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Blasphemy..... Solar power.

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glort:

While I know this isn't the place to discuss it, I have been looking into solar power lately with a view to DIY setups.

Here in Oz the price of used panels seems to be falling below .50c / watt.  There are a good supply of panels coming onto the market used where people are upgrading to bigger systems and therefore need more powerful panels to get the output to what they want with limited roof space.  In our northern and western states, Solar is particularly popular due to their never ending and intense sun shine. On a Trip north in January I was amazed to see probably 2 out of 3 homes have panels fitted.

The standard installation here now seems to be 5 Kw.  To me, that's a lot of power, especially if you compare it to our favored 6hp listers that typically do 3 Kw.  Where I am, The daily Yeild is said to average 15Kw/h which is a good 5 hours running an engine. Obviously the " On demand" factor isn't there with solar as it is with a generator unless you blow costs out with batteries but they are becoming cheaper too.
I read something yesterday which gave good reasons why battery backup would be a cost viable option by 2020.

I also have a good laugh at all the greenwashed talking about their tesla powerwalls and the myriad of similar but less well known units.  These things are miles away from being able to repay themselves with their cost/ output/ life expectancy but still championed by the green do gooders whom want to crap on about Co2 savings and the like they save while totally disregarding the amount of emissions they create in manufacture.

Here there is a mandated feed in tarrif of .6C per Kw/h. That ends at the end of the year on the gubbermints idea that competition will mean a tarrif is still paid. Given few if any power companies have offered above that rate, I have little doubt that most new solar purchases will be giving their excess generated power back to the utility companies with them crying all manner of BS excuses and crap as to why they can't afford to pay for it when they charge a significant amount extra and push " Green Power" like there are 2 different sets of power line for coal fired and solar generated energy.   ::)
The average cost of power here ranges from 22c kwh to 36C kwh which to me makes the 6C return another 

I have just got a small set of panels I intend to install at my fathers house. It's only 1 KW and he has a lot of trees around but with the rate he pays for power, I conservatively ( like 50% suggested) estimate that could save him $50-80 per bill which is worthwhile. I have a couple of inverters I picked up from the tip that were brand new and dumped due to being old model. Obviously they work fine and one being a 2Kw capacity will be perfect. I also have a 5Kw unit I will keep for my own install.

Rather than set up any  separate metering, all I am going to do is plug the inverter back into the mains.  They condition the power and disconnect in a micro second if the grid fails, or if the plug is pulled out.  Given my fathers meter box runs the old style meters, any excess power will simply sping them backwards using the grid as a battery for when he needs the power such as at night. Given he has a light industrial home based business, most of the power is likely to be used the " Normal" way offsetting his consumption.
If the setup proves worthwhile, I'll look at buying some more used panels and adding to the system capacity.  I know all his roofs are perfectly aligned north which is a bonus and he probably has enough for a 50Kw system but the question will be the extent of the shading from the trees.  The shed i have planned to use is pretty well back but the trees are monsters and i'm not sure at what point they will start to shade the panels. I'm hoping it may be at a point when the things were generating mimimal power anyway which will be late  afternoon.

  Even new, 5Kw systems are being sold and fitted for under $4k here.  i am wondering what they could be had for on a Supply only basis although I'm sure one would get a lot of flack about professional and licenced installation etc.  None the less, the price of the components has fallen to a viable level.  If one looks at a 5Kw system that could provide their power even through the day for 6 hours as to the cost of a generator and fuel to do the same, especialy on say a 5 yr basis, the solar is going to be a more than viable alternative.

I am not sure what the possibilities with new " approved Systems are.
If one could put on a seperate circuit that was solar only, it could be used to max effect. You could have the pool pump and the water heater for instance only come on ( unless over ridden) when there was solar, ie, free power available.  The clothes washer? dryer would ideally programed the same way.
I don't know if there are any such controllers that do this but it would certainly be an advantage if they could. Maybe something could be worked out with an arduino?

If I go to a home that has smart meters, the feedback things is stuffed. I would not be happy getting 6C kw h for the power I did make so a controller that engaged appliances only when there was solar power available would be an assett.  a $00L hot water system would only need one good days firing to last for about 3 or more in my house and if it took all day to come up, wouldn't really matter.  Even though the normal setup is to supply the home first then send power to the grid, like off peak one would want a controller that did not allow the heater to say " Top up" at any other time unless manually over ridden.

