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Has anyone installed Solar chargers?

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by Robecology, May 31, 2013.

  1. Robecology

    Robecology Member

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    May 11, 2013
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    Location:
    Homestead, Florida, United States
    Am installing power outlet in garage; thinking of going Solar. How are they working? Are they a value or not?
     
  2. ToddRLockwood

    ToddRLockwood Active Member

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    #2 ToddRLockwood, May 31, 2013
    Last edited: May 31, 2013
    YES! I just signed a solar lease for my house this week. I had only a vague understanding of how these leases work, but now I get it. If your house has an appropriate roof, pointed in the right direction, you'd be crazy not to install solar. Most of these lease packages work the same way: You pay nothing up front. The lease term is 20 years and it's transferable if you sell your home. The system is sized to meet or slightly exceed your current average electric usage. It operates independent of your present electric service, pushing its power through a separate meter and into the electric grid. For the power I add to the grid, the utility company credits my account at a rate $0.03 per kWh above the current electric rate. As long as I don't use more power than I'm generating, I won't see another electric bill. Instead, I pay a monthly lease payment to the solar company. That monthly lease payment will be about the same amount I was previously paying for electricity. But here's where the real benefit comes in... Electric rates are rising at a rate of 3% per year, but my lease payment will never go up. Meanwhile, as utility rates rise, the power I'm generating is earning more credit over time.

    My Model S arrived in March, so I've had time to assess my additional electric usage for charging. In sizing the system, the solar contractor has taken that into account. It is possible to pay outright for these systems, but the lease rate was so reasonable it didn't make sense to tie up the cash.

    My 24 panel system will produce about 11,000 kWh/yr. The 345W panels are made by SunPower, currently one of the top rated brands.
     
  3. Raffy.Roma

    Raffy.Roma Active Member

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    Rome (Italy)
    I just saw that SunPower is available also in Italy. I also am thinking to install solar panels on my apartment in the South of Italy. Thank you for the advice.
     
  4. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    Portland, Maine, USA
    Just a word of caution: the economics of rooftop solar in New England is heavily dependent on the ability to sell power onto the grid at a price at or above the wholesale price of power. This is not a sustainable business model for the utilities. As long as solar penetration is low, they can shift the cost to others. If solar takes off, though, the utility commissions will have to revisit how consumers pay for electric service.

    Let's take a look at what Todd is doing. It makes perfect sense for him, given the current rules of the game. But he is paying nothing to the utility, despite receiving valuable services: they supply and service all the wires and transformers by which he buys power at night and sells power by day; it pays for generation stations to provide power overnight; and it instantaneously balances the net power requirements of his house. That's quite a lot of service to be supplying for free.

    So, while solar looks great today, be aware that you are exposed to the risk of a regulatory change in the future that could sharply shift the apparent economics. The wholesale value of the power alone does not support the lease payments.
     
  5. biwamura

    biwamura Member

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    california
    I have had my solar unit for over a year and built it based on acquiring the Model S. In the full year of service that I had the system we only settle with the utility company on an annual basis. I owed them $39.00 basically for admin fees. This past months bill SDG&E indicated that I had a credit. The system on a good day will generate 40+KWH and on a cloudy day 30+KWH. I purchased this since you get all the credits from the state and feds and not the leasing company. I received a zero percent loan that is deferred until Sept of 13 and I will payoff the system then. It is well worth it whether you lease or purchase!!!
     
  6. ToddRLockwood

    ToddRLockwood Active Member

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    I'm no expert on this stuff, but I imagine that another benefit for the utility (and perhaps a justification for paying me a bit more for the power I generate than the power I'm being charged for) is that decentralized power generation puts the source of the power closer to where it's consumed and thereby avoids line loss.
     
