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Solar Power conversion - Anyone here done it?

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posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 08:13 AM
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Over the course of what will likely be quite a few years, eventually, I'd like to go completely solar, and actually sell back excess power to the grid. I'm in the research phase of it now, hoping to start putting panels in place (and slowly increase) within a year, and have complete solar power within 3-5 years. In addition to the "prepping" benefits of this, I feel it will eventually pay for itself rather quickly too, both in electric bill savings, and power sell back.

It's an expensive endeavor though, and I'll certainly be checking other specialty forums, etc., but just wondering if anyone here has done this. If so, other than the expense (which is major, which is why I'm adding it bit by bit), what other pitfalls and challenges did you face?

I've got a LOT of roof space with different buildings, so no problem having plenty of area for the panels to face the right way, etc., we get lots of sunshine.

The shorter term solution also, is a backup diesel generator (or two), so also wondering if I'll still be able to incorporate this as an option after converting to solar (i.e. being able to switch between grid-supplied power, solar, or diesel generators, or a combination thereof).




posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 08:29 AM
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reply to post by Gazrok
 


I looked into converting my house and it would cost at least $50,000. Instead, I have bought several solar powered generators from goalzero.com and I use them around the house. You would be surprised at how much you can cut your electric bill by doing that! Here is a pic of the generator...





Right now they are about $2000, but when I bought them they were $1200... I guess demand for them has gone up because they are out of stock. You can also buy them from Lowes.com.

Eventually I would like to have a house converted to solar, but right now that isn't an option.

You also may think about a natural gas generator (if you have gas at your house). That way you don't have to buy fuel, and the gas supply isn't cut off when the power goes out.
edit on 19-2-2013 by OptimusSubprime because: (no reason given)
edit on 19-2-2013 by OptimusSubprime because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 08:31 AM
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Well I've not had any personal experience but my father installed a solar desalinazation kit on his sailboat and had horrible problems getting it to work.

He eventually paid a lot of money to buy one and have it professionally installed and it works wonderful now. If we ever need to leave because of some event we will always have fresh water now.

However its only for a boat so I'm not sure if that would work for your house. You probably need far more water than this thing makes but it uses no chemicals or power as far as I know so its certainly possible.



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 08:33 AM
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youtube mike strytzki .



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 08:38 AM
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reply to post by OptimusSubprime
 


So what is it? A battery pack with a modified sine inverter in the box? Wouldn't it be way cheaper to buy the individual components yourself instead of paying for a fancy box and a name? I am seriously asking btw, did you source out the differenet components or just buy the goalzero?



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 08:40 AM
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we use it at home for water heating



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 08:44 AM
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You can buy timer boxes that switch things on and off. We put a 110V timer on our hot water heater so it only runs 2 hours a day.

We also put the same timer on our freezer so it only runs 10 hours a day. It keeps everything frozen even though it doesn't get electricity for 14 hours every day.

Those two modifications will save you a TON of money.

We've got our power use down to almost nothing. Then they forced us to get the new wireless Power Meters from the electric company. Even with everything in the house turned off it says we're using 12kwh every hour....which is bullSH@$.....

Now we're being robbed by the power company since they KNOW everyone has cut down to nothing.

That's WHY they forced everyone to get the new wireless power meters....so they can rip people off.



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 09:21 AM
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reply to post by Pervius
 


We actually already use timers for lots of things around the house (including the hot water heater). Unfortunately, we're in FL, so the AC is on a lot, and that's really my biggest power culprit.

50K huh? Yikes... So far, my research indicates it'd be about 25K total for our needs, so I could be missing some things, or some other unknown costs, etc. Of course, the plan is to do this over time, so that will help. I actually want to have some more summer electric bills to examine kilowatts used, etc. (want the info, not the bills...). Still though, when I think about my electric bill running about $4500 a year or more, it'd be nice if it would pay for itself inside of 7 years. Plus, we're in a rural area, so when we do have an outage, it's typically for hours, unlike the city, where it'd usually be less than an hour.

My immediate goal with power is to power the electric well pump (as no power = no water currently) and at least the main AC unit in an emergency. I believe I can do this (temporarily, such as during an outage) with some diesel generators, but that's expensive too.

We do have other water options (such as storage barrels), so we're not without in an emergency, but it's pretty inconvenient to have to cart or carry water all over the ranch, etc. It just isn't practical.
edit on 19-2-2013 by Gazrok because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 10:19 AM
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reply to post by Gazrok
 


What kind of batteries are you planning on using?



