Solar Panels, who has them? pro's and con's?

Discussion in 'Environment & Conservation' started by Spim, Oct 2, 2019.

  1. Spim

    Spim Well-Known Member Donor

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    I'm getting an estimate for a solar installation next week for my home in South Florida and i'm curious what people's opinions are if they have panels installed or if they have obtained quoted and decided not to go forward.

    I'm terribly ignorant of exactly how the process works with the tie into the box or exactly what is involved with an installation. I have a general understanding of what the process is and I assume the estimator can fill in some of the gaps for me, which is the whole point.

    I'm considering either a basic install for hot water only, and or going full bore for a whole house thing or of course I might just decide its not worth the hassle.

    One factor that is holding me up a bit is that my shingle roof is now 14 years old, so its getting closer every year where it will be time for a new roof, so I'm wondering if it makes sense to do something now when 24 months later I might be needing to remove panels for a new roof install and then pay to have them put back so there is some bad timing involved.

    I'd like to hear from anyone that has solar, what prompted them to go that route, and have the results been better or worse than expected?

    Does the electrical tie in offer me any other flexibility? such as tying in a generator backup for power outages etc?

    Any important questions I should be asking?

    One side comment, despite the fact that I live in such a sunny area, its quite rare for me to see solar panels, I know they can be hard to spot being on the back side of most homes but in my business I'm in back yards quite often and honestly they really just don't seem to be that prevalent, I do see a number of solar pool heater panels and hot water panels (the black ones), but I rarely see anything else except a bare roof.
     
  2. perdidochas

    perdidochas Well-Known Member

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    FPL and the other power companies in Florida work hard to discourage solar. They tried that Constitutional Amendment a few years ago to kill it.
     
  3. Margot2

    Margot2 Banned

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    I did solar hot water only for a large house in 1979. Worked great and kept my electric bill at half that of the neighbors. Of course it was a time when teen-agers never stopped taking showers and the washing machine never stopped.
     
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  4. Spim

    Spim Well-Known Member Donor

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    Actually I did a quick glance at my power company's website and they seem to be on board with it. theyve got got a few of their own panels as well.

    So setting politics aside or regulation, does it make sense to do it? Because honestly if it made that much sense I just feel like I'd see panels all over the place and solar trucks driving everywhere for Christ's sake it's it's Southern Florida the sun does nothing but shine.
     
  5. Spim

    Spim Well-Known Member Donor

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    I have a fairly new tank right now so it's moderately efficient and the only reason I didn't go tankless was because it was like a Saturday afternoon and I found out that you'd have to get an electrician into upgrade the wires. At that point I had about four hours to get hot water again before the wife came home. :)

    We are empty-nesters so we don't use nearly as much water as others do but it does seem like we're running the dishwasher & clothes washer just as much. I don't know the real figures yet on it but the solar hot water seems pretty straightforward and almost looks like it could be a self install if you have a handy friend with a saturday free.

    My electric bill is under two grand a year it's maybe 1800-1900 and that's with a ten-year-old inefficient air conditioning system that's due to be upgraded this winter
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  6. Margot2

    Margot2 Banned

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    The water tank for my solar was 97 gallons so we had hot water even when we didn't have a sun shiny day in coastal South Carolina. You'll probably be happy with your investment.
     
  7. perdidochas

    perdidochas Well-Known Member

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    Now the power companies are, but they have spent at least a decade suppressing solar.

    https://www.tampabay.com/opinion/co...y-in-the-sunshine-state-daniel-ruth-20190712/

    It does make sense to do it. I plan to, but I have a list of cheaper things to save energy to do first. One of my wife's good friends has a solar system, and she loves it. She runs her A/C at 65 during the day, she's generating so much excess. And this is NW Florida.

    (Solar trucks aren't really usable yet. There's not enough energy from sunlight in the surface area of a truck to run the truck).
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  8. perdidochas

    perdidochas Well-Known Member

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    About the time my electric tanked water heater was close to the end of it's life, we got natural gas tankless. It is wonderful. We have plenty of hot water (enough for two teenaged boys) and saved money on total utilities. The electrician part is a PITA in getting one installed.
     
  9. Spim

    Spim Well-Known Member Donor

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    When I said solar trucks what I meant is solar installation trucks you know like Acme solar that kind of stuff. If it was really a great deal I just feel like I'd see those trucks on the road all the time , I certainly see all the other trucks Pest Control AC companies, electrical, plumbing, etc.

    I mean air conditioning companies in erectile dysfunction clinics advertise 10 times an hour on the radio I don't think I've ever heard solar commercial.
     
