Solar Energy?

<p>I searched this forum and didn't find a thread that really addressed my question so here goes -- Any smart CC folks out there taken the plunge and installed the solar panels? Anyone research it and not do?</p>

<p>We are just flabbergasted by our electric bills here in NJ. But I'm bothered a bit because I feel as if I'm being incentivized to go invest in solar and I don't like to be manipulated. Are energy costs here artificially inflated? Is my house just a big energy drain?</p>

<p>It seems as if many charlatans are making fortunes off solar power right now and making tax payers pick up the risk and the cost when it fails. But I hate paying what I'm paying right now!</p>

<p>Any thoughts?</p>

<p>If you haven’t already-
CFL everywhere
Start migrating to LED. Replace the resistant Edison light in the refrig with an Einstein quantum LED .
Any outdoor light that leave on at night-use LED.
Install Solartube skylights.in hallways/bath</p>

<p>Use a washlet bidet. Won’t help electrically but you’ll save a bundle on TP. This probably will have a faster cost recovery than LEDs, light tubes, waterheater, or Solarpanels. </p>

<p>Got Daughter?</p>

<p>Oregon:
Local electrical public utility at ~$.07/kilowatt, renewable energy/federal dams. Not cost effective to go solar.</p>

<p>Local private electrical utility at ~0.13/kilowate, 50%coal & 50%private dams. Payback ~8 years.
Use natural gas on all heating. And if you can go to compact, on-demand water heat, all the better.
Insulate.
Vote Green. Vote White for roof, Vote titanium coat on windows :)</p>

<p>We have solar, but being in California can’t speak to what your energy costs are like in NJ. For the most bang for your buck, first do an energy audit of your house to see just how big an energy drain it is, and what can be done to make it use less energy. The cheapest solar panels are the ones you don’t have to install because you’re not using as much energy to start with. For some people it’s a better investment to replace windows, add insulation, or reroute/redo the HVAC ductwork to a more efficient configuration. Make sure in all cases you look into the tax ramifications as part of your financial consideration. </p>

<p>I will say that having solar means that there’s always a silver lining whenever there’s a boost in electricity rates. ;)</p>

<p>Researched it once a few years ago. The payback was going to take 12 to 15 years. The panels only last about 20.</p>

<p>In HI, it’s $.33+/kilowatt hour. We get a 30-35% rebate from our state and another 30% or so from the federal government, so we only pay about 30-35% of the total cost of the system. I did start a photovoltaic thread earlier. We have decided to install, as did both of my brothers. My dad & sisters are also investigating installing for their homes. It’s a bit silly, since our electric bill is pretty low at about $75-$100 or once $120/month, but the rates only go up & we felt it was the green thing to do. We get TONS of sunlight in our neighborhood & area, so that is also good. It should pay for itself in 4-5 years & is warranteed for 25 years.</p>

<p>Several friends & our neighbor have also gotten solar. Everyone we know who has gotten it has been very pleased. Of course, a lot depends on your local situation in terms of weather, electric rates, state rebates/incentives, etc.</p>

<p>“It seems as if many charlatans are making fortunes off solar power right now and making tax payers pick up the risk and the cost when it fails. But I hate paying what I’m paying right now!”</p>

<p>One of the biggest “charlatans” is GE, who immediately bought several Obama subsidized solar companies as soon as they could, as well as building a huge solar factory in Colorado, with huge government subsidies. Since you asked. I would guess that the Chinese are the main charlatans after GE.</p>

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<p>Whoa, sorry for the off-topic post, but you get to live in the most beautiful state in the country and the rest of us are subsidizing your electricity? Why is that?</p>

<p>I believe the federal rebate is for whomever installs solar, not only those of us in Hawaii. It makes good sense to most of us who have TONS of sun most of the year and no snow to blanket solar panels to install solar. Who is stopping anyone else from installing solar & claiming their federal tax credit? WE are taxpayers as well for many, many decades and it’s nice that for once the credit applies to something that is useful to US. I have no idea how much longer the credits will be available, which is why we decided to go ahead & install while they are.</p>

<p>There is also also a cap of 15% of electricity in any particular region of the state having solar because otherwise the electric company may have a huge problem when there is sudden demand due to too much cloud cover all at once or something.</p>

<p>^I believe HIMom is talking about the federal tax credit that is currently available for solar installations.</p>

<p>Here’s my thread about photovoltaic.</p>

<p><a href=“http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parent-cafe/1225383-installing-photovoltaic-system-before-end-2011-a.html?highlight=photovoltaic[/url]”>http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parent-cafe/1225383-installing-photovoltaic-system-before-end-2011-a.html?highlight=photovoltaic&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;

<p>Yes, I was talking about the federal tax credit for solar installations. Sorry if that was not clear. In HI, there is also a state tax credit for solar installations. Other areas may also have credits or other incentives. The installation companies generally can provide that information if you can’t find it for yourself.</p>

<p>sewhappy- I have a 2000 square foot colonel with a finished basement. Gas heat. My electric bill is $300 a month on a budget plan. I looked into solar the cost was not worth it for what they told me I would save. They wanted about 20k and told me I would save about $30 a month on my electric bill.</p>

<p>I am also in NJ.
I passed.</p>

<p>My brothers each got a ton of solar panels and their electric bills went down from $200 pr $400/month to $20 servicing fee to the utlitity company. They expect to recoup their investments in about 4 or more years (faster if electric rates keep rising – ours are about the highest in the nation).</p>

