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Solar Panels for the house


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15 minutes ago, Gil Bang said:

Can't wait to see the damage to the battery and the car on the "stupid wives" thread

1. She does not park in the garage.  
2. She has already been on me about building some sort of protective cage system around it to prepare for a day when she MIGHT want to park in the garage. 

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S-5 Roof Clip.

& FYI, I'm a fan of a Snap Lock panel system 1st, Standing Seam 2nd.

Then maybe a BattLoc 3rd.

For exposed screw panels, if you MUST, go Channel Guard / Rain Guard 1st & don't fuck up the installation with an incorrect screw placement.

Always, always, always, always, always, always get striations.

Always.70b707c5877af790c49cd62d2b4f892f.jpg

Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tesla came back to me with a proposal for 6,000 for a new main panel upgrade.  WTF?   The main panel is old, but functional.  They say that they won't hook into it without a major upgrade.   I'm calling an electrical contractor buddy out for a consult.  So, meanwhile, my project is on hold. 

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On 9/17/2020 at 5:59 PM, Guadaloopy said:

City inspection on Monday.  Should be off the grid (mostly) by mid-week.
 brad pitt dance GIF

So my city inspection passed, no problem.  I thought it would be a quick system turn on after that.  Wrong.  Still have to wait for approval from the utility company.  It’s been almost three weeks since the inspection, and I am still on the grid with $28K  ($21K after tax credit) of idle equipment.  

angry parks and rec GIF

 

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1 minute ago, MillerEP said:

Just checking in to say that my powerwall was a godsend during this weather outage, I was able to run on the battery for about 15.5 hours after the rest of the neighborhood went out.

That’s good info thanks! 

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On 2/16/2021 at 7:59 PM, MillerEP said:

Just checking in to say that my powerwall was a godsend during this weather outage, I was able to run on the battery for about 15.5 hours after the rest of the neighborhood went out.

How many powerwalls did you buy?  I'm looking at prices for 3 plus 16.32 KWH panels to support a whole home panel/battery backup system and it's showing $284/month after credit for 20 year loan.   With an average electrical bill of only $180 or so I'm still out $25K over the 20 years loan.  Now granted that includes a substantial amount of backup battery in event of emergency, some residual value when I go to sell, and probably $2K annually after it's paid off, but I'm not sure I am going to be here to take advantage of the permanent monthly savings.  Wish I could have rolled this into mortgage somehow to drop the interest rate on the loan.

Alternatively I can go generac for probably $16K-18K but that won't cover me for increased electricity/gas cost, no monthly savings after the loan is paid off, and then there is monthly maintenance/servicing.

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Just 1. Since it's tied to my solar panels, on normal days when I'm not conserving 100% of it in the event of an emergency I pull off the battery every night once the sun goes down, to stay off the grid for longer.  There is an app that comes with it that lets you do 3 things. 1) Just have it stay at 100% charge at all times in the event of an emergency, 2) pick what percent you want to save in the event of an emergency (I usually just have it at 50% each night), or 3) pick peak hours/times when you use the most energy and have your house only pull from the battery during those times.

It also has a weather watching feature called "storm watch" which will automatically conserve 100% regardless of what you put if any storm watch is ever declared in your area. So each normal night when not in a storm warning, I pull from my battery until it hits 50%, then I start getting it from the grid. Each morning, my battery recharges back to full. This would allow me to essentially stay off the grid if I were to really play with it and find the magic number (20% held back maybe?) that lasts me throughout the night. I haven't fiddled with it much though because each day I feed more energy back to the city than I use in between when I hit 50% and the sun comes back up the next day, so I've always had a negative balance with my electricity company. I suppose when the weather normalizes I should play with it and see how to best maximize it but up until now I've been lazy because I haven't been a power hog. Maybe in the Summer when my A/C is running non-stop.

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1 hour ago, MillerEP said:

Just 1. Since it's tied to my solar panels, on normal days when I'm not conserving 100% of it in the event of an emergency I pull off the battery every night once the sun goes down, to stay off the grid for longer.  There is an app that comes with it that lets you do 3 things. 1) Just have it stay at 100% charge at all times in the event of an emergency, 2) pick what percent you want to save in the event of an emergency (I usually just have it at 50% each night), or 3) pick peak hours/times when you use the most energy and have your house only pull from the battery during those times.

