adding solar electricity

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  #1  
Old 08-04-13, 05:46 PM
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adding solar electricity

I am thinking of adding a small solar electric system to my house. Over time i might add on and make large enough to power the whole house. It would be non grid tie in, with batteries.
My question is, since the system is so small, what is the best, safest, most legal way to use the solar electricity?
Hook it up to the house panel like a generator with a transfer switch? But then i would have to turn the main off, and only have enough power for one room.
Or, wire a seperate panel with seperate outlets with no connection to the utility grid house wireing?
Two seperate wiring systems. Two outlets in one room. Side by side. One utility grid power, one solar power.
My thinking is, is i have a lamp in the solar outlet and i drain the battery, i can unplug it and plug it into the grid power outlet.
Good idea?
Legal?
Thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 08-04-13, 06:03 PM
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What you want to do you will never get any payback....

What do you intend to power???

Have you priced batteries and the solar panels? Priced the inverter???
 
  #3  
Old 08-04-13, 06:29 PM
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Yes i have priced everything.
I realize it takes about 20 years to break even if you power the whole house.
Which is why i wanted to start small.
Since i live alone, i would be happy with powering one light and one computer in the room i am in. Or even just the lights as i move from room to room.
Again, this would just be a start.
 
  #4  
Old 08-04-13, 06:43 PM
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Since you will have an inverter anyway, I would suggest gettign that can tie into the power grid so that it is increasing your payback when you are not using electricity.

IMO - running a separate wiring for just the solar system is a waste of money.

How small are we taking? (in watts)
 
  #5  
Old 08-04-13, 07:57 PM
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About 500watts.
Are you saying a very small solar system is not worth it?
I was thinking a small system would pay for itself faster.
In any event, i am really not interested in the system paying for itself at this point, since i am starting so small and adding to it.
I was really just wondering what was the best, safest way to use the electricity.
Because i wont be producing that much.
I guess it would be like using a small generator in a power outage, you can onlyrun one thing at a time
 
  #6  
Old 08-05-13, 01:01 PM
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I was thinking a small system would pay for itself faster.
No, it should be the other way around, since the larger components should give you better output for less increased cost.

If you want to do this as a hobby project, have at it. Nothing wrong with that.
 
  #7  
Old 08-05-13, 01:42 PM
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Hi Frank,
I have been watching the cost and return for plug-in solar panels and for some areas they are an easy decision. As for starting small, get a panel that connects directly to the grid so it reduces your meter reading when the sun is shining and requires little else. As you add more panels it then gets to a point where you can produce more than you use, thus the possibility of returning the extra to the grid for credit.

Be aware the ability to sell to the grid is being challenged as the grid can buy it much cheaper elsewhere than from you. I eventually see the grid credit being a max of the lowest wholesale price, and even that going away as too many people add on solar. Somebody needs to pay for those poles running down the street.

You can't get much easier than plug in solar panels and it gets your learning curve going. The only drawbacks I see are the falling prices of solar and the increasing performance. Whatever you buy today will be obsolete in 5 years. (my opinion)

Bud
 
  #8  
Old 08-05-13, 02:25 PM
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In my opinion grid-tied small solar makes very little economic sense. Of course I also live in an area that is famous for its lack of bright sunny days AND for having some of the lowest electrical rates in the country.

I AM, however, quite interested in using small solar to cut the amount of power needed from the utility. To that end I am working on a system that will power some night lights and my Internet services and maybe eventually an inverter that will power my computer and possibly my television and DVD recorder/player. I already have an LED night light in the kitchen and bathroom controlled via an astronomic time clock and powered by battery. I have my fiber optic terminal and router powered by a single DC power supply and just waiting on a deep cycle battery to replace the power supply and then also add in my VoIP telephone adapter. Once all that is in place it will be time to test a solar panel for keeping the battery charged.

There is really no economic return on my project, maybe I will break even in about 20 years, but it will be nice to be able to go on-line, watch DVDs or talk on the telephone during power outages.
 
  #9  
Old 08-05-13, 05:17 PM
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I agree with Ford, living near a giant hydro-plant is the way to cut electrical costs!