  10. Spim

    Spim Well-Known Member Donor

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    Yes that was bad timing on my part I waited till it pooped the bed. I need to make arrangements to get the wiring done so I won't have that problem next time. It's a really short run for me, maybe 12 feet.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  11. yguy

    yguy Well-Known Member

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    A generator can be connected through a transfer switch independently of any solar system.
    You could start with how long it will take to recover the initial cost by way of utility bill savings, and what the panels and batteries will be worth by the time recovery is achieved.
     
  12. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member

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    My old boss got solar a few years ago. He regrets that he had to buy state-certified panels which are 3x the cost of the same panels from out of state (WA) so he could take advantage of the subsidy, but ultimately, hes happy with the investment.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  13. Spim

    Spim Well-Known Member Donor

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    Well I finally had a rep out here & for better or worse solar is damned expensive I received the quote of approximately 38k. I was hoping for closer to 28k but I would have to sacrifice the text credit to get it down there.

    Mathematically it still makes sense long-term but it's not an overwhelmingly easy decision.

    Basically for the next Dozen Years you don't save anything. If I waited 12 months to put panels in I would just start not saving anything a year later. If panels become less expensive overtime then it actually might make more sense to wait.

    No matter what the payoff isn't going to kick in until 2032 or later. Not exactly doing cartwheels over that for such a big expenditure.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
  14. gnoib

    gnoib Well-Known Member

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    I did solar a few years ago.
    My motivation, no electric bill and I had the cash to do so and it improved the value of my property.
    I did not have a south facing roof and live in the forest.
    But I had a very good cleared area close to the house, 200 feet away.
    Roof mounted was no option anyhow, because of the snow load. I live in 4 to 6 feet snow on the ground country.
    Since my system would be on ground racks or pols, I decided to have poles and trackers.
    I have 2 16 panels poles with trackers. The trackers run of 12 volt batteries with their own charging panels, 2 small panels, each pole.
    The batteries do last a very long time, I had one fail last winter, 7 years old and I replaced it. Do stuff like this myself.
    Its no big deal and not rocket science.
    Additional I have a Bat system. I like that very much, its from Sonnen. It switches with in miliseconds during a outage and provides the house during dark, or clouds with energy..
    I am still hooked up, because I am net metering. I always would advice that. It makes money and gives added security if the system has a failure.
    I had 2 in 7 years. One was the Converter, which was replaced in 7 days, very fast I would say, living in the boonies and one needed a restart, which is rather easy, software.
    Did it work for me ? By all means. I have no power ill, besides the meter base fee of 30, I produce around $1000 a year excess, save around 200 a month previous payments to the E company.
    To make it really work one has to look at how one uses energy, be more considerate,lighting, AC, fridge, heating and so on.

    I would do the roof first and use something that lasts 20 years and than install a solar system.
    Install more than you actually need, the panels are not the cost, its the labour.
    If your E-company has a max, like 10k, use it, e meter and make sure that you have the option for a Battery system, you might want to install.

    My system, the expensive way to go, pols and trackers was 18 after tax credit, and 7 for the bat, tax credit included.
    Total cash up front 37k.
     
  15. AFM

    AFM Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    And the payoff wouldn't happen at all if not for the tax expenditure by which all the other citizens of Florida pay for your new panels. I'm fundamentally opposed to house solar panels because they cannot economically stand on their own feet, they are difficult for the electric grid due to their intermittent power generation, and they will do nothing to significantly decrease CO2 emissions.
     
  16. Spim

    Spim Well-Known Member Donor

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    tax credit (federal, not florida I believe) only shortens the payoff time, but overall I've come to the same conclusion that the vast majority of my neighbors in my city have, even with credits it's not an overwhelming easy decision, so for now I'll probably pass, 38k is a lot of bling to spend on a $2000 bill, I might be better off putting 38k in the market instead.

    might look at solar hot water, maybe a diy or used system. but now I'm just curious.
     
  17. AFM

    AFM Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    The federal government is subsidizing the wrong technology. And as a result slowing the development of solar technologies which can compete on a level economic playing field.
     
  18. jay runner

    jay runner Well-Known Member

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    I would wait until you can contract for a new roof and solar at the same time.

    Meanwhile you could look into a passive heat solar shower placed on a patio; it's not elaborate or difficult to do and it takes little effort to obtain privacy. Very simple, but hot water is around 25% of utility costs for a home. And outside showers on a warm, sunny day are very pleasant. The grey water can go on the garden or raised beds.
     
  19. gnoib

    gnoib Well-Known Member

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    I see it as a matter were personal priorities are. Some spent 50, 60 or more thousands on a pick-up or SUV and never think about.
    Or put several thousands of Dollar into a side by side, or boat, or snow mobile or what ever, which get maybe used for a few month out of the year.
     
