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Author Topic: Solar Power  (Read 7569 times)
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« on: July 26, 2006, 11:54:33 PM »

Does anyone utilize solar power here? I am interested in looking into it...
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2006, 09:49:57 AM »

you know I would like to hear about this also....
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2006, 09:53:15 AM »

I saw on a post somewhere that Summerbee has something. As many hurricanes as we get and as much as we lose power, It would be nice to have an alternate source of power...
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Ted


« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2006, 10:16:56 AM »

all my family lives between New Orleans and Baton Rouge (where im from Wink ) and they all have bought these generators that run on natural gas or LP gas (except for my brother he bought a 20,000 W),,,, they are ready for the next 2-4 without power...  GASOLINE WAS HARD TO COME BY....... they had gas generators but some not big enough, I had to bring gas to them and think god I still could find deisel to get there, if I had a gasoline burning truck I would not have made it or could have gotten stuck there for awhile......

Guardian
15,000/13,000 W LP/Natural Gas Home Standby Generator

Model 04390

Price: $2,995.00/ea

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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2006, 05:51:51 PM »

I am slowly working toward removing myself from "the grid". Solar panels can be quite expensive. You can make yourown solar water heater. betwwen that and a time clock and you will see a significant drop if you have an electric water heater.

Solar panels in order to compensate for you whole house may not pay themselves off for years even if your electric utlity has a good program. FP&L (my electric utlity) is awful.

However there is nothing nicer than seeing a electric meter stop or even spin backwards when the solar panels are going well and household usage is low.

If you can get tracking panels that follow the sun you efficency will be almost 4x better than with still panels but of course they cost more.

Start small and work your way up.

If you have a barn or small cottage convert those first. then work toward the main house.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2006, 08:20:28 PM »

many people who rely on solar power have to have gas or diesel generators to charge their batteries on cloudy days. with the price of fuel being what it is i think power from the grid is way cheaper.
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2006, 08:35:47 PM »

well my family thought about it and the only thing they didn't lose during hurricanes was natural gas, but their new generators burn natural gas and LP gas so if they lose natural gas they still have LP to keep things going...... refrigerator and freezers are the most important plus the A/C UNIT, they also bought small 110volt window units to at lest keep a couple rooms cool during the heat and these generators even run some small central units,,, depends on the draw!!!!   and the question about solar is how many years will it take to make your investment back?Huh
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« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2006, 01:52:07 PM »

i have always been interested in solar.  i figure the less dependent on the  system i am, the better.........however........i live in oregon.

anyone in a cloudy, rainy, state have any luck with solar?  i hear that it is more efficient than it used to be?
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Summerbee
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2006, 04:32:13 PM »

Right now our house is supplied really only a tiny portion by solar power... We have a panel we set up to run an electric gate, this is very nice, you don't have to get out in the rain to open a big ol' farm gate Smiley  It came as a package, the Mighty Mule brand.  It came with a dinky little battery to store power in for cloudy days that would only hold 48 hours charge, bad in hurricanes.  Eventually we replaced it with a marine battery and that monster hasn't gone out yet!  The panel for this is only 1 foot by 3 feet.

The best thing ever was our solar hot water heater we had for 12 years.  It took up half of the roof.  That water got scalding hot.  We had a little panel for the fridge too.  Eventually they were blew into smithereens during a hurricane (remind me again why I am living in Florida??...)

The most popular type of solar panels for home energy is the photovoltaic (PV) type.  This is used in everything from calculators to home power. It's really quite simple, no moving parts or anything.  When light strikes the semiconductor material on the  solar panel, it is converted directly into energy.  Solar panels are made primarily of silicon and will last around 25 years.  THey are silent, and basically the only maintenance is making sure they don't get shaded or covered with any dirt.

PV's would be useful to power several appliances in your home, maybe the fridge and a TV.  It really depends how much power you use.  It also depends on how much of your roof you want covered in solar panels Smiley   Of course, if your house is in the shade you must set them up elsewhere where they will get direct sunlight the majority of the day.  Ideally they should face south, unless you want more power in the morning or afternoon, in which you would face them accordingly.

If you are going to try and run important items off of your PV, you should have a battery source for cloudy days.   This can get expensive, but there are alternatives.  In some areas, you can set up a deal with your local power company where you only use their energy when you need it (at night, cloudy days) and - get this - when you have a SURPLUS, you are wired so that they will BUY IT from you! In this manner you might break even between sunny days when they are crediting you and cloudy days when you are crediting them.

In short, very few people live eculsively off of solar.  But it is a great means to lower your bills, and offer reliability so you may have power when your neighbors whine about the downed power line down the street...
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2006, 04:10:01 AM »

If you decide to get a generator don't stack half your househo;d goods in front of it so you can't get to when you need it like my wife did.  I lost a clutch of eggs in my incubator that way.

My brother uses solar power for his electric fences and runs a generator when needed but never during daylight hours.  His back up is kerosine lanterns just like back in the good old days.
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« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2006, 02:20:47 PM »

I live way out in the country and my power is through an electric cooperative instead of a standard power company. This means my bills are sky high. I have an electric hot water heater (on a timer), an electric stove and central air (also on a timer) and we keep the thermostat on about 78 degrees. My lowest power bill in 2 1/2 years is $350. Last month it was $500+.

I am not looking to get completely off of the system but i would love yo reduce my bills...

