Build me like one of your French girls

Hedges

I See Electromagnetic Fields!
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
8,352
While south Carolina has its own incentives as well as the federal, its absolutely useless for me as im in a tax bracket with no liability, or very little (wife with a kid, sole earner 50K a year). I still dont understand how people who can financially afford a solar system to begin with are offered free money to do so while someone like me is stuck with the full bill, but I digress.

That's how we do it here :ROFLMAO:
I put in PV 17 years ago. I spent $100,000 and got a CEC rebate of $50,000.
I'm obviously one of those who can afford it, so I'm given free money :ROFLMAO: 💸💸💸

Maybe I should buy a Tesla? Oh, I missed the rebates. Still driving an old car.

Also, netmetering is likely not an option unless I get a system way above my means. My electric cooperative charges a flat $50 month fee for netmetering (the irony there is palpable) so it would likely be on my lower months to have a large bill on top of my loan if i get one.

While $50/month isn't terrible for a "battery" that can store your summer power until winter as Ampster says (and it's 4x the $12/month I pay), it still adds up to $6000 over 10 years. (About the same price as a forklift battery)
Compared to the utility rates you would have paid, the PV system I proposed costs 1/3 as much, but the net-metering fee also costs 1/3 as much, leaving you with possible savings of $6000.

As I said earlier, you might be better off investing your money elsewhere.
Or at least putting in a zero-export system. A somewhat smaller grid-tie system with current transformers to measure grid connection and make sure power produced doesn't exceed what you consume. There are some.

That net $50K I spent on PV 17 years ago? It has provided all my power, but if I'd just put it in an S&P 500 fund it would be $150k plus any dividends.
And I can build the same system today for $12,000.
 

FrugalSolarGuy

New Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2021
Messages
10
That's how we do it here :ROFLMAO:
I put in PV 17 years ago. I spent $100,000 and got a CEC rebate of $50,000.
I'm obviously one of those who can afford it, so I'm given free money :ROFLMAO: 💸💸💸

That net $50K I spent on PV 17 years ago? It has provided all my power, but if I'd just put it in an S&P 500 fund it would be $150k plus any dividends.
And I can build the same system today for $12,000.
I'm trying to figure out of this is sarcasm or naivety that agrees? Lol. Spending $50,000 on a PV system 17 years ago, means you could afford it. Nobody I know can afford to throw 50K at anything short of a mortgage. It being 17 years ago makes no difference, as it was what it was back then. The financial hindsight is just what it is. I've made alot of decisions in my past that I wish I could have changed to make more money/not lose money.

But I don't hold it against you for using it. By all means, if it's there, do it. I would. My point was generally the government saying "Guy one makes over 100K a year? I'm going to give him $7500 to put in a $20000 array. Guy two makes 50K a year and I'm not going to give him anything to put in a $20000 array even though both have the same utility expenses".

Even with a $7500 tax liability to get the full credit, doesn't come close to closing the income disparity for the credit. If anything it should work in a reverse manner. The more you make the less credit you get. Makes more sense to me anyways.

Personally if they aren't going to remove the tariffs and want to support green, this tax should be refundable to all who want to do solar. It would certainly help to make up the increase in solar prices in the states compared to the rest of the world.

As for the array, after discussions here, I'm leaning more towards a smaller array with a hybrid backup for blackouts and such. At least to start with. Although you said in your previous reply that I could essentially cover my consumption for about $5500. I'm assuming this would require shopping and purchasing everything peice by peice? To double my output that would be an 8Kw system and the ones I've seen premade (with ground mounting) run about 9k ish so that's a helluva lot cheaper than I would have thought. I also assume this doesn't include mounting and accessories like wire and such.

Also just so we're clear, I have upfront about $1000 to start if I don't go the loan route. I don't want to touch my emergency fund ($4000) obviously. I could save a lot more but my wife wants a new (used) truck so that's where her extra cash is going lol. So right now I can save about $300-500 a month towards solar.
 

Hedges

I See Electromagnetic Fields!
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
8,352
Back then GT PV was doable but not cost effective. Money collected from PG&E rate payers funded 50% rebates (up to $5/watt) with the goal of kickstarting PV. That seems to have worked, or something did because PV grew to where the utilities are afraid of it.

