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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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Right at this moment, over 250,000 people are without power due to storms in the region, yet I have power,....
Although one good local down draft in a thunderstorm and you could be without power while those other 250,000 still have theirs....They will get threirs restored in a day or two at no additional cost, but yours will cost another $30K to replace and take weeks to months to do it.

Here's an honest evaluation of the factors that affect cost & feasibility of installing PV--although it ignores the cost of lost investment potential from tying up your cash or borrowing, and the cost of battery replacements. It works out well for some and not so smart for others, depending on where you live.
 

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So why? As the world seems to be going crazier and crazier, we want to be as self sufficient as possible. As our money becomes worth less and less our strategy has become to convert money into useful things. Hope for the best but plan for the worst.
Right. The main reason to generate your own power is for energy security....Here in WI, we only have ~60-70 clear days per year, according the NWS. Solar power production decreases linearly with solar irradiance. I had to install a 2kW system just to run my well pump....

I want to use an Unreliable Alternate to run my furnace circulating pumps. That would require ~45kW-hr of juice each month (only 5-10% of my total energy use) Using one of those solar calculator sites, for my location, it would take a 6kW system (cost ~ $16,000) to provide that, based an average sun conditons-- but average doesn;t keep me from freezing on the many severely overcast days of winter, so I'd have to go bigger with a 12-15 kW installation-- We're talking sbout $45,000 just to run a couple little pumps. Rdiculous....It's a niche solution to the power problem and will never be anything else.
 

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^^^
Central WI only gets 3-4 hrs of useable sun per day (we'll give you the benefit of the doubt and call it 4), averaged over the year.....In WI we pay in the range of 17c / kW-hr. Your bill averages $400 per month, therefore you use 28,800kWhr/yr --almost 3x the usaeage of the average American household.

Solar Calculator According this site, you need a >26kW array to supply that, and according to this site Off-Grid Solar System Sizing Calculator you need a 45kW array (calculated specifically to Wausau - 2.97 hrs/d of sun).....

Somethng doesn't jive.

I'm not "against" solar. I just tthink realistically about it. It may make great economic sense to install it if you live in Phoenix. Not so much in WI, except for small, specific applications-- things like well pumps and heat. Your life depends on those. You don't need to be watching Ophra or Wheel of Fortune on your big screen TV when the SHTF and MadMax is coming to kill you for your potatoes.

Relatively small solar or wind can be installed for chump change and will only add a few $hundred to your grid energy bills over a lifetime. I figure my solar for water will add only ~$500 to my energy costs over 20yrs (I should live that long) and less tthan that to my costs for a small wind generator for the heating pumps. a small price for the security gained.

OTOH- a 15kW system would cost me $42,000+ installled and last no more than 25 yrs-- that's $1700/yr, not counting battery replacement costs every 5 yrs...but my grid costs are only $1200.yr now-- with no worry about replacement costs or repairs.
 

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As I said. output from a solar cell decreases linearly with solar illuminescence...With no clouds in the sky, for those 3-5 hours in the middle of the day, a 4 kW array will put out 4kWs for those 3-5 hrs (12-20kW-hr)....But with a 50% cloud cover, it'll only put out 2kW. With overcast skies, it'll only put out 1/2 kW or less....That means the average family would still use 30 kW-hr/d, but only be producing 2kW-hr on the many cloudy days in WI's winter....After 7 straigh days of no sun (not uncommon in Jan in WI) that average family is 196kW-hr in the hole...To put that in perspective, a typical car battery holds 600 W, so you'd need a battery bank of 327 car batteries to keep the lights on, or a 60kW (!!) solar array.
 

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I would never put solar panels on my roof. If I get a foot of snow over night, it can't slide off if it is anchored by the solar panels. And if you go up and try to shovel or sweep it off you could easily damage the panels. Every array of solar panels around here in set up on the ground, or on a post or rack standing alone beside the house.
Everybody's situation is different.

The advantage of roof top installation is that it doesn't take up any land not already taken up anyway. The panels can also help shade the house and keep it cooler....Many disadvantages-- As you note, difficult access for routine maintenance, but the places they work best don't usually need to worry about snow removal.....Putting on a new roof when needed becomes a nightmare of extra work and expense.
 

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We've been using solar panels to power our entire home for the past year, and we couldn't be happier!
Welcome, Iday-- (if I may call you by your first name)--

Where do you live (ie- how much sun can you count on each day)? How big is your array? What did it cost you? And what is your monthly energy usage?

All these factors are important in determining whether or not solar is feasible and wise for any given situation.

Another factor is your economic situation. . It's like the choice to rent an apartment or buy a house-- You rent when your meager means prevents you from coming up with a down payment/get a mortgage, or to cover a large monthly mortgage. You buy when it fits in comfortably with your budget.

...and another factor just struck me-- This time next week, people in Tampa may well be without power. Those who rely on the grid will probably have it restored within a few days at most. Those with large solar arrays may be on a long waiting list to have their panels replaced (unless the people in SC who find them will be kind enough to mail them back promptly)..
 

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We had a wind storm that got under the metal roofing of my workshop, and peeled it back like a pull-tab can. You could see the holes in the roofing where it pulled it right off the roofing screws (screws were still in the roof).

The pulling off of the roofing STOPPED at where the solar frame started, and kept me from losing a whole section of steel roofing. I ended up having to replace only one single 12' length roofing strip with a leftover. Went to Home Depot and bought wider-head roofing screws that would hold better than the screws that originally came with the panels. No problems since then.
Good for you, but your wind storm probably involved winds <50 mph. A hurricane is 120mph+ and a tornado works by pressure differences causing even brick houses to explode. Not everyone has to take those kinds of things into consideration., but some do....Hail is the most common weather related damage cause for solar panels.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Solar Panels? What You Need To Know! | House Grail " Both of these instances should be covered, as long as you have sufficient proof. That being said, solar panels will raise your insurance premium since they’re so costly to replace."
 
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