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DawnM

Would you consider going to solar power

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If you got plenty of sun hitting your roof?  My husband has wanted to do it since we lived in CA, but we never have.

Anyone here gone solar?

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We would love to. We have really good sun exposure for it, so might consider it one day. 

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where I currently live?  no way.  my sil has solar power for her swimming pool and they refuse to use the back up heater to warm it up first. (the previous owner installed it - the solar panels were only supposed to keep the temp up - not warm it up.)  in a good summer, it's not warm enough until june/july.

if I lived in a particularly sunny locale, I would be willing to have solar panels - ***as long was still on the grid for electricity from the power company***.

 

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Solar here for the past few years, and very happy. We do not have solar batteries, so we can't be totally off-grid, as the panels only produce when being hit by sunlight, so there would be no electricity after sundown. We are still hooked up to the local grid, and when we generate in excess of what we use, we get a credit that can be used toward the $17 monthly fee for being hooked up to/using the local grid. Last year, we generated enough excess to earn credit that covered the first 4-5 months of this year's monthly user fee. (:D

However, we live in the very sunny southwest where we have few rainy/cloudy days, so I don't know how cost-effective solar panels would be in other areas.

Edited by Lori D.
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I would love to do it and our yard gets plenty of sun here in San Antonio.  Unfortunately, I can't justify the expense.  The last time we priced it out we determined that we would not see ROI for 10+ years, and we were unlikely to stay in this house for that length of time. 

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29 minutes ago, DawnM said:

If you got plenty of sun hitting your roof?  My husband has wanted to do it since we lived in CA, but we never have.

Anyone here gone solar?

 

Our new house will be solar. We expect that for about 9 months out of the year we will be selling our excess electric back to the city. Keep in mind as you're planning, the tax credit  decreases in 2020, so to get the most tax benefit, you would want to do it this year.

This is the structure of the tax credit, which gradually decreases until it is non-existent for a residence beginning in 2022:

2016 – 2019: The tax credit remains at 30 percent of the cost of the system.

2020: Owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 26 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes.

2021: Owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 22 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes.

2022 onwards: Owners of new commercial solar energy systems can deduct 10 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes. There is no federal credit for residential solar energy systems.

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I grew up in Phoenix with a solar hot water heater on the roof. I've always thought solar powered anything was neat.

I've been trying to talk dh into converting our well to solar. As it is right now, if the power goes out, we lose water too since the well pump cannot kick on without electricity. And we lose power frequently out here in the middle of nowhere. When there is a big outage like we had a few years ago when we got a massive amount of snow, we are one of the last areas around here to get power restored.

I would LOVE to go completely solar and off grid. It's a "someday" goal for me, dh isn't quite fully on board yet.

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I would absolutely love to IF it were more affordable AND off-grid. I don’t want to be tied in. 

Right now, it’s out of my price range and I’d need to convert my fireplace to a wood burning stove. My roof isn’t large enough to fit enough panels to cover my electric heat! (I’ve run the calculations. )

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I would love to go solar.  Right now it's too expensive for us, and I'm sad to see the tax credits disappearing.   

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Been there, done that- never again.

off grid was just too crunchy for me while having a family! 

I love being able to cook or vacuum or use the microwave even when it’s cloudy 🙂 and have heat and a/c whenever I want them without having to crank up the wood stove, lol.

Not having a basement wall full of batteries is nice too.

 

Edited by Hilltopmom
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2 hours ago, LMD said:

We are completely off grid, 100% solar. 

Are you happy with it? Pros? Cons?

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not off grid solar, but tied to the electric company. We have one area that would be nice to do solar, but it's too cost prohibitive right now. Down the road I might consider it. It is a technology that I'm watching. 

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2 hours ago, MissLemon said:

I would love to do it and our yard gets plenty of sun here in San Antonio.  Unfortunately, I can't justify the expense.  The last time we priced it out we determined that we would not see ROI for 10+ years, and we were unlikely to stay in this house for that length of time. 

Ditto here.  We live in a place of 300 days of sunshine but it would take over 10 years to pay back with electrical savings.  Also, with the giant hail we get around here, they would get damaged before we got to that date anyway.

