Sign of the times

Ulu

Probation Member
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Dec 13, 2018
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The Sunny San Joaquin
Solar panels are a really big business in California, with both the state and the utilities companies and the federal government involved in these promotional programs.

Lately, as I have been riding around on my bicycle, I noticed how many houses have solar panels (that I can see) And how many of those are dusty or dirty.

We get some blowing dust around here from agricultural activity whenever the winds come up. This is the desert so everything is dry in the summertime.

But I wonder how much people Power people are losing just because of dirty glass?

One thing is for certain, and that is a lot of the fancy houses around here have very difficult access to clean the solar panels.
 

pacu mom

Goliath Tigerfish
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Jun 8, 2006
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I've investigated solar systems and am not even slightly close to committing. Jerks want somewhere between $60,000 - $70,000 to install a system. Would literally take 20 years to break even, and I'm 73. I also don't like that you make a major investment in a solar system, and the power that it generates is not yours, i.e., during a power outage, you have no power like all your neighbors who don't have solar. At night, you aren't generating energy, so you are buying energy from the power company. Of course, no one could tell me how much the power company would be buying the energy that my solar system produces. Seems like a lose lose situation to me.

I got an estimate for an "off grid" system - 1800 KW hr/mo. The equipment would cost $50,716.95 and I would have to pay people to install it. I'd rather remodel my kitchen rather than spend an inordinate amount of $$$ and probably never see a return in my investment.
 

Ogertron3000

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Nov 6, 2017
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I deal with a lot of solar installers at work. Solar can be good if its planned well, you have to consider if anyone is at home during the day. what your average electrical consumption is, if you want batteries or to feed back into the grid at a very poor rate ,, what sun your house gets and at what time among many other things. Then you have to look at the overall energy efficiency of your house.
For me, we have an empty house during the day so the only way for a system to be viable is if we get batteries and store the power generated during the day then use it at night. This is a huge extra cost to the basic solar system which is why i havent done it yet. If we were at home all day then i would consider it but for now all i would be doing is generating cheap electricity for the power company to use.

If anyone is seriously thinking about it get some good advice and dont just go for the cheapest upfront deal is my advice.
 

Ulu

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Westinghouse and Edison and those guys settled this over 100 years ago.

Edison wanted everybody to have batteries, and in the cities to have a powerhouse full of batteries on every block.

That way you could use DC power without having to have enormous wiring. Rural electrification would simply mean that you would have batteries.

Edison lost, and we have centralized power generation that produces alternating current.

Batteries are generally for portable or emergency systems, because they wear out fast. The wiring in your home is intended to last indefinitely, but every battery has a fairly definite lifespan, known by the manufacturer.

They decided a long time ago that it was not as safe for everyone to have their own batteries. Nowadays they say that modern computerized systems solve those issues.

But so far nobody’s solved the issue of computer reliability. Every week there’s a new hack. Every week there’s a new bug.

What if you came home and your door wouldn’t open because your house has been hacked?

Mayhem!
 

esoxlucius

Alligator Gar
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Dec 30, 2015
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you have to consider if anyone is at home during the day
batteries
Yes, extremely important. My neighbour doesn't have the batteries so to get the "free" electricity they need to use it as it's being generated, ie, through the day. Thing is, and they mustn't have been properly advised here, they aren't in during the day!

So their solar panels aren't particularly effective for them. I can see now why their monthly bill is almost on a par with ours!

As you said there are a lot of things to look at when planning it all out. You need a system which fits in with your usage and lifestyle etc.

If the salesman who comes spouting his junk leads you down the wrong path from the get go, as with my neighbour it would seem, then you are onto a loser from the start.
 

Ogertron3000

Redtail Catfish
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Nov 6, 2017
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Yes, extremely important. My neighbour doesn't have the batteries so to get the "free" electricity they need to use it as it's being generated, ie, through the day. Thing is, and they mustn't have been properly advised here, they aren't in during the day!

So their solar panels aren't particularly effective for them. I can see now why their monthly bill is almost on a par with ours!

As you said there are a lot of things to look at when planning it all out. You need a system which fits in with your usage and lifestyle etc.

If the salesman who comes spouting his junk leads you down the wrong path from the get go, as with my neighbour it would seem, then you are onto a loser from the start.
I used to love it when the salesman knocked on my door trying to sell a system, As i speak the language and the company i work for sells lots of solar components I would waste their time asking them technical questions for 20 minutes then hand over one of our solar catalogues and say "get your boss to call me if he wants to buy some good quality stuff". They would always leave in a very pissed off mood.

Its illegal to sell solar door to door now as they were strong arming pensioners into signing up and there was even a scandal where they got someone with down syndrome to buy a system somehow. If anyone is going to invest in solar then whatever you do dont buy it from one of these dodgy clowns.
 

aldiaz33

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Jun 19, 2007
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I just had a 9.12kW solar system installed in May.

Components are 24 Panasonic Evervolt 380W Panels with Enphase IQ7 7+ Micro-inverters. Guaranteed 1st year production is 13kWH. Output guarantee at 25 years is 92%. Annual degradation is only .25%. Getting a battery wasn't worth it to me, since I've only lost power 1 time for more than 1 hour (it's nice being on the same power zone as a nearby hospital!) California has Net Energy Metering so I get credit for electricity that I send back to the grid. High summer production months will offset lower producing winter months. Similarly, I get credit for excess production during the day to offset my consumption at night. With PG&E, there's an annual true-up where you will owe money if you took in more power than you produced, but conversely you will get paid "net surplus compensation" if you sent out more electricity than you took in. I oversized my system to account for an increase in electric consumption. Ex, if my next car is an EV or if I decide to setup 10 more tanks!

The cost of solar panels has really come down and their efficiency has increased substantially (I got bids 10 years ago for a 5kW system for $65K! So, $45.5K after the 30% federal tax credit available at that time).

I just paid $24,864 cash to have my system installed (no lease, no power purchase agreement or loans). The Federal Tax Credit is 26% for 2022, so I'll get $6,465 back next year, making my true net cost $18,400.

Bottom line: given our electricity usage, the system will pay for itself in less than 5 years. After 5 years, it's money in our pocket.

There's not that much to installing a Solar System. If you are handy, you could DIY (there are vendors that will help with design). I probably could have saved anywhere from $6-$8K doing it myself. In hindsight, I probably should have just done it myself.

My home is great for solar (sunny, inland California with no tree shading). It might not be for everyone, but for us it made a ton of sense as long as we stay in our home for at least 5 years. I've been here for 11 years and I ain't moving my 770G!

Caveat emptor/buyer beware:
There are lots of sleazy solar salespeople out there that will try to take advantage of people. Overselling them, fudging numbers/lying to make it seem more financially attractive than it really is and just flat out charging astronomical amounts for mediocre systems. Read the fine print and do your own due diligence before signing anything. I agree with ogertron3000. The door to door guys are typically not the way to go.
 

deeda

Silver Tier VIP
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Mar 26, 2008
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aldiaz33 aldiaz33 , thanks for the very detailed info on your new solar setup including costs. I hope to hear updates on how it's working out for you in the coming years. It also helps to make it more worthwhile due to your sunny location and generally nice weather throughout the year.

It may seem like an odd question but do you need to add the solar panel equipment to your homeowner's insurance just in case there is damage to the system whether it be weather related, accidental or vandalism?
 
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