Advise for making an existing home more effecient

Discussion in 'Alternative Energy' started by Thumper38, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. Thumper38

    Thumper38 Well-Known Member

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    Ok. So I'm looking into other energy alternstives for our homes. When we built the place we went with effecient lighting, windows, heating and air and water heating units, insulation and what not. But are still very much on the grid. Eventhough it's illegal here to be so far off the grid that youre not hooked to it we would like to use it as little as possible.

    Id be interested in hearing yalls experiences with geothermal and solar. Wind really isnt an option as the area ig Iowa I live in does not get enough wind to justify the cost.
     
  2. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    We live in a state that is 92% forest, we are rural and for here that means the power grid is unreliable. Every time the wind blows trees blow down, pulling down power lines. In our first eleven years here we did not experience any single month without power outages.

    We now have solar power. Though we were on-grid.

    I shopped around a lot. Net-metering is a lot more expensive than off-grid solar. I know, everyone tells you that adding batteries makes off-grid more expensive. But that is their marketing. Certified installers are equipment dealers, they only sell the more expensive brands. There are plenty outlets online who sell pre-wired UL-approved code-compliant components and systems for way less than what net-metering systems cost.

    I can flip a breaker and be 'on-grid'. Or I can flip a breaker and be on solar/battery. If our batteries run low and the forecast says another 3 days of clouds, we can shift to grid power. But most of the time we are on solar.

    Next we will be installing a solar-thermal system to heat our home.

    Today self-powered / self-heated homes are a reality.
     

  3. Thumper38

    Thumper38 Well-Known Member

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    We only get about 4 months of good useable sun as far as solar goes (from what I've read) where I live. Is there not a benifit to met metering maybe with adding batteries? We might get two or three outages a year here and they are never more than a couple hours.

    Im anxious to hear about the pros and cons of each of these. Roof solar and ground based.
     
  4. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    Here in Maine we get useable sunlight ever month.

    In this state, the power companies do not pay you for power you put onto the grid. They give you credits which must be used within a year or they expire. Otherwise I am not aware of any 'benefits' of spending the extra cost for net-metering.

    The same tax credits apply.

    Our panels are on a ground mount. They are hinged, so they have a Summer angle, a Fall/Spring angle and a Winter angle.
     
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  5. jwal10

    jwal10 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We use passive solar to heat the house, greenhouses and shop and heat water for the house and aquaponics. Solar 12v and 24v micro-hydro. We have 3 solar heater boxes, 2 with solar water heating coils in those boxes. I built the first heater for the greenhouse with the aquaponics that is attached to the shop with cool intakes at the bottom, exits at the top. It had 2 rolls of black plastic tubing for the water. I built another for the house this winter, just got it installed. Water temps today were 118, air from the box shows 91, we were 64 outside and the sun was bright from 10 to 3. The other smaller heater box heats a small leanto greenhouse that helps heat the bathroom, bedroom if we leave the door open between them. All our lights are 12v led, we have 8 bulbs. 24v runs the refrigerator and freezer. 12v in the greenhouse. We have an air lock entry into the house, big window on the south side. it collects the warm air in the tray ceiling from the wood stove, by way of a cement block wall/tower, hollow block stained dark, dark slate floor to absorb heat. The air rises in the tower wall by convection, entry at the bottom, exits the top of the wall. A 12v fan pushes the warm air to registers in the wall of the bed and living rooms. We also have solar gain from windows in the bedroom and living room. 18" of blowin insulation in the attic and double offset stud 2"x4" walls, outside is foam, inside is fiberglass. We also have a small heat coil in the tray ceiling that comes on in cool weather after the batteries are charged for the micro-hydro system. We also have a wood stove for heat, hot water and cooking....James
     
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  6. Thumper38

    Thumper38 Well-Known Member

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    I guess Im a little behind the power curve here. Maybe I used the wrong words when I said useable sunlight.

    I have a lot of reading to do on the subject.
     
  7. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    Review the projects listed at builditsolar.com to see what ones fit your house/lifestyle.

    WWW
     
  8. Steve_S

    Steve_S Well-Known Member

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    Iowa is NOT Alaska and if someone told you that, might be best you don't talk to them as they are laughing at your expense.

    Seems like you have done pretty much everything you can with your build and what you installed in regards to water heating (hopefully On Demand) lighting etc... Electric Stoves can be a real drain but some are much better than other's, like the Induction Types but $$$. Other ideas with the solar heating and such can be implemented and as WhiteWolf suggested http://www.builditsolar.com/ is an excellent resource for projects that you can do yourself which work.

    Solar Panels and equipment have really come down in price and the battery technology is changing extremely fast. Might be worthwhile to look into Net Metering / grid-tied if you can get the right incentives and supplier BUT it is true that the Net Metering dealer's go top end at the maximum price the market will bear. The dealer's take advantage of the fact that rebates, pay-back etc make the unsuspecting consumer think they are getting a better deal when they aren't. Case In Point: When I went to get my solar system I already had my shopping list & knew what I wanted & needed... Went to a local Net-Metering dealer / installer to get a quote... He came back @ $20,000 and the prices were MSRP + 10% ! with ME doing the install... Found another retailer / supplier and the same Panels, Batteries, Charge Controller etc came in at $11,000 and another 2 grand for my Inverter/Charger, Power Panels, Breaker's and wiring (including the cabin).
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
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  9. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    I'd guess the 4 hour statement was meant that the location averages 4 hours yearly average for insolation. Insolation is the KWH per square meter per day that one can expect to produce with a fixed array. So if you put in a 2 KW array you could expect to average 8 KWH production a day over the year. The number really only means anything for grid tied net metered systems as off-grid you need to plan for worst case which would be the lowest production month. Looking at gaisma.com that looks about right as that is also about the average for most of the US.

    WWW
     
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  10. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    On any day the sun is out, we can count on charging from 8am to 4pm [at the minimum]. Often by noon our batteries are fully charged.

    During daylight we have surplus power. We can run every appliance and every power tool we own. We have three chest freezers all on timers so they only run during daylight.

    After shifting to solar power my wife got a dishwasher. If it is going to be a cloudy day, we just load it without running. On every sunny day we run the dishwasher even if it only has 1 or 2 things in it, because the power is wasted either way.

    We just got a Prius Plug-in sedan that charges from our solar system. After 3 months of driving this car, it looks like about half of our driving mileage is on electric, and half uses gasoline. So our solar system reduces how much gasoline we buy.
     
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