[amsat-bb] Re: Solar Power (I was wrong)

Joel Black jbblack68 at gmail.com
Fri Oct 2 04:07:43 PDT 2009

My simple math says it'll take almost 16 years to be reimbursed on a 
$30k system.

Initial outlay:  $30,000
US tax credit:  5%  (I guessed, I have no idea so this number could be 
high or low)
US reimbursement:  $1500 (this is not real money, but a reduction in 
taxable income)
Total:  $28,500 (realizing you *still* paid $30k out-of-pocket and only 
saw a $1500 savings in taxable income)
Savings per year:  $1800 (someone posted earlier that their friend 
realized a savings of ~$150 / month)
$30k / 1.8k = 15.83 years

One of the points of the post, I think, was to make ourselves less 
dependent on foreign oil, not, necessarily a savings in utility costs 
for the household.  The other point was to build and experiment.  So, if 
you want to build it and try it out, do so.

Personally, I do not think PV cells are that efficient.  To get the 
12VDC I need to power my remote, low-powered SCADA repeaters, I have to 
install PV cells that generate about 19 - 20 VDC and run them through 
charge controllers.  I've just lost more than 30% in generated 
electricity to heat.  I suppose I could investigate and have the company 
purchase more efficient PV cells, but I've been told numerous times, 
"That's not your job."

Now, if someone could tell me how to do it more efficiently, I'm all ears.

