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Author Topic: Questions about Solar Power  (Read 26620 times)

Noam

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Questions about Solar Power
« on: February 01, 2012, 09:37:03 AM »

I'm looking into the possibility of getting solar panels, to try and reduce my overall energy bills. I wouldn't be converting to ONLY solar, but using the solar, in conjunction with the electric utility.
does anyone here have any information on using X10 in a home with solar panels, and what problems I might encounter?
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Tuicemen

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2012, 10:15:31 AM »

My cottage is solely off grid.
If your planing on intergrating with the grid you'll be required to use a pure sine wave inverter which is what is needed for X10 to work smoothly.
I have experienced some noise issues when using large power tools but suspect that would occur anyways.
I've heard of issues when the battery bank gets low but I haven't experienced those.
If your only using solar to supplement the grid will keep the batteries topped up any ways if you with out sun.
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Noam

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2012, 10:36:45 AM »

My cottage is solely off grid.
If your planing on intergrating with the grid you'll be required to use a pure sine wave inverter which is what is needed for X10 to work smoothly.
I have experienced some noise issues when using large power tools but suspect that would occur anyways.
I've heard of issues when the battery bank gets low but I haven't experienced those.
If your only using solar to supplement the grid will keep the batteries topped up any ways if you with out sun.

Thanks for the information.
I don't think the providers I'm looking at use a battery bank. They use the solar in conjunction with the utility company. Excess electricity generated by the panels is sold back to the utility, reducing the overall electric utility bill. There are companies here that are offering a $0 down lease, where I pay a monthly lease fee for the equipment, but they own it all and maintain it. It doesn't hurt to get a free estimate from them on what it would cost me per month, and what I would save with the system.
I also have to look at how these companies monitor the system. I am assuming they go over the Internet to do it (and not the power lines), which itself should not cause me any additional X10 issues. However, the utility might install a SmartMeter at the same time, which *might* cause some problems, too (although I'm not with Duke Energy, and I know the local utility isn't currently using Echelon meters, so I might be okay).
My biggest concern with all of this is that something will screw up my X10 system. I have the same concern about switching to CFL bulbs, and I've been doing that really slowly, to see if there are any issue cropping up.
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Tuicemen

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2012, 10:55:23 AM »

I suspect the only issue you may have is with how the company monitors your solar output
Most inverters and charge controlers have built in meters which in my case haven't caused a issue.
If your paying a monthly fee I don't suspect they'll monitor your systems output.
However they may tie into the smartmeter to see if the setup is actualy working.
Here in Ontario Canada we have simular companies running this type of deal.
Hydro companies forecasts it takes 20 years to pay for itself if you fork out all the cash your self.
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Noam

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2012, 11:58:34 AM »

From what I can tell, both companies I've looked at so far (which seem to offer the same types of lease packages) monitor both your actual usage, AND the output of the solar panels. They then package this up nicely on their website, for the customer to see how much money they are saving by using solar.

I don't think they tie into the SmartMeter itself to do the monitoring. I think they install their own metering equipment to gather all that data (I don't know for sure - I can certainly ask them, or just ask my friend who just had a system installed a few weeks ago).
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DonaldBowen

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2014, 05:33:25 AM »

From what I can tell, both companies I've looked at so far (which seem to offer the same types of lease packages) monitor both your actual usage, AND the output of the solar kits. They then package this up nicely on their website, for the customer to see how much money they are saving by using solar.

I don't think they tie into the SmartMeter itself to do the monitoring. I think they install their own metering equipment to gather all that data (I don't know for sure - I can certainly ask them, or just ask my friend who just had a system installed a few weeks ago).


I am really not huge fan of solar power.. It is very expensive to use solar power and efficiency of the system is very less too.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2014, 09:57:19 AM by DonaldBowen »
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JeffVolp

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2014, 09:57:49 AM »

I am really not huge fan of solar power.. It is very expensive to use solar power and efficiency of the system is very less too.

I'm not sure what that means.  Solar power is less efficient that what - than that same solar energy heating the roof?  Or are you referring to the carbon cycle, with all the energy losses between growing trees with sunlight and delivering the electricity that you use at home?