  7. Owner

    Owner Active Member

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    They do work great, have an inverter replaced under warranty. Will have free electricity in another 2 1/2 years. I bought my solar system 7 years ago and Teslas for 4 1/2. Detailed report here:

    Solar EV Report | Tesla Owner
     
  8. FreeOfPge

    FreeOfPge Member

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    CA
    We have a 25kw system that powers our entire home, water pump, hot water, heating and A/C, swimming pool, pond circulation, car charging, pretty much everything. It is the single best investment we have ever made. I know many people who have installed solar, either DYI like us or they leased, or purchased their systems. I have not met one person that has regrets. Solar has really come down in price the last couple years, three years ago it was a tough sell, but today, you are crazy not to do it.
     
  9. spatterso911

    spatterso911 MSP#7577 **--** MX#1891

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    Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    I have a 14kW system in So Cal, and it covers all the needs of my home and the Tesla. My bills have consistently been -$60 this spring. Best investment ever. I'm on a Time of Use rate and my family have been very good with monitoring use during the daytime. I charge at night (after 6pm).
     
  10. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    There's a thread in "Tesla Charging" entitled "Alternative Energy Powered" in which a number of members showed off their systems. All of them were solar - no tidal, or wind, or hydro -

    I added mine, too - duplicated here. Now, while the $pecial of our $ituation is that our micro-community's electricity is among the planet's priciest, at between $2.15 and $4.20 per kWh. So just about any system made more sense than continuing to throw over $10,000 each year into electric bills, and that for using niggly amounts of the worst-quality imaginable electrons - going out between four and ten times a month; coming in at between 96 and 137 volts; cycling somewhere between 52 and 66Hz (and usually on the bottom end). So you have to add back the countless compressors and resistive units it destroyed). But for you - in Homestead? You've just gotta get it!!!!!
    My system follows, in six photos:

    (Correcting sidewaysness of photos remains beyond me.)
    First photo shows the heart of the system: nine tons of absorbed-glassmat batteries. 2 columns of 6V 1150Ah Absolyte IIPs, wired at 48 volts. As we are (way) off-grid, I had not the luxury of using those super-keen-o Enphase inverters, something that makes fantastic sense for those of you on grid who can throw electrons back to your utility company. attachment.php?attachmentid=19634&d=1365187608.jpg
    Second shot is of the two charge controllers for the two different banks of PV panels. A MidNite and an Outback FlexMax80. To their left are the 16kW Outback inverters.
    attachment.php?attachmentid=19635&d=1365187631.jpg
    Third shot is the proof of the pudding: the day I was taking these photos,4 April, the sun gave me 49.92kWh, or 945Ah, of electricity (used 384; stored 561):
    attachment.php?attachmentid=19636&d=1365187642.jpg
    Fourth photo shows something else. We also have an array of solar heat collectors; these bring the heat to this Big Black Box, which is an 1,800-gallon (6800 liter) hyper-insulated water tank - heat is then dispersed to our domestic hot water, radiant heat in the shop/garage, our laundry system, the bathhouse, and soon, to radiator heat in our Great Room. To the right of the box is an auxiliary 30kW diesel generator. Of importance is that there is no radiator attached to this water-cooled engine. Rather, I plumb its cooling directly into the Black Box, and that includes a water jacket around its exhaust. That system is wondrously efficient: so little heat is lost to the atmosphere that I literally can hold the exhaust pipe with bare hands (albeit not for long). It immensely enhances the amount of hot water we have for use. Use of the generator varies: it's not been on for two weeks, as w've had a great spell of fine weather, and virtually no guests at this time of year. But on a cloudy summer day when we are full - say, 20 guests - we may run it for a four-hour stretch every other day.
    attachment.php?attachmentid=19637&d=1365187659.jpg
    Fifth photo shows two sets of panels (I was not able to crop the photos, either..... On the right is the small PV array atop a 65-foot tower I erected; these are on a passive tracker which works quite well in the NON-summer months. But during our endless daylight summers at 63ºN, the sun rises and sets in the north, swooping all around the sky during the day and the tracker's heat-seeking radiator gets confused. The second array, on the left, are the solar heat collectors, plumbed down through this structure to the Black Box in the prior picture.
    attachment.php?attachmentid=19638&d=1365187703.jpg
    Last photo is the ground-mounted array of PV panels. These are 280 feet away from Control Central, but I ran double 3/0 copper wire, and line loss is less than 3% - very acceptable. And in the foreground are our Official Cabin Greeters, Aurora and Borealis.
    Since this is early April, we are still seeing daytime lows in the -12ºF/-25ºC range, with highs just under freezing, so the PV panels' efficiency remains optimum. That's ONE problem where we have FL, AZ, NV and CA beat!
    attachment.php?attachmentid=19639&d=1365187747.jpg
     