It also has a weather watching feature called "storm watch" which will automatically conserve 100% regardless of what you put if any storm watch is ever declared in your area. So each normal night when not in a storm warning, I pull from my battery until it hits 50%, then I start getting it from the grid. Each morning, my battery recharges back to full. This would allow me to essentially stay off the grid if I were to really play with it and find the magic number (20% held back maybe?) that lasts me throughout the night. I haven't fiddled with it much though because each day I feed more energy back to the city than I use in between when I hit 50% and the sun comes back up the next day, so I've always had a negative balance with my electricity company. I suppose when the weather normalizes I should play with it and see how to best maximize it but up until now I've been lazy because I haven't been a power hog. Maybe in the Summer when my A/C is running non-stop.

hadn't thought of this that's really great actually, the night time draw.

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Was planning to install solar soon anyhow, but this multi-day outage is making me up my timeline.

I have consultations scheduled with the following for the coming week:

  • Sunpower/Freedom Solar
  • Alba Energy

I also have pending requests for consults with:

  • Wells Solar
  • Brightview Solar

I'm going to get a few quotes and compare. Anyone have any experience with any of these? Anyone else I should be reaching out to? I do plan to stay in the current house for ~20 years (till kids out of high school, plus a few years).

I'd like to (in the order of priority):

  1. Have a net 0 electric bill monthly
  2. Store power for long periods of power outages
  3. Have enough to charge 1-2 EVs

@ROFL BOX I still plan to get you to consult on the install before it happens. Also need you to look ay my deck and see if there's something you'd recommend to fix that clusterF. 

 

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Someone may be more of an expert...but if you are with Austin Energy (AE)...solar won't help in terms of reliability during outages.  My understanding is that solar is basically on a separate meter and all production is sold to AE.  AE still has your house meter for all your consumption from the grid.  Basically you get your normal Austin Energy bill and then Austin Energy sends you a check for your solar production based on their Value of Solar tariff.  AE does not allow distributed generation (solar) to serve their own load.

 

I'm not up to speed on how AE handles batteries...aka Powerwalls. 

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3 hours ago, swraith said:

Someone may be more of an expert...but if you are with Austin Energy (AE)...solar won't help in terms of reliability during outages.  My understanding is that solar is basically on a separate meter and all production is sold to AE.  AE still has your house meter for all your consumption from the grid.  Basically you get your normal Austin Energy bill and then Austin Energy sends you a check for your solar production based on their Value of Solar tariff.  AE does not allow distributed generation (solar) to serve their own load.

 

I'm not up to speed on how AE handles batteries...aka Powerwalls. 

You're likely confused about a separate issue: grid connected solar doesn't work if the grid is down as a safety precaution so that workers aren't surprised to find a live line. A proper battery backup allows solar to work safely in the event of an outage. 

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  • 1 year later...
On 2/20/2021 at 6:16 PM, hornian said:

Was planning to install solar soon anyhow, but this multi-day outage is making me up my timeline.

I have consultations scheduled with the following for the coming week:

  • Sunpower/Freedom Solar
  • Alba Energy

I also have pending requests for consults with:

  • Wells Solar
  • Brightview Solar

I'm going to get a few quotes and compare. Anyone have any experience with any of these? Anyone else I should be reaching out to? I do plan to stay in the current house for ~20 years (till kids out of high school, plus a few years).

I'd like to (in the order of priority):

  1. Have a net 0 electric bill monthly
  2. Store power for long periods of power outages
  3. Have enough to charge 1-2 EVs

@ROFL BOX I still plan to get you to consult on the install before it happens. Also need you to look ay my deck and see if there's something you'd recommend to fix that clusterF. 

 

Well, I never updated, but I went ahead and put a solar system in last year, with Freedom Solar. They estimated with my current roof I could get ~85% of my annual electricity generated. I held off on the battery backup, becasue I think the cost is still too high on that. And I plan to add on to the house in a few years, when I'll add some more panels and add the battery backup then. System was installed late August, so I've had it about 6 months now - mostly during the fall and winter. My bills have been pretty significantly lower, but not $0 yet.

Until this month. My electric portion of my CoA Utilities bill was -42.30 this past month. So I have a credit that will be used towards future electric bills. That was a nice surprise. 

 

 

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On 3/14/2022 at 7:52 PM, hornian said:

Well, I never updated, but I went ahead and put a solar system in last year, with Freedom Solar. They estimated with my current roof I could get ~85% of my annual electricity generated. I held off on the battery backup, becasue I think the cost is still too high on that. And I plan to add on to the house in a few years, when I'll add some more panels and add the battery backup then. System was installed late August, so I've had it about 6 months now - mostly during the fall and winter. My bills have been pretty significantly lower, but not $0 yet.

Until this month. My electric portion of my CoA Utilities bill was -42.30 this past month. So I have a credit that will be used towards future electric bills. That was a nice surprise. 

