Solar Panels?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Mathematics!, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. Mathematics!

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2008
    1,022
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    I just bought a house that is totally electric no gas ,....etc everything is running on electric....

    I am wondering if I can install solar panels so I can go off the grid and have free electricity to power my house?

    The house is in florida

    I am wondering if it is doable and if it is worth it?

    Also I would think solar panels would be DC would you also need an inverter that goes with the solar panel to convert it to AC because their is some stuff in the house that runs on AC???? ( how many solar panels , what kind to make the equivalent of the electric company's 120vac 60hz 200Amps or more ....)

    If it is cost effective I am looking for how much a typical florida electric bill for an all electric house in florida would run.... And then I want to compare the price of the solar panels to how many years it would be to pay for it in electrical company cost....

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2010
  2. Paulo540

    Member

    Nov 23, 2009
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    In California, they refund for about half the initial cost to you. If Florida has a similar incentive then it could be worth it.

    You would have a big battery bank and that would, as you mentioned, be inverted to AC. If you generate more energy than you need, then you can sell it back to the power company.

    As for the specifics, surely someone will come along and post about it. My knowledge is about 5 years old and Im sure things have changed some.
     
  3. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
    22,182
    1,728
    Florida would be a good place to use solar power.

    Unfortunately, homes in Florida have very little storage space. You will need someplace secure to store the battery bank that will be required, which will be quite a bit of space. Otherwise, unscrupulous people might try to steal them. This is an unfortunate reality that has only recently become quite rampant.

    "Getting off the grid" sounds good. However, you will need to make some sacrifices; which will be either directly out of pocket to pay for upgrades, reduced electricity usage, improved insulation, or various combinations of the above.

    Hot water heating will be about half of your electric bill. Improving the insulation on the water heater and pipes can help reduce that by a fair margin.

    Anything that you can do to the structure to improve its' insulation properties will reduce your energy requirements.
     
  4. Mathematics!

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2008
    1,022
    4
    OK , I am think about going solar I still am looking for how much this would cost approximatly ....???

    would I be looking at $5000 , $10,000 , $100,000 what?
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2010
  5. kubeek

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 20, 2005
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    Have you ever tried this AWESOME web page called Google.com? There is a nice little field that you type in what you want to find, and click on Google search. Then you can even click on some of the results!

    Let me give you an example, you type there photovoltaic panels price, and voila, on the third result it is pretty much covered.
     
  6. Paulo540

    Member

    Nov 23, 2009
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    Yeah, I'm sure he has, but I imagine he is asking here because he is under the impression that there might be a good concentration of knowledgable/experienced and financially isolated people who could answer more specifically on the topic. That's kinda the point of forums imo.

    http://www.evo.com/content/2827/solar_basics_-_how_much_does_a_home_solar_system_cost

    but yes, I typed in "how much does a solar system cost" and it gave me that link. Sometimes we forget that things can be that easy, that's why people collaborate.
     
  7. Mathematics!

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2008
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    It is not that I haven't googled , but in different places they cost differently....

    And some solar panels are meant to only do hot water heaters or applances ....

    I wanted the costs to go completly off the grid....

    Plus you need to factor in inverters , battery backup ,...etc

    So that is why I am posting the question to see if anybody knows alot about this stuff and can give me a figure....

    The house is medium size 1700 square feet
     
  8. spinnaker

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
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    The other thing to research and consider is the life of lead acid batteries and their replacement costs.

    What also needs to be considered is the impact on the environment of lead acid batteries. I have not yet read a definitive article on this subject but I would think that something that seems to be green might not actually be as it seems.
     
  9. spinnaker

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
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    I have been working on a very small solar project. In doing so I know I have run across calculators on the web. I also ran across forums specific for solar power. Sorry I can't give you and specific links.
     
  10. Mathematics!

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2008
    1,022
    4
    It is not that I haven't googled , but in different places they cost differently....

    And some solar panels are meant to only do hot water heaters or applances ....

    I wanted the costs to go completly off the grid....

    Plus you need to factor in inverters , battery backup ,...etc

    So that is why I am posting the question to see if anybody knows alot about this stuff and can give me a figure....

    The house is medium size 1700 square feet in flordia

    And I am wondering how much replacing the battery will cost and how frequently do you have to replace....?