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The house I live in is in the woods as have 3 of the last 4 homes. I don't want to live in a sunny place.  My a c bill and heating bills are so much lower because of the modulating effect of trees. Also I am a huge lover of birds and solar panels kill birds.  I like carrying for the birds and if I had solar. I couldn't feed them anymore since I would be luring them to their deaths.

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Love too, but not cost effective.  They wanted a monthly payment equal to what I paid for electric when teens were in the home.  Can't justify that for 20 years of retirement. 

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I have been given a quote.  It would "pay for itself" in 8 years.  We plan to stay in the house 15 (until retirement) at least, so it would be cost effective, just not up front.

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We added solar panels two years ago, enough to cut our power bill down by 75%. It was an investment that's paying for itself. 

I've never heard it harms birds, I've not seen any evidence of this personally. We have feeders, lots of birds and I've not found any dead. 

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 After watching Ed Begley Jr. in "Living with Ed" episodes up on his roof cleaning the solar panels I can honestly say "I don't do solar panels!"  

 

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1 hour ago, TravelingChris said:

 Also I am a huge lover of birds and solar panels kill birds.  I like carrying for the birds and if I had solar. I couldn't feed them anymore since I would be luring them to their deaths.

Residential solar panels don’t kill birds.  The only solar panels that are problematic for birds are huge solar farms, particularly thermal solar that concentrates the suns rays and attracts birds.   

As far as the OP question, we have solar and we produce basically all of our energy needs in the summer, most in the spring and fall.  We have tesla battery backup when our power goes out. We have two and they fit easily along the wall in our laundry room.  They will power everything in our house if the electricity goes out. We live in the Pacific Northwest so a fairly rainy climate in the winter.  They have been a great deal so far for us.   I was pretty neutral on them when we got them but we have been very pleased with the results.  

Edited by ealp2009
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4 hours ago, MissLemon said:

I would love to do it and our yard gets plenty of sun here in San Antonio.  Unfortunately, I can't justify the expense.  The last time we priced it out we determined that we would not see ROI for 10+ years, and we were unlikely to stay in this house for that length of time. 

 

Have you considered something like SunRun? They pay for the system, you lease it from them but with benefits... or something.

Quote

Also I am a huge lover of birds and solar panels kill birds. 

 

Fossil fuels kill way more birds than solar panels, both when mined and when burned. And that's not even taking climate change into account.

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3 hours ago, Scarlett said:

Are you happy with it? Pros? Cons?

Very happy with it but we do have a pretty crunchy lifestyle to match (wood stove, vermiculture septic etc)

My husband put the whole thing together, our house is run on 3 different circuits each with their own panels and battery bank. It's a lower voltage than regular grid power.

We do have to watch our usage and some things (like hairdryer) are just not doable. The batteries are expensive and you do need quality and to get them all at once.

Pros - no electricity bills! 

Eta - we have heaps of birds around our property. The panels don't seem to have made any impact on them whatsoever. Maybe Aussie birds are more robust lol

Edited by LMD
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2 hours ago, bethben said:

Ditto here.  We live in a place of 300 days of sunshine but it would take over 10 years to pay back with electrical savings.  Also, with the giant hail we get around here, they would get damaged before we got to that date anyway.


That's why we went with lease rather than own -- the company is fully responsible to repair/replace in case of any malfunctions or damage. They are also fully responsible to remove all equipment and panels off the roof at the end of the 20 years.

Yes, it is true that it is years before we get the pay back and then get the savings, BUT we went with the option of paying the full 20-year lease price up front, so we start getting the pay back several years sooner than if we had chosen to pay per month for the lease.

And we are helping the environment now, by using clean/renewable energy to generate our electricity -- AND enough left over to contribute to the local grid, which helps reduce any fossil fuel burning that might be used to generate electricity used by our grid.

Edited by Lori D.
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7 minutes ago, LMD said:

Very happy with it but we do have a pretty crunchy lifestyle to match (wood stove, vermiculture septic etc)

My husband put the whole thing together, our house is run on 3 different circuits each with their own panels and battery bank. It's a lower voltage than regular grid power.

We do have to watch our usage and some things (like hairdryer) are just not doable. The batteries are expensive and you do need quality and to get them all at once.

Pros - no electricity bills! 

Eta - we have heaps of birds around our property. The panels don't seem to have made any impact on them whatsoever. Maybe Aussie birds are more robust lol

Could I use a flat iron?