 

 

What size system did you get? What production are you seeing?

I have a ~12kw system in Houston.  It seems like I'm going to average 12-14mwh per year. Covers 90%+ of my energy usage, including my car. 

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1 minute ago, Dahobbs said:

What size system did you get? What production are you seeing?

I have a ~12kw system in Houston.  It seems like I'm going to average 12-14mwh per year. Covers 90%+ of my energy usage, including my car. 

 

question: what percentage of your electric usage is your car?

i'm asking because currently our solar covers 95+% of our usage. I'm wondering if that will go down significantly if/when we buy an EV.

 

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8 minutes ago, High Plains Drifter said:

 

question: what percentage of your electric usage is your car?

i'm asking because currently our solar covers 95+% of our usage. I'm wondering if that will go down significantly if/when we buy an EV.

 

Car uses about 2.5 mwh per year or 15% to 20% of my yearly electric usage (house is small). The monthly percentage will vary based on the season. It is a little less than $30 per month at my electric rate.  

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1 hour ago, Chewbacca said:

Do the numbers work on residential solar yet?  Last time I priced it out, they wanted $30k for a system that would save me less than $100/month.

Depends on where you live.  It does most places. My system (excluding batteries which I don't expect to be profitable in anyway) should pay for itself in 10 years or less after accounting for tax credits. That doesn't include any raise in the value of the house. 

~$30,000 installed. $22,000 after tax credit. Also received ~$4,000 from utility company, so true cost is $18,000. System saves ~$1,800 a year right now. My expectation is the 10 year payback will shrink because electric rates will continue to rise. And again, this assumes zero value added to the house. 

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4 hours ago, Chewbacca said:

Do the numbers work on residential solar yet?  Last time I priced it out, they wanted $30k for a system that would save me less than $100/month.

 

Assuming I did the math correctly, it will take 13 years for mine to pay for themselves (no batteries, net metering only). That includes the fed tax credit and a rebate from the line company. not sure if the tax credit exists anymore tho.

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9 minutes ago, High Plains Drifter said:

 

Assuming I did the math correctly, it will take 13 years for mine to pay for themselves (no batteries, net metering only). That includes the fed tax credit and a rebate from the line company. not sure if the tax credit exists anymore tho.

So no?  Fuck a 13 year payback.  And that assumes net metering sticks around long enough for you to benefit.  

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31 minutes ago, Chewbacca said:

So no?  Fuck a 13 year payback.  And that assumes net metering sticks around long enough for you to benefit.  

It'll add some value to your house too. My research indicates it pretty close to the after tax credit cost. It'll pay back a lot quicker if you're in Hawaii or California where electricity is more expensive. I think a 10 year payback period isn't bad for an investment. It is like an investment that performs at 7.5% with fairly minimal risk of lower performance.  

(Tax credit still exists fyi, slightly reduced from a few years ago). 

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40 minutes ago, Chewbacca said:

So no?  Fuck a 13 year payback.  And that assumes net metering sticks around long enough for you to benefit.  

I think the idea is the amount your energy bill reduces is greater than your finance charge to pay for the solar.  so if you save $150 per month but pay $135 per month for the financing then you net $15 a month and it takes 15-20 years to buy the equipment.  could be wrong...

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1 minute ago, troph said:

I think the idea is the amount your energy bill reduces is greater than your finance charge to pay for the solar.  so if you save $150 per month but pay $135 per month for the financing then you net $15 a month and it takes 15-20 years to buy the equipment.  could be wrong...

That's one way to do it. 

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1 minute ago, troph said:

I think the idea is the amount your energy bill reduces is greater than your finance charge to pay for the solar.  so if you save $150 per month but pay $135 per month for the financing then you net $15 a month and it takes 15-20 years to buy the equipment.  could be wrong...

Net metering means you get a credit on your bill if you generate more electricity than you use.  Lots of utilities are trying to do away with that practice.

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38 minutes ago, Chewbacca said:

Net metering means you get a credit on your bill if you generate more electricity than you use.  Lots of utilities are trying to do away with that practice.

No. Net metering means the price you pay per kWh is the same as the credit you receive for energy sent to the grid. There are other plans that pay you less for energy sent to the grid. And a given net metering plan could be limited only to the amount you use during a given bill period. That would still be net metering even though your bill could never go negative. 

Also, trophs post had nothing to do with net metering. It is just a strategy for making solar worthwhile. That method makes it cash flow positive from the word go. 

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37 minutes ago, Chewbacca said:

Net metering means you get a credit on your bill if you generate more electricity than you use.  Lots of utilities are trying to do away with that practice.

