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How can you calculate solar savings?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 5
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It's been a big question to many homeowners, how can you save fast? Will my savings outweigh what I would pay on an electric bill? How much money can you potentially save by the end of the year?

In short you may jump to the conclusion that your home is not big enough to save enough, but that's not true, installing home solar will immediately stop your bills, and you may find yourself not paying too much out of pocket after installation. Plus depending on your state, your tax incentives could be huge!

Site like this will help
http://www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov/consumers/taxcredits.php
https://hahasmart.com/design-diy
 
Posts: 87
Location: out in the woods of Maine
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Jim Wong wrote:It's been a big question to many homeowners, how can you save fast? Will my savings outweigh what I would pay on an electric bill?



No.

Generally you can not install a photovoltaic system to power your home for less money than paying a utility bill.



... In short you may jump to the conclusion that your home is not big enough to save enough, but that's not true, installing home solar will immediately stop your bills, and you may find yourself not paying too much out of pocket after installation. Plus depending on your state, your tax incentives could be huge!



No longer paying an electric bill is nice.
The depreciation write-offs on our solar power system is nice [however we live on a farm, I can not swing a dead cat without hitting other depreciable items].
I do not see any 'tax incentives' that equal the cost of our solar power system, and our system was DIY installed [which saved a big chunk of the expenses].

Our primary benefit is to now have reliable power. I live on the East Coast, our public utility power goes down frequently, every time the wind blows trees blow down, pulling the power lines down. We were here ten years before installing solar power. During those first ten years, there was not a single calendar month without a power outage. Our public utility is not capable of providing continuous power for more than a week at a time.

I do appreciate the tax incentives. Our solar system depreciates out over 7 years [in accordance with IRS guidelines] Every penny spent on solar is a write-off. The 'pay-back' cannot exceed 7 years, because at 7 years you have written off the entire cost of the system.

 
pollinator
Posts: 1126
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Generally, I agree with Galen. Installing solar doesn't mean that you'll be saving lots of money. I live in Hawaii where the cost of grid electricity is mind boggling expensive, and even so, the cost of installing most solar installations (including tax incentives) doesn't equate to cash savings for years and years. There needs to be other reasons for installing solar other than quick cash savings.

Our homestead is completely off-grid. People mistakenly think we have free electricity. We installed a small system that cost $20,000 in hardware. (We install and maintain it ourselves.) Every six years or so we need to replace the battery bank ($800 to $1000). We need to buy and maintain a back up generator that gets replaced when we replace the battery bank. (Just because the gas engine runs doesn't mean that it's putting out the electrical rating we need. These things wear out.) That's around $800 to $1000 buy the new generator. I'm not sure what the gasoline, oil, and maintenance parts come to, nor the distilled water for the batteries. Our solar panels are 20 years old this year, so heaven knows how much longer it will be before we be thinking of replacements. Luckily our inverter, charge controller, and the rest of the equipment has never failed, but they could, thus requiring  expensive replacements.

No, solar surely isn't free. It costs to install it and maintain it. And for newbees it's even more expensive because they make mistakes while learning. For example, we killed our first battery bank in 3 years simply because we didn't know what we were doing.

The reason we went off grid was strictly economics. The electric company wanted almost $30,000 to run power to our house. Going was DIY solar was an immediate savings for us. But for folks already on the grid, changing to solar may not be a savings for years, if ever. And if they go with a grid tied system with no battery back up, then they aren't any better off......except that they may feel better about "going green" (whatever they think that is).

Grid power gives the homeowner flexibility and reliability. Plus the ability to budget monthly expenses fairly accurately. Off grid means that you need to think about how much power you are using and when you might need to use more than normal. For example, I know that I need to run the generator when I use high energy consuming equipment, or want to do the laundry on a cloudy day. I know that my system can't maintain a heated spa, so I'd be crazy to buy one as a Christmas present for hubby. I need to be mindful about the running of my power, because I can't even consider  running the water pump, washer, freezer, frig, microwave, and hair dryer all at the same time. Being on the grid, a homeowner wouldn't even have to think about that. Plus budgeting isn't easy. Cash layouts will come in big chunks, not little bits each month.

