[aprssig] Solar House Symbol & Solar ecstasy!

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Mon Sep 7 22:33:33 EDT 2015

> How much did your present solar power set up cost?

Interestingly, Ive never really added it up.  I just keep adding to it.
But I'll try.

First 3 kW were $3/watt, next 6 kW were 2.50/W, next 3 kW were $1/W and
last 6 kW were $0.80/W Plus about $6k for inverters for a total of about
$38k.  Less the 30% federal tax credit and $1k from the state for about for
a total of about $26k.

But that eliminates the $6000 per year I was paying in electricity and
heating oil.  So, Since I started in 2010, it has already almost paid for
itself and the rest of my life is free energy.

WARNING:  This was of course was a DIY project, so my costs are less than
half of a contractor system (Typically $3.50/watt).  And full of painful
delays just getting "round-to-it"...  I finally had to hire a licensed
electrician ($500) and re-do some wiring before I could grid tie.  ANd you
have to be legally grid-tied or solar is uneconomical.

> How do you manage backup power.

Same as I have always done.  Either fire up the $250 generator with a $6
can of gas or more recently, just plug the house into the Prius.
See http://aprs.org/APRS-SPHEV.html

But to my memory, in the 5 years since I began my solar conversion, by the
time I get off the couch and find the cords and flip all the switches, and
"get around to it", the power has always come back on (Average outage
around here is 4 hours a year)...

> what have you found to be maintenance expense?

Biggest expense is just getting up and getting out of bed on weekends and
getting around to it. I have had three problems, all due to my sloppiness
and short cuts that would not occur in a contractor system.  Bad
connections, shorted panel due to flooding and one bad panel (out of 80).
I also installed my ground mount panels too low so when we get a bad snow,
all the snow slides off into a pile on the ground in front of it, and I
have to go out with a shovel and remove the bottom few feet.  This would
not be a problem if I had mounted them the recommended 28" off the ground
instead of my 12"...

> Surely you don't mean to imply that you heat your home with solar as well.

Yep!  I got rid of the oil burning system and switched to a heatpump.  That
changed my $3000 a year heating oil bill to about $1500 more electricity,
but I made up for that by doubling the size of my arrays. I also swapped
out the electric water heater with a heatpump water heater reducing my
$500/year of water heating cost to $200.  And of course all my 55 light
bulbs in the house are CFL's and no incandescents further saving $2500 over
the life of the bulbs.

The electric car costs about 1/3rd to operate compared to gasoline.  My
average 40 miles a day car use only uses about $50/mo of electricity,
easily made up with just another 6 panels.

It was a big investment for sure, but it ELIMINATED the $6,000 per year of
utility and oil and gasoline costs.  What a fantastic return on investment!

I just love getting those $4 electric bills.  The actual minimum charge is
$8/mo, but then they subtract the credits due to having an AC and hot-water
utility control switch and the net is about $3 or $4 a month..

Its like being debt free, but in this case, it is Utility free! (though you
MUST remain connected to the grid because that is the only economical place
to store the solar power for when I need it later).

Don't even think of whole-house batteries or energy storage.  That wastes
$2 out of every $3 invested and is totally uneconomical (assuming, of
course, you have access to the grid).

Grid-tied Solar power is ECONOMICAL power and has nothing to do with
Emergency poewr.  Solve that the way you already do.

Please see http://aprs.org/off-grid-NOT.html


On Mon, Sep 7, 2015 at 3:48 PM, Robert Bruninga <bruninga at usna.edu> wrote:

> Now that all my energy comes from solar, I finally remembered to change my
> APRS symbol to Home Solar (House with S overlay). ALthough I dont think any
> APRS clients have adopted all the new potential symbols, at least APRS is
> ready when they do.
> http://aprs.org/symbols/symbols-new.txt
> Solar is Amazing!  Its cheaper than the Utility, its clean and it returns
> from 10 to 20% return on investment for life. And that return only goes up
> as the cost of energy rises. You cannot find a better risk free investment
> anywhere.
> I was just out watching my electric meter spin backwards on this nice
> sunny holiday and wanted to remind people to think about tomorrow.
> Remember, if  you have sun on your roof, are going to live there for a
> long time, and are not going solar, what are you thinking?  Sooner or later
> you are going to go solar, it just makes no economic sense not to.  So why
> keep paying thousands of dollars a year to a utility when you could be
> paying near zero for the rest of your life starting now.
> And the one deadline that is looming is the end of the 30% federal
> incentives next year (2016).  Why wait till then and then maybe mis-out
> because all the proctrastinators wait too and then the installers are so
> over loaded you miss it?
> The things that are certain in life are death... taxes.... and utilities.
> But finally you can do something about the last two.   Get 30% refund on
> our taxes AND eliminate your utilities and energy costs for life.
> see my page: http://aprs.org/solar-now.html
> If you don't have sun, you can at least sign up with most utilities for
> wind power and soon you can buy into commuinty solarfarms in many states.
> My point. Solar costs about half of what you will pay for utilities for
> the next 20 years (at today's rate), more like a third if utility rates
> continue to go up.  So why keep paying every month for the rest of your
> life, or even one more year, when you could go solar and have free energy
> for life?
> I'm just glad I have lived long enough to see solar not only equal the
> utility in cost (2010) but to now be cheaper than coal!
> ANother way to look at utilities is that its like being permanently in
> debt, but even worse, because you never pay it off!  You just keep paying
> for ever.  Makes no sense (if you have a sunny roof) .
> I used to spend $2400 a year for electricity, $3000 a year for heating oil
> (old leaky house) and $1500 a year for gasoline. Now I switched to a
> heatpump (had to double my solar) and drive an Electric car and my utility
> electric bill is about $4 a month (the minimum account charge),  And the
> only fossil fuel we burn anymore is about $500 a year for the gas for the
> prius when we go out of town.to visit gramma.
> That's $6400 a year savings for the rest of my life.  And my contrubution
> to fossil fuel burning is down 10-to-1.  ANd... it is cheaper than doing
> nothing!
> Don't wait.  Even my first array I bought in 2010 at 4 times today's price
> has already paid for iself, so "waiting" for costs to go down gains
> nothing, but just more money lost every month going down the utility
> rat-hole.  And wait too long and miss the 30% federal tax credit (going
> down to 10% in 2016) and  you just threw away another 20% of your potential
> savings for life.
> Its a whole new world.  Glad to be part of it!
> YOUR state and your mileage may vary.  But get some quotes, and do the
> math!
> Bob, WB4APR
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