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zone 5 - riverfrontage
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I have 4400 watts of solar panels, and a 48vdc 600ah battery bank.

I have the ability to switch breakers to go onto grid power, or to island [which is effectively off-grid].

The power grid here normally goes down a few days every month, we are on the extreme East Coast after all [with half-hour of the ocean].

If my wife wants to do something that we don't have enough amperage to do, then we go back to grid power, if the grid is up that day.

Most days, during sunlight we can charge-up the battery bank, recharge the plugin hybrid car and pretty much operate every appliance in our house [electric coffee pot, dishwasher, washing machine, clothes dryer, etc.]

But when the sun goes down, that all must stop. We have some LED lights over each of our desks, and we both use laptop computers. That is the only power we consume at night.

When my wife was working, she insisted that when she got home from work. She wanted to sit and veg for an hour, then she wanted a hot shower before she went to bed. But, the reality was that by the time she was finally ready for her shower, the sun was down, so we never had enough power to run the well pump.
 

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We have 5.25 KW solar with battery backup. We are grid connected and don't worry too much about our power use unless the grid power goes out. Then we have to adjust things a bit. During the derecho we had to change up a lot, but it was me, the wife and 4 pregnant acquaintances. Talk about hormone hell. Luckily, the nights cooled off a lot so we had the AC running during the day and just fans at night. Still, the batteries were under 25% in the morning and took until late afternoon to fully recharge.
 

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It seems that those who get by on solar have to conserve so much to do it...If they just conserved that much on grid power, their costs would be next to nothing anyway...

Grid power probably costs you ~$100/m...Your iPhone and cable or satellite TV each cost you more than that.

The only good reason to go solar is to ensure power security when the grid goes down.
 

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Yep. I looked into it hard for our new construction build. Would cost north of $30k to power our Homestead as grid-tied, and close to $60k to be off grid (with $30k replacement batteries every ten years of so), all to save a $500/month electric bill (hoping it's not that high!).

But invest that $60k at 10%/year and I can make about $500/month, and I still have my $60k principle.
 

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zone 5 - riverfrontage
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You can save 60k!
Just use oil lamps,wood stove, can your food and tote water.
I am not sure how canning food affects power consumption.

If you consume energy you will pay for it. Whether that energy is gasoline, propane, or diesel it all costs money.

Nearly every home in our town has generators. Most homes run two generators. One time a neighbor was griping to me about how much fuel his generator eats. he goes through $150 a month on generator fuel. He is a FFL gunsmith, his insurance company insists that his shop must have power 24/7. So he had a nice propane generator installed. and of course whenever the power grid is up, he is on grid. But when the power grid goes down every few weeks, then his generator kicks on automatically. Thus the $150 a month average fuel bill.
 

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It seems that those who get by on solar have to conserve so much to do it...If they just conserved that much on grid power, their costs would be next to nothing anyway...

Grid power probably costs you ~$100/m...Your iPhone and cable or satellite TV each cost you more than that.

The only good reason to go solar is to ensure power security when the grid goes down.
It's not so much about conserving as timing. Showers, laundry, baking etc. in early afternoon at peak sun rather than after sunset. Our power goes out periodically so it is good to have. The derecho knocked out local power for over 2 weeks. Daytime temps were around 107-110 and 90+ humidity. We have a young friend that earns a few extra $$ helping me around the farm and his wife was pregnant, so she stayed with us. Then she had 3 friends from her Lamaze classes that were stuck without AC as well so they stayed with us.
Plus, there is the SHTF thing.
 

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Yep. I looked into it hard for our new construction build. Would cost north of $30k to power our Homestead as grid-tied, and close to $60k to be off grid (with $30k replacement batteries every ten years of so), all to save a $500/month electric bill (hoping it's not that high!).

But invest that $60k at 10%/year and I can make about $500/month, and I still have my $60k principle.
You must have got quotes from Commucrats. Our whole system cost a little north of $20K. Since then prices have come down. I estimate we save on average about $150 per month. Again, we don't go way out of our way to conserve. We also get a green energy production credit of a few hundred dollars a year. I figure at this point we've recouped the investment, but that was only part of the equation.
 

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Off-grid. Have 5500W for the cabin system and 2000W for the workshop system. The cabin system powers everything 24/7, including the refrigerator, TV/computer, all household appliances, and selective use of air-conditioning.

Sure, solar can power just about anything, but with proper design. No, it ain't gonna work with a single 100W panel and an AutoZone battery. So, with a 12K investment, you can have free electricity.
 

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You must have got quotes from Commucrats. Our whole system cost a little north of $20K. Since then prices have come down. I estimate we save on average about $150 per month. Again, we don't go way out of our way to conserve. We also get a green energy production credit of a few hundred dollars a year. I figure at this point we've recouped the investment, but that was only part of the equation.
I likely am in the market for a larger system than you. I talked to four different companies, all gave relatively similar prices.

But funny thing is....the math is still the same. If you invested that $20,000 and got 10% interest you would make $2000 a year.

Instead you save $150/month, which is $1800/year....and you don't have the $20,000 principle.
 

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zone 5 - riverfrontage
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I likely am in the market for a larger system than you. I talked to four different companies, all gave relatively similar prices.

But funny thing is....the math is still the same. If you invested that $20,000 and got 10% interest you would make $2000 a year.

Instead you save $150/month, which is $1800/year....and you don't have the $20,000 principle.
Off-grid on solar power is not about saving money, nor is it about trying to invest money for the highest return.

I have access to grid power, but without solar I would need to use generators. My math is done comparing the cost of generator fuel as compared to solar power.
 

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That is a Interesting outlook on things .
I think you could make allmost all your power grid tied except a few months out of the year .
But the cost to buy the solar with a 20 year pay back it seams like you break even .
The only wild card is you rate won’t go up , so I think power goes up 4% a year and in 10 years you could save some money .
I’m off grid and if dident snow , I make enough power to run a 2800 sf cabin .
I’m sitting in my chair with the tv on typing on my iPad I have regular house load frig /freezers i don’t really use much power Over nite And most days the solar charges the battery
by noon so really day time has unlimited usage .
I have 4500 watts of solar and will add 4500 watts soon I have all the equipment now .
I gett 200 watts of power for about 6/7 hours on the worst day possible .
When I double up on panels that gives me 400watts of power. So 2800 watts for the day .
If the sky gets a Little bright , my power doubles and I can bring in 6k watts so this could bring me to 100% .
9 months out of the year I don’t have to look at the system .
Snow is a diffrent story , some years we get a lot some years we get a little.
I just run the Honda in the morning to make up the difference .
 

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Off-grid on solar power is not about saving money, nor is it about trying to invest money for the highest return.

I have access to grid power, but without solar I would need to use generators. My math is done comparing the cost of generator fuel as compared to solar power.
It is an entirely different equation for those who have to be off-grid. One might build in an area where it would cost ANOTHER $20K or more just to get the grid to you, or the grid might be so sporadic that you need ability to produce for long periods. And then there is the SHTF scenario.

I look at all of this and solar is still just not worth it for our build. We will lose power frequently for an hour or so, sometimes a couple of hours, so will have a large propane generator to power the house through those frequent interruptions. Will have two large tanks that would be able to get us through several of months of reduced usage for SHTF scenario.
 

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Do you end up paying nothing to the power company, or are you just off grid?
I have a regular power hook up, but I have many neighbors who are off grid. The guy who drilled my well is off grid at his place. The nearest power line to his property is a half a mile away. They wanted $25,000.00 to run power to his place. There is a reason he bought the land so cheap.

He built his solar system from used stuff he bought on Craig's List, and deep cycle marine grade batteries from Tractor Supply.
 

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zone 5 - riverfrontage
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... you could make allmost all your power grid tied except a few months out of the year.
What months?

I live in Maine. People in forums seem to want to project the idea that Maine does not get any sunlight through the winter. That is not true.

The number of sunlight hours per day are reduced, but we usually get good sunlight every day.



... But the cost to buy the solar with a 20 year pay back it seams like you break even
'pay back' and 'break even' are fantasy ideas.

I am a farmer. Nearly every item I spend money on is some kind of business expense, most everything goes on a schedule C, E, or F. I can not swing a dead cat without hitting a tax write-off.

Solar power equipment depreciates over 7 years, that is IRS law. Over a 7 year period, every penny spent on solar power gets depreciated.

If you depreciate all the expenses 100% over 7 years, there is no way you can do the math to say the 'break even' is 20 years. It has to be something less than 7 years.



... The only wild card is you rate won’t go up , so I think power goes up 4% a year and in 10 years you could save some money .
It only makes sense to look at 'Power rates' if you can assume that grid power is available 24/7.

Here in Maine it is not available 24/7. I have lived here since 2005. So far we have witnessed zero months without a power outage. Normal life here on the East Coast included the idea that the power grid is not reliable, it will go dark every month, of every year. that is what the power grid does.



... I’m off grid and if dident snow , I make enough power to run a 2800 sf cabin. I’m sitting in my chair with the tv on typing on my iPad I have regular house load frig /freezers i don’t really use much power Over nite And most days the solar charges the battery by noon so really day time has unlimited usage .
That is pretty much what I have here. :)

... I just run the Honda in the morning to make up the difference .
Among my neighbors it is very common to see two generators.

A big unit that can power everything, but that consumes a gallon an hour. And a small unit that sips fuel.

Once a day they fire up the big unit, and then they start laundry, take showers, flush toilets, and run the chest freezers.

After one hour of all that, they shut down the big unit and start up the small unit. On the small unit they can run LED lights and laptops.

At the end of the month, this way they will have consumed the least amount of petroleum.
 

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Solar power equipment depreciates over 7 years, that is IRS law. Over a 7 year period, every penny spent on solar power gets depreciated.

If you depreciate all the expenses 100% over 7 years, there is no way you can do the math to say the 'break even' is 20 years. It has to be something less than 7 years.
I think there are a couple flaws in your thinking.

1. Just because the IRS writes a regulation saying an item depreciates in 7 years doesn't mean that item is worth zero in 7 years. It's just a bureaucrat writing rules blindly.

2. Even depreciating the entire $20k system over 7 years doesn't mean you've gotten a return on your money in 7 years. Depreciating $3grand a year saves you about $1k/year in taxes (at 33% top rate), so you only save (make back) $7K of that $20k. Certainly helps, but doesn't move the needle to a 7 year recapture.

3. Not all of us can legally write everything off like you can.
 

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I get very little sun this time of year.
It snows over nite every nite and it takes till 1100/1200 to melt off if it’s below 20o the snow dosent melt I can sweep the panels early but some times the snow is iced up .

I’m not a farmer so I dont get to write this off ☹
The solar guys will write a 20 year note so you still pay about the same , you are paying for the Panels not the electricity.
The cost is about the same .
My system is about the same as yours but I have 430AH la battery’s .
My out back 3600/48v inverter powers every thing I need I use a 2800watt Honda generator
I have not done any Landry yet but I can power the house pump water and charge my battery’s .
I have a larger generator but don’t use it much my system will power every thing .
 
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