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Solar power
09-30-2017, 11:02 AM
Post: #1
Solar power
*edited*

So I'm going to make a series of threads on various topics. This week's topic is solar panels.

Solar power is becoming very efficient and extremely affordable. For example...

https://www.altestore.com/store/solar-pa...el-p40660/

^ That Panasonic solar panel has an oustanding 330w of power output which is fairly significant over your average 230-280w panel most people end up getting. Plus the warranty is awesome and Panasonic is a rare company that makes very good products across the board. Even the 230-280w panels are pretty affordable and offer a huge advantage over having a ton of 100w panels. The average US household apparently uses somewhere around ~1,000 kWh per month in power.

I'm not entirely sure I am getting consistent and correct real world information in my research on the internets. I'm seeing a range of needing 3kW to 10kW worth of panels to get using various calculators and reading other people's estimates on their usage. That's a bunch of panels to put on one's roof or out in an empty field if you are needing 6kWh or more (that's 18 of the 330w panels!). I firmly believe something in the neighborhood of 7-12 of the 330w panels would do nicely, especially since I'll also have a electric generator for emergencies and or to supplement if it is cloudy for an extended period of time.



My personal thoughts:

We're going solar when we relocate so this particular topic is quite a useful one. Realistically with LED lighting, not needing the air conditioner much if at all, and not needing to run ceiling fans 24/7 like we have to down here in Texas our power usage won't be quite as much on average where we'd relocate to. Our goal is to go off-grid for our power where ever we relocate to.



So lets dive deep in here. We can discuss the specifics of pretty much what ever suits you on the topic of solar panels.

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10-01-2017, 01:45 AM (This post was last modified: 10-01-2017 01:53 AM by MysticLord.)
Post: #2
RE: Solar power
The hard part is energy storage, not generation. You'll spend more money on a battery bank than the panels. That's why I want to do pumped-storage hydro:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumped-sto...lectricity

Redneck water wheel and generator, though it's used to power a battery bank:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmHY9DkD1Hw

He converted an old alternator to generate electricity at lower RPMs by using permanent magnets. Not mechanically inclined, don't ask me how!

I'm not familiar with electronics and engineering, but I know you need an inverter to convert from one type of electricity to another (DC to AC, I think). I don't know if that's before or after you go into the battery bank. The wiring is also something you'll have to figure out.

Whatever system you use, you need it to run your washer, dryer, fridge, freezer, lights, HVAC, and computer. That means a steady supply of juice, or at least a higher baseline during peak use. You can and should buy a high efficiency washer, and consider building a large-ish sunroom or green house to use for clothes drying in the winter. Find other ways to get your costs down, find a way to store energy, and find a way to generate electricity.

I would build a berm about 40 to 60 feet away from my house, on the north, northwest, and northeast sides of my house. Plant evergreens on the opposite side of it to break the wind even more. On my south, east, and west sides I would plant deciduous trees to keep the house cool in the summer. They should also be pretty far away from the house... they'll still keep it cool even if they don't directly shade the house, you can build a screened porch in your front lawn.

Even with an off-the-grid setup, you should have a backup to power your house when the primary system fails. I would build a smallish cinderblock shed for a generator and a fuel tank. Set it up so the oil or gas man can fill it up without much trouble. Keep it close enough to the house that you can run an extension cord to it, or build it into your electric grid.

Your house should be very well insulated. Insulated concrete forms are probably overkill but they can work great, there are lots of different varieties. Structural insulated panels are a good choice for a roof, but make sure that your roof is peaked and is covered with something that can withstand ice, snow, wind, and rapid changes in temperature.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structural...ated_panel
^Structural insulated panels are good, but get the ones with wood-on-wood at certain points instead of purely wood-on-foam. And be aware that many foams outgas toxic fumes. This isn't different from what you probably have in your house already, and it will stop outgassing after a few months.