The thing is now with the availability of used solar panels, the cost really is becoming an expense that can be quickly recouped. May be different other places but here it's more than viable. When taken against the cost of a generator, not to mention ongoing fuel and maintenance costs ( and time) Solar is a very worthwhile alternative for many that can pump out a very good and usable amount of power for real and practical needs. 
Of course we'll always need our beloved lister roids on the wet dark days but to give them a break and not over tax them, solar is a good way now.

quinnbrian:
I've been off grid for a little over 5 years, and I'd never go back. My setup has 2800 watts of solar panel, with a 4844 inverter (48 volt,4400watts) and my Lister SR2,with a 10KW gen head.
The inverter is 120 volt and 220 volt out put @ 60Hz.Other than checking and putting water in the batteries, every once in a while, and keeping the battery terminals clean,there's not a whole to it. You have to mechanically inclined, or have someone that is. If something does go wrong....your the boss, no hydro company to yell at.
I live in Canada, in the winter, we uses the gen, almost every day, about 2-3 hour a day, to recharge the batteries . In the summer, ....maybe once a week, or two. We could uses more batteries, we have 8x6volt( they weigh about 110 pounds a piece) , think there 375 amp hours...can't remember, it's been a while. Anyways we run, in the winter a propane forced air furnace, refrigerator ,lights, TV, internet...etc. Nothing has really change (life style)  then , when we were on the grid. Well maybe something has change...we don't get a hydro bill !!! and that's a big plus...the cost of hydro here in Ontario, when we were on the grid was about $300.00 a month, I live in Ontario Canada, the most heavily, most expensive hydro cost of all the provinces of Canada ....why does hydro cost so much??? because they can charge and do charge what ever they like!!!
Used solar panel , sound like a good idea, depending what kind they are mono, poly...or something in between....big solar setups usually uses cheaper panels, with a known life expectancy, so by the time they get rid of them, there pretty much toast.  .50 cent a watts sounds good, here in Canada new panel are going for $1.00 a watt and you might be able to find a deal a $.90-.80 cent a watt. But look at what your buying...what type they are what is there pro rating( every year a panel is in uses there power output drops), so your 200watt panel that you just bought uses that is...say 10-12 years old will only output maybe 50% of it's rated power...and so on... So your 200watt panel, just became a 100watt panel....that could give up the ghost at anytime...you just don't know.
I have about $13000.00 into my setup, I install everything, The good part about doing it all, is if something does go wrong, you have some sort of idea , what it is.
Research your panel your looking at, and maybe look at the price of new ones...
Hope this helps, I'm not much of a writer/story teller LOL
Cheers
Brian

mike90045:

--- Quote --- Given my fathers meter box runs the old style meters, any excess power will simply spin
 backwards using the grid as a battery for when he needs the power such as at night.
--- End quote ---

Maybe, maybe not.  Some of the old mech meters have a ratchet on them that only allows 1 direction.

And then there is the Power Company Auditor.    Hello Mr Smith, we see you are using a lot less power
these days, we think there is something wrong with your meter and it needs repair.  And if they see a
bootleg solar install, they may get quite upset.   Just a heads up.

glort:

--- Quote from: mike90045 on May 10, 2016, 06:15:10 AM ---
--- Quote --- Given my fathers meter box runs the old style meters, any excess power will simply spin
 backwards using the grid as a battery for when he needs the power such as at night.
--- End quote ---

Maybe, maybe not.  Some of the old mech meters have a ratchet on them that only allows 1 direction.
--- End quote ---

I have tested my own meter which is the self same meters my father has. They were all the same up to about 10 years ago or less when the new electronic ones started coming out. There was one supplier of meters for the state and most of the other states as well. I pulled one of those new electronic ones off the neighbors house the night before the put an excavator through it and it won't measure a back feed which agrees with what I have been told.


--- Quote ---And then there is the Power Company Auditor.    Hello Mr Smith, we see you are using a lot less power
these days, we think there is something wrong with your meter and it needs repair.  And if they see a
bootleg solar install, they may get quite upset.   Just a heads up.

--- End quote ---

Hey, How did you know my fathers name?  And Mine???

I wondered about the same thing but when I started pumping power back into my meter and cutting our bill from about $600 a quarter to about $150 now. I thought I might get a visit.  Been a few years now and nothing so far. I am told that they only look at very high and very sudden increases for drug growing.  We are below the average for a one person household let alone 4 most of the time with a pool and 2 ac systems.
And we haven't had a clothes line in..... yeah, a while.  We do have a pissant how water system now though but I took it off off peak and put it on normal power so the thing will reheat for the next person. 

My father is in the country and I doubt they will be bothered coming out to inspect the place. Here they have to give you notice anyway so wouldn't be hard to hide the evidence but realistically, I think our chance of winning lotto is higher than any trouble from the slack arse power companys.  they are slow enough dealing with outages and connections, I really think the amount of inspections they do would be minimal. If the do query it, all he has to say is he has been winding down the business and not doing as much work... which is kinda true anyway.  The solar system would be up the back on one of the machinery sheds so they would have to be much further in than the house where the meters are.  they have to get permission every few years to come onto the place and trim the trees from the power lines.  Last year the brainiacs drove this 10 ton truck with a cherry picker across the front lawn after a fortnight of rain and bogged the thing.  My father was more than a little pissed and told them to get stuffed when they wanted to bring a bigger truck across to get the first one out.

