Guesstimate my solar power potential

  1. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    I've been seriously considering uhm.... telling my parents that they should put solar panels on their roof :P I wanted to get a decent estimation as to whether or not the idea is silly. What kind of things should I look into to determine whether or not this will be a financially viable option? We live in Fresno, CA which is basically a freaken desert, we climb high up into PG&Es $.33/kWh bracket during summers, and I was hoping to get a company to install a small system, maybe 2kW, just to shave off enough power during the summer so that we're out of that killer bracket. I figure that would maximize the financial viability since we wouldn't be trying to become independent from PG&E. So I was wondering what kinds of things should I look into (I already will look into tax rebates and check out our roof's angle. I can even determine what direction the roof points with my new handy dandy compass I bought for totally different reasons :D

    So, solar geniuses of PF, UNITE!!!

    DISCUSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I wuv you all <3
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Your solar power potential is.

    6.
     
  4. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    What are the units on that. Joules per solarpanel?

    I totally just checked it out and my room points at 346 degrees on the Northern slope. ZOMG I'm collecting data already! GO ME!
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  5. rhody

    rhody 765
    Gold Member

    Peng Peng,

    Maybe you didn't see it but Chi Meson opened a thread on solar panels here. There is some good discussion here for you to think about. If I ever were to use solar it would be for a greenhouse for electricity and possibly heat, if I could heat and then store the heated water underground, but that's a stretch. You could PM and ask him about the good, bad and ugly of the project. Good hunting.

    Rhody...
     
  6. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    No I can't pm him! He doesn't allow PMs :( SADFACE!!! That was my first idea. Then I thought PFF I WILL VISITOR MESSAGE HIM. Nope, no dice. He's punching my dreams of solar panels right in the face.
     
  7. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You have a lot of potential, Pengwuino. You're a bright young man.

    My understanding is that the price of panels is dropping so quickly that it makes sense to wait. Printed, thin-film panels, are coming soon.
     
  8. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    Will solar panel companies drop their prices as well though? That sounds like an idea but I wonder if it will be one of those things like what happens with computer technology; you wait because prices are dropping but they're continually dropping so you continually wait :P.

    I heard, and Is wear Chi was the one who said this, that you only really need the panels + inverter + misc. mandatory electronics to run a system if you don't intend on it supplying 100% of your power. It apparently really drops the price down.
     
  9. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    My understanding is that prices have and will continue to drop siginficantly. We had one thread where I was quoting online prices, and someone else was able to show that the newest panels were actually about 30% less expensive per watt, as I recall.

    What do you hope to achieve? [skip that, I hadn't completely read your first post]
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  10. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    World domination.

    Also, to cut down the power bill to where we are out of the highest priced tier during the summer. Paying $.33/kWh is pretty rough. The house is 2 story, 2200 sq ft with central air in the upstairs and we want to get it extended downstairs as well.
     
  11. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    How did you come up with 2KW? If you know that's the number, it's a fairly easy problem. 2KW during daylight hours, or 2KW continuous?
     
  12. Danger

    Danger 9,879
    Gold Member

    Hello, beaked one.
    I'm with Rhody on this one. I can honestly say that I don't know anyone who has an air conditioner (aside from those which are included in vehicles as standard equipment). For heat, I would actually go with black ABS or PVC piping as opposed to photovoltaic devices. You apparently live in a climatic zone that is not normally conducive to penguin longevity. Wanna trade?
     
  13. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    Oh I just vaguely guessed at it. I remember Chi saying his house was fully powered by a 7 kW system and he sounds like he doesn't use much electricity in the first place so I figured 2 might be a non-stupid guess. I should actually check the bill!

    So when people say they're giving you a 2kW system, what does that actually mean? I mean, is that how much it will produce in direct sunlight? Does that only apply during summer when intensity peaks? Does it include variables like roof slope? Is it some kind of average? AHHH!!!

    Yes, we live in an area that regularly tops high 100s and low 110s during the summer. Even the biggest swamp coolers can't handle it.
     
  14. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The panels are typically rated according to their maximum output. You have to derate from there according to angle, panel temp, and so on.

    I would look closely at the break point for the high price, how much you need to reduce power, and during what hours. The rates can even vary with the hour of the day, but I don't know if this applies to you.
     
  15. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    PG&Es site says we're on a plan where they do not charge based on the time of day. So during the summer it looks like we're using 1000 kWh into the $.33/kWh tier (yes, our bills can hit nearly $800 on a really bad month). Maybe a 3kW system would be able to keep us out of that super high range as much. Our winter electricity usage drops to around 1kW during the day since we have a gas heater, so going beyond 3kW would seem to be adding more cost with no benefit to be gained during the off-months.

    I really can't figure out jack from solar company websites. It's always "Enter your monthly bill and your area code and we'llt ell you how much you can save :D" with figures such as how much the actual stupid system they're installing costs if you buy it upfront or what the generation would be or anything.
     
  16. Danger

    Danger 9,879
    Gold Member

    And here I be, up to my *** in snow. It's currently -8°, which Dave mentioned a while back is considerably warmer than the point at which we Canuks have to put on a hat when we go oot and aboot. It's T-shirt weather.
     
  17. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    So it sounds like you need to reduce your usage by at least 35 KwHrs per day. You would want to do a formal check on the losses, but just shooting from the hip, you are probably into a 10KW panel, or so. Then you need to figure out how to apply it in an independent mode. When I feel like thinking harder, if you haven't worked this out yet, I'll check back. Right now my brain is still fried from running budget numbers.
     
  18. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    Holy chit, 10kW? :-/ Why so much?!?
     
  19. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    35 KWHrs per day over say 6 Hrs effective, is 5.8 KW. Then factor in additional losses due to angle and temp, and system losses after that.
     
  20. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
    Gold Member

    Sadface. I read that systems are around $7/W. So that's like.... ridonkulous.
     
  21. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I would take a hard look at getting a deal like Chi has, where you pay a fixed amount every month and have a complete system.

    Obviously the negawatt [saving energy] approach is the place to start. You guys are total power hogs. :biggrin:
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?