    I saw the CA website with prices wondering if this would be equivalent in flordia
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Externet

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 29, 2005
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    Hi. Congratulations on your new home.
    Contracting the whole installation will be a rip-off, no doubt.
    To stay afloat, you must shop carefully for the panels $/Watt (<$4/Watt) and do the installation yourself. And will not be "free" as you say, the investment can be significant.
    Plus, as soon as the city finds out you have solar installation, they will raise the taxes because you 'added value' to the home, they also want to rip you off.

    I would suggest to calculate your investment and sizing of the project to supply the power coming from the solar system selectively to outlets and lighting, leaving range, air conditioning on city power grid.
    That can be done by adding a second breaker panel separating the loads.

    Trying to run airconditioners and kitchen ranges from solar source would push the installation of panels, batteries and inverter to a much larger $cale.

    Segregating the house wiring to downsize your solar system by powering only smaller loads will give you experience for future expansion if you then reeeeally want to go fully off the grid.

    Miguel
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2010
  12. MrUmunhum

    New Member

    Apr 7, 2007
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    OK, I have been living Off-the-Grid for 29 years.

    Somethings that you need to concider:
    1. Everything is paid for up front!
    2. You will be working on it forever.
    3. You need to rethink you energy use. Modify your usage.
    4. No one has all the answers.
    I just purchased my third set of batteries for +$700. 6 InterState 232 ampere hour 6vdc in series. They last me about 2 days with my limited use.

    My NOC is solar powered and those batteries last about 1 week without sun ( like now ). It takes about 2 weeks to completely recharge them. My panels produce about 10 amps max. The load is about 5 amps? That would be 5 times 24 hours, 120 ampere hours.

    You can do it but it will not be easy. Most panels are made in China. The US production is lacking. Too bad!

    You need to compute how much you will use year round. Buy the panels and the batteries, then install them. Go from there.
     
  13. Mathematics!

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2008
    1,022
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    So to run everything from solar panels and be completely off the grid.
    Is not yet worth it I get the feeling?

    How much do you think it would cost me around if I was going to do the installation myself... i.e how much for all the parts solar panels , inverters , battery ,....etc

    approx how much do you pay to install yours if you don't mind me asking.

    And you cann't be off the grid with only 10amps ?
    So how many panels do you have and what was the cost of each?
    Plus how much do you spend on new batteries and stuff each year..... My many purpose is not spending anything because the whole point is not having an electric bill but if I am paying for solar things this is indirectly an electric bill?
     
  14. Externet

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 29, 2005
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    To know costs, you have to use your mathematics. This is not about Amperes, it is about Watts, and Watts/hour, and your wasty or not lifestyle.

    To install your own system is valued in sweat and time and skills.

    "Not spending anything" works when someone gives you all the parts and installation on a christmas.
    The electric bill for your household is to pay the solar equipment. After many years, it can decrease to make you feel success.

    So do your mathematics, sum the Watts of each of the appliances you use, times the hours each is on daily, times nearly twice as safety/losses factor has to be supplied by the solar system.
    If you leave your 250 Watt television on four hours daily, you need 1KWhour just for that. It costs around $0.13 from the grid.

    Then, start choosing :
    For Florida ----> http://sunelec.com/
    and remember that one 12V panel putting out up to 10 Amperes yields up to 120 Watts.
    If it gets full sun for 8 ! hours, 120W x 8h = 960 Wattshour - - almost enough to run your television and nothing else.
    At $4/Watt, the system is $480, to almost run only your TV
    Keep summing other loads... it's only mathematics. :)

    Miguel
     
  15. k7elp60

    Senior Member

    Nov 4, 2008
    478
    69
    Here is a websit that may help
    http://www.solar4power.com/solar-power-sizing.html

    It all comes down to watts. I have been using some solar panels for about 10 years, my systems gives me 225 watts per hour when the sun is directly hitting the panel. I use them to charge batteries to run some lighting and some radio equipment

    I am considering going off the grid myself. I live in southern Utah where we use air conditioning about 5 months of the year. Use heat about 4 months a year.

    My research has shown that the best way to go off the grid is to have enough panels in series to generate over normal line voltage. Enough panels in parallel to generate enough current. An inverter to convert the DC to AC, and enough batteries in series/parallel to run things after the panels stop generating.
    Yes you have to change your way of thinking and learn ways to conserve electrical energy.

    As a sidenote, my existing lighting is 12RV fixtures that use incandescant bulbs. I developed a circuit to eliminte the surge current for them and they last about 10 years with daily use.
     
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