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Author Topic: Solar ???  (Read 4991 times)

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Offline Darrel

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Solar ???
« on: March 02, 2016, 12:30:08 am »
So I'm thinking about going solar and have been researching on line.  I'm also 100% ignorant when it comes to solar power so I've been watching YouTube videos and reading in an attempt to learn.

I saw this on eBay and have no idea what I'd be getting.

High Power 500 Watts Mono 6x6 Solar Cells Grade B for DIY Panel 4.6W or Higher 

If I bought this, what would I find when it arrives?

Thanks
1992 LT40HD

The winds of change are blowing at hurricane force and I don't like it but good shall come even though I see not how.

Offline DDW_OR

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2016, 02:08:36 am »
i am 80% ignorant when it comes to solar power, graduated from DeVry in October 1992 with an AA degree

are you currently on-grid or off-grid?
will this be your main power? = $$$$$$
or a supplement power? = $$

solar power requires:
6v deep cycle golf cart batteries = cheaper and hold charge longer, that is what my RV friends say
DC to AC inverter
charger/controller = to charge, and maintain the batteries without over charging

also learn Ohm's Law
Volts times amps = watts
Watts divided by Volts = amps
Watts divided by amps = Volts
example:
500w at 12vdc = 41.67 amps
500w at 120vac = less than 4 amps, because of the loss when going from dc to ac
TimberKing 2000 & Talon Sharpener, Mahindra 5520 4x4, Max22 4x4, Bobcat Excavator 331, E80, Multitek 1610EZ
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Offline Darrel

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2016, 03:36:40 am »
Thanks DDW_OR

I've used 6 volt batteries on my RV for years and I will continue that trend when I go solar if for no other reason than I'll be using my solar system to keep my RV batteries charged while camping off grid.

Our offer was accepted on some property out of Sprague River so I'm trying to learn as much as possible so as to save $$$ on my solar system.  I'll start small but will need to grow. I also have a 4,500 watt as well as a 5,500 watt generator. But would much rather use solar. 
1992 LT40HD

The winds of change are blowing at hurricane force and I don't like it but good shall come even though I see not how.

Offline sprucebunny

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2016, 07:16:19 am »
Those solar cells would arrive loose and you would need to mount them ( including soldering connections, making a waterproof frame ) to make a panel form.

With prices dropping, a premade panel with a 25 year warrentee seems like a much better deal to me.

Most people have systems based on 24 or 48 volts for thier house. Panels power output needs to be sized to the voltage of the system. Ideally panels should all be the same.

Check out a solar forum and read peoples questions.
MS193, MS192 and an 026  Weeding and Thinning. Gilbert Champion sawmill

Offline John Mc

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2016, 01:54:29 pm »
As Sprucebunny mentioned, you are much better off going with a manufactured solar panel. The industry is extremely competitive, so it's hard to beat the value by trying to "roll your own". I would strongly recommend using panels from a "first tier" supplier. There has been a lot of shake-up in the PV manufacturing industry, and there is still a lot of over-capacity. A number of manufacturer have gone bankrupt, and more are expected to. What good is a 25 year warranty, if the manufacturer is not around to stand behind them.

We generally use Canadian Solar PV panels - a solid, reputable manufacturer with award-winning products. We've also used Trina, and sometimes use SolarWorld, if the customer is willing to pay a little more for American made panels (they are a German company, but have manufacturing facilities in the US).

The first thing you should consider is whether you will be doing a grid-tied system or off-grid. Grid tied has the advantages of not having batteries to maintain, less expensive (if you already have power nearby), and more efficient. It also means you don't have to size a system to handle your peak load, since the grid supplies the peak needs. The downside is that if the grid power shuts off, so does your system (unless you install grid tie with a battery backup). 

Off grid can make sense if you are far from grid power, since it avoids the expense of running power to the property. It's also something to consider if being completely independent of the grid is of value to you. An off grid system will need some means of generating power to get you through any extended periods where there is not enough sun to meet your needs. Not only are you likely to need power during such times, it's also bad for your batteries to leave them in a discharged or partially discharged state for an extended period.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline dchiapin

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2016, 11:27:16 am »
my biggest suggestion is get a professional solar company to do the configuration and the installation.
When I did my off grid house in Colorado, I hired a local man that said he knew all about solar, long story short.
He didn't know the new solar rules and several extra thousands of dollars later (after hiring a real company) I finally passed inspection.
Most of the components are plug and play but the little things that really matter like proper and safe placement of the solar panels, wire routing and legal lengths of wiring for each component, proper placement of warning and information labels, different fault components for the size of your system all are things that have to be done and done right.
Get a professional to do it, you will be safer and dollars ahead.