  20. politicalcenter

    politicalcenter Well-Known Member

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    I think solar is a greatly overpriced system. 30k is too much money to spend especially when about the time the system is paid for you will be buying replacement parts. This is just my opinion. I have 2 cement ponds connected. One pond is higher than the other. 20191014_091953.jpg I want to keep the water above freezing.... To start . Then I would like to keep the low temps above 60 degrees for Tilapia and possibly redclaw crayfish. The bottom pond will serve as a heater/filter/ crayfish pond. The bottom pond will contain rocks for a filter and be covered with glass .... most of it. The water will fall from the top pond and fall to the bottom pond. A pump will carry the water back up to the top pond. Will have about 4000 gallons in the system. I got the glass and lumber from an old house I tore down. Just have to buy two thermometers. to see how much area to cover with glass. Have to plan for glass shading in the summer. It is a work in process.
     
  21. perdidochas

    perdidochas Well-Known Member

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    They do spin it so it looks like they are pro-solar, but they spent millions on a constitutional amendment that would block people from being able to sell solar power back to the electric companies.

    Solar truck is a silly idea. Not nearly enough sunlight to power a truck. There should be panels all over the place, and if the power companies hadn't tried to block it so long, they would be.

    https://environmentflorida.org/news...al-“blocking-sun”-report-anti-solar-campaigns
    https://electrek.co/2017/10/22/elec...lar-people-but-uses-it-for-its-own-portfolio/
     
  22. Spim

    Spim Well-Known Member Donor

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    1) no issues with the buyback program, but since I was dealing with a bit of sticker shock on pricing I didn't dig further into the rates at which they do so.
    2) I didn't mean solar "truck" I meant a solar company truck, like a truck filled with panels and a sign on the side indicating that they were installing, repairing solar panels. I literally almost never see them on the roads.
     
  23. perdidochas

    perdidochas Well-Known Member

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    The point is FPL has spent millions to discourage residential solar.
     
  24. Spim

    Spim Well-Known Member Donor

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    Honestly If I was them I'd probably put up a fight as well but it doesn't impact me i'm not a fpl customer, i'm in a co-op, and they appear to be solar friendly, and I have no idea if they fought tooth and nail prior to becoming such, nor do I care very much to be honest, it is what it is.

    Bottom line is my issues with solar are not related to the carriers as much as the high cost of the panels and related install costs, etc.

    I'm content at this point to wait until the costs drop further, I always catch the occasional article that indicates that solar panel costs have dropped but after getting my price quote, my first thought was "no wonder I don't see panels all over the place"

    No big deal, but the math just didn't add up to the point where it made sense to dive in. I still may go after the hot water idea in the near future, but I might save enough by going tankless to justify that vs going with solar hot water.
     
  25. Derideo_Te

    Derideo_Te Well-Known Member

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    When I bought my current house it was made up of an older original two story and a newer one story addition. The original hot water tank was overdue for replacement and so I opted for doing a solar hot water system placed on the new roof. This included a 50 gal fiberglass tank and a 65 gal solar panel. They removed the old tank which freed up some space in the kitchen.

    Total cost was around $2k and savings were estimated at $300 pa giving me a pay off in under 7 years. But I forgot to calculate the tiered pricing so when I factored that into the equation the payback period dropped to less than 4 years.

    Overall the solar hot water works exactly as expected. In winter if it is being heavily used then it does need the occasional early morning boost of 20-30 minutes of electricity but that is once a week at most. In summer the water can be hotter than expected so caution is needed.

    I will be adding solar hot water panels when I enclose the pool so that I can use it all year round.

    Having had the benefit of using a solar hot water system for a couple of years now it does result in savings on the electricity bill which provides a payback within a reasonable period of time. Bear in mind that once it has paid off the original investment there are still ongoing savings for up to two decades. With increasing electricity costs in the future those savings will be greater.

    It just makes financial sense because those savings can then be used to offset the cost of installing a PV system and having it pay off in a shorter period. My recommendation is that you do the calculations again based just on your hot water system and see if that makes sense for you as a place to start.

    Some additional points.

    Firstly it only costs about 20% extra to reshingle with 50 year tiles instead of 20 year tiles which adds value to your house. Secondly choosing a light gray color instead of black for your tiles reduces heat retention which will automatically lower your A/C costs. That saving can offset the cost of the 50 years tiles.

    The PV panels will protect the shingles from UV degradation which will extend their life. However if you want the 50 year shingle warranty then make sure that the installation is done by someone who is qualified in both the 50 year shingles and the solar panels installed at the same time.
     
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