I wasn’t talking about that - our utility is doing  away with credits. You still pull less and can save. It de-incentivizes having a larger system for sure but doesn’t do away with a possible arbitrage play. 

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53 minutes ago, Chewbacca said:

Net metering means you get a credit on your bill if you generate more electricity than you use.  Lots of utilities are trying to do away with that practice.

 

I don't know the official definition of net metering, but my utility company credits me for excess generation during the day at the same rate that I pay them for usage during the night. They will never cut me a check, but over the course of a year, my generation/usage ratio is very very close to 1, so in effect, I'm not paying an electric bill. I think last year I owed something like 10 bucks at the end of the year. We are pretty frugal though. This has been the case for three years running. I guess that might change if/when we buy an EV.

If I ever generate more than i use in a year, my utility will not pay for the net over I generate, but they will carry the credit forward.

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23 hours ago, Dahobbs said:

What size system did you get? What production are you seeing?

I have a ~12kw system in Houston.  It seems like I'm going to average 12-14mwh per year. Covers 90%+ of my energy usage, including my car. 

13.53 kW system.

Hard to say exactly what production so far because it wasn't really online until end of August last year, but here's my production for the  past 6 months:

Sep '21 - 1,739.2 kWh (~79% of previous year's usage)

Oct '21 - 1,436.1 kWh (~85% of previous year's usage)

Nov '21 - 1,069.2 kWh (~80% of previous year's usage)

Dec '21 - 802.3 kWh (~51% of proviso year's usage - I blame my awesome but over the top Christmas lights)

Jan '22 - 1,121.8 kWh (~95% of previous year's usage)

Feb '22 - 1,206.3 kWh (~149% of previous year's usage)

That's a total of about 8MWh in 6 months.

Obviously production/savings bottomed out in December with the shortest days, and it going back up, but I haven't had a full spring/summer to really see what I'll produce. I'm on pace to equal/exceed October numbers in March, so I think April - August will all equal/exceed September's numbers. 

It's already lowered my electric bill by $841 in 6 months (from previous year usage), and my payment is ~$120/month on the system, so it is paying for itself so far. There were 2 months where I didn't break even from a savings standpoint (December/January), but most months it more than makes up for the payment.  I'm actually doubling up on the payments when I can just to try to pay it off sooner (I have a .99% interest rate on the solar loan, so basically free money), and I'll be applying my tax rebate towards the loan as well next month. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 3/18/2022 at 12:32 PM, hornian said:

13.53 kW system.

Hard to say exactly what production so far because it wasn't really online until end of August last year, but here's my production for the  past 6 months:

Sep '21 - 1,739.2 kWh (~79% of previous year's usage)

Oct '21 - 1,436.1 kWh (~85% of previous year's usage)

Nov '21 - 1,069.2 kWh (~80% of previous year's usage)

Dec '21 - 802.3 kWh (~51% of proviso year's usage - I blame my awesome but over the top Christmas lights)

Jan '22 - 1,121.8 kWh (~95% of previous year's usage)

Feb '22 - 1,206.3 kWh (~149% of previous year's usage)

That's a total of about 8MWh in 6 months.

Obviously production/savings bottomed out in December with the shortest days, and it going back up, but I haven't had a full spring/summer to really see what I'll produce. I'm on pace to equal/exceed October numbers in March, so I think April - August will all equal/exceed September's numbers. 

It's already lowered my electric bill by $841 in 6 months (from previous year usage), and my payment is ~$120/month on the system, so it is paying for itself so far. There were 2 months where I didn't break even from a savings standpoint (December/January), but most months it more than makes up for the payment.  I'm actually doubling up on the payments when I can just to try to pay it off sooner (I have a .99% interest rate on the solar loan, so basically free money), and I'll be applying my tax rebate towards the loan as well next month. 

March Bill in my email yesterday. 

Mar '22 = 1,696.6 kWh (~165% of previous year's usage). And I did exceed October, but not September of '21. 

This is the 2nd month in a row I've produced more than we consumed, so another solar credit. I'll be interested to see when it flips (I assume May or June at the latest) to usage exceeding production, and then see how long those solar credits last before I have an electric bill again. But for the first three months off '22, I've only had one very small bill, and two $0 bills (COA won't let you go negative, your solar credits accrue until you use more than you produce). That's pretty, pretty, pretty good IMO.

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4 hours ago, hornian said:

March Bill in my email yesterday. 

Mar '22 = 1,696.6 kWh (~165% of previous year's usage). And I did exceed October, but not September of '21. 