Offline Darrel

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2016, 11:37:59 am »
Thanks dchiapin, I've been doing a whole lot of research and the more I learn, the more I come to the conclusion that what you say is truth. I learning about amps, volts, watts and ohms, and the more I learn, the less I know.
1992 LT40HD

The winds of change are blowing at hurricane force and I don't like it but good shall come even though I see not how.

Offline gww

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2016, 07:39:55 pm »
Hang out here:
http://forum.solar-electric.com/categories

And here for more of a home built theem:
http://www.fieldlines.com/index.php

I messed with it for a couple of years and built a couple of turbines and solar panels and put a 5600 watt system in with bought panels. 

My veiw was it cost more to build your own solar panels then to buy them and the bought ones will be of more quality.  If you insist for the experiance of building a few, the second web site has a good sticky of building them.

If you have a battery you will not save money with solar.  I have a 48 volt forktruck battery and found that to be the most amphour for the buck.  Didn't need trade in like you will at sams club or such.

The only way being off grid makes sence is if you are really in a remote area and it would cost you a fortune to get the grid there.

I think the solar rebate that the gov had was set to expire in 2015/16.  I don't know if they have renewed it or not but even with it, if you use a battery it will cost more then buying electric.

The electric companies were giving rebates and if this is the case and it is high enough, you may get cheaper electric with solar and grid tie and no battery.  Ameren was $2 a watt but I believe they have stopped.

I hope this helps
gww

Offline John Mc

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2016, 08:56:10 pm »
I think the solar rebate that the gov had was set to expire in 2015/16.  I don't know if they have renewed it or not but even with it, if you use a battery it will cost more then buying electric.

The 30% tax credit was originally scheduled to expire at the end of 2016. It was extended for a bit (i forget exactly how long), but it starts phasing out in a couple of years.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline dchiapin

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2016, 09:20:04 am »
there is a very informative magazine "Home Power" that is so full of information about off grid systems it will boggle the mind.
I suggest getting a subscription to the magazine. Many questions you have are already answered and I think with a full subscription you get full access to all articles they have printed on line.
Of course the advertisements are very informative also because they are mostly directed to professional installers not most homeowners.
One of the first things you should do is make all appliances and electrical devises as energy efficient as possible, this reduces the size of all the components needed for your project and 'of course' reduces the costs associated with the project.
Also do a real good survey of ALL your electrical needs and what you may want in the future, this helps your professional installer better know how to configure your system so you not only know the upfront cost but also lets them know the real figures.
Just remember "it ain't cheap" and don't worry about payback times, etc. just have it in your mind the first electrical bill is a doozy but the rest of them are free (or almost)

Offline John Mc

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2016, 10:30:33 am »
It pays to do your homework on any installer you are thinking of hiring. The fact that someone is "doing it professionally", is no guarantee that they actually know what they are doing or that they are not taking shortcuts.

We see roof installations all the time on roofs without the structure to handle it (it's usually not the weight of the system that is the problem, it's the additional uplift in high winds that can rip off your panels along with some of the roof under it. (for example, we see guys putting 3/8" lag bolts 3"+ into the edge of a 2x4 - I'm sorry, but there is just not enough wood left for structural strength at that point.) We also see installers not installing flashing around the roof penetrations. They seem to think the "goop" they put in and around the lag bolt hole is enough -- it's not.

We see similar problems on ground mount systems: undersized poles on a pole mount system that do not meet manufacturer's recommendations for strength to withstand expected wind loads. Rack mount systems where the diagonal bracing is not installed correctly (they obviously did not bother to read the manufacturer's installation instructions).

Electrically, there are just as many problems: installers using wire nuts instead of the appropriate "fine wire" connectors which are a code requirement when certain types of wiring (common in the solar industry) is used. Undersized breakers or disconnects, wire gauges in longer wiring runs that MIGHT meet the Code requirements, but do not meet the inverter manufacturer's specifications for allowable voltage drop.

We've seen installation that failed to meet Code requirements for protecting the wiring from access by "curious fingers" (One big name installer did this on all of their systems, including some ground mounts in the back yard of a school. They refused to allow inspectors on their jobs, successfully arguing they didn't have jurisdiction by applying some little know loophole originally intended for traffic lights. They finally got caught and were slapped on the wrist and told to go back and shield some of their past installations.)

Unfortunately, using a "big name" nationally known installer does not guarantee these things will be done correctly. They have been some of the biggest offenders in our area.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2016, 11:11:11 am »
I agree, there are some bad installers, that was what happened to me on the first contractor
But, yes do your homework and ask for references. Even if they give you references check up on them through your states electrical board or who ever oversees solar installation contractors.

Offline John Mc

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2016, 11:22:10 am »
and be aware that OF COURSE the installer is going to give you references from people where the system is working fine.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline Darrel

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2016, 12:32:24 am »
I sure am glad for what I'm learning here, I have always been of the opinion that if you want something done right, just do it yourself.  But in this case I feel that I would be in way over my head.  So when it come right down to it, I plan to be very involved and whoever I hire is going to know right from the start that I expect nothing less than perfection.
1992 LT40HD

The winds of change are blowing at hurricane force and I don't like it but good shall come even though I see not how.

Offline John Mc

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2016, 08:14:24 am »
Are you considering a ground mount, or a roof mount?
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline Darrel

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2016, 10:54:04 am »
Are you considering a ground mount, or a roof mount?

Ground most likely because it is easier to reach for clearing snow.

Also, I watched a YouTube video on building your own panels and decided that that isn't for me!

The place I bought has power to the corner of the property but I noticed that many of the neighbors have solar and no hookup to the grid. I asked one neighbor about it yesterday and he told me that hooking up to the grid will cost me about $10,000. I find that hard to believe but if true, I will not be using the services of Pacific Power.
1992 LT40HD

The winds of change are blowing at hurricane force and I don't like it but good shall come even though I see not how.

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2016, 11:13:11 am »
Are you considering a ground mount, or a roof mount?

Ground most likely because it is easier to reach for clearing snow.

Also, I watched a YouTube video on building your own panels and decided that that isn't for me!

The place I bought has power to the corner of the property but I noticed that many of the neighbors have solar and no hookup to the grid. I asked one neighbor about it yesterday and he told me that hooking up to the grid will cost me about $10,000. I find that hard to believe but if true, I will not be using the services of Pacific Power.

Well, that's cheap!  PG&E (Pacific Graft & Extortion  ;)) wanted to charge me $1,000 just to come out and give me an estimate.  I finally got them to say it would be between $25 and 35k to run about 2,000'. :o
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 38" cut Bandmill up to 64' - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Offline gww

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2016, 11:20:44 am »
darrel
You better think long and hard before you say $10,000 is too much for a grid hook up.  If you tried to cover what I use installed by a professional it would start at $90,000.  I have over $20, thousand actual money in a 5600 watt system that I installed and that I used some used equiptment.  Mostly the inverters were used.  The battery will need replaced in 7 through 20 years unless you make a mistake and toast them in a month.  Most figure the inverters will need worked on or replaced in ten years.  I would do a years hard research and put prices to things before I made a decision.  You can live frugal and do with out air conditioning and hang your cloths on the line and use a smaller system but the per watt money will be more then you could have paid for it just buying from poco.  Most that go off grid do it because it cost $100,000 to get grid installed or to do there part to save the world or cause they have an independant streak and don't care what it cost.  The independent streak is sort of a misnomer because if something breaks it is usually of a tech nature that you can't do for yourself and so you have to buy from others.

I installed based on wanting to learn something I was a bit interested in and have a bit of a independant streak myself.  I wanted it.  Poeple drive suvs rather then mini cars cause they want to not cause they need to.  I won't say they are wrong.  I will say you won't save money and that should not be your reason to get solar.  It is closer then it was before but not there yet.
I don't care what you do but am trying to help you do it with open eyes.
Cheers
gww

Offline John Mc

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2016, 01:08:34 pm »
darrel
You better think long and hard before you say $10,000 is too much for a grid hook up.  If you tried to cover what I use installed by a professional it would start at $90,000.  I have over $20, thousand actual money in a 5600 watt system that I installed and that I used some used equiptment.

Holy mackerel, Darrel. The market must be a lot different out there than it is here in VT. We did a ground mount system a little over a year ago that was about 5kW installed for about $13,000 (after the 30% federal tax credit). That was using all new components from first tier suppliers. We might be able to do better now, since prices have ebbed a bit since then. I'll see if I can dig up the cost on a more recent job. We did a system that was close to 5kW ground mount last December.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Solar ???
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2016, 01:56:00 pm »
darrel
You better think long and hard before you say $10,000 is too much for a grid hook up.  If you tried to cover what I use installed by a professional it would start at $90,000.  I have over $20, thousand actual money in a 5600 watt system that I installed and that I used some used equiptment.

Holy mackerel, Darrel. The market must be a lot different out there than it is here in VT. We did a ground mount system a little over a year ago that was about 5kW installed for about $13,000 (after the 30% federal tax credit). That was using all new components from first tier suppliers. We might be able to do better now, since prices have ebbed a bit since then. I'll see if I can dig up the cost on a more recent job. We did a system that was close to 5kW ground mount last December.
John,
That sounds like a grid-tied setup, correct?  I put in a 4.6kw and was out about $14k two years ago (after 305 rebate).  If Darrel can get his hands on the  good panels, not have to pay the installation or for a line inverter, he might come out even when he buys the batteries.  It all depends on if you NEED 120vac or if you can live off of 12/24/36vdc.  More efficient and less cost that way.

I'm thinking 4 panels @ 327 each for a 1.3kw battery system for my off-grid cabin will do me just fine.
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 38" cut Bandmill up to 64' - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.