People going from grid to off grid (usually grid tied) need to look carefully. Saying that you save money is usually ignoring the upfront purchase cost, or end-of-lease expenses. Others reasons, like Galen's, might be a good reason going solar. One of our friends installed a grid tied system because he wanted his wife to be able to afford to stay in their home after he died. He is significantly older than she is. He has the money now to spend on going solar and knows that she will have a low monthly income after he passes. So installing solar gives him peace of mind.
 
Galen Young
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Location: out in the woods of Maine
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Su Ba-

All good points.

With 4400 watts of photovoltaic panels, during a sunny day we make way more power than we need.

We can charge the battery, run every appliance we own, and every power tool. But it is a lifestyle change.

If you want to toast a piece of bread, you must be willing to conform to considering things like will the overcast clear-up first? And how are the batteries doing?

My wife has one of those new Freeze-Dryers. It is seriously a cool device. But it runs a 30-hour cycle. Our system can not generate power for 30-hours continuously. So for her to run th eFreeze-Dryer, we must first cycle power breakers to put us back to grid-power.

Among off-grid home-owners it seems agreed that your first battery-bank will die within the first ten years. This is due to the learning curve, so you need to budget to replace your batteries.

My wife was working, and she was eligible for a pension. So she decided that she wanted to reduce our monthly bills a bit before she took the pension. Our solar power system did that. Sort of. It was a big investment, and it will require further investments as the years go by.


 
pollinator
Posts: 572
Location: Southern Arizona. Zone 8b
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Unfortunately, eliminating your bill is not always possible anymore.

I installed a PV array 8 years ago and haven't paid a bill since. The array paid for itself in about 5 1/2 years

However, my power coop is changing their rate schedule for solar customers and once it's fully implemented my bill will go back up to $65 to $75 a month, perhaps $5 a month less than it would be without any solar. From what I've read in many areas it's even worse than that with solar customers potentially paying MORE than customer without solar.

 
Posts: 347
Location: Michigan
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Our power cost from the utility is 18.5 cents per kwh.

I state it like this.

If you intend on using electricity for longer than 10 years, its a great investment, if the cost were to stay the same. It will rise.

If you are leaving your property to your children or family... its a no brainer and if you have more than one power outage every 8 years, we can install a system that is cleaner, and provides higher quality power and with higher reliability than the utility.
 
Posts: 517
Location: Andalucía, Spain
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To us it was pretty simple...

We were using something like €750/month running a generator (living off grid w. husband who works full time online... from home). Our closest neighbour went on grid and payed €12.000 for the line into their house - and they were only 50m from the closest line, we are more like 200-300m from there... and we would have to get the line across someone else's land, which means a building permit would be necessary... so it was solar or running the genny.

6 kWh solar + batteries = €18.000 (plus a shed to put the batteries in and renting an excavator for a day to have terraces dug for the panels to sit on). If the batteries only last 10 years that is 1800 pr. year (plus maybe running the genny 3x pr. year)

vs.

€750x12/year = €9000/year

And we have much more freedom to do what we want with this system (much more power), than we did with the generator. And that is not included if the energy prices rise (which they will), and not included numerous repairs on the genny and the times the mechanic gave up on it and we had to buy a new one... (more than once in 4 years) = €500 every.single.time. Edit: I love using the wood burning oven so much - but I dare not use it in the summer, so I aprechiate having a regular oven for those times

We don't use the oven on a rainy day, we don't do laundry on a rainy day. We have 2 propane burners for a rainy day (and 2 induction for the rest of the year). We have a wood-fired oven for a rainy day - plus a propane barbecue which can also be used as an oven, plus a haybox for slow cooking. We live in the south of Spain and have 300 days of sun/year.

Hopefully in 10 years there will be better and cheaper batteries on the market.
 
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