PV Payback

Solar electricity is expensive. Perhaps not as terrifyingly as some think?

Our local feed and grain store just installed the largest system I have ever seen. It is quite impressive. They have the feed store, a popular cafe and residence being fed by the system. I would love to see what their electric bill used to be. I’ll bet it was a whopper BEFORE rates went up. Now they may not have one.

It is a grid tie system. Electric meters spin both directions. Grid tie means if you are not using all the electricity you produce it goes back to the system. You get credit. At night when PV produces nothing you draw from the grid. The utility company has less pressure to add new generation capacity and you have electricity when you need it without the expense of an expensive bank of storage batteries.

My need for electricity is modest. In the month of March I used 156 kWh. At .13 cents a kWh the bill was $20.23. Since my use is low what might it cost to generate ALL of my own electric and have a surplus?

I contacted a friend who used to install solar and is a whiz in the field. Here is one of his emails:
  “you would need about 800 [actual output] watts of solar to break even in winter, summer would be an excess.  4- 200 watt modules. 250 to 300.00 each. Checking ebay i see lots of new china inverters cheap [400-500.00], thing is ,you want one with a built in kilowatt meter”.

So… Let’s say I want overkill because i have my eye on one of those vibrating motel beds. So I buy 5-235 watt solar panels. At top price that runs $1.500.00. With the inverter that turns DC into usable household AC we are looking at $2,000.00. I would need sono tubes and cement to mount the panels in the yard and wire. I would need someone to dig a bury trench for the wire.

For $2,500.00 I can generate AT LEAST $30.00 of electricity in the winter and more in the summer A MONTH. There is currently a 30% rebate from the feds and a 10% from the state. My cost drops to $1,500.00. That 30 bucks a month I now create would pay for the system in 4 years and one month unless rates go up again…. In which case faster. So in 4 years my investment on a system warrantied to last 25 years would break even and I would have 20 years of free electricity and vibrating bed.

Done properly such a system can be easy add on with more panels. I have no idea why people think it is all or nothing. Systems can be started more reasonably than most think and when the utility company raises rates (and they will) more panels can be added.

These are exciting times.

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9 Responses to PV Payback

  1. Cary says:

    gosh, all these STORY PROBLEMS……….I’m not even good with straight (?????) number math. I was an art major, so I’ m defineatly taking your word for this entire subject. I think you would probably make a GREAT teacher/instructor/professor for sure!!!!! Heck, I’d gladly take ANY of your classes……………..teach. ;p

  2. Some People's Kids says:

    I did not realize that the solar set up had become so reasonable in price. Last time we looked at putting in a system just to supplement our usage it was a staggering amount (for our budgeting position). I’m going to have to nag on The Man to check into it again.

    I love the billboard. 🙂

    • osolynden says:

      Keep in mind my prices are DIY. One of you would need to do PV 101 from the internet. You tube is rife with old geezers who leaned some salvaged PV panels against their fence and got an inverter from the junk yard….

      Looks like stay away from Amorphous or even Monocrystlline. The Polycrystalline seem the best still my research tells me.

      Budget? Does this mean you have still not found the Lost Dutchman mine…..

      • Some People's Kids says:

        DIY is a way of life around here. Well up to a point. With the right book one can learn to do just about anything.

        The Dutchman still eludes me…..

  3. so, you’re gonna put some alien panel thingys up on yur teepee???

  4. Need to stop by for a test visit – let me know when the vibrating bed is in place.

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