I think the volume came because commercial users had $0.60/kWh rates and investors could get other people's money cheap. By putting panels on commercial roofs, they could offer power well below utility rates. Just sign on the dotted line. A no-brainer for bean counters. Then the liar loan boom crashed, money dried up, and there was surplus PV manufacturing capacity. At the time, billions of square feet per year of PV panel production, but that has increased orders of magnitude since.

I guessed wrong about how fast utility rates would increase and how much cost of PV would go down.

Other people spent their $50k on pickup trucks with shells and plastic interior, known as SUVs. Later they traded in their 16 mpg SUV for the $5k clunker credit and bought a 17 mpg SUV. My '86 Bronco II was the only true clunker the dealer saw. Door lock wouldn't open, transmission was only able to get into top 3 gears, etc. My sister applied the $5k to a new Honda Fit and gave me her 135k mile Civic (she prefers the newer, more reliable half of a cars life.) 12 years later I have 270k miles on the Civic, still driving it.

Costs are bigger in (popular areas of) California. $50k isn't even a down payment, it's a building permit.

I didn't do battery backup back then, not a good return on the money. I thought PV would give that, but over 17 years it broke even and only if I used more power than I needed. I put in battery backup one year ago because the Sunny Island inverters got cheap (at liquidation I paid $1250 each for the ones in m picture rather than $5000.) I didn't like spending another $5k on a battery, but I did it just to make the system work.

The state audited my taxes, probably thought I made up the PV expenses to get a 7% or 15% credit. Because I had processed the CEC rebate paperwork, I had records going back 10 years and it added up to within $1 of what I had claimed (turns out they can go back more than 4 years, indefinitely for basis of assets or of credits that haven't been consumed.)

The size checks I've written to the IRS some years hurt. No, I don't expect you to feel sorry for me. :)
 

Hedges

I See Electromagnetic Fields!
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
8,352
Because minimum NEM bill would consume 1/3 of the power bill you're trying to avoid, I think a zero-export system could be the way to go.
Follow this link to find a $385 inverter for 1kW of zero-export. I don't know how good it is, or if several can be used without confusing each other, but you should be able to add increments of 1kW of PV for $1000 each.


Just hook that up and your consumption magically goes down. The point of diminishing returns comes when adding another one of these results in the inverters curtailing production because it exceeds your consumption.
 

Hedges

I See Electromagnetic Fields!
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
8,352
Also just so we're clear, I have upfront about $1000 to start if I don't go the loan route. I don't want to touch my emergency fund ($4000) obviously. I could save a lot more but my wife wants a new (used) truck so that's where her extra cash is going lol. So right now I can save about $300-500 a month towards solar.

We're pushed toward efficient things that break down, need service and replacement.
I prefer to have a reliable vehicle and pay at the pump.
I bought a diesel pickup, in part because I didn't want to have to smog it every two years. Then smog check for diesels was introduced, but I got lucky and my 1996 with OBD I is exempt, only newer OBD II have to get it.

PG&E is allowed a percentage profit, but that's not a percentage of sales, it's a percentage of assets (book value.) When a vehicle is depreciated, it does absolutely nothing for their bottom line even though it may be reliable and have years & 100,000's of miles left. So they sell it and buy a new one. I paid $3800 at auction for a 12 year old K2500 4x4 with diesel and Allison transmission, 115k miles on it.

Tires were old. Found a set with alloy rims on Craigslist for $500. They guy probably paid $50k for the truck (and more than $3800 in sales tax.) Drove down the street to a shop which fitted it with larger wheels. The tires I got still had the rubber nibs from molding.

It does cost me a few $hundred extra per year to register due to cargo weight capacity fee (applied to pickups and vans).

Oh, cost of living in San Jose? Less than $100,000/year is "low income" for a family of three, might qualify for home purchase assistance but only for what is considered "affordable" housing. Compare that income to typical rent for a 1 bedroom apartment: $2500 or $30,000/year. Income and expenses are out of whack here, making "imported" goods like PV relatively cheap. Every other house in my neighborhood has panels on the roof. PG&E says it's unfair rich people use their wires for free to "store" energy while the cost is subsidized by poor people. Proposals are to make people pay $90/month for net metering (more or less depending on size.)
 

