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Old 04-27-2006, 12:49 PM   #1
Kate
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Does anyone here have personal experience with solar power for an entire household? I'm planning a home for a remote site and am keenly interested in keeping it off the grid.

Comments from those engineer-types with experience in photovoltaics are heartily welcomed, as well!

Thanks :)

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Old 04-27-2006, 01:22 PM   #2
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Get you a bigass generator. Then you can sell power back to the grid.

Are you trying to be green, or are trying to avoid the evil power companies?

"Science and Mother Nature are in a marriage where Science is always surprised to come home and find Mother Nature blowing the neighbor." - Justin's Dad
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Old 04-27-2006, 01:50 PM   #3
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More than half of US states offer serious rebates and/or tax breaks for home solar arrays.

For example:

"Clark Beebe, 57, of Springfield, N.J., bought a $50,000 solar power system two years ago for $15,000 after rebates, installing it on the roof of his four-bedroom house. Because he offsets what he uses with what he pumps into the grid, his annual power bill has dropped from $1,270 to $170, though he also installed energy-saving appliances. His $1,100 yearly savings is supplemented by $500 in clean energy credits, cutting the payback period for his system to nine years. After that, he'll effectively net at least a $200-a-year profit."

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Old 04-27-2006, 01:50 PM   #4
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Avoid the eeeeeeevil power companies. I'd like to mortgage my power costs over 30 yrs or so, rather than bother with a pesky bill every month, subject to their pricing whims.

Solar isn't as noisy as a bigass generator. I can keep the blind closer to the house with less ambient noise.

Edit: Yeah, I saw that and thought that was pretty nifty, Phil. Stick it to The Man!

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Old 04-27-2006, 02:43 PM   #5
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That's the greatest thing about it... any way you go, the power companies will nearly beg you to sell power back to them.

I had a massive generator when I ran an IS dept.. on the order of 500KW, I think. It powered a 2000sq ft computer room with seventy equipment racks and two refrigerator-sized battery backups. Alabama Power would call me every month, wanting me to sell them power.

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Old 04-27-2006, 05:28 PM   #6
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The power companies are pressed by the granolas to prove they are helping with the green movement, thus things like Ten's situation. If you really want to get off the grid, look into some of the respected solar house architectural designs. You can build a house that will require essentially NO heating and cooling, which generally require the most electricity. This works better in temperate climes, but has been employed up in the Rockies in Colorado, where it gets cold enough to freeze the ass off a mountain goat. You can find those asses in the spring thaw, and are puzzling to look at, at first. Seriously, the designs are out there for solar heated homes that do not require more energy, and a bunch of running around by you, opening and closing blinds and valves. The problem with photovoltaics is, they wear out pretty fast, get dust on them, which reduces efficiency, need a lot of sunshine, and require more maintenance than you may be willing to do. Try the Oak Ridge National Lab site, and also the Sandia National Lab site. Lots of good info about water heating concentrators and solar living. You want PASSIVE efficiency, which means you don't have to be Engineer Bill, running around opening and closing valves and shit like that. If you do not have a technical background (linguistics, or like that, I recall?), look around for someone who has built that stuff and has a track record.
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Old 04-27-2006, 10:00 PM   #7
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Oh, I know a guy who installs solar pool heaters. I think they're radiator-type heat exchange solar panels (not photovoltaic electrical collectors) that go on the roof, and a pump system circulates the liquid to provide heating through a coil/fan exchange system. If I'm not mistaken they're pretty cheap. The biggest cost is in the panels themselves. Everything else is from the pool supply aisle at Home Depot.

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Old 04-28-2006, 05:26 AM   #8
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Oo! Great ideas! Thanks!

Loggy: I have been looking at the passive solar homes. You're right...I don't want to be an engineer (no offense to those of you out there), I am a techno-phobe and have no technical background (yeah, linguistics-type background), and a lot of the stuff I see has these kind of slipped-in references for vents and things that I won't want to bother with. I still would need power for the appliances, jacuzzi and pool. The conservatory will definitely be passive solar, as the size to accomodate the lap pool would otherwise be too expensive.

Location will be the eastern half of Oregon. Lots of sun, moderately temperate. Not too bad.

I've been looking at designs that put a significant portion of the structure under ground. So I'm thinking Hobbit House, in the side of a hill. Grow flowers on it and stuff :D

My biggest hangup at this juncture is that I can't be shelling out beaucoup bucks just to see some plans to narrow the field before committing. Gas prices are cutting into my Boone's Farm budget. A girl has to prioritize!

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Old 04-28-2006, 06:11 AM   #9
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Solar panels are great, but you might also consider wind. Turbines are fairly expensive, as Americans are apparently too stupid to manufacture their own(politics, again), but I understand you can get one set up for around ten thousand dollars, and that'll cover an entire house with a good amount of kwh left over to sell. The useful life is around ten years, which is more than enough time to pay them off.

They're pretty big, but I always figured they looked kind of elegant, and they really don't make much noise. The modern ones only require about six or seven kilometers/hour of wind to start them spinning.
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Old 04-28-2006, 06:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Viole wrote
Solar panels are great, but you might also consider wind. Turbines are fairly expensive, as Americans are apparently too stupid to manufacture their own(politics, again), but I understand you can get one set up for around ten thousand dollars, and that'll cover an entire house with a good amount of kwh left over to sell. The useful life is around ten years, which is more than enough time to pay them off.

They're pretty big, but I always figured they looked kind of elegant, and they really don't make much noise. The modern ones only require about six or seven kilometers/hour of wind to start them spinning.
You can also opt for smaller home turbines (100-400 watts, for between $500 - $1000 -- and again, check for Oregon rebates/tax breaks), that wouldn't meet all your supply needs but could nicely supplement solar panels. Obviously it depends on your local wind conditions whether it would be a smart choice for you, but a suite of different energy sources is often wise: sometimes it's cloudy, sometimes its windy, etc.


P.S. Investigate Oregon's Renewable Energy Tax Credit

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Old 04-28-2006, 06:50 AM   #11
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Wind is definitely next on my list. I'm thinking that would be a good option for the barn and greenhouse. I like that it would produce on a cold, windy winter's night.

And I am ALL over that Oregon Tax credit :D
Thanks for the link, Phil! My bookmarks are becoming quite numerous!

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Old 04-28-2006, 08:14 AM   #12
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this one's nice

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Old 04-28-2006, 01:05 PM   #13
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Have you got a room in there for me? I'm a good gardener!
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Old 04-28-2006, 01:07 PM   #14
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I could keep you in the tower.....mmmmm.......yeah. I got room for you :)

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Old 04-28-2006, 01:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
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I could keep you in the tower.....mmmmm.......yeah. I got room for you :)
Sweet!

Wait, I WOULD get to come out of the tower sometimes, right...?
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