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Solar evaluation and installation

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

One of the writers at ExtremeTech just went through the process of getting 6+ kW installed on his house. He goes through the evaluation of various vendors and configurations, the tax credits, and how he feels about it a month later. Definitely a great set of articles and worth the read.



post #2 of 7
depending on the location and orientation of install, we're seeing payback periods decreasing and incentives (tax) increasing with the new technology, like these panels.  love it!
post #3 of 7
The article (or series) Deej mentioned is really a super story about one guys experience.

Solar PV is very much site specific as regards to whether it makes sense or not. Orientation of the house or shading may not allow use of solar at all for some.

Southern CA with good sun, high electricity prices and high incentives/subsidies is excellent. Most other places are less attractive. I would think Seattle and Portland are among the worst cases due to cloudy days, rain and latitude.

Solar hot water normally has the quickest payback and certainly saves electricity. After one has a solar water heating system then they should start considering PV panels.

Grid connect where you have high electric rates is attractive as in some places you can be compensated for surplus power generated. It also saves the loss of efficiency that you have when going to batteries and back plus the cost of the battery bank which is substantial. The grid tie system is simpler and easier for most to use. 
Edited by Russ - 9/17/09 at 6:08am
post #4 of 7
Yeah, it does depend a lot on the location and build of each particular house. I wouldn't want to put the effort of building my own solar panel system, I would much rather hire a solar installer to do it for me. However, I'm not quite ready to shell out the cash for solar panels. I still feel like there is room for a big leap in technologies and panel efficiency within 5 years or so. Solar water heating though is pretty basic technology. Does anyone know how much one of those systems might cost?
post #5 of 7
I looked into a PV system, and being in Colorado we have a good amount of sun. Actual payback was 18 years. We don't plan on being here that long. It is my understanding that panels are still going for about $3 per watt. I know there is one company that has broken the $1 per watt barrier, but as of now it is commercial only.
Like all technologies, I think things will get better and less expensive quite soon.
post #6 of 7
The latest price I have seen on panels is about 2.40 USD/watt + inverter, racks, electrica connection etc. Unless you are in an area such as CA where the peak tariffs are high and incentives are high it is very expensive power.

The efficiency of the solar cell only makes a difference in the panel physical size - doesn't really mean anything to the consumer except roof space.

Thin films are still making their way onto the market with some big names being little more than a scam with a PR agency.

Concentrated solar is still very high price - at least anything I have seen.

If I see any costs on the water heater panels I will post it - what I paid here has nothing to do with US costs and is substantially higher.
post #7 of 7
The Golden State Warriors just commissioned (put into service) a PV system on their practice facility in downtown Oakland with some fanfare.

That is great but some of the numbers provided sound like it may be more publicity than good economics.

There are 537 Sunpower 305 panels - these would probably put out 80% of that peak power number which comes to 244 watts per panel.

537 * 244 = 131 kW per hour

Sunpower claims an estimated daily production of 759 kWh per day / 131 kW per hour = 5,8 hours per day of good sun - good sun for San Francisco!

They also project 277,008 kWh per year meaning 277,008 / 759 = 365 days per year of full production - very good! İ had no idea San Francisco got so much sunshine.

That, according to my calculation, means they project they will have full production for 5.8 hours per day for 365 days per year.

İf İ am missing something will someone please correct me.

This is the practice facility - it is a small proportion of the clubs actual annual power consumption İ suppose. 

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