Where can I get some good info about this?
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« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2006, 06:57:30 PM »

http://www.homepower.com/

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2006, 11:08:35 PM »

If you're near the gulf maybe you should consider wind generators--the dutch have been using it for centuries.
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jill
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« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2006, 10:57:55 AM »

we looked into solar and wind and found it to be very costly. It would be really cool to see any ideas/plans on systems one could make themselves. Mother Earth News does have some, but mostly they are small solar.
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« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2007, 10:17:51 PM »

Good luck on getting of the grid
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wouldee
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« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2007, 12:00:44 AM »

Ive done alot of research on living off the grid...

As far as i can figure the best set up is..

Run 1 large generator to charge batteries and run power for the house for approx. 3 to 4 hours...10kw
Then run a small generator to run the house for another 3 to 4 hours....3kw
Then you can run on just the batteries for the evening and morning...
Solar panels can be used to do the final top up of the batteries...deep cycle batteries require 3 stage charging systems...solar could do the last 2 stages which use the least power but take the most time...
Having 2 generators is important in that you always have a backup....
I have started building this system as time and money will let me...
I have purchased a 12 hp Listeriod engine that runs on used vegetable oil...and will be installing the generator head in the spring...
Running your generators using fossil fuels will make your hydro bill look cheap...the only way to even compete is to use free fuel....Listeriods run on alot of waste products...even used engine and hydrolic oils...
But the price to set up this system is very costly even for a scrounger like myself...and requires alot of attention....
The engine also gives off alot of heat,hot water from the cooling system and exhaust system which can be recover and makes it even more efficient..

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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2007, 09:52:42 AM »

We are building a new 2400sq home and decided on the 208w sharp solar panels.  we are looking at adding 8 - 10 a year.  We are also building a 32 x 64 barn that we are looking at placeing solar on also.  A good battery backup is needed.  We looked hard and long at wind power and we still are looking at adding wind power also.  Work with the solar companys and they can tell you the best inverter for your needs. 
It is always better to start small and grow big.

Other ways to save on your power bill
Geothermo heating and cooling
LED home lighting
Compact Fluorescent lighting
If you have a central HVAC look at a seer rating of 16 or up in are old house we went from a 12 seer to a 16 seer ac unit and the power bill droped over $100 a month.
Out door wood boilers some can also burn used oils corn etc you can heat your house, water, pool

Going green is not cheap but the earth needs help.
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« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2007, 10:28:41 AM »

I did a huge amount of research on this issue for my state. NJ has a rebate of 38% for solar. (This reabte is being reduced March 1, 2007)Additionally, they are required to buy back surplus electricicty AND you sell your green credits. Green credits are sold to utilities so they can make more energy and more pollution that you didn't make by producing an equal amount of power. For a 5KW system, it would still be $30,000 out of my pocket and another 3-4 thousand b/c I cant roof mount b/c of doggy dormers on roof. Many states offer these reabtes, check into it and see if it helps. Good Luck
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« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2007, 10:42:53 AM »

I am not looking to get completely off of the system but i would love yo reduce my bills...

Where can I get some good info about this?

You got a lot of good suggestions. I have a couple of things to add.

Many states require the power companies offer a grid intertie. It's sort of the best of both worlds. You install a photovoltaic (PV) system, but you don't get rid of your grid connection. This way you don't need batteries. When the sun shines brightly and you're not running an electric oven, your power meter will turn backwards, giving you credit for sending power from your PV system into the grid. At night, on cloudy days, etc, you can draw from the grid as normal. Now, this doesn't help you if the grid goes down and it's cloudy.

To run A/C and electric hot water you would need a HUGE PV system. Most people who put in PV also go with super-low use appliances. They heat and cook with gas or wood.

We looked into a PV system in 2002 when we built. At that time, the systems cost so much that we would never get a return on our investment. I wish, though, we had put in solar hot water. I live in upstate NY and a friend in nearby Massachusetts has a solar system that's 30 years old. On a sunny but subzero day the fluid coming out of the system is at 190-degrees F.

You might also look very hard at your electric use. For example:
Do you use an electric clothes
  • dryer? They typically draw an amazing amout of current. Line drying cut our bill in 1/2.
    Go around and turn off everything you can find. Then look at your meter. If it's still turning you have what conservationists call "phantom load." The LEDs on your VCR, clocks,  all draw current. It may just be a little, but it adds up.
    What kind of light bulbs do you use. Compact fluorescents will give more light for much less electricity use. Switching to all fluorescents could also potentially save you a bundle.
  • you might also save a bundle just by switching to LP for cooking and hot water. You can get hot water heaters that are 96+% efficient from the American Water Heater company.


Outdoor boilers can save you money, but if you're concerned about pollution, don't use them. They are exempt from EPA regulations and emit lots of pollution as a result.

Lastly, Countryside Magazine has tons of articles on designing, sizing and using PV systems, as well as wind and water power systems for homeowners. Check out their back issues. I like their magazine more than Mother Earth. You never see articles in it about big-shot hollywood types who have spent $14 million on a "green" second home.

It's nice to see so many other people thinking about reducing their footprint on the earth.

Kev
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« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2007, 03:15:39 PM »

the deep freeze!!! of course if you own one, or more. the older, the worse, our two freezers added more than half of our electricity bill, so we got rid of one and bought the A+ one...one of the most electricity consuming machines!
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