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2 hours ago, TravelingChris said:

The house I live in is in the woods as have 3 of the last 4 homes. I don't want to live in a sunny place.  My a c bill and heating bills are so much lower because of the modulating effect of trees. Also I am a huge lover of birds and solar panels kill birds.  I like carrying for the birds and if I had solar. I couldn't feed them anymore since I would be luring them to their deaths.

Solar panels installed on homes are not a danger to birds. Climate change, through the use of coal and natural gas to provide utilities to homes is, however, a danger to birds. 

This is a good article: 

https://www.audubon.org/news/why-solar-power-good-birds

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19 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

Could I use a flat iron?

Probably not on our system, but ours is purposely a low voltage system. Most solar packages are not like ours though! So you'd probably need a proper comparable-to-grid-power system, not a weird crunchy rural homeschoolers system! It's all to do with voltage and amps hours and I only have a passing understanding of all that 😄 I'll ask dh.

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Just to let people know, there are different ways they do solar. If you want to be off the grid, you can do that by having storage batteries in your home for the excess generated when it is sunny, and you use the battery power when it is not sunny. 

We aren’t going off the grid, so we will not have the expense or space consideration of batteries, instead, our excess power is sold back to the city. In the winter, when we have shorter days, we will buy some power from the city. We anticipate that will be Dec -. March, give or take a week or two. 

I know people calculate ROI on projects of this size, and it is wise to do that.  We did it, too. But, this investment isn’t like other investments because it is an investment in reducing the effects of climate change for future generations, some of whom have already been born. I know I can make a difference without causing undue hardship on my family, so we are. We all make choices as to how to spend our money and there are a billion different ethical choices that we can make to spend that money. This is one of our choices that we are making for the benefit of future generations - our grand- and great- grand children, and your grand-children and great-grandchildren and for the grandchildren and great grandchildren of peoplethat I will never meet. This is about the future.

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5 hours ago, TechWife said:

know people calculate ROI on projects of this size, and it is wise to do that.  We did it, too. But, this investment isn’t like other investments because it is an investment in reducing the effects of climate change for future generations, some of whom have already been born. I know I can make a difference without causing undue hardship on my family, so we are. We all make choices as to how to spend our money and there are a billion different ethical choices that we can make to spend that money. This is one of our choices that we are making for the benefit of future generations - our grand- and great- grand children, and your grand-children and great-grandchildren and for the grandchildren and great grandchildren of peoplethat I will never meet. This is about the future

This.  Though it is still a bit too far out of my reach right now.

I could be way off, but I would think that the ROI might include a boost to home value.  Obviously not everyone is feeling the pressure of environmental crisis or has the funds to take major steps, but the young people just entering the real estate market do seem more likely to recognize the overall importance.

Not that I’m saying young people have a ton of money!  But they may find rolling the cost into a 15, 20, or 30 year mortgage (plus maintenance) more doable than upfront costs and shorter term/higher rate loans.

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We did a small system--ten panels I think--that maximized our ROI because we were able to take full advantage of a state tax credit capped at $2000 that together with the federal credit brought our net costs to around $5000. It isn't a big enough system to cover all our electric needs but it cuts our electric bill nearly in half and should pay for itself in about 5 years. It is also expandable, something we will probably do in the future as we expect the efficiency of solar panels to increase and their price to drop.

And it makes us happy to be using renewable energy.

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10 hours ago, DawnM said:

I have been given a quote.  It would "pay for itself" in 8 years.  We plan to stay in the house 15 (until retirement) at least, so it would be cost effective, just not up front.

Does paying for itself in 8 years take into consideration the cost of any loan interest (or, if no loan, lost investment interest?)

Maybe get a couple of competing quotes. Around here there are lots of companies installing solar.

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45 minutes ago, maize said:

Does paying for itself in 8 years take into consideration the cost of any loan interest (or, if no loan, lost investment interest?)

Maybe get a couple of competing quotes. Around here there are lots of companies installing solar.


Yes, my husband is an accountant, every penny is calculated!

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I would have already done it if we wouldn't have to cut down a whole bunch of trees (and IDK how much of our sun is blocked by trees from across the street, but probably some--they're loblolly pines). At least one family in our neighborhood already has them. I don't like our power company.