FrugalSolarGuy

New Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2021
Messages
10
We're pushed toward efficient things that break down, need service and replacement.
I prefer to have a reliable vehicle and pay at the pump.
I bought a diesel pickup, in part because I didn't want to have to smog it every two years. Then smog check for diesels was introduced, but I got lucky and my 1996 with OBD I is exempt, only newer OBD II have to get it.

PG&E is allowed a percentage profit, but that's not a percentage of sales, it's a percentage of assets (book value.) When a vehicle is depreciated, it does absolutely nothing for their bottom line even though it may be reliable and have years & 100,000's of miles left. So they sell it and buy a new one. I paid $3800 at auction for a 12 year old K2500 4x4 with diesel and Allison transmission, 115k miles on it.

Tires were old. Found a set with alloy rims on Craigslist for $500. They guy probably paid $50k for the truck (and more than $3800 in sales tax.) Drove down the street to a shop which fitted it with larger wheels. The tires I got still had the rubber nibs from molding.

It does cost me a few $hundred extra per year to register due to cargo weight capacity fee (applied to pickups and vans).

Oh, cost of living in San Jose? Less than $100,000/year is "low income" for a family of three, might qualify for home purchase assistance but only for what is considered "affordable" housing. Compare that income to typical rent for a 1 bedroom apartment: $2500 or $30,000/year. Income and expenses are out of whack here, making "imported" goods like PV relatively cheap. Every other house in my neighborhood has panels on the roof. PG&E says it's unfair rich people use their wires for free to "store" energy while the cost is subsidized by poor people. Proposals are to make people pay $90/month for net metering (more or less depending on size.)
Yea it's easy to forget to factor in cost of living when you're like me who's never dealt with that. At least not to that degree. Where I'm at, at 50k with a family of three and I'm about (I think) 10k below the median income for a family of 3. I'm trying to convince the wife that after she gets her truck I want an EV. She's still not on board yet lol. I've got a good 2-3 years before that happens if it does.

So I assume to start with a 1kw grid tie no export setup, I'll need the PVs, inverter, mounting (is this easy to add to?), and wire. I'm sure I'm missing other stuff though. I'm only a few videos in to Wills stuff and I keep getting lost on inverters/controllers lol. If I'm going to scale this thing later I want to make sure I'm set up to do so and I'm not kicking myself down the road.
 

Hedges

I See Electromagnetic Fields!
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
8,352
About 1200W (STC) of PV panels to max out 1000W of inverter.
If you parallel two arrays with a 90 degree angle between them (e.g. 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM sun orientation), area presented is 0.7x as much, so 1800W (STC) of panels for more hours good production.

Plan where to place future arrays so they don't shade existing ones, and to allow for bush & tree growth. I have to reorient a couple arrays.
You can get used panels cheap and fabricate bracket from scrap material.

While EV could be a nice way to get free "fuel" from PV panels, I suffer from range anxiety. I would want a plug-in hybrid, or like a coworker a hitch carrier on the back of his Leaf to hold a portable generator.

An EV or hybrid with V2H might be nice for occasional outages. Some guys here hook an inverter to the starting battery of a hybrid, and it keeps its starting battery charged from its traction battery. But getting power from a zero-export GT PV inverter during power outages may not work, have to consider other system hardware.

I remember when $50k was big income here, maybe a top engineer got that (I think $75k for top few percent.) I made $25k and put 25% down on a $33k mobile home on a rented space, had 15% mortgage. Wish I'd bought that $90k Victorian on a double-sized lot in Mountain View instead, but didn't have 20% down and probably wouldn't have qualified for the loan.

You can live affordably on nice land elsewhere, if you can find work. I moved to Silicon Valley for my first job and should be able to retire here.
 

Sanwizard

Photon Sorcerer
Joined
Feb 2, 2021
Messages
1,294
Okay not really but I thought it was kinda funny.

So to start off, iv'e been looking into doing a solar system for about two weeks or so now. I have been interested in having one since we moved out here. I wanted to get it when we got our house but that didn't happen. Ive been scouring through my options, mainly through articles, blogs, and reddit. I only came across here the other day and have been perusing the forums and resources for a bit. But iv'e seen some of you like to "build" systems so I'd be curious to see what someone might come up with.

Obviously im asking for someone to practically do the beginning leg work for me so if that's not your cup of tea, I understand. Im as bad as those street beggars at the intersection.

So onto the specifics. I live in a manufactured home in South Carolina. As such, this system will need to be ground mounted. I have figured I need between an 8-10kw system. I moved out here in November into my new home (new 2020 energy efficient manufactured home) so i dont have a full year of useage. However my highest month is always in the winter, and my largest useage was just shy of 1400kwh. My highest summer bill tends to fall slightly shorter, usually around 1300kwh. My smallest so far has been 954kwh, and that was for nov-dec useage so not a great low point. My lowest should be spring/fall and id assume ill be around 800kwh during those months. Obviously this is just guess work from previous rentals I was in. This will be a completely DIY project. The biggest reason being cost. My father in law has nearly two decades of electrical/construction experience so he will be helping me install it (but im on my own putting it together to purchase lol). We have a tractor with an auger drill so we should make short work of the labor issue. The system will have a completely unobstructed south view from early dawn to dusk. I have some 70ft pines that might throw a tad bit of shade during the early morning and late afternoon hours. Im not entirely sure yet but its the only and best spot i can put it. That spot is roughly 200ft away from my house in an area cleared for my drainfield. It will be installed above my drainfield though, no worries.

I have a couple options i'm considering.

  1. Get a solar loan that doesnt require a company installer (so unsecured likely). I was looking at something like gogreensolar.com. My other option is something like Alibaba. Ive found Rosen Solar and Moregosolar on there seem legit but i have little experience there. ive only ever ordered a few small things off Alibaba. Also i am in the states and i know there is a tariff, but 15% still seems like it would be much cheaper? Rosen has a full 10kw off grid kit, mounting, batteries, etc.. for 8K. Even with tariffs that seems like it would be MUCH cheaper than buying in the US where ive seen similar systems for 15-25K.
  2. Do a small build first (maybe 1kw), and continually add as time goes on. Is this viable? This seems like it would take a massive amount of preplanning, but its the most cost efficient route for out of pocket costs. Spend $1000 here, $500 there etc.. Just continually save up money for the next purchase.
While south Carolina has its own incentives as well as the federal, its absolutely useless for me as im in a tax bracket with no liability, or very little (wife with a kid, sole earner 50K a year). I still dont understand how people who can financially afford a solar system to begin with are offered free money to do so while someone like me is stuck with the full bill, but I digress. We live comfortably as the only debt we have is our mortgage. And i figured if I could get solar on a loan for what i average a month annually why not? Seems like a great investment. But because of this im having to do it myself as cheaply, but decent quality, as i can.

Also, netmetering is likely not an option unless I get a system way above my means. My electric cooperative charges a flat $50 month fee for netmetering (the irony there is palpable) so it would likely be on my lower months to have a large bill on top of my loan if i get one. off grid would be preferrable but i also know thats way more expensive than a grid tie. Im pretty sure I can just hook to the grid and not have a net meter installed right? I believe my monthly minimum is less than half that of netmetering.

Local codes are pretty lenient around here. My father in law and I did the electric wiring for my house and saved a bundle on electrician costs. I still need to look into what compliance is required. If UL certified is required, does that mean something from like Alibaba is out?

If anyone can do a build out for me (links would be great but as long as it has a name/description im sure I can use my googleFu to find it) id love to see what you can come up with.

Thanks for any help.
I just bought a house in SC that already has grid tie. I called Dominion electric to get the service in my name from the previous owner, and they had multiple forms, costs, and time they needed to get that done. I told them screw it, just turn on normal service.
When I take possession, i will most likely remove the existing SMA inverters and put in some good, cheap, Taiwan made PIP MPP inverters, and then add my own LIFEPO4 batteries. You may want to check ebay for some used inverters. I know I MAY( need to figure it all out first) be listing mine in a couple months.
 

Sanwizard

Photon Sorcerer
Joined
Feb 2, 2021
Messages
1,294
About 1200W (STC) of PV panels to max out 1000W of inverter.
If you parallel two arrays with a 90 degree angle between them (e.g. 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM sun orientation), area presented is 0.7x as much, so 1800W (STC) of panels for more hours good production.

