Solar Install - Story From Start To Finish

Nifty

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Ok, it's almost been a whole year that we've had our solar panels installed. Here is a screenshot showing production over that time:

(note, there is some data missing for August and the numbers are lower because we were on vacation and had our router turned off... which didn't allow the system to report the production)




Our system was quoted at producing 6,378 kWh over a year. We officially switched on our system on 6/8/2010 and since that time we've generated 6,214+. That leaves us with about 14 days to generate the 164 kWh needed to hit the quoted number. Considering June has the longest days of the year, and that last June we did about 24 kWh a day, I don't think we'll have any problem zipping past the quoted production number!

:celebrate

:woot
 

Nifty

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Back of envelope calculations (obviously not considering time value of money):


Cost to produce the electricity with solar:
My system cost about $14,000
Expected life: 25 years
Annual cost: $556
Annual production: 6500 kWh
Cost per kWh: about $0.10


Here is where the real savings are:
Our electrical costs are based on how much we use over our "baseline":

Baseline Usage $0.11
101%-130% of Baseline $0.13
131%-200% of Baseline $0.28
201%-300% of Baseline $0.42
Over 300% of Baseline $0.49

We were often in the $0.42 / kWh price tier but rarely in the 300%+ tier.

Our annual electrical bill was about $1,940 and is now closer to $480! A savings of about $1460 per year.

$14,000 / $1460 = 9.5 years break even.

Of course, that doesn't factor in potential rises in electricity prices or the "coolness" factor and satisfaction I get because I've always loved solar power... priceless. :D
 

sunsaver

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I was looking through and reading nifty-stuff, and it was almost like looking in a mirror. As a kid, i used to spend all my money at radio shack getting leds, logic gates, timers, op amps, motors. And i also recently made a swivel arm bracket for my monitor using aluminum L beam. I thought, "wow! This guy's like a better version of me!" im more like a slightly better version of Charlie Sheen. lol. Well, i guess i'm not doing that poorly if we measure in terms of happiness vs money.
 

Nifty

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Yeesh... "a better version of me" definitely isn't saying much, but I appreciate the thought. ;)

I unfortunately inherited a lot of my dad's "function over form" which basically means "who cares what it looks like if it gets the job done!?!?" Unfortunately I only inherited a tiny bit of his ingenuity, thubnailing powers, and craftiness when it comes to tinkering. The rest of my brain is full of just enough info to make me dangerous in business, website design, community management, and most things related to tech. :D
 

sunsaver

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When i look back at my life i think, jeez i sure had fun wasting my potential. At least i got to keep one house!:lol:
 

johnElarue

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Nifty said:
+ tier.

Our annual electrical bill was about $1,940 and is now closer to $480! A savings of about $1460 per year.

$14,000 / $1460 = 9.5 years break even.

Of course, that doesn't factor in potential rises in electricity prices or the "coolness" factor and satisfaction I get because I've always loved solar power... priceless. :D
Great to hear!
 

Nifty

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I checked our solar monitoring system and saw this in the middle of the day:




I went outside for a look and guess what: The combination of our oak tree sprouting new growth over the spring, and the inclination of the sun dipping down low during the winter = my bottom row of panels are shaded. :(

So, that's the bad news.

The good news: I've got a cool system that allows each panel to run independent of the others, so one panel shaded doesn't bring down the entire string!
 

luvinlife offthegrid

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It's amazing how fast the brush grows up. We have to "prune" some stuff too. It's good that you're keeping track of it.
 

Nifty

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Check out this pic:




Do you see what I see? During the middle of a cloudless day... when I should be generating the most power, my panels are having problems. :(


Well, turns out that two things are happening:

1) The inclination / tilt of the Earth this time of year is quite a bit slanted, so the Sun is lower than usual in the South
2) The monster oak tree that we had considerably trimmed to let the light through has grown back quite a bit and is due South of our panels.


Looks like we have some tree trimming to do!


(HAHAHA... I just noticed that I had posted almost the same thing about exactly a year ago! I guess our tree has grown even more than before!)
 
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