How much did you spend on Solar power?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by moonwolf, Jul 5, 2005.

  1. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,576
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    For those of you either having a solar (pv panel setup) power system, how much did you pay for what you got?

    Do you supplement your solar power with any other form of renewable or grid energy (such as wind or 'grid hydro'?).

    Dwelling size that you are using the solar power for?

    You happy with what you got? Are you planning to add to it?
    How extensive is your inverter and battery bank systems?

    what individual and total voltage of your battery array?
     
  2. www.solarexpert.com

    Check this site out and also check out the last issue of Mother Earth. There were several articals about solar installation and payback period. They highly recommended to use solar along with the grid for faster payback and less start up cost.
     

  3. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,576
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    I read the MEN article.

    I'm wanting to know if you or other HT participants on this site have installed solar power and your experience with the actual costs?
     
  4. cookiecache

    cookiecache Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    65
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Location:
    Alaska
    At my homestead in the bush, I set-up a RV solar kit (50 watts) to give me 12 volt power for the radio, laptop, and a small B/W TV. I use an 1800 watt generator for higher power demands (skill saw, color TV, VCR etc). I am experimenting with white LED lights to replace the gas lights.

    One thing that surprises many people is how well solar power works in Alaska. In mid winter, I don't get a lot of juice, and have to run the generator twice a week to charge the batteries, but in early may I get higher than rated performance bacause of reflection off the snow, and solar panels are more efficient in the cold (I get my best charging at 10 degrees with the sun reflecting off the snow). I have the panel mounted to pivot, and I turn the it by hand every few hours to track the sun. In mid-sumer, the long hours of daylight give me fully charged batteries even when I run the laptop all day.

    The system; solar panel, wire, batteries and generator, cost less than $1000.00. Sure a bigger system would be nice, but I had to start somewhere.
     
  5. norris

    norris Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    101
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2004
    My system is not complete and operational yet but I paid about $5.25 a watt for the panels. They are Sharp 123 watt panels.
    I think people go overboard with 120volt AC stuff. Keep your AC at a minimum and run those items with your generator. Use 12V DC for all your lights and a laptop. Throw away your TV, your mind will thank you.
     
  6. "Throw away your t.v., your mind will thank you" :eek:


    If only it was that easy! I sometimes think my wife and kids were born with a t.v. in their hand, and they aren't about to hand it over no matter what!
     
  7. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,576
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    Lately I met up with a neighbor that just moved in up the road recently that is a renewable energy dealer selling mostly solar pv wares and the inverters, battery banks, etc. He runs his generator about an hour a day to top up his batteries. That figures roughly about $40/month or more for that alone. With gasoline high in price now, it's probably more. His house is about 1800 sq. ft. and is fully outfitted with the solar 'arrays' with I beleive he said 12 of 165 watt pv panels. The control center is standard that is necessary to meed electical codes here. That and the inverter costs at least $5000 cdn.
    A true setup that would produce 'off grid' lifestyle about $15,000. This is about similar in cost to what the lake cottages have where no submarine electic cable is available.
    Since I have already grid hydro power in one building, the charging for batteries doesn't require a generator.
    A wind power generator he sells for the neighborhood of $5000 cdn. with the required tower and it can generate when wind is available and less sun in the winter. This makes sense for his house, since he has no grid power line. A hydro line would be costly from the road to his house, so it makes sense and also would save on generator fuel over the long haul.

    I don't think t.v. is a problem to run on the solar setups most should have, but things like clothes dryers are out of the question and other high load appliances. There is a lifestyle adjustment for sure, but it's also one that is good for the environment overall. The factor to consider for affordability is the number of years payback in cost savings over using grid energy. The intial cost also makes it unlikely I'll be able to afford putting in solar, unless some small start is made and 'build up' to a larger system that grows with needs.
    I'll take advantage of picking my neighbors brain about this further. Solar is something beginning to catch on here and on lake remote cabins in a big way. The only incentive right now is the savings on sales tax when buying components. That isn't much.
     
  8. katlupe

    katlupe Off-The-Grid Homesteader Supporter

    Messages:
    2,252
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    We've spent about $2500. so far, which includes the new generator we bought this year from Backwoods Solar. We only spend about $15 a month in gas to charge it. It doubled when the prices went up.

    We started out small with 2 fork lift truck batteries, a cheap inverter from Walmart, a small charge controller and one 50 watt panel. And that was 6 years ago. We have been adding to it as we can.

    We got rid of our desk top computers and replaced them with 2 laptops and we are on the computers all the time. That's really the main thing we use our system for, as we like using the kerosene lamps, and we don't watch tv (sometimes a western movie from our collection).

    We plan on getting a bigger inverter to run a Staber washing machine but that's about all I'd want. I like a gas refrigerator better than electric so I would never switch. I don't know how many square feet we have, but we only have 3 electric lights (hardly ever use)and the computers anyway. Oh, I sometimes will use a electric mixer.

    I'd never hook up to the grid, even if it came out here.
     
  9. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,301
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal Mtns
    Used, I got (2) BP 75 watt monochrystalline panels,charge controller,remote,1500 watt heart modified sinewave inverter/charger,(8) L-16 trojan 6 volt batteries,fuse,mounting rack,all battery cables and panel wiring.

    With that I made an RV sytem with the panels and controller(added a cheap 1100 watt inverter for 79 dollars),and a home backup power system with the rest.

    1200 bucks,super deal in my book.System was about 2 years old.

    So used solar,if you can find it,can cut costs dramatically.

    BooBoo
     
  10. katlupe

    katlupe Off-The-Grid Homesteader Supporter

    Messages:
    2,252
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    "Used Solar if you can find it" - yes, if you can find is the keywords. I gave up looking for it. I got some good deals ebay. But it wasn't used.
     
  11. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,301
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal Mtns
    Isnt that the truth,most who buy it never part with it,thats for sure.I drove 100 miles each way in a very bad rainstorm in a 1959 VW truck to get it!

    BooBoo
     
  12. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    2,180
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2004
    Location:
    WI
    We have spent over $20,000 since 1977 on our system, and have moved it and redesigned it also. Started with a $150 wind generator and another couple of hundred for used batteries, old 32 volt Delco Light Plant ($125) for stand-by power, then our first PVs in 1981 (still working fine), another used, rebuilt, 1940s vintage wind generator ($1000), a couple more PVs over the years a couple of panels at a time, then we moved, took everything down and moved it. Re-installed it with new blades and governor for the Jacobs generator (about time after all it was going on 6o years old) and new batteries ($4000) and new sine-wave inverter, charge controller, and a used military 24volt 4 cylinder DC generator for stand-by use ($600), etc., (another $3k or so), and then last year added another 1.5kw (12 Kyocera KC125G) of PVs and an Outback MX60 controller, totalling another $7k or $8k for the PVs, mounting, wire, controller, etc. I asked my wife what the total was a few days ago and she said a bit over $20,000. A lot of it has been in use since 1977, and the batteries since 1999, and everything should work fine for another 15+ years before major maintenance might be needed--battery replacement maybe.

    Jim
     
  13. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,903
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    For a dealer installed solor system your going to pay about $10/kw. You can drop it down to about $6kw if you do the installs yourself.

    Solar is almost never cheaper than conventional power if power is already available on the property.
     
  14. copperhead51

    copperhead51 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    117
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    3600 RPM generator $500.00
    400 watts of panels $2,050.00
    2500 watt inverter (modified sinewave) $225.00
    500 watt inverter (sinewave) $250.00
    6 golf cart batteries $480.00
    30 amp charge controller $180.00

    We've used the above system for a couple of years now. It is good for a laptop, 13" color television, lights, etc..
     
  15. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    594
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    centeral Okla. S of I-40, E of I-35
    about $500 for each of 2-100watt panels
    $300 inverter designed for semi-trucks
    $150 charge controller
    second set of used batteries [17 at about $22 each]
    {{1st set was 8 batteries for $15 each}}
    a few hundred $$ for heavy cables, cable ends, tools to make them
    ourselves, and wire to hook every thing up.
    12 v lights $2? each, like for RV's and semi trucks, standard sockets for them
    $1?? each, for 3 in the house. up stairs is a flouresent big truck fixture.
    (it was free from a junked truck)
    we really like LED's and have recycled chicken lights {the decorative lights on
    big trucks} for free stairway lighting, some metal fans over the bed for air
    movement at night, designed for big trucks $20?? each for 2, [his & hers]
    2-12v color tv's one up stairs, one down with VCR's in them. These are
    Symphopnic brand AC/DC models, we are very happy with them, weather
    maps are easier to read in color

    We have 3 wind genneys that are not installed yet, they where about $400
    something each.

    Our system ain't so purdy to look at, but it does what we need done.
     
  16. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

    Messages:
    7,273
    Joined:
    May 9, 2004
    Location:
    Zone 8a, AZ
    What the heck I might as well pitch in too! LOL House is about 1100 square feet. Hve television 19" , VCR/CD player, Satelite dish for Tv and one for Computer, desktop computer with LCD screen , Fisher Paykal washing machine and propane dryer. We installed our own system:

    4 120 Kyocera Panels at 565 each
    1 2500 Heart Freedom modified sinewave inverter
    1 solar combiner- Trace
    1 60 amp charge controller
    1 large battery box containing
    10 12 volt batteries like for RV's (need to replace with big batteries)
    1 Airx 403 wind generator
    1 trimetric meter

    We run our almost our entire house on this amount of solar. Two adults and the TV as well as the computer run about 5 hours daily. When using the propane dryer at same time as the washer and the well pump we run the gasoline generator. Otherwise we get on just fine!
    Would I like more...u bet, it is dark in montana during the winter and twice as many panels would mean no generator backing up during the dark months!