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I know grid-power is said to have harmonics and general grunge.
Any success or horror stories about switching to solar?
there are may brands out there.1) is the extra likely charged for a better brand worth the option? 2) do you recommend a particular brand for the panels and for the inverters? or are you trusting the vendor to select a reputable brand.
I assume that in 15-20 yrs I will need to replace parts...
also, what about maintenance...are you cleaning the panels every few months....
After auditioning 4-5 local installer including the 'big boy' companies around town, I used the same installer and panels as Rod; tremendous level of service.
The panels are designed to be maintenance free although I've hosed them off a couple of times early on. I was in Palm Springs last Summer and virtually every structure had solar panels, and every solar panel I saw had a huge layer of dust on them. I guess they perform well enough that folks simply ignore them. I was told NOT to touch them with anything ie window washing fuzzy brushes since they can cause micro scratches.
No sonic difference since I think the system works on the tail end-heading away from the house.
We've got all Kyocera panels, 40 210 watt and 35 250 watt. They are one of the oldest in the business and made in California (or partially in Mexico?). In six years, we did have one panel that got out of spec and was replaced. BTW: 300 watt panels are available now, but weren't cost effective versus the 250 watt panels a few years ago. They're also larger. They may be more effective if you're challenged for prime orientation space.
Inverters are tough. We have SolarEdge because of their efficiency and due to some partial shading issues from a couple of tall palms. they have an advantage with their panel controllers similar to Enphase, but doing it completely differently. SolarEdge uses a transformer to produce a constant DC voltage whereas Enphase uses micro-inverters converting at the panel to 120V AC. Solaredge has provided very good support and helped us a lot to find the failing solar panel which wasn't their problem.
We also have a SunnyBoy inverter which is great and even has an emergency 120V outlet on it that can be used if the power goes out during the day.
We've not had any issues with inverters other than a board that was replaced on one of te SolarEdge inverters shortly after installation (we've got three of their SB3800TLs). The SunnyBoy has been going strong nearly 3 years.
I usually ask what the vendor is using for their quote and get lots of quotes, at least 3 or 4. Comparing their prices and the material to be used tell you a lot. Kyocera panels are more expensive than Chinese products which tell you about their markups. Also, check the online solar solar sellers to get an idea of the prices as a comparison for the quotes.
In nearly 7 years, I've gotten up on the roof and hosed off the panels twice. The last time was last summer and they were really dusty with bird decorations here and there. I did see a very small increase in production, but I doubt it was more than 2%.
As to replacement, I believe the inverters usually have a 10 year warranty. Kyocera guarantees that their panels will produce 80% of their initial performance after 25 years.
Your bigger issue might be your roof. We have asphalt shingles that were probably 20 or more years old and had two or three layers, so I stripped off the old, repaired some of the sheeting, added some vents on one section and had the installer install all of his attachments for the racking material with the flashing, prior to doing the roof replacement. I just didn't want to worry about fixing the roof afterward.
Beatnik's stuff http://web.me.com/jnr1/Site/Beatniks_Pictures.html
Like Chris, we're grid tied, so we just run the meter backward during the day. At night, we're drawing power like anyone else. We're also using Solaredge inverters with their panel modules that adjust to constant voltage. Enphase is another microconverter products, but it converts straight to AC and doesn't use an inverter at the meter. Both have the advantage of better efficiency particularly when some panels are shaded.
If you're in San Diego, I've got a killer installer. Anyway, go big. This is the last chance to be grandfathered into net metering. And don't pay more than $3/watt. An 8.4 kWh system should be under $14,000 before the 30% tax credit, net $9,800, and that's 2014 prices. Our production for a 8.4 kWh system works out to a monthly average of about 1,100 Kwh. Prices keep coming down.
being on the grid at night, I'll have to get that clarified.
I bet we use more electricity at night.
I don't want 2 electric bills, we're not buying the system, it's all free, w/guaranteed reduction in electric bill, but not total reduction, on a 20 year contract.
if you're running standard 120v appliances you would need 'at least' (10) 12v batteries. A standard 220v oven, AC unit or clothes dryer would drain those within hours. Of course this is assuming you'll have Sunlight 365 days a year.
I currently harvest 24kwh per day; as Summer days get longer it'll peak at approx 35kwh.
A common misconception is you're running powre directly off the Sun; in my case the wattage harnessed is 'banked' at the power company. My meter also runs backwards; allow less or no draw from the power company's grid. My bill runs generally -$4 to -$9 per month.
Of course you 'can' run directly off the Sun; many videos on youtube of folks doing this out in the field; but usually they're exceptionally small dwellings.
Our ROI on the last system is only a little over 5 years. I just paid for it from our home equity credit line. The savings on the electric bill is double the cost of the payment. After 5 years, we have no electric bill and no payment
These free deals are expensive financing scams, IMO. They put in the solar for free and they get a 30% discount on the tax credit up front. Then, they give you a guaranteed rate with a reduction from your current bill. However, they're designing the system to cover the bill and charging you a reduced rate for power for 20 years. Over time, it will cost you at least twice as much as buying it and you'll still be paying for power long after you would have paid off the system.
All systems are grid tied. Batteries add a lot of cost, require maintenance and aren't reliable in the long term or even in the short term. For example, if you get a week of clouds and rain, the system won't produce enough power to charge the batteries fully to provide power at night.
You also don't get two bills for power. With net metering, the system runs the meter backward when you produce more than you use and then, the meter goes forward when the system isn't producing enough. At the end of the month, you get a bill for the net usage or a credit for excess power. Monthly, you don't have to pay the bill. It doesn't become due until your annual 'True Up' date. At that time, the net usage versus the credits are totaled up and you can pay once a year.
In our case, we rack up credits from April to October. Those offset usage in winter. Sometimes, I'll pay a $100 in November, December and January which about covers our annual net usage or I can just pay once on the True Up date in May.
BTW: A friend of ours took one of those free solar deals and is now complaining that he's still paying the same amount on his bill. I tried to tell him.
downtime - Night/Bad Weather, add to the cost?
Seems like it only works half the time at best.
How big a system is need to guarantee enough over-production to balance out the down-time?
Obviously, you get more production in Summer than Winter because the days are longer. Bad weather does kill production, but overall, everything tends to average out, so it's not something to worry about.
First, you need to pull your old bills and find out what your average usage is per month and annually. Then, you can figure out how big a system that you need. A caveat is that your location is a variable along with the orientation of the panels. South facing is by far the best. We have both south and west facing panels. The southern panels product nearly 35% more power because they get sun all day long. Your installer has a program to calculate these variables. Or, the free solar guys should have the specs on what they guarantee the system will produce (in kW), and the number of panels and locations of the panels.
You can see the difference in the image below of the layout and production since January. The panel on the lower right side of the top grouping have partial shading in the morning which also shows in the production numbers.
The next two images are of daily production in February 2016 versus 2017. We had a lot of rain and totally cloudy days this year. But over the course of the year, those issues tend to even out.
Finally, the last image is annual production. We started with an 8.4 kW system with 40 panels. In September of 2014, we added another 18 higher rated panels or another 4.5 Kw which shows with the bigger production and since they were all south facing, they're more efficient than initial installation which was half west and half south.
Overall, on an annual basis, the production is fairly consistent. We were getting about 13,000 kWh per year from an 8.4 kW system and it went up to about 19,800 Kwh for our current 12.9 kW system.
So, the key question is what is your average monthly usage or total annual usage over a few years? Then, what would be the orientation of the panels? Other variables are potential shading issues along with where you live. Seattle gets more cloudy days than San Diego.
" we're not buying the system, it's all free, w/guaranteed reduction in electric bill, but not total reduction, on a 20 year contract."
Be careful when you are offered something free and get tied into a very long term contract.
We have had a number of mis-selling scandals in regard to solar panels over here in the UK. At least one of which involved free panels where the supplier turned out to be taking all of the subsidies from the government and/or payments from the grid (there's no such thing as a free lunch of course). In addition in some cases the panels were cheap Chinese ones, not the promised German ones, which did not produce the savings promised. Meanwhile the consumer was left with a remaining 15-20 year contract. Their only way out was to pay thousands to get the panels removed and terminate the contract.
I hope that it all goes well for you and that installers in your part of the world are more honest than some here.
. . . I'm still like most CA customers in that I'm still connected to the grid. Audio-wise, I didn't notice any difference. My original installation didn't quite cover my usage requirements, so I got a couple more panels installed in January this year. So far, nothing unusual to report.
Exactly what I need to hear!
Solaredge SE5000A Inverter, (originally 14, now 16) Sunpower SPR-X21-345 PV Modules - my installer was YES (Your Energy Solutions), but there are a number of vendors/installers who deal with Solaredge and Sunpower equipment.
Lots and lots of questions.
I especially don't want 2 electric bills.
Does your system have a battery?
I don't know if one of those Tesla batteries can be added at some point.
I have one electric bill - from PG&E. I bought my system and got the tax credit. Even so, I don't believe it will pay for itself until about 6 or 7 more years. When you buy, it's a big up-front cost - but the tax credit does help in the following year.
I'm curious, Chris. I saw that you installed SunPower 345 watt panels. We could have used 300 watt panels versus 250s a few years ago when we added to our system, but the prices weren't cost effective and we had plenty of space.
Were you space limited or have those prices come down on SunPower?
Our problem is that we live at the bottom of a hill (which contains a couple of "skyscraper" pines on it!), and it shades our house somewhat. (The pines are on our neighbor's property, but much of the shade is on our property.) So in order for enough electricity to be generated in the reduced time period, we had to go with the highest wattage panels available at the time we made our purchase. We have a small house too (about 1240 square feet), so, as you correctly guessed, there's not a lot of extra space on our roof. That's why our solar investment isn't going to pay off quite as quickly as yours. Still, it's been wonderful to compare how our electrical bill has become so reduced now, compared to how much we were paying before. With the two additional panels I just added, I'm expecting that we'll see enough electricity generated to completely cover our usage this year.
Thanks Chris. SunPower is doing some interesting stuff. When I looked at the 300 watt panels, in addition to the cost, they were getting there by making panels bigger, so not much if any space was getting saved.
The SolarEdge web portal is nice though. I can see the difference on the panels that get morning shade from a big canare palm or the new 250 watt panels versus the old or the west versus south facing panels. It's a huge difference.
Have you though about tossing a few hundred pounds of rock salt over the fence toward those trees?
It's so huge, and my wife thinks it's going to fall on our house someday. We had it looked at by an arborist some years ago to make sure it wasn't infested with beetles, or rot, or whatever. The arborist said it was OK. Our current neighbors themselves had it re-examined by a different arborist a couple of months ago, and that arborist said it was still OK. Fortunately, we have a "volunteer" wild oak which has grown up in the path between the pine and our house, and it's just about big enough now to break the fall of the pine tree in the event that it does fall. In any case, the pine tree predates both our move into our current house, as well as our current neighbors' move into their house.
These two giant eucalyptus trees came down in the big storm a month or so ago about a 1/2 mile from our lace. One hit one house and the second, another, along with totally the SUV.
When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat.- Ronald Reagan
when the sun goes behind a cloud, perhaps you get more vibrato?
Yes, there are some potential issues with how the DC gets converted to AC. There are pure sine-wave inverters and those that mimic pure sine. The pure ones are generally more expensive, but have least propensity to cause issues. Rod M, our site-master, has lots of experience with solar. Hopefully he'll chime in with more info and/or correct any misstatements I may have made.
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