He pulled them out with his tractor and got a promise from the supervisor that came out that his lawn would be repaired. They didn't waste any time with that and did a good job much to his surprise.  I doubt they would give him much grief anymore.  :0)

Something I was thinking for myself is hot water. If I can't grid backfeed, I was thinking of getting another hot water system connected only to the solar power. I would have this system in series to the regular system.
If the solar heated the 2nd tank, then it would go to the regular tank and that would not need to kick in the element from grid power. If there was a rainy spell, the 1st hot water would function as normal even if the water from the 2nd tank was dead cold.  I'd still like to get a controller of some sort so the heater did only use solar unless over ridden but I don't even know what it's called to look for one.

I have been trying to look up what the actual laws are controlling solar back feeding. I'm kinda thinking there could be a gray area loophole in there. If you had the thing fitted by a licenced sparky and was using approved equipment for connection which is what I have, I'm wondering what would stop you feeding your own power into your own home? At worst I can see you would need a transfer switch to isolate the home from the grid when using your own solar. It may need to disconnect the solar all together on grid power but that probably wouldn't be an issue for the right switch.

buickanddeere:

--- Quote from: quinnbrian on May 10, 2016, 03:01:35 AM ---I've been off grid for a little over 5 years, and I'd never go back. My setup has 2800 watts of solar panel, with a 4844 inverter (48 volt,4400watts) and my Lister SR2,with a 10KW gen head.
The inverter is 120 volt and 220 volt out put @ 60Hz.Other than checking and putting water in the batteries, every once in a while, and keeping the battery terminals clean,there's not a whole to it. You have to mechanically inclined, or have someone that is. If something does go wrong....your the boss, no hydro company to yell at.
I live in Canada, in the winter, we uses the gen, almost every day, about 2-3 hour a day, to recharge the batteries . In the summer, ....maybe once a week, or two. We could uses more batteries, we have 8x6volt( they weigh about 110 pounds a piece) , think there 375 amp hours...can't remember, it's been a while. Anyways we run, in the winter a propane forced air furnace, refrigerator ,lights, TV, internet...etc. Nothing has really change (life style)  then , when we were on the grid. Well maybe something has change...we don't get a hydro bill !!! and that's a big plus...the cost of hydro here in Ontario, when we were on the grid was about $300.00 a month, I live in Ontario Canada, the most heavily, most expensive hydro cost of all the provinces of Canada ....why does hydro cost so much??? because they can charge and do charge what ever they like!!!
Used solar panel , sound like a good idea, depending what kind they are mono, poly...or something in between....big solar setups usually uses cheaper panels, with a known life expectancy, so by the time they get rid of them, there pretty much toast.  .50 cent a watts sounds good, here in Canada new panel are going for $1.00 a watt and you might be able to find a deal a $.90-.80 cent a watt. But look at what your buying...what type they are what is there pro rating( every year a panel is in uses there power output drops), so your 200watt panel that you just bought uses that is...say 10-12 years old will only output maybe 50% of it's rated power...and so on... So your 200watt panel, just became a 100watt panel....that could give up the ghost at anytime...you just don't know.
I have about $13000.00 into my setup, I install everything, The good part about doing it all, is if something does go wrong, you have some sort of idea , what it is.
Research your panel your looking at, and maybe look at the price of new ones...
Hope this helps, I'm not much of a writer/story teller LOL
Cheers
Brian

--- End quote ---

Where in Ontario ?
We have been considering a  2-3 KW grid tie system here without telling the power utility . Just to reduce the daytime peak rate consumption to near zero. The pool pump and AC will still cost however the AC season is only 6-12 weeks per season. The pool pump is on a timer so it operates 1/2 hour on and 1-1/2 hrs off around the clock. When the propane heater wears out a heat pump and some more PV panels will be installed . The hot tub may also have a 1KW , 48VDC heater installed . To have the PV panels heat the tub year around without worrying about freezing pipe work etc
   If the rumours are true. Ontario will consider surplus power that is flowing out to the grid for storage as income to be taxed. This will eliminate any advantages of " net metering".
     At the start of the Gerald Butts and Dalton McGuinty green energy love fest in Ontario . Net metering and feed in tariff wind-
Solar was a given to anybody. Then some pubic outcry rose from rate payers and people who understand technical matters instead of being liberal arts majors .
    I asked my utility if the 4.8/8.3KV lines could handle a new 600V 200 amp 166KW  service for my shop. "No problem , when do you want it "was the answer . Then I asked about connecting a 10KW net metering solar system. The answer was "sorry, can't do that. The system lacks enough capacity ".

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