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Author Topic: Questions about Solar Power  (Read 27801 times)

Noam

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #30 on: May 06, 2014, 11:50:25 AM »

Another update:
The system passed the county's building/electrical inspection last Friday.

As a test, I turned the system on for about 30 minutes this past Sunday morning. I wanted to test the X10 system again when we had enough sun to produce more power than we were consuming.
The test went fine (I didn't detect any issues with the X10 system), so I shut the system down again (my smartmeter was complaining - apparently it wasn't expecting power to be flowing backward, so it was flashing "Error" on the screen every few seconds).

The second half of the utility's application paperwork was submitted to them this morning, and now we are waiting for them to change out the meter (for one that is set up for net-metering), and give us the "green light" to turn it on.

In the meantime, I'm working on adding power monitoring (solar power produced, and total power consumed) to my Arduino-based temperature/hvac monitor.
I have a working prototype that can measure current flow (using a clamp-on current transformer) accurately enough for me (not perfect, but close). I'm working on the code to send that data to the Arduino that captures the rest of my data, and dumps it into the MySQL database. I still have to build the interface circuits for the four current transformers (the one I have right now is on a breadboard at the moment), and test with the higher-amperage feeds.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 11:55:43 AM by Noam »
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dhouston

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« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 07:29:59 PM by dhouston »
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Noam

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #32 on: May 26, 2014, 12:33:35 PM »

Here's another update:
Our utility changed out our meter, and we got our final approval to activate the system last Wednesday.
In the few days it has been up and running, our system has already generated about 345 kWh (as of this moment, that is - it changes by the minute).
I didn't notice any issues with my X10 system, and it ran through the weekend (the heaviest X10-use period for me) just fine.
After some calibration, my homebrew monitoring system seems to be tracking the power production and consumption nicely, too.
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dhouston

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #33 on: October 08, 2014, 09:55:35 AM »

SolarCity has started offering loans to homeowners to finance solar panel installation without the need to lease the panels and pay for the power.
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dhouston

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #34 on: October 08, 2014, 04:00:07 PM »

The Solar Roadways project which I referenced above has progressed, raising far more than their IndieGoGo crowd-funding goal. However, I think they might do even better if they weren't soft selling it - see the video (top of the page) at...
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Noam

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #35 on: October 13, 2014, 03:49:04 PM »

For those interested, here's another update:
After four billing cycles with the SolarCity system running, I'm definitely seeing savings. I've estimated my monthly savings so far to have been $74.60, $73.45, $75.42, and $88.93. My savings estimate is simply based on multiplying the number of kWh produced by the solar panels by the difference in rates between SolarCity and my utility company. It is only an estimate, since the utility rates change above 800 kWh (which I've stayed below on the utility side). I haven't noticed any issues at all with my X10 system due to the SolarCity system.
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Brian H

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #36 on: October 13, 2014, 06:03:52 PM »

Thanks for keeping us up on the system.
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Noam

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #37 on: October 22, 2014, 12:20:57 PM »

Thanks for keeping us up on the system.

My pleasure.
I'm happy to share more information - but I don't want to cross that line to where I become a "problem child" on these forums.
I'd also be happy to take any detailed discussions offline - if anyone would prefer to speak with me privately about my experience so far.
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dhouston

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #38 on: March 08, 2015, 07:24:19 AM »

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JeffVolp

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #39 on: March 08, 2015, 10:24:47 AM »

From that article:

"In a closely watched case last month, an Arizona utility voted to impose a monthly surcharge of about $50 for “net metering,” a common practice that allows solar customers to earn credit for the surplus electricity they provide to the electric grid."

Gee, during cooler months our electric consumption isn't much over that.  Our statements show our electric bill was under $70 per month December through April, with a low of $61 in April just before the A/C season started.  The A/C added $130 per month in July and August, and less in the shoulder months.  (It often tops out over 110F here during the summer.)

Jeff
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HA Dave

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #40 on: March 10, 2015, 07:38:05 PM »

The electric power industry is fighting back, trying to drive up the costs of going solar.

Wait, wait, wait! So.... someone works their entire life and invests in a utility (like the local electric provider) planning on slight additional retirement income from dividend income.
So now you think my 90+ year old mother is trying to "drive up the costs of going solar"?!?!?!?!? Give me a break!!!!! Public utilities (ALL power providers) are VERY regulated by law already. The FACTS are... if you plan on becoming a SELLER of electric (from your solar panels or whatever) you may need to chip in your share for infrastructure costs, and repairs.

