regular shingles and have a lifetime warranty. I assume they dont come cheap.
 
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Clem72

Well-Known Member
So someone mentioned their heat pump with electric backup can run them 500/mo. in the winter. Is this normal? I currently have an older heat pump with natural gas backup and my combined gas/electric bill is usually under 200 even in the worst winter.

What is the HSPF rating of your system? How warm did you keep it in the winter?
 

Chris0nllyn

Well-Known Member
So someone mentioned their heat pump with electric backup can run them 500/mo. in the winter. Is this normal? I currently have an older heat pump with natural gas backup and my combined gas/electric bill is usually under 200 even in the worst winter.

What is the HSPF rating of your system? How warm did you keep it in the winter?

Depending on the size of the system, yes, it can be.

The emergency backup electric coils are 12kW (give or take). If it runs 12 hours/day in emergency mode, and using 10 cents/kWH, that's $438.30 per month just for the heat.
 
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