For the walls, sprayed foam is much better than fiberglass batting, but there are tricks to it.

https://i.imgur.com/6D49zxk.jpg
^You'll lose a significant amount of heat through the exposed wood, The builder should have attached a metal or wooden piece perpendicular to the exposed wood, filled the insulation up to that level, and then mounted drywall on the perpendicular thing.

Your house should be able to hold up to 20 feet of snow on its roof. I think that a higher pitch is a good way to do this.

Windows are very expensive. I would skimp on fancy windows and install usable shutters. Make sure you can reach them from inside, which means you must have windows (and screens) that open from the inside somehow. Board and batten shutters are solid wood with much better insulation values than any glass - get the kind that you can lock and make sure they're installed correctly. Don't paint over them, you'll need to take them down, sand them, and repaint them once every 5 or 10 years. You can always weather proof the glass with those plastic things you attack to the glass.

I don't know how to describe it, but those fuzzy strips you see on doors in public places are a good idea. I would install them on the edges of my windows where they meet the middle support and the edge of the thing the windows are mounted in. Use the same strips on doors.

Your foundation should be insulated, I think that's done by putting foam down before you pour concrete. Make sure you put your foundation down on very stable ground, somewhere close to bedrock if possible so your house won't sink. That's probably a bigger issue in clay soils like Texas than in the Rockies. Make sure your soil has very good drainage before you pour anything. There are tons of images if you do a search for foundation gravel drainage.

Before I get started on anything I would start prototyping my house in CAD or on drafting paper. Go to your library and get a few books each week on a subject related to construction, take pics of what you like, search for more info on things that interest you, and when you've covered every possible angle of designing a house - design the house.

Your house should have at least a covered carport, if not an actual garage. You'll need a decent truck or SUV to live out there. I would get a 4 cylinder Toyota SUV, but again I know very little about this except what I picked up dating a farm girl and hanging around with rednecks. It's easier to repair them if you have those little things you can drive the wheels up onto, and Toyotas are very easy to maintain even for a novice.

You won't want any steps in the house as you get older, and neither will you want to walk in the snow to reach your car.

Wood frame is perfectly reasonable and everyone knows how to do it. If you want something more sturdy but still conventional, get steel-reinforced cinderblock outer and have someone put siding on it. You can always replace the siding with hippie shit later.

EDIT

It's usually more efficient to use solar to supplement hot water heating in the summer, and maybe in the winter if you are a handyman and build a redneck solar collector. It's still possible though.

/EDIT

To recap:
* Learn as much as you can before you get started.
* Design everything up front.
* Focus on cutting costs before you attempt to generate revenue (costs as in heating costs, revenue as in generated electricity).
* Don't miss details.
* Don't dismiss conventional building styles, they can work great with minor modifications and a few provisos.
* Ask for help at every step of the process from both hobbyists and experts. The 4chan /diy/ board is fun.
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10-01-2017, 09:02 AM
Post: #3
RE: Solar power
Good stuff.

I do want to talk specifically about the panels themselves and such as well. I couldn't find any panels with more power output than that 330w Panasonic I mentioned in my post. So I'm going to assume it is the highest available for residential applications.

I've seen two kinds of setups for the actual panels themselves. Mounted on a roof and ground level. I suppose there are pros and cons for each but I'm curious if either has a power generation advantage? I would prefer the ground level panels simply because I'd like there to not be much weight on the roof which when you consider the amount of extra snow they would accumulate it becomes an important point. I also would prefer a ground level installation because begrudgingly it is more aesthetically pleasing. I know pointing them in the south / southwestern direction is preferred for where we'd be relocating to which is no big deal. I also wonder if going with the ground level installation would save some additional monies as well? Most likely I'm going to assume.

I did notice that there are some people who went off grid who are using 12V solar panels are using pretty much 12V automotive batteries for the power storage (600w = 4 batteries). Most of them from what I've read/heard are also connecting a backup generator to supplement power generation on no-sun days. Granted that generator most likely wouldn't be powerful enough to run off of. I have no idea how efficient this storage method is or if even that would be enough batteries to effectively store those 600w. It is correct that the batteries are going to most likely be the piece where the highest cost comes in and if you are going with 24V or 36V panels the price starts to get insane after 2kW worth of panels.

I could connect to an electric line as an emergency thing but in doing so these energy companies monitor how much power you're generating with your panels and how much you're using. Granted this isn't as sinister as it sounds if you want to sell back your power if the state allows it but this seems a way to be monitored which is why a lot of people out there don't connect so they aren't monitored. I suppose that is the point of going off grid. For me I'd rather spend a ton of money on overkill solar panels and power storage than still be tethered to the energy companies whether I'm selling back or not. I was 50/50 about it before I started my research but after reading/hearing some real people's experiences that split is now 70/30 for not being connected. I'm also considering a small wind turbine as a secondary power generator since this area of the country is pretty windy in most locations.

The highlights for some of what we've got planned out as I've already done some planning and massive research already even though we are a few years away from relocation.

-Will pay to have them installed so we don't have to worry about the mounting, running wires, and converting the power from DC to AC, etc.

-I believe we are going to go with a modular home (not manufactured/mobile!!!!!!!! <-- cannot stress this enough) for several reasons. The primary reason is the climate controlled indoor manufacturing process (which is also much faster) and energy efficiency. There are two builders that serve WY/ID/MT that have extremely energy efficient building methods. One even touts being nearly air-tight. On one of the ratings, forgot the name, a normal house in the US is about a ~130 whereas the aforementioned has some floor plans rated around ~50.

-While I cannot use our power usage here as a baseline I can at least use it for a gross measurement on what sort of power we may need--though I'm going to overestimate because its smarter. Bouncy Considering we run the aircon here as much as we would run the heater up there it should at least provide a sort of gross baseline on needs.

-We plan on replacing any energy inefficient appliances for sure. That's a given. Grin

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10-01-2017, 02:27 PM
Post: #4
RE: Solar power
A ground based array is more flexible. Depending on local geography a roof array might get more sunlight. All will face slightly to the south because the sun sits in the southern portion of the sky in the northern hemisphere, even in the summer. A tracking array requires a bit more infrastructure, but it can be automated and there are both DIY and commercial automation systems.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_tracker
https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/20...er-system/

I would invest in a few trailcams on paths to your house as well as signs that indicate your house is protected by dogs and surveillance systems. Theft of copper wire is a big issue in many parts of the country.

Air-tight building isn't exactly useful if the house is built in such a way that encourages mold. I wouldn't trust any contractor with my life, let alone my wallet. Arm yourself with knowledge. If you have a plan already made (based on what they provide) and you've researched it, you can spot when it goes awry.

A lot of builders in certain areas (Texas for sure) build houses that are designed to fail. They use vapor barriers where they aren't supposed to, so the house accumulates mold over time or never quite dries out after a flood or a leak. They deliberately seek out houses with slate shingles and annoy the owners until they replace the slate with asphalt. Slate shingles can last hundreds of years, asphalt shingles no more than 15 at most.

Remember that you're just a paycheck to these people. They've been in this business longer than you have, and they are more than equipped to rip you off.

A 10% improvement in R-values (insulation measurement) can result in greater than 10% reduction in HVAC costs. Using roofing other than asphalt shingles can double the lifespan of a roof.
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10-01-2017, 05:03 PM
Post: #5
RE: Solar power
Interesting about the solar tracker. I'll be looking in to that. As for the copper thing, that sort of theft doesn't happen for residential land owners in these states we're looking at. In fact crime in general is much lower across the board vs the national average. :)

These modular home builders have designs that are both efficient with air and to resist mold as much as possible. In Texas the builders methods and materials do differ. Our builder uses better materials and has a higher quality rating vs the others that we looked at. While it isn't perfect, nothing is, I'm pretty confident in our build quality. We inspected the house every Friday during construction, sometimes with an inspector. It is built pretty well. Grin

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10-05-2017, 05:46 PM
Post: #6
RE: Solar power
So I calculated our power usage and looked at our history from our electric provider and while it won't be anything I can base our needs it does at least give me an opportunity to become more energy efficient here while we are in this house. I did estimate what each item approximately uses so I CAN make an educated guess for everything except the electric water pump or any of the central air unit when we move to Idaho/Wyoming.

Things will change a little in the time period it'll be before we move but I thought I'd share this. My spreadsheet is on my work computer but I'll post my results tomorrow for grins. Grin

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10-06-2017, 10:05 AM
Post: #7
RE: Solar power
Here's the spreadsheet and a pic of the results. Feel free to use the spreadsheet to enter in your household stuff to see where you are. Let me know if you need help with it or finding the energy ratings of your appliances and such. Game console usage is at the end of the post if you need to use those numbers for your calculations.

My computer(s) are the only thing I couldn't really do since the power consumption when they are in use varies. I also didn't do lights since that will be minuscule now that we have covered all to LEDs--though I might add them in later on down the line when I'm calculating the approximate amount of power needed for power generation via solar/wind.

Remember: This is mostly assuming max usage with everything on at once! You can use the spreadsheet to more accurately calculate what your usage is at once by manipulating the watts for particular item(s). Zero'ing out the ones that you don't want to have in the total calculations by removing the numbers in the "Wattage" column.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=369]



[Image: attachment.php?aid=366]


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10-06-2017, 03:40 PM
Post: #8
RE: Solar power
I'm actually really impressed with the renewable energy options in texas. The power company my apartment uses is 80% wind 20% solar or something close to that.
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10-06-2017, 04:58 PM
Post: #9
RE: Solar power
(10-06-2017 03:40 PM)xlom3000 Wrote:  I'm actually really impressed with the renewable energy options in texas. The power company my apartment uses is 80% wind 20% solar or something close to that.

That's excellent. With it being so windy here wind power is definitely viable even for residential use assuming the area has zoning laws to accommodate it.

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10-06-2017, 05:05 PM
Post: #10
RE: Solar power
A/C, dryer, oven, fridge, and washer are all you should worry about. I covered how you could reduce your HVAC expenses - that alone would cut your electric bill by 2/3. Build a sun-room with good drainage for drying clothes in the winter and you won't need a dryer. Oven is hard to cut costs, but you can always buy a smaller one and I'm sure there are high-efficiency home ovens. Similar deal with the washer.

A sun-room is basically greenhouse. Build a 5 or 6 foot berm around it to the north, northwest, and northeast. Make sure that there is plenty of foam on the ground before you pour concrete for the foundation. Put several drainage tubes in the foundation and use more than enough gravel to keep it from flooding (and site it away from standing water). Build it like you would any large shed, but use clear plastic roofing panels, thick plastic greenhouse panels for the walls, and close all the nooks and crannies where air can get in (use smoke to find drafts). It wouldn't hurt to use plywood for the north wall and slap a bunch of foam insulation down.

Floor it with black flooring bricks and pile the same up on the north side of the shed, but inside the shed. Maybe grout them if you don't want them to fall over. These are your heat collectors, they capture heat during the day and keep the shed warm until the sun rises.

A 14 by 20 foot sun-room, oriented so the long side faces south, would give you room for gardening, a place to take in the sun during the water, and somewhere to hang clothes to dry. If it's attached to your house, it's a good place for a kitchen (provided you have some privacy from your neighbors), as kitchens produce a lot of heat and humidity.
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10-06-2017, 05:44 PM
Post: #11
RE: Solar power
(10-06-2017 05:05 PM)MysticLord Wrote:  A/C, dryer, oven, fridge, and washer are all you should worry about. I covered how you could reduce your HVAC expenses - that alone would cut your electric bill by 2/3. Build a sun-room with good drainage for drying clothes in the winter and you won't need a dryer. Oven is hard to cut costs, but you can always buy a smaller one and I'm sure there are high-efficiency home ovens. Similar deal with the washer.

A sun-room is basically greenhouse. Build a 5 or 6 foot berm around it to the north, northwest, and northeast. Make sure that there is plenty of foam on the ground before you pour concrete for the foundation. Put several drainage tubes in the foundation and use more than enough gravel to keep it from flooding (and site it away from standing water). Build it like you would any large shed, but use clear plastic roofing panels, thick plastic greenhouse panels for the walls, and close all the nooks and crannies where air can get in (use smoke to find drafts). It wouldn't hurt to use plywood for the north wall and slap a bunch of foam insulation down.

Floor it with black flooring bricks and pile the same up on the north side of the shed, but inside the shed. Maybe grout them if you don't want them to fall over. These are your heat collectors, they capture heat during the day and keep the shed warm until the sun rises.

A 14 by 20 foot sun-room, oriented so the long side faces south, would give you room for gardening, a place to take in the sun during the water, and somewhere to hang clothes to dry. If it's attached to your house, it's a good place for a kitchen (provided you have some privacy from your neighbors), as kitchens produce a lot of heat and humidity.

Way ahead of you. Thumbs Up We are definitely going to have a greenhouse on our property when we finally do move--and it won't be half-assed! I had planned on a gas dryer as well just in case the weather doesn't cooperate. Grin In our neighborhood however the HOA will not allow this sort of thing so as long as we are here we will have to use an electric dryer and electric range. Speaking of gas having a gas range put in as well will also help with mitigating the electricity usage. Grin The only appliance that will be difficult is the dish washer but since I 99% of the time run that overnight while we sleep it won't be much of an issue if that is the only thing running with the heater for an hour or so once we relocate. Cheers!

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10-07-2017, 10:27 AM (This post was last modified: 10-07-2017 10:34 AM by MysticLord.)
Post: #12
RE: Solar power
Electricity costs more during peak hours, which is usually during the day and maybe the early evening though it depends on what people do in your area. It's way less expensive to run stuff at night. You're saving money and doing your utility company a favor.

May as well explain it, here goes autism.

A power station generates a certain amount of power all the time. This is the baseline. They try to keep this as low as possible without having to bring other generators online, but it's still slightly more than they will need during the time of lowest electricity usage. Therefore a lot of companies will charge less for power during this time than they do at other times.

Other times a company monitors usage, brings generators online to (try to) meet and slightly exceed the demand. The more generators are running, the more it costs to generate, and the more they charge the consumer.

So if you're in Tejas and it's 3 PM in the afternoon, electricity demand is very high, generators are running full speed, and power is very expensive. If you're in Alaska and it's 3 AM in the morning, you're running heaters and electricity is more expensive than it would be in Texas at the same time.

Thus you can put your AC on a timer to only run at night, let it get a little chilly (but not too chilly - heating and cooling are quadratic in terms of energy usage), then keep it on low during the day and let it get a little warm.

There are other ways to reduce your cooling bill. Blackout shades and thick curtains on south, east, and west facing windows are the easiest. Working shutters are even better.

Jesus I can't find a single non-spam site that explains the different types of shutters. Google you suck dicks.

Movable louvered shutters are best for hot climates.
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10-07-2017, 11:06 AM
Post: #13
RE: Solar power
(10-07-2017 10:27 AM)MysticLord Wrote:  Electricity costs more during peak hours, which is usually during the day and maybe the early evening though it depends on what people do in your area. It's way less expensive to run stuff at night. You're saving money and doing your utility company a favor.

May as well explain it, here goes autism.

A power station generates a certain amount of power all the time. This is the baseline. They try to keep this as low as possible without having to bring other generators online, but it's still slightly more than they will need during the time of lowest electricity usage. Therefore a lot of companies will charge less for power during this time than they do at other times.

Other times a company monitors usage, brings generators online to (try to) meet and slightly exceed the demand. The more generators are running, the more it costs to generate, and the more they charge the consumer.

So if you're in Tejas and it's 3 PM in the afternoon, electricity demand is very high, generators are running full speed, and power is very expensive. If you're in Alaska and it's 3 AM in the morning, you're running heaters and electricity is more expensive than it would be in Texas at the same time.

Thus you can put your AC on a timer to only run at night, let it get a little chilly (but not too chilly - heating and cooling are quadratic in terms of energy usage), then keep it on low during the day and let it get a little warm.

There are other ways to reduce your cooling bill. Blackout shades and thick curtains on south, east, and west facing windows are the easiest. Working shutters are even better.

Jesus I can't find a single non-spam site that explains the different types of shutters. Google you suck dicks.

Movable louvered shutters are best for hot climates.

My wife and I knew most of this thankfully after years of researching how to be more efficient. We only now are in a good financial spot to get some stuff done. We're going to have solar screens installed on all of our windows on the house, I've started replacing all of our CFL bulbs with LEDs, and we've been actively turning off fans and or devices when we aren't either in the room or when they are needed. Such as my computers, printer, game consoles, and etc are all turned off when not in use. I turned off the A/C unit up stairs so we can only run the downstairs AC unit since we spend most of the time downstairs. Things like that. I'm hoping to see a significant difference in the average daily usage. Funny thing is we are well below the average person on our energy bills for 9~10 months out of the year. It is only June, July, and August that cost us a pretty penny because of the two A/C units we have. We've had months where our gas/electric bill was less than $60 for months at a time--and we have a 2 story 3,000 square foot house. This also goes to show you that extra high quality insulation they installed at our request was worth it.

But I'm getting a little off topic.



I'm going to be curious how much evolution solar panels will have in the ~5 years or so it will be before we relocate. I'm half tempted to spend a little extra down the line to get a REALLY awesome off-grid setup with 5kW or so of solar panels and 5-6kW worth of wind turbines.

So right now with the 330w Panasonic solar panel I listed in my first post being the best for residential use I'm going to use that as a baseline for what will be the best panel in ~5 years. I wouldn't be surprised if in ~5 years we get residential solar panels rated at 500w to 1kW each in the same size package. In 10 years I could see solar panels for residential use be rated 10 times higher thus only needing a couple or few panels instead of the dozen to two dozen or so now. Just imagine panels rated at 3kW or more each!

The next point I want to discuss on this subject is the battery power storage system, but, I'll need to do more research on that subject.

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10-07-2017, 02:31 PM
Post: #14
RE: Solar power
Wouldn't it be less effort to build a really efficient house and get your electricity from the power company? If you build a house right the HVAC takes care of itself, you can get solar water heating 9 months out of the year, and you can cut your electricity consumption in ways I outlined above. Get a backup gas or oil generator for power outages and you're set... but you might not even need that if your house can be heated passively from sunlight and doesn't lose much heat.

I assume you're 40 or 50, which means you have about 40 to 45 more years left to live. A power bill will be between $30 and $50 a month. That's maybe $360 to $600 a year. Over 10 years it's $3,600 to $6,000, over 40 years that's between $14,000 and $24,000. The savings will in no way offset the costs, and it's cheaper to just build a really efficient house and don't be a spendthrift. That doesn't account for the extra time and effort spent on building, installing, and maintaining an energy generation and storage system.

I don't know man, it seems like you're doing this for reasons other than utility. Maybe you think it's a good investment (it's not), maybe you somehow anticipate not working. The latter won't work, the county assessor will find any reason to jack up your property taxes and then you have to get a job to pay rent to the county not to fine you so they can steal your house.

It seems like you're doing this because you need something to fill your free time. That's OK, if a little sad, but I can't in good faith advise you to go through with this. Adopt a dog or a kid, there are plenty of American kids out there that need good homes. They will take up all your free time and before long you'll wonder why you ever wanted to play video games. Granted that's a hell of an age to raise kids.

If this is getting too personal, just slap me and tell me to STFU or something. I'm done with the gay feelings shit now.
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10-07-2017, 04:09 PM
Post: #15
RE: Solar power
(10-07-2017 02:31 PM)MysticLord Wrote:  Wouldn't it be less effort to build a really efficient house and get your electricity from the power company? If you build a house right the HVAC takes care of itself, you can get solar water heating 9 months out of the year, and you can cut your electricity consumption in ways I outlined above. Get a backup gas or oil generator for power outages and you're set... but you might not even need that if your house can be heated passively from sunlight and doesn't lose much heat.

Already in the plans. Thumbs Up The two builders we would be interested in have some of the best efficiency ratings which will considerably help lower the power consumption needs for heating. And we are also going to get an electric generator for emergencies if needed so there's that too. Thought I mentioned that, maybe I didn't? I prefer redundancy when it comes to stuff like electricity.

Quote:I assume you're 40 or 50, which means you have about 40 to 45 more years left to live. A power bill will be between $30 and $50 a month. That's maybe $360 to $600 a year. Over 10 years it's $3,600 to $6,000, over 40 years that's between $14,000 and $24,000. The savings will in no way offset the costs, and it's cheaper to just build a really efficient house and don't be a spendthrift. That doesn't account for the extra time and effort spent on building, installing, and maintaining an energy generation and storage system.

You're a little off on the age range. Cheers! I'll address the other parts of that quote below. Cycle

Quote:I don't know man, it seems like you're doing this for reasons other than utility. Maybe you think it's a good investment (it's not), maybe you somehow anticipate not working. The latter won't work, the county assessor will find any reason to jack up your property taxes and then you have to get a job to pay rent to the county not to fine you so they can steal your house.

It seems like you're doing this because you need something to fill your free time. That's OK, if a little sad, but I can't in good faith advise you to go through with this. Adopt a dog or a kid, there are plenty of American kids out there that need good homes. They will take up all your free time and before long you'll wonder why you ever wanted to play video games. Granted that's a hell of an age to raise kids.

Perhaps you were misreading or misunderstanding my thought process or reason for the thread? I'll reply in bullet points to be more efficient. Grin It isn't really as complicated or convoluted as you may think as this topic was designed as a general discussion topic. Perhaps over analysis is at play?
  • I'm not quite 40 but knocking on its door, not that it matters.
  • Not sure what you were getting at for the part about free time but I can assure you none of this is as frivolous as that. Bouncy I have PLENTY to do in my and our lives and in reality I only wish I had more free time.
  • I have no interest in getting any sort of money back from my power generating system(s) when we get them in the future. My reasons for wanting it come from the desire to be off-grid, be self sustaining with respects to electricity, and because frankly its just a good idea to try and be as green as possible when you are able and have the desire to.
  • I also have a desire to not contribute to the energy companies' revenue nor do I have a desire to have any of my energy come from coal. I don't like the monopolistic nature of the energy companies so I would prefer to not have my money aid this behavior.
  • I also have no interest in seeing this as an investment--because as you mention it just isn't feasible. You might get some of your money back if you sell but you'll likely not live long enough to legitimately get all of it back barring a serious increase in inflation in 20~50 years.
  • I'm here on earth to get what we want out of life and that's it. And I want to be self sufficient and self reliant as much as possible. Solar and wind power generation allows this if going off-grid.
  • Lastly, this topic and any that I would of created each week were primarily designed as general discussion topics for anyone to participate in just for the sake of discussion. I only started with solar panels because I thought it was an interesting subject and was currently getting caught up on the technology since it will be something we will do eventually. The next topic was going to be about computers / technology FYI.

So my apologies if I wasn't clearer or more concise with my language on what this topic was originally supposed to be about in that it wasn't necessarily supposed to be about me but about the general discussion of the topic item. Huh?

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