Joel, W4JBB

Jeff Yanko wrote:
> Hi Pete,
> FB on friends and their systems.  What will happen is since each state has its own PUC, Public Utility Commission, and laws there will be 50 different ways of handling how to reimburse, tax or otherwise garnish money from this process.
> I've also been wondering.  Since a basic grid-tie system can cost from $15,000 to $25,000, they only last so long.  Twenty years, tops maybe?  Do they really pay for themselves, even wth tax credits, when you have to replace them in say twenty years?
> 73,
> Jeff  WB3JFS 
>   ----- Original Message ----- 
>   From: Pete Rowe 
>   To: bruninga at usna.edu ; amsat-bb at amsat.org ; Jeff Yanko 
>   Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2009 6:46 PM
>   Subject: Re: [amsat-bb] Re: Solar Power (I was wrong)
>         I've recently looked into PV home installations in California. Unfortunately, here at least, the power company is only required to pay you the WHOLESALE cost of electricity. This amounts to 3 to 4 cents per kw-hr. Hence, most folks size their PV system to exactly meet their needs. I have three friends who have had systems running for 3 years. You get credits from the power company for the power you generated during the year. Then they even up at the end of the year. If you made more electricity than you used, you lose it. If you made less, then you owe them the difference. Since they have sized the systems correctly, they owe very little money.
>         One of my friends installed a water spray system to cool the panels since they lose efficiency fast as the temperature goes up. Also, it doesn't take much dust or bird poop to cut the efficiency. So if you install a system, be prepared to get on the roof every month or so to clean the panels.
>         Regards,
>         Pete
>         WA6WOA
>         --- On Thu, 10/1/09, Jeff Yanko <wb3jfs at cox.net> wrote:
>           From: Jeff Yanko <wb3jfs at cox.net>
>           Subject: [amsat-bb] Re: Solar Power (I was wrong)
>           To: bruninga at usna.edu, amsat-bb at amsat.org
>           Date: Thursday, October 1, 2009, 6:04 PM
>           Interesting topic.  Here in the desert, Las Vegas, NV, I've seen a few homes 
>           with solar panels on their roofs.  Not a lot but a few here and there. 
>           Actually, I see more with roof heating systems for the pools than anything 
>           else.  However, I'm sure there are more out there than I'm seeing.  In any 
>           case, a topic has risen about generating and selling power back to the 
>           utility company.....taxes.  Some states are now implementing taxes on 
>           residential owners who generate and "sell back" their power to the utility 
>           company.  Pennsylvania happens to be one of them.  I believe the standing is 
>           if you sell back over 50,000 watts of power you will incur additional taxes, 
>           adding to your state personal income tax.  Apparantly, after 50,000 watts 
>           your considered a "generating" or "generator" entity and are subject to tax. 
>           Lets say you were able to generate and sell back 100,000 watts to the 
>           utility company.  The first 50,000 watts would be "free".  From then on out, 
>           it's taxed.  Not sure what rate they are or would be applying but lets say 
>           15 cents per KW. At 50,000 watts that would be $7.50.  Doesn't sound like 
>           much, then again 15 cents per KW is probably nowhere near what they really 
>           want.
>           I believe you will see this happen more often as states look for additional 
>           revenue.
>           73,
>           Jeff  WB3JFS
>           ----- Original Message ----- 
>           From: "Robert Bruninga" <bruninga at usna.edu>
>           To: <amsat-bb at amsat.org>
>           Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2009 5:37 PM
>           Subject: [amsat-bb] Solar Power (I was wrong)
>           > Since Satellite design is heavy into Solar power, and I talk
>           > about that a lot, you may have heard me compare my Solar car to
>           > Solar panels on the roof of your house as not economical, I WAS
>           > WRONG.  I was overlooking many recent changes in the
>           > environment:
>           >
>           > 1) Solar panels (PV) are 1% of what they cost in 1970
>           > 2) PV dropped 40% this year due to 2007 Energy Boom and 2009
>           > economic bust
>           > 4) $5,000 to $20,000 tax and cash back incentives for YOU
>           > 5) Grid-tie systems operate at 95% efficiency compared to 70% of
>           > battery systems
>           > 6) Local electric rates DOUBLED in the last 2 years
>           > 7) Laws require utilities to pay you the same peak rates they
>           > charge you.
>           > 8) Solar Energy credits can gain an additional $275 per 1Kw
>           > system per year
>           > 9) Payback is at least 10% per year or better
>           > 10) The same money in the bank gets 1% interest
>           >
>           > So I was wrong in not keeping current with all the changing
>           > environment, and now I am full speed to get my system approved
>           > and built and correct any miss-guidance I may have helped
>           > propagate.
>           >
>           > Sorry. I am claiming this particular email is on-topic because
>           > of public statements to the contrary I have made at satellite
>           > forums.  But this hot topic should probably spin off elsewhere.
>           > We need a HAM Solar Power group somewhere...?
>           >
>           > Summary:  Do NOT make the mistake (as most of us do) of thinking
>           > in terms of stand-alone Battery back-up solar power systems .
>           > They cost more and you don't need it in most places where you
>           > have access to the grid.  They cost $5 to $10,000 more, are only
>           > 70% efficient (compared to 95% for grid-tie) and are a never
>           > ending maintenance headache.  Instead, most any enterprising ham
>           > should be able to provide his own backup power using a cheap 1
>           > kW inverter for about $150 from any auto store or radio shack
>           > running off his car's 12V system for any power outages.
>           >
>           > That, a few deep cycle batteries, (and using CFL lightbulbs in
>           > your house) will give you enough emergency power to operate your
>           > full Ham station, all the lights in the house you want plus your
>           > refrigerator for as long as you can buy gas.  But the other
>           > 99.99% of the time, sell your solar power to the power company
>           > (at peak rates during the day) and buy it back cheap at night
>           > (you win and you don't even have to worrry about batteries)...
>           >
>           > And even if your grid-tie solar array produces nothing (in the
>           > way of AC power) when the grid goes out, you still have many
>           > Killowatts of DC power on your roof, that you can surely find
>           > lots of things to do with until the grid comes back.  For
>           > example, have the electrician wire a 250 volt string of the 200
>           > Watt solar panels in the array to a DPDT switch so they can be
>           > disconnected from the Grid Tie system and the 250 VDC can be
>           > available to you.  THen you can plug in as many modern DC/DC
>           > pwer supplies into that 250 VDC to give you LOTS of amps at 12
>           > volts, or ... almost any modern gizmo has a universal power
>           > supply input that will run on anything from 110V to 330V DC as
>           > is.
>           >
>           > Anyway, for similar hints www.aprs.org/FD-Prius-Power.html
>           >
>           > Sorry for the off-topic.  But  I was wrong. PV works! (even in
>           > Maryland).  If you live in the SW, you are lucky, and it works
>           > TWICE as much or at HALF the price!
>           >
>           > A Born-again Home PV junkie
>           > Bob, WB4APR
>           >
>           >
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