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solar in CA? where to start?

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Posted by jeremy_ho on March 14, 2007, 10:07 am
first I saw this in home depot BP solar... then I was doing my tax and
read on the federal credit incentive and also found out CA has a state

I was thinking of taking the plunge while the discounts are still
available, since eventually the incentives would be phased out..  It
seems to me the cost of panels are not really going down that much,
infact seems actually went up through inflation, I searched a sharp
panel used to be $67 and now is $99.

I am not sure where to start, the rebates seems quite hard to
understand, but I think a 3kW system is costing $0,000 after the

Or should I just buy a number of 15W panel, setup a invertor and
battery to power something that I constantly run (fish tank, air
filtration etc) and get my feet wet now but not in too deep?  The cost
is $00 and I think I can still claim the federal 30% credit on the
cost.  It does not say it needs to be professionally installed.

Is it also possible to install the panels yourself and just have a
contractor tie it into the grid to help the cost?

I am getting a kill-a-watt so I could check out the consumption of my

I understand it might take 10 to 20 years to recover the cost, but it
is not really my motivation to make cash flow, I just feel that it
will cost alot more to install later on... as I have lived in this
state I have witnessed labor and cost of living inflat at an
uncomfortable rate.   in 20 years $0k will probably only cover the
bridge toll.  J/k <g>     No, seriously, I wanted to have a system
that will get me "free" power so I can run more appliances, have a
more comfortable life and not push the electricity usage to tier 3 or

BTW, Do I need to replace my meter to use the "time of use" plan?
Does this cost alot to do?

Posted by N9WOS on March 14, 2007, 12:50 pm

For how big a panel?

The reason cost are going up right now is a lot of governments in Europe are
starting to heavily subsidize PV installations. The glut of demand has
pushed prices up across the board. Once production has a chance to catch up
with demand, the prices should drop again.

For how many watts?
With what type of inverters?

How many 15W panels are you getting for $00?

If you are wanting to offset the electricity usage of your appliances, then
you need to apply for net metering, and get enough panels to generate enough
wattage to make a dent in your electric bill. They will need to be hooked up
to the AC system with a grid tie inverter. A few 15W panels won't do it

But you could run a couple small 12 operated pieces of electronics from a
few 15W panels. Like a radio, portable TV, and laptop computer. You would
use a small flooded deep cycle, or AGