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Old 08-07-2012, 05:58 PM   #1
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Default Anyone using solar energy?

I just bought a new house and I plan to use solar and or wind energy to take less of a dry pounding from the utility company. I know that you have to spend money to save money. I plan to start out slow and make or buy some attic vent fans, garage vent fans and a passive water heater system.

As time goes on I will setup larger panels and maybe a wind generator. It would be nice to get off the electric grid altogether at some point. Yes I know it will cost a grip, thats why this is a very long term project. I have friends and neighbors that are into alt energy, one of which is getting paid by the utility company $200+ a month. They have been building a huge solar system for the last 15 years.

Just looking for any advise, tips, tricks or knowledge.
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Old 08-07-2012, 07:16 PM   #2
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You will get more for your money by doubling or tripling the insulation thickness in your attic. Seriously.
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:28 PM   #3
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right. first get a home energy audit ($300-$600ish) and see if you'll save more by getting solar or by air sealing your attic ($5-10k+?)

There are solar companies that will finance/lease/whatever your install but you don't own the equipment.

And even at 200 a month plus your free electric bill, it'll still take 10 years or more to pay back the installation.

that said, as a greeny tree hugger, it's a great way to save the world.
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:32 PM   #4
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Search DIY solar panels. You can buy solar plates put them together your self for a lot cheaper than you would if you were to buy entire panels.
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:49 PM   #5
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^Harbor freight sells solar panels.
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:17 AM   #6
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Check your state for tax incentives. In MD I can get a %30 tax credit on a system. I spec'ed out a 7kW system for my house that would pay for itself in 6 years but haven't pulled the trigger.

There are online websites that use Google earth to determine if your house is pointing the right way to get the most out of solar panels on the roof.
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by triple88a View Post
Search DIY solar panels. You can buy solar plates put them together your self for a lot cheaper than you would if you were to buy entire panels.


Myself; I'm using solar powered spotlights on my porch. The only sad thing is that in Dec-Jan there is too little light to charge them, and thats the time I need light to find the key-hole
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:48 AM   #8
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Solar energy? Does having a vegetable garden count?
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:57 AM   #9
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Solar power is where the sun grows trees that you can then burn in a wood stove to heat your house, amirite?
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sixshooter View Post
Solar power is where the sun grows trees that you can then burn in a wood stove to heat your house, amirite?
Or solar powered capture of CO2 (I think it was huge ferns back then), deposited in layers in the ground and retrieved some years later...
???
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:25 PM   #11
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Best system I've heard of was a small hydro-generator. Using the water for sprinklers or showers would turn the turbine, charge an RV's battery system, and run a few lower powered systems in your house, such as charging your phones, laptops, energy efficient light bulbs, etc.

The system sounded really interesting, and he had it successfully implemented in his parent's house, with minimal water pressure loss, and a significant power bill reduction.

It's really only limited by how many circuits you wire your generator into, and how big the generator is.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sixshooter View Post
Solar power is where the sun grows trees that you can then burn in a wood stove to heat your house, amirite?
i think solar energy is the use of energy otherwise being used to heat up the walmart parking lot that would otherwise just create heat islands and flood zones.
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:23 PM   #13
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Always think in terms of ROI.

As pointed out above, insulation is tops.
Appliances are next - such as using Energy Star rated refrigerators, dryers, TVs, and induction cooktops.

Re: photovoltaic cells - I have a sneaking suspicion we're at the cusp of some major breakthrough that will suddenly make solar panels worth their cost of entry. Before then, I'd stick to solar water heating. Or maybe central computer "smart" controlled motorized blinds or awnings, etc.
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Old 08-11-2012, 04:16 AM   #14
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The last time I checked a system to get me off the grid was $140,000. Solar energy is not ready for prime time yet (neither is wind). I would challenge your neighbors to show me their $200/month check. That being said, I will buy a grid tie inverter and wind my workshop meter backwards on the days I am not working in it as a project in the future. I'm probably going to budget around $2,000 to accomplish that (or around 100 months of electric usage for the shop).
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