Plan where to place future arrays so they don't shade existing ones, and to allow for bush & tree growth. I have to reorient a couple arrays.
You can get used panels cheap and fabricate bracket from scrap material.

While EV could be a nice way to get free "fuel" from PV panels, I suffer from range anxiety. I would want a plug-in hybrid, or like a coworker a hitch carrier on the back of his Leaf to hold a portable generator.

An EV or hybrid with V2H might be nice for occasional outages. Some guys here hook an inverter to the starting battery of a hybrid, and it keeps its starting battery charged from its traction battery. But getting power from a zero-export GT PV inverter during power outages may not work, have to consider other system hardware.

I remember when $50k was big income here, maybe a top engineer got that (I think $75k for top few percent.) I made $25k and put 25% down on a $33k mobile home on a rented space, had 15% mortgage. Wish I'd bought that $90k Victorian on a double-sized lot in Mountain View instead, but didn't have 20% down and probably wouldn't have qualified for the loan.

You can live affordably on nice land elsewhere, if you can find work. I moved to Silicon Valley for my first job and should be able to retire here.
Dude, if you can retire in Silicon Valley, God bless you sir. You made it! You must have bought a long while ago.
I was looking at houses there when my kid started working for Apple in 2010, and the prices were untouchable even then.
 

Hedges

I See Electromagnetic Fields!
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
8,352
Yeah, I bought this house in 2000. Bought mountain acreage in 1987.
But over the years there were many that got away. They seemed so expensive at the time.

Just not sure how I'll make the retirement income to afford taxes and utilities here. We earn a small amount from a rental condo. Don't see any real estate or stock that looks like a worthwhile investment. Maybe if we get another huge dip in prices. I saw things of value in 2008/2009 but was unemployed. When I could be in the market and contacted realtors to see their own listings they all refused to show them (bank owned properties being held back for friends and family?)
 

Hedges

I See Electromagnetic Fields!
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
8,352
I just bought a house in SC that already has grid tie. I called Dominion electric to get the service in my name from the previous owner, and they had multiple forms, costs, and time they needed to get that done. I told them screw it, just turn on normal service.
When I take possession, i will most likely remove the existing SMA inverters and put in some good, cheap, Taiwan made PIP MPP inverters, and then add my own LIFEPO4 batteries. You may want to check ebay for some used inverters. I know I MAY( need to figure it all out first) be listing mine in a couple months.

Look up the closeout deals on Sunny Island. Two of those, or one with a 120/240V transformer, would turn the SMA GT PV inverters into a good off-grid or grid-backup system.

Alternatively, something that does zero-export. Then it doesn't have to pass through all the power you consume, does backfeed to the house but not to the grid.
 

Sanwizard

Photon Sorcerer
Joined
Feb 2, 2021
Messages
1,294
Yeah, I bought this house in 2000. Bought mountain acreage in 1987.
But over the years there were many that got away. They seemed so expensive at the time.

Just not sure how I'll make the retirement income to afford taxes and utilities here. We earn a small amount from a rental condo. Don't see any real estate or stock that looks like a worthwhile investment. Maybe if we get another huge dip in prices. I saw things of value in 2008/2009 but was unemployed. When I could be in the market and contacted realtors to see their own listings they all refused to show them (bank owned properties being held back for friends and family?)
Bitcoin baby! No cash assets for me. Sold all my stocks, rental houses, and primary house in NY, and buying rural real estate.
Staying away from any state run by Democrats. (Even though I am a democrat, I am also a fiscal conservative, constitutionalist, have guns to defend my family, and am a Veteran). The current party turned marxist, and left me, so my tax dollars will be going to a Red state.
 

Steve777

New Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2020
Messages
26
Not sure if they are in your area, but I would look into the companies who will "rent" you the PV system at no upfront cost to you. Basically a grid tied system, the company puts it on your property, sells you power for less than your local power co charges, and gets to keep the excess power profits the system will generate, as well as any tax incentives.

Does not give you much of a learning experience, or a chance to expand, but as a low/no cost way to get solar and reduce your power bill it works for many. And after the "lease" period the homeowner usually gets to buy the system at a good price. No connection to any of these companies, but they seem like a viable path for some people.
 
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