A number of churches around here are adding them. The leasing company needs very little money up front & there's a big rebate from the power company that pays the rest of the up-front cost. Then the monthly lease payment is the same as what you save on the power bill. Non-profits, of course, don't have to worry about tax changes like residential customers do.

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We are doing it on our new build - Tesla solar shingles and a battery rack.  Husband wants to keep the house running as close to zero and possible, and while energy efficiency is a huge part of the equation, so too is energy generation.  It makes sense for us, since our time expected in the house is at least ten years, probably closer to forever.

It depends on how you do it but just in the past two years the panel technology has improved in terms of efficiency, as have the batteries available.  Definitely price it out for your locale.  I wouldn’t do it without battery storage, though, since our energy demands are highest inverse to solar activity (generally running lights and heaters at night, more than AC during the day).  So the best way for us to utilize the energy is to ha s a way to store it until we need it 🙂

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I always wanted to but DH (an engineer who grew up with them on his roof) said if I did the math I'd find out they are a toy, they still aren't economically viable without huge tax incentives.  They last ten years and they take more than 10 years to pay for themselves if you don't have tax credits to cover them.  I thought he MUST be wrong, but I did the math and discovered he's correct, at least for the states we've lived in.

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11 minutes ago, Katy said:

I always wanted to but DH (an engineer who grew up with them on his roof) said if I did the math I'd find out they are a toy, they still aren't economically viable without huge tax incentives.  They last ten years and they take more than 10 years to pay for themselves if you don't have tax credits to cover them.  I thought he MUST be wrong, but I did the math and discovered he's correct, at least for the states we've lived in.

That’s interesting. Our equipment warranty is 10 years & our performance warranty is 25 years. We are very much early adopters, though - we bite the bullet cost wise on some things and watch our experiences contribute to future improvements and cost reductions. I thought DH was nuts when he bought an electric car several years ago, now I’m excited that I’ll get one when my current vehicle gives out, but it’s going to be a while! As my husband puts it - someone has to be the first! 

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43 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

We are doing it on our new build - Tesla solar shingles and a battery rack.  Husband wants to keep the house running as close to zero and possible, and while energy efficiency is a huge part of the equation, so too is energy generation.  It makes sense for us, since our time expected in the house is at least ten years, probably closer to forever.

It depends on how you do it but just in the past two years the panel technology has improved in terms of efficiency, as have the batteries available.  Definitely price it out for your locale.  I wouldn’t do it without battery storage, though, since our energy demands are highest inverse to solar activity (generally running lights and heaters at night, more than AC during the day).  So the best way for us to utilize the energy is to ha s a way to store it until we need it 🙂

We're tied into the grid and the way ours works is that we have two meters--one for power coming into the house and one for power going out. Anytime we are generating more than we are using at that moment it is fed into the power company network. On our electric bill it shows power we drew from the system and then subtracts the power we added to the system. What remains is our responsibility to pay for. If we generated more than we used in a month they would pay us.

Even though we only have a half size system we get more than half a benefit as the price we pay per kwh goes up by brackets the more we use. Our system keeps us paying mostly in the lowest bracket.

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We have solar but are still on the grid. We sell the excess power to the power company. We get a cheque of around $1000 per year.

we have a solar hot water system separately. It is a combined solar plus kitchen combustion stove heat up. So there is hot water all year round.

 

we are also very power aware and turn off things when not in use

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We're getting solar this year. But not to go off the grid. Here, no one can really go off grid realistically with it. The roofs are too small. And they're flat - it's a particular thing. There are companies that will do the whole deal for you. And there are lots of options - you can pay upfront and then get the profits when you sell enough and systems where instead they are essentially leasing your roof and paying you for that via deep power discounts. Because our roof is flat, you won't be able to see it.

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I'm waiting for someone to invent a solar panel roof.  There really wasn't anything when we redid our roof with standing seam a couple of years ago.

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36 minutes ago, Amy in NH said:

I'm waiting for someone to invent a solar panel roof.  There really wasn't anything when we redid our roof with standing seam a couple of years ago.

 

Do you mean something like this?

https://www.tesla.com/solarroof

 

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Oh and cleaning the snow off of them in the winter on the roof in upstate NY- no, no, no! That sucked. If I ever had to do them again they’d be in the yard not on the roof!

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