I like the idea for small solar of getting a DC panel (no plug-in circuitry or inverter included), and setting it up as a battery charger and using DC powered devices only on the circuit (rather than powering an inefficient inverter to plug in AC adaptors that simply convert back to DC). Low voltage won't hurt you unless you are near the arc of car battery terminals shorting together (wont electrocute you but can severely burn you)
 
  #10  
Old 08-06-13, 08:49 AM
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While i value everyones electirical opinion, math is math. Whether the electricitity comes from the grid or solar panels. So, i dont understand why you think i would not see a return. If it costs me 6,000.00 to install and it cuts my electric bill by 50.00 , i breakeven in 10 years. 20 years if it only saves me 25.00, and so on.
I guess it is like arguing politics. What i think is worth it, others do not.
In any event, the question that has not heen addressed is, what is the best way to use the electricty produced?

Non grid tie in. Storage batteries. Inverter.
Hook it up like a generator ? Transfer switch to the main panel? Then use it like a small portable generator in a power outage. Turn on a few lights at night until the batteries die.
I realize i could just hook it directly, through seperate wiring to one thing, say 12VDC lights in the house.
I am just wondering what is a safe legal way to use a small amount of solar electricity
 
  #11  
Old 08-06-13, 12:32 PM
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You didn't list the option of simply plugging the solar panels into your house electrical system, ie after the meter. These plug in panels have electronics to meld with your electricity. When you draw power, the first 500W or whatever the panels are producing comes directly from solar. If you are over producing it simply goes back to the grid, no credit. As you increase the capacity of your panels you can calculate the option and costs to sell back to the grid, whatever your local power company is offering.

As for a battery to provide for power outages, that can be added at any time, either to your solar panel or just charged off the grid. What you choose to use it for is optional.

Bud
 
  #12  
Old 08-06-13, 07:35 PM
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Seems like Bud9051's approach is the way to go for you. The main issue is cost, I imagine, but I haven't priced anything out.

Solar panels generate a DC current and can charge batteries very easily and cheaply, this is probably the lowest cost approach and you can use some deep cycle marine batteries for storage and run 12v DC or an Inverter to power some devices for some time. The problem with the DC circuit is that once the battery is fully charged, the panel is useless.

The plug in option is a cool idea but may require an electrician and permission from the power company, and the frequency synching inverter circuit is going to be very expensive, but this way you will utilize (or give away) every drop of power you generate. If its on the scale of a 500 watt panel you will likely use 100% of the power and never put any back on the grid. And if its bigger it may be worthwhile to figure out the buy back program with the power co.

There are some significant federal tax incentives for the equipment if you look into that a bit, up to 30% maybe?
 
  #13  
Old 08-07-13, 12:07 AM
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Ok. I get it. You guys like grid tie in.
But, i dont want grid tie in. Not now. As the system grows, i might go with grid tie in.
Right now, i want a small inexpensive system.
Batteries, no grid tie in.
Grid tie in is very expensive.
All i really want is your opinion on how to safely use the electricity produced from the solar.
Suppose i use a used 80watt solar panel i bought off ebay with 2 -6volt golf cart batteries and a 100 watt inverter.
I can only power one 60 watt bulb at a time.
With a system that small, would you connect it to the house service panel with a transfer switch, like a generator?
Please dont tell me to grid tie an 80 watt panel.
If you like, i could make my hypothectical future solar system a large $20,000.00 system with grid tie in and batteries for power during a power outage and my question is, what is the safest way to use the power from the batteries.
 
  #14  
Old 08-07-13, 12:34 AM
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Besides, if i go with grid tie in, then i have to understand the 38 pages of instructions my power company has to do a grid tie inand i would be here every day asking you to explain things like" IEEE p 1547.1 2006 Std for Conformance Test Procedures for Equipment Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems", and how to make my 10 watt used ebay inverter from an Atari video game comply with thestandard.
Just telling me the safest way to use the power from a non grid tie in system would be a lot easier.
 
  #15  
Old 08-07-13, 04:06 AM
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Not an electrician, just an interested observer but wouldn't it be better to just run one dedicated circuit to utilize the solar power? instead of bothering with a transfer switch and all for such a small system.
 
  #16  
Old 08-07-13, 07:53 AM
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With a system that small, would you connect it to the house service panel with a transfer switch, like a generator?
Please dont tell me to grid tie an 80 watt panel.
You could spend considerable dollars on a manual transfer switch and only have power for a few minutes if the proposed system is as small as you say.
 
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