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 10:27 AM
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Originally posted by superman2012
reply to post by OptimusSubprime
 


So what is it? A battery pack with a modified sine inverter in the box? Wouldn't it be way cheaper to buy the individual components yourself instead of paying for a fancy box and a name? I am seriously asking btw, did you source out the differenet components or just buy the goalzero?


I looked into building one myself, but it seemed like too much was involved, and I'm not technical enough to do it. I'm sure I could figure it out, but I mainly have them for SHTF situations and so I wanted to be sure that I had a quality product.



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 11:00 AM
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reply to post by superman2012
 


Have to be deep-cycle.


Also, there are lots of rebates, tax credits, and other incentives that can really help to defray the costs. I just read an article about a CA couple who converted their house, and it cost them 25K, but after all the rebates, etc. it was 13K. They aren't completely solar, but their power bill went from $300-$400 a month down to $5-$40 a month!

askville.amazon.com...



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 11:13 AM
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reply to post by Gazrok
 


If you want better batteries try these. The cost is way higher, but they are more reliable and are used by many telecom companies for that reason. There are many cheaper options, but telecom batteries would be my recommendation. I used to own/work at a battery company. I don't know much about solar, but questions about batteries are fair game.



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 11:14 AM
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I did it.

My system is small, but I can run my house on it if I conserve, except the central air of course. My water heater is gas.

I have $1,700 in it. I could have spen less but I got the best charge controller money can buy. Cost $600.

I recommend "Grape Solar" 250 watt monocrystalline panels. Amazon. Good price.

www.amazon.com...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361293973&sr=8-1&keywords=grape+solar
I started with two 145 watt panels and 4, 6 volt golf cart batteries. I want 8 more batteries and 1,000 more watts of panels eventually.

Here is a couple of You Tube Videos of my system:
www.youtube.com...
www.youtube.com...

The first thing you need to do is get a Kill-o-Watt meter.

www.p3international.com...

Start seeing how much energy certain appliances are using. You can get one off Amazon or Lowes, Home Depot and the like. What cool is that when you use a plug and play grid tie it will tell you how much you put into the grid that day to offset your usage.

Then change out all of your homes light bulbs to LED's. Yes it's expensive, but I looked at like buying an appliance. And I know I won't ever have to replace them. Dont forget the ones that you don't think about, like the little bulb in your fridge. Don't buy CF (compact flourecsent) bulbs. Full of mercury abd they don't last like they clam. LEDS will last forever. Don't skip this step. A regualr bulb takes 60-100 watts. An LED equivalewnt will take just 8-10.
You'll become very aware of how much electricity things use when you start measuring with the Kill-O-Watt...

I've been fully operational for a couple of months. My first electric bill dropped 46%. This by sending power back to the grid and switching to LED bulbs.



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 11:22 AM
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Originally posted by superman2012
reply to post by Gazrok
 


If you want better batteries try these. The cost is way higher, but they are more reliable and are used by many telecom companies for that reason. There are many cheaper options, but telecom batteries would be my recommendation. I used to own/work at a battery company. I don't know much about solar, but questions about batteries are fair game.


So here's a battery question. What do you thing of Nickle-iron batteries? I've read that they last literally a lifetime.

www.nickel-iron-battery.com...

Seems to be a good choice if you are going off grid in a big way.



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 11:29 AM
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I have done this, both for a boat and for a home. However those whom seem to get into this, at least those I talked to, made one large error. They attempted to keep their present life style intact. If you are willing to simplify in this area it will not take so much energy. For instance, I can run a little home or a boat on two solar panels. I run a little refrigerator, top loading, lights, led tv for occasional use and so forth. I carry in my water as in the old days, filtered of course and use an efficient gas stove for cooking, just simplify. When in the north, I heat with a small wood stove.

Oh, did I tell you the size of our home there, an 18 x 18' open home on a clean creek with an outside composting toilet, not so much unlike living on a boat, but no dinhgy needed.



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 11:39 AM
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reply to post by Gazrok
 


The power companies will NEVER pay you even close to what you pay them for power.
Unless you can isolate your system, solar is pretty much a waste on grid.
The power companies rape you just like the banks.



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 01:10 PM
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reply to post by davjan4
 


That sounds great! I am ashamed to admit I had never heard of them and had to do a bit of research...so thank you for helping me learn something new!
I was looking for a cost of them as there is one place that will sell them (that I found) but they don't list the price, but they do offer financing, which makes me think they are super expensive...but if they last forever then who cares!
Link to prove they last at least 100 years.



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 01:11 PM
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reply to post by sailormon
 


Sounds like a dream! I'm jealous.



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 01:37 PM
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I have already been in the process of switching over to the more efficient bulbs. We're probably about 85% switched at present (we replace them as the standard bulbs burn out). We also have some fluorescent lights though also, these would be harder to switch out (mostly in the stables and in the shop).

I've pretty much come to terms that I likely won't have enough power in an emergency (using solar only) to run the central heat/air units. These aren't standard home units, but more commercial level (two of them, as one is for a separate part of the house). The other option here may be to improve airflow throughout the house with different windows, but a whole other expense. It gets ok airflow when all the windows are open, but some can't be opened.

The house (and connected shop) is about 4500 sq ft. The appliances are all new and energy efficient models...but there are two refrigerators (one in the kitchen, one in the mancave), 9 HDTVs (though rarely are more than two on at a time), a microwave, 3 mini-fridges (one in each stable, one in the garage/workroom), dishwasher, washer and dryer, double oven, well pump, and of course lights, electric fencing (when on), and eventually an electric gate.

My wife's scraproom has all kinds of electronic doo-dads, but even then, she'll likely only have one - two of those going at a given time. The other big draw are the fans in the stables, but those aren't really a necessity, more of a luxury when wanting to keep the horses out of the heat.

I have lots of roofspace (and at different angles/directions) between all the different buildings (house, garage, main stables, secondary stables, large shed, and horse shelter), and we get lots of sun. So panel placement options aren't an issue.

On batteries, everything I've read mentions needing deep cycle. Like I said though, I'm still in the research phase of this, tech is always improving, and incentives to "go green" are getting better and better also...it's just about balancing cost, return on investment, and benefits.


The power companies will NEVER pay you even close to what you pay them for power.
Unless you can isolate your system, solar is pretty much a waste on grid.
The power companies rape you just like the banks.


Did you read the articles I linked to? Numbers are given.

reply to post by davjan4
 


Excellent advice on the meter, etc. Thanks!
Seems they only go for about $20.

Here's a pic of the grounds, to get an idea of the roof space, etc. (the long white vehicle to the right of the house is my wife's uncle's RV, so the pic was taken around May of last year)




edit on 19-2-2013 by Gazrok because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 19 2013 @ 02:43 PM
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I checked with the electric company. They will pay me 7.5 cents a Kwh for what I sell back to them. I pay about 10 cents an hour.

I have all the paperwork to sell back to them. I have a smart meter (darn) which don't run backwards, but with what I put into the grid I can make it stop.


I stopped the whole selling back process when in the paperwork I saw that I would have to pay them $125 or so for them to come and inspect my system. Forget it! The new meter that can run backwards was free, but the heck with that inspection fee.

So I keep my batteries happy for if the power goes out. Meanwhile to not waste any electrons, I just got that small plug-n-play grid tie that runs to slow or stop my meter, the electricity company non the wiser. IT does have whats caled "island protection" that shuts it down if it detects that the power goes out. If it didn't, anyone working on the line could get shocked from the power I'm putting back into the grid.

I create about 1,350 watts a day on a sunny day, even in the winter (solar panels are much more efficient when they are cool, ironically enough). While that isn't much, when a LED bulb is only using 8-10 watts, and my big commercial 27 cubic foot freezer runs at 100 watts and my fridge at about the same, I figure when the sun is out I'm getting free electricity all day long. The kids are moved out, so when my wife and I are at work and the sun is out, the electricity is free since what is running is less than I am producing.


Think about that fridge number. About 100 watts to run a 25 cubic foot fridge or freezer. And the exact same to run a light bulb! Hence my switch to LED bulbs. Incandescent bulbs really are energy hogs.

Oh, and if you need a freezer, get a chest type. Remember cool air flows down. If you get an upright lots of cold air flows out when you open it. Cold air that you have to use electricity to replace. And get one that isn’t frost free. Frost free freezers use a lot more energy.

So use that Kill-o-Watt and make a spreadsheet of what things use while they are running, then how much an item uses during a 24 hour period. The 24 hour number is useful for fridges and freezers that cycle on and off.





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