  11. RichardC

    RichardC Cdn Sig & Solar Supporter

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    Toronto, Canada
    Solar is a great investment. We have been generating power for the past two and one half years, can produce around 80 kWHr on a good day and close to 15,000 kWHr per year. Solar and the Tesla are a great combination!
     
  12. astrotoy

    astrotoy Member

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    SF Bay Area
    I bought my system from Solar City (not on lease) back in 2009 and in the four years have averaged over 10,000 KWHr per year. I got my Model S in February and am on TOD EV-9A pricing, so I sell to PGE (the SF Bay Area utility) at peak price and buy at after midnight cheapest price. It is a great deal for me. PGE encourages this because with more solar they lower the peak demand, which is in the daytime, weekday, particularly in the summer when air conditioning loads are the highest and not coincidentally the weekday solar generation is highest. That means building fewer new power plants to supply the peak demand - a very expensive alternative to subsidizing local distributed solar units, where the homeowner through purchase or lease is paying for most of the capital cost of the power generation. For me, it also means that my Tesla is really very clean, since the power generation takes place 93,000,000 miles from earth.
     
  13. Robecology

    Robecology Member

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    Homestead, Florida, United States
    Good point, Robert; but I talked to my son, an executive at FP&L in Fla, and he says "RB is right; FP & L does plan to "revisit" Solar user strategies; but we will always encourage its' use, as long as they remain linked to the grid, they'll need us, and we need them; so it's a win-win strategy".

    - - - Updated - - -

    Wow; good detailed advice; and very little negative. Guess I have to weigh the options of purchase vs Lease; but I'll be going for it soon.

    Rob
     
  14. Larry Chanin

    Larry Chanin Model S Perf Sig 1055

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    Sarasota, Florida
  15. waidy

    waidy Member

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    Los Altos Hills, CA
    Hi Audubon, nice system and thanks for posting the photos. I am trying to understand some basic stuffs perhaps you could shed me some lights here.
    You have [email protected] batteries. A bank of 48V would takes 8, then you will have 4.5 banks. Therefore the capacity of your battery pack system would be 1150Ah*4.5=5175Ah (did I do this right?). The display of your system (@third shot) has a total input of 945Ah or 49.920kWh, that suggested that the voltage is 52.8V. I am a little confuse on my math.
     
  16. jeffhre

    jeffhre Member

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    Antelope Valley, CA
    Wow, " cycling somewhere between 52 and 66Hz (and usually on the bottom end)" how do they know if there is a problem? Nevermind the whole system you had to put up with is a problem, good choice on your part. At least it's another house and car that can go EV. Fantastic to see. How much could you reasonably generate to put toward an EV?
     
  17. Colasec

    Colasec Member

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    Jun 15, 2013
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    SoCal
    I like the idea of solar power, but I'm confused about the options. The leases you are describing make sense, but now SolarCity seems to offer only a different model: where there's no lease and no transactions between you and the grid - you pay SC for power and they sell to the grid: Solar PPA Financing - Residential Solar PPA Providers - SolarCity


    Is that right? Can someone briefly describe the tradeoffs between that and a lease?
     

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