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zone 5 - riverfrontage
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My photovoltaic panels are hung from a framework support that is hinged at the top. In the Spring there is an optimum angle to meet the suns rays, In the Summer there is another angle that is best and in the Winter there is a third angle that is best. the winter angle is very steep, nearly vertical. Because they are so close to vertical it helps to keep ice from sticking to them.

One year I hurt my back when I needed to adjust the angle. So I just left them at their summer angle, which is very nearly horizontal. The snow and ice piled up so high that it did not melt off until Spring. I learned that if there is any doubt at all, I must return my panels to nearly vertical before winter hits.
 

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My roof is pitched for fall and spring 42o
in the summer I can get 3750 watts out of 4500 watts of solar
winter months i max out at about half , so 1900 watts or so .
I may just set up a ground mount that is adjustable year round .
The roof is pointing north and my solar panels are on the back .
Sky Property Plant Natural landscape Wood
 

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100% Offgrid Solar Powered with a 30kWh LFP Battery Bank. Cost less than HALF of what the power company wanted to run lines up here which was $55,000 after the increase in 2015. My system TODAY would actually cost even less thanks to lowered costs. The GOTCHA in 2021 is that the damned Shipping Costs have effectively doubled the cost for Batteries and some other equipment. Also the added Tariffs & Duties which ONLY Goes into the Revenue Bucket of the government which WE the Citizens pay (no company pays it you know, it's all tacked on to the MSRP).

Right at this moment, over 250,000 people are without power due to storms in the region, yet I have power, I look out and see the 3 Valley's below (I'm 1700' above on a ridge) and see the odd lights on with others who have Solar & Battery... Couple of those are BIG Dairy Ops who use BioGas & Generators, Solar Panels & Batteries and 1 also has a 10kw Windturbine that never stops (sweet spot between the valley's.) Dairy Farms losing power can become extremely costly very quickly and Insurances are ludicrous !
 
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About 3 years ago installed 18 355 watt panel's with enphase IQ7+ inverters. They put out 295 watts each. Cost about $8700 i think. 12% focus on energy rebate and 30% fed tax credit for about $5000 total final cost. Save about $100 a month. Will be paid back in 5 years. We are grid connected with net metering. We make 1-2000 kwh a year more tha we use. Installing electric tankless water heater this spring to use more of our excess. We heat with wood and have a mini split heat pump for days it does not make sense to start a fire. Propane water heater now with a 40 gallin tempering tank installed on our loft which prewarms our 50-52 degree well water to 70-75 and greatly reduces energy for water heating. I should mention my solar cost was very low due to installing 100% myself. I do industrial automation so I had a lot of knowledge of electricity and controls. We hope to someday go offgrid if battery prices go down enough. I guess I should also mention I live in Wisconsin. we do have to buy some power in Dec. Jan. and Feb. due to cloudy days. but have excess in summer. the net metering is OK but we pay 12.6 cents per KWH and they only pay us 2.9 cents per KWH. (thtas the reason for finding all ways to use our excess)
 

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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.
Dont use a refrigerator
 

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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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This is our second summer pretty much off the electrical grid. We have a knife switch that allows us to go back to the grid if needed. It is needed when we use our 220v table saw. The startup draw is too much for our inverters. If not using the table saw we'll switch over to grid power one day a month. This is so the power company doesn't pull our meter.

We have 10 kW of ground mounted solar panels and 27 kWh of battery. About to add another 5.4 kWh battery. Last summer we ran out of power very infrequently but with the heat this summer it's almost a daily occurrence to run out at some point during the early morning. Our central AC system has a two speed compressor. Obviously the top speed didn't kick in much last year but it is happening daily this year. Earlier this year we added a propane powered generator and a 1000 gallon propane tank. This gets us through until the sun is up.

No way this setup is or ever will save us money. We don't sell back to the power company. They sell electricity at 12 - 13 cents per kWh and buy it back for 1 cent. Not to mention if we were grid tied and selling it back, when the grid goes down so does the solar system. There's a fail safe to make sure you don't kill a lineman by sending power back up the line when they think there is no power on that line.

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.
 

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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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I invested in some land with the intent of our retirement there some day in the future. The future for me ended up coming much sooner than expected. The land is beautifully rugged, fairly remote and not easily accessed. Needless to say there are no accessible utilities of any kind and barely enough of a signal to send/receive a text message on most days. And there will probably never be any utilities/signal. Heh, the rural power company wanted $125k to bring power to a few seasonal cabins a half mile from the nearest point and that was with a 50% cost share from a gov't program if the application was approved. It wasn't. We're a mile further as the raven flies.... So from the beginning we knew we'd have to supply for our own power needs.

Our power is 100% solar for 9 months of the year. A generator is needed for most power needed from the end of Nov trough mid Jan each year as there is no sun around the winter solstice. The buildings' power is supplied by panels capable of 3000 watts to batteries (370 amp hours) with the standard system components. The water well is its own system of 800 watts. It has been a considerable learning experience. I have professional experience with A/C and D/C systems, wiring, workmanship, etc. Where the majority of the learning occurred was with batteries and I had a fair bit of experience there too, but not in an off-grid situation. When all was in place, tuned and programmed, we have all the electric power we need. Hot water and cooking are via a 100g propane tank which lasts 2 years.

But batteries were the Achilles heel. Over the first 11 years I went through 2 banks of batteries for the house and 2 on the well (the well replacement batteries are still in service but are at end of life). I have tested and collected battery data, documented and analyzed enough info to write a book. But it would be our book and actually more of a diary. Every solar implementation is different, even with identical components, because each varies by location, weather, maintenance and USAGE patterns For us, just the amortization of batteries over the years would exceed cost of grid power if it was available without building the transmission lines.

To sum this up, I think/hope/pray that we have the solution in place. The system now has lithium batteries in service.
 

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Do you end up paying nothing to the power company, or are you just off grid?
Many of my neighbors are off grid, and use only solar power. At least two of them claim that they put their system together from discarded parts they found at the dump. I bought property with power at the property line, so I had it hooked up.
 

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1) 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...

2) The only good reason to go solar is to ensure power security when the grid goes down.
I had to go back and re-read this thread from the beginning. Doc, some input to your post:

1) Not really but it fully depends on how you use your electricity. These days when ya replace a fridge, washing machine, TV, etc. you have some options. Whether I had utility power or not I'd probably do the Energy Star appliance if it didn't cost a crazy premium. Maybe the biggest premium we paid was for the LG front loader. And then it wasn't so much related to power but the fact that it really kicks out some really clean laundry and minimizes the power, water and detergent at the same time. And we hang them cause the clothes smell so good. If ya want to see the thing hog power then run a cycle LG on Sanitary, Allergen or Tub Clean with the electric heater.... But we have spent a little extra on LEDs. And we don't use a drip coffee maker anymore because the press tastes better and we grind our beans with, yes, an electric grinder. The sausage stuffer is a power "hog" (wink).
One the heavier side of the spectrum we use no 240vac for household purposes. I have no problem starting/running an 8" bench grinder in the shop 120' away, running the table saw on thick hardwood while on solar and other heavier stuff. But to your point I have a Miller Bobcat for remote stuff and it gets used for welding, powering the 240vac spot welder and metal mill, planers, hand grinder on and off, etc. It's no big deal. Keeps it cycling at intervals when needed anyway as a backup to the primary generator. its fuel consumption stinks. There is a recent post from someone that has a full machine shop with multiple lathes, mills, welders, etc. Of course that is a problem with solar independence.

2) Not. You can live, with some planning, wherever the heck you want and you don't have to live like a power pauper. You don't have to be a slave to the utility and rate increases. You can enjoy and live in modern times with NO access or connection. But nope, you are not going to charge an EV at home (but we don't care because they don't have a time proven 3/4 or 1t rig anyway). It seems you have a bad attitude and with some justification. Location, weather, another system to maintain, etc.

I agree on one thing: if you have grid power available it is worth it esp. if you are a switch flipper at your total convenience. But if you design your system, including the flow pumps to your circulating system, it doesn't have to be so bad. From what I read you are concerned about powering pumps. I could give you some input.
 

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We went solar in January. Got our battery back up installed last week. We figured out that spending the money we would have spent on electricity to pay for the panels and battery it will take us 15 years. The warranty is for 20 years
lol. We have gone through hurricanes and ice storms that cut us off for weeks. With DH on a Cpap at night and a freezer full of food the piece of might was worth the trouble
 

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We are and can be net zero anytime.
18 KW and full battery backup that will run the house (especially if there is any sun) for many days.
4,000 sq ft, 5 bedroom, 3 bath now 10 year old home we had built.
Massive 140" x 84" main windows allow for agressive passive solar to fully heat the house on any sunny day from 11/1 to 3/1. No sun in house at any other time. Solar engineers figured it all out with the overhangs and other south facing windows.
Lopi Liberty wood stove to heat home and yes you can actually cook on it but the grease/cooking stuff stains it so we have not used it in that way at this house (last house had the same wood stove and we did use it to cook and it just didn't look as pretty....)
ICF (insulated concrete forms) and
earth sheltered to the north. Full on south facing unimpeded.
Solar hot water free also. (Tubes for that).

Can't run the a/c or hvac on it or electric stove or clothes dryer (240V items). But all else is backed up incuding all ceiling fans, lights, well, and 2 deep freezes and pole barn.

The only time we spend $$ is in winter when the panels are snow or ice covered for long periods (central WI) but we make it up in summer.

AND when my DH is too tired to get the wood in. I can not lift the sizes he cuts and he will not entertain small wood pieces... So we then turn on central heat. So far, over 10 years, we have made it back to be net zero.
Up till Covid we entertained our large families and church friends a ton.
Lots of use of 240V stove, all appliances, a/c, heat. No skimping to get to net zero. Still broke even all but 1 year (our 1st).
Here is the caveat. The big subsidies from states such as we got the 1st time we did this in 2003, have mostly dropped to almost nothing. The 30% tax break along with staggering the build (6Kw each year for 3 years) got us the most from both feds and state.
BUT for all those starting now, the actual product costs have dropped unbelievably.

For a house this size, pole barn, irrigation system, exterior lights, and our life style, we run $400+/mo electric bill (no gas in the house) if no solar and Lopi Liberty wood stove which carries the entire home comfortably.
So we are really close to breaking even -- about 2.75 years to go. No write offs for depreciation.

We are 10+ years in and plan to replace the batteries with lithium this year so that as we age (further...) we will not have to take that on.

I grew up in and love small homes. 1300 sq ft was huge to me. But DH loves big homes so here we are. And hopefully staying.
 

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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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BTW, when I went with lithium I discovered something significant: They charge and discharge in the 98% range OF EFFICIENCY. In other words almost nothing is lost to chemistry, heat and self discharge. So the panel arrays are getting older is all of a sudden supplying a charge that is realized and captured. My panels are 50% through their projected lifetime. But who would know? Seriously if was like adding panels without doing it.
 
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