<p>We’ve had solar panels for over 20 years on a cabin in Vermont. They still work, though the batteries recently needed replacing. (Partly from not having been properly maintained.) They are at a steep enough angle the snow usually falls off. I think the incentives solar gets pale in comparison to the tax breaks the big utilities get.</p>

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Actually, the cost has come way down in the last couple of years. (That’s why Solyndra went bankrupt - not because their product didn’t work, but because a dramatic drop in the cost of silicon-based PV undercut their ability to compete on price. Whether the silicon PV price drop was due to predatory Chinese subsidies or not remains to be seen. [U.S&lt;/a&gt;. solar industry split on China’s subsidies](<a href=“U.S. solar industry split on China's subsidies”>U.S. solar industry split on China's subsidies)) And there’s no evidence that PV panels “only last 20 years.” Most are guaranteed to provide x% of their specified output for at least 20 years, but the technology hasn’t been around long enough to know when the output will decline to the point of becoming uneconomical. Here’s an abstract on the testing of the first large commercial installation in Europe put in service in 1982 20 years later, which showed roughly a 4% degradation in output at that point: <a href=“SUPSI - Istituto sostenibilità applicata all'ambiente costruito - Homepage”>SUPSI - Istituto sostenibilità applicata all'ambiente costruito - Homepage; This guy tested one of the first commercially available solar panels after 30 years and found it to still produce 100+% of it’s specified output: [url=&lt;a href=“http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/testing-thirty-year-old-photovoltaic-module]Testing”&gt;Testing a Thirty-Year-Old Photovoltaic Module - GreenBuildingAdvisor]Testing</a> a Thirty-Year-Old Photovoltaic Module | GreenBuildingAdvisor.com<a href=“It%20is%20true%20that%20other%20components%20-%20particularly%20the%20electronic%20components%20which%20convert%20the%20solar%20DC%20into%20household%20AC%20-%20have%20a%20finite%20life,%20and%20will%20need%20periodic%20repair%20or%20replacement.”>/url</a> But since few people plan to own their homes for 20 years (let alone 30) current marketing of PV is shifting towards a lease arrangement. How that works out will be a matter of the details, I suspect.</p>

<p>I understands that there’s a lot of anti-PV propaganda being spread around in a lot of ways for both financial and political ends. PV doesn’t work for everyone, but an unbiased (and current) analysis is warranted for most folks. (For me, I have to wait until my shake roof is due for replacement in the next few years. It doesn’t make sense to install a roof-mounted system one year and have to disassemble it the next to re-roof. I’ll run the numbers then.)</p>

<p>I’m in WA; abundant (=cheap) hydroelectric power and natural gas most everything = $60/month electric bill for our 3000 sq ft house. Seattle is also infamous for its rain and clouds, which makes solar panels pretty much useless here. We passed, but we did replace most of the light bulbs in the house with the new generation LEDs last summer.</p>

<p>Have friends in both CO (he works for NREL–National Renewable Energy Lab and was an early adopter) and NM who have installed PVs. Another friend is in the process of installing PVs.</p>

<p>CO friends power their house–including heating a outdoor jacuzzi year round–largely thru the PV panels. Their electric bill went from $100+/month to less than $15/month. Some months they make money on their system. Break even on the investment in 5-6 years. (He’s 3 years in already…) Panels are on the roof have survived a blizzard that dumped 3-4 feet of snow, ice storms and hailstorms with no damage. Not sure what incentives CO offers.</p>

<p>NM friends installed their PV field (in their backyard) in April. So far so good. Another will have his installed after the first of the year. Break even will be in under 7 years for both. Both have natural gas kitchen/water heaters/furnaces. (Gas is cheap here–we’re a producing state…) State requires electrical utility to buy “excess” generation at $0.13 kWh. (Residential rates are $0.0935 kWh.) There is also 30% state tax credit (up to $9000) on the cost of installation. HOAs and cities are prohibited from passing local legislation/ordinances restricting the installation of solar panels. </p>

<p>I’m seriously considering installing a PV field in my backyard, but haven’t run all the number yet. My electric bill runs between $40-85/month. 2800 sq ft house with electric kitchen but gas furnaces/water heaters.</p>

<p>We did have our roofer look over our roof BEFORE we decided to install the PV system. He confirmed that our roof has another 10+ years more of life on it and he could NOT buy as good a roof material as we currently have on our roof. He also told us that generally it’s only about $350 or so to take the PV system off the roof & then another $350 to put it back on after the roof is installed. This way, one could even take the PV to a new home when moving, if desired. Of course costs do vary.</p>

<p>Have been told by many sources, including a friend who is heavily into solar manufacturing that PV panel prices have dropped dramatically, which is one of the reasons it was economically feasible for us to install PV, even with our relatively low electric bill. Have no regrets on our solar water heater either, which we installed years ago.</p>

<p>I never realized NJ’s electric rates were so much higher than everywhere else.</p>

<p>DH is a power engineer. Our house is perfectly sited for solar panels on the roof. We don’t have them. The cost of installing the panels also needs to be considered when thinking about “monthly” utility costs. In our case, it would cost upward of $30,000 to install the panels. At this point, our electric bill is about $80 a month. The payment on the solar panels costs would be more than we are currently paying in electric bills. In addition, at SOME point in the future, we will downsize from our current home. And it won’t be long enough away to actually get the payback from installing solar panels.</p>

<p>However, DH says our NEXT house will have them from the get go.</p>