So solar panels when fairly and honestly managed.... may not be the profitable magic panacea some politicians said they would be? BIG surprise.

Modern science assures us... energy is everywhere... and maybe even everything! Ancient Jewish mystics said the very same thing. Cheap, abundant, energy is readily available... or can be made available through solid science and engineering. We don't need to live in the darkness provided by antique-designed solar panels and windmills.

We should crack a few atoms open.... and bring light into the world. Living in fear of science is just silly!   

IMHO
« Last Edit: March 10, 2015, 07:41:04 PM by HA Dave »
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dhouston

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #41 on: March 10, 2015, 09:14:40 PM »

While it's still a fairly small percentage of total US usage, solar grew by 108% over the last year and its cost continues to plummet as the technology improves. The smart utilities, seeing the writing on the wall, are using their financial clout to finance rooftop solar installations like Noam's.

Some interesting links...
http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-industry-data

http://www.solarcontractormilford.com/general_solar_energy_systems.html?keyphrase=solar+panels&c=5409015171&provider=msn&lid=5409073224
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HA Dave

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #42 on: March 10, 2015, 11:05:55 PM »

While it's still a fairly small percentage of total US usage, solar grew by 108% over the last year

A local self appointed preacher increased his flock of parishioners by over 300% last year!!!!! That makes his church... the FASTEST growing religion in America. They now have nearly 20 members.

America has a larger portion of solar energy use than any other nation (but still less than 1%).

....and its cost continues to plummet as the technology improves. 

And just what is that "improved technology" you speak of????? Last I heard/read... it was cheap Chinese made parts. Shipped into Southern Ca. and assembled with undocumented labor. Because of the value-added laws.... those cheap panels are then called "Made in America".

Paul Revere... one of the more famous of Americas founding fathers bathed in hot water collected by his roof mounted solar panels. There isn't much new in solar.

The smart utilities, seeing the writing on the wall, are using their financial clout to finance rooftop solar installations like Noam's.

The Department of Energy is making speculative loans to any business (with White House connections) that promotes the Presidents favorite program... "Solar Energy". Of course as like most speculative ideas... most have also gone belly-up losing Billions of American tax dollars. Although many of these same "businesses" did manage to contribute to the President's political party.... before locking their doors.

I'd like to believe that some of these outfits are on the up and up. 
« Last Edit: March 10, 2015, 11:14:57 PM by HA Dave »
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dhouston

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #43 on: March 11, 2015, 06:35:36 AM »

And just what is that "improved technology" you speak of????? Last I heard/read... it was cheap Chinese made parts.
Actually, the underlying materials used and physics of converting the light into electricity have been evolving rapidly, making the process itself far more efficient.

One does wonder why, if you're right and it's never likely to be an important source of energy, the utilities are running scared on net-metering. Note, that Tesla's latest battery developments promise to allow the homeowners to store the excess energy for use when they would otherwise be drawing from the grid, reducing the need for net-metering .

And, recent growth in solar has been overwhelmingly because of large installations by the utilities themselves not from roof-top installations like Noam's.

http://www.gizmag.com/tesla-home-battery/36276/
http://www.gizmag.com/honda-smart-home-energy-producing/31380/
http://www.solarelectricpower.org/experience-events/utility-solar-conference/2015-agenda.aspx
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/energy-environment/solar-energy/index.html
« Last Edit: March 11, 2015, 08:45:23 AM by dhouston »
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JeffVolp

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Re: Questions about Solar Power
« Reply #44 on: March 11, 2015, 09:15:53 AM »


Some compensation for infrastructure costs is justified, but $50 a month seems way too high.  Using our own home for example, our base consumption without A/C costs less than $70 per month.  So is only $20 of that the cost of energy?

And regarding infrastructure costs, solar should save utilities from having to invest in new plants to provide peak energy needed for the summer A/C season.  While the daily heat load lags a few hours behind the solar energy output, the total solar output is maximum during the months when A/C load is also at the max.  And the argument that the utility must still provide that capacity for cloudy days isn't entirely true because the solar heating requiring A/C is also lower.

Bottom line is that in the states where there is significant electrical consumption for A/C, such as Arizona that imposed the fee, solar energy should reduce investments needed in new power plants, and contain the growth in infrastructure costs.

Jeff
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