This is the 2nd month in a row I've produced more than we consumed, so another solar credit. I'll be interested to see when it flips (I assume May or June at the latest) to usage exceeding production, and then see how long those solar credits last before I have an electric bill again. But for the first three months off '22, I've only had one very small bill, and two $0 bills (COA won't let you go negative, your solar credits accrue until you use more than you produce). That's pretty, pretty, pretty good IMO.

My net grid usage for the year stands at -610 KWh. The only month with positive grid usage was January at 176 KWh ($24). Based on prior production and usage, I anticipate having a slightly negative net bill for 2022 (not accounting for the to be completed pool and second electric vehicle that will be arriving later this year). 

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  • 2 months later...
On 4/10/2022 at 3:22 PM, hornian said:

March Bill in my email yesterday. 

Mar '22 = 1,696.6 kWh (~165% of previous year's usage). And I did exceed October, but not September of '21. 

This is the 2nd month in a row I've produced more than we consumed, so another solar credit. I'll be interested to see when it flips (I assume May or June at the latest) to usage exceeding production, and then see how long those solar credits last before I have an electric bill again. But for the first three months off '22, I've only had one very small bill, and two $0 bills (COA won't let you go negative, your solar credits accrue until you use more than you produce). That's pretty, pretty, pretty good IMO.

I guess I can update for April and May now. Still haven't had an electric bill since January, as even with my consumption exceeding production for the past two months, I had enough solar credit to offset the electric bills. Not too shabby.

April my net electric bill was $18.10 (which was 84% less than April 2021); but my solar credit paid for it so $0.00 on my CoA utilities bill for May electricity.

May my net electric bill was $73.43 (47% less than May of 2021), but my solar credit paid for it so $0.00 on my CoA utilities bill for June for electricity. 

The next 3 months are going to be telling, as June/July/August were biggest bill pre-solar. 

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So, here's my adventure in solar:

Well over a year ago, I heard about Tesla's "subscription" service, where you basically rent a solar system from Tesla on a month-to-month basis, with a "cancel anytime" deal.  OK, that sounds great, I'll take it. 

Tesla says that they need to come out to do a site survey.  A couple of weeks later, somebody shows up.  The guy checks out my electrical system, and gets on the roof. About a week later, Tesla contacts me and says that they won't install a system on my house unless I upgrade my main panel.  They tell me that they will send me a bid for the work.  A few days later, a bid shows up for $7,500 IIRC.  

I consult my nephew, the electrician (that lives quite a ways away) and he says it's too high.  

Then, life happens and the GF and I are dealing with other (mostly out-of-state family) shit and the solar system gets back-burnered. 

OK, shit's calmed down, so I'm back on the solar.  I get a couple of bids from local electrical guys to replace the panel, all for about half of what Tesla wanted.  I pick a contractor, and get all the specs from him.  I reach out to Tesla, and say hey, I'm getting the panel replaced, and here's the panel the guy wants to install, are you guys OK with it.   Tesla says "we'll send it over to engineering and get back to you".  

A week or two later, Tesla says "yeah, panel that your electrician wants to use is A-OK".  They say when it's done, send over the city final inspection and a photo of the new panel.  

I do so.

Then, a week later, Tesla contacts me and says "sorry bud, we've cancelled the subscription plan.  Fuck me, I just dropped 4 grand on a new panel for nothing?  Anyway, they send me a new bid, and it's 2,000 down and 160/mo for 10 years at a 2.99 APR.  After that, I own the system free and clear.

Fuck it, let's go!

We sign the deal, get approved for financing in about 20 seconds, and get in line for the system.   

Maybe a month later, they call me and say that the install date is Jun 8.  

Crew shows up to do the install, and they are really solid.  4 good guys and they do a good job,  Solar is powered up that afternoon, but foreman tells me that he has to shut down the system when he leaves, pending the city final inspection, and "Permission to Operate" from the power company.   

A couple of days later, a tesla guy calls me and says hey, I've got your inspection scheduled for tomorrow.  He shows up, on time, and an hour or so later, the city inspector shows up and signs off. 

The next day, Tesla says "hey, per the contact, you now owe the down payment since you passed inspection".  Fine.  I immediately log in and make the down payment with ACH, which is the only payment system that they have.  The next day, the money is gone from the bank account, buy my Tesla dashboard shows "payment submitted and in process".  It's now 5 days later, and my payment is still "in process" even though the money is gone from my account.  I email my project manager and ask WTF, and she says oh yeah, it takes a few days.  

Here's the rub:  they don't reach out to my utility provider and ask for "permission to operate" until the down payment is processed, so here I sit, panels on my roof and cock in my hand, buying expensive power from SDGE for who knows how much longer?

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