Jeff
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Noam

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2014, 01:23:13 PM »

Well, it's been just over two years since I asked the question, and I'm happy to report that we finally signed up to get solar panels. We signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with SolarCity.
Put simply, we pay nothing for the panels (which they own and are responsible for maintaining for the duration of the 20-year agreement), and we agree to purchase all of the power produced by those panels - at a lower rate (per kWh) than our local utility charges. There are no monthly fees - we only get billed by the kWh.

It will be 3-4 months before the system is installed, so I don't have all of the details of inverter models, etc.
It will be a grid-tied system - where the excess power is sent back through the meter to the utility, which goes to reduce the total amount we pull from the utility across the whole month.
We will not have any storage batteries in this setup. They expect it to produce about 70% of our power needs - on average - resulting in about $40 savings in our monthly electric bill at first. The panels will also help reduce the heat load on our house (by intercepting the solar energy before it gets absorbed by our roof), which will save us a little more, too.

I was incorrect in what I had said two years ago regarding the monitoring. SolarCity is only monitoring the output of the panels (the inverters use wireless communication - I think ZigBee, but I'm not 100% sure - to communicate with the "gateway", which then plugs into my Internet connection to upload the data to their monitoring system). They are not monitoring power consumption of my house or using the power grid for data transmission.

I already have a smartmeter from my utility (although they will be replacing it with a new one capable of net-metering when the panels are installed). So far, I haven't noticed any problems with my X10 system from the smartmeter - which has been in place and sending data to the utility for well over a year now.

I'm really hoping the inverters won't cause any problems with my X10 system -  but I won't be able to know for sure until the panels are installed and running. If there are issues, I probably won't be able to fix them.
If there are any forum members who have a setup from SolarCity and X10, please let me know what your experience has been.

Thanks.
--Noam
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HA Dave

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2014, 11:13:42 PM »

..... We signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with SolarCity.

Great! That sounds exciting. I've read about similar (or maybe the same) setups. This is a California thing... right?
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Noam

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2014, 05:21:22 PM »

This is a California thing... right?
Depends on how you define "thing" : SolarCity is headquartered out in California, but I live in Maryland.

They offer two basic models: the PPA and the Solar Lease. However, our consultant told us they are phasing out the lease, as the PPA is much more popular. As I understand it, the lease has a fixed monthly payment, with a lower per-kWa rate than the PPA on top of it. However, with the PPA you can purchase the system outright at any point after year 5. I guess you'd have to talk to SolarCity to get the specifics (please let me know if you want to - I get a credit for referring new customers).
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HA Dave

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2014, 07:48:00 PM »

........ out in California, but I live in Maryland.

I am kind of shocked. I would have guessed the figures would have not worked out. In CA.... taxes and regulation puts the KWH rate 3 or 4 times what is paid in most other states. Which is a big edge of alternate production. Even states like Arizona aren't as likely to break even as CA. I wouldn't have put Maryland in the running at all.

Is the install highly subsidized?
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 03:31:55 PM by HA Dave »
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dhouston

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« Last Edit: March 10, 2014, 08:26:57 AM by dhouston »
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Noam

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2014, 11:58:29 AM »

........ out in California, but I live in Maryland.

I am kind of shocked. I wouldn't have guessed the figures would have not worked out. In CA.... taxes and regulation puts the KWH rate 3 or 4 times what is paid in most other states. Which is a big edge of alternate production. Even states like Arizona aren't as likely to break even as CA. I wouldn't have put Maryland in the running at all.

Is the install highly subsidized?
As far as I understand it, since SolarCity owns the system, they are the ones who get any government rebates and incentives.
However, their system design (which I just got this morning) came back 25% smaller than expected, so I'm waiting to hear back from my salesman to find out how much less we are going to be saving now. This might be a deal-breaker (if the savings are negligible, it isn't worth the trouble).
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Tuicemen

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2014, 12:52:24 PM »

Every year there seems to be some advancement in solar panel production.
Outputs increase which could be the reason for the smaller design. ;)
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dhouston

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« Last Edit: March 25, 2014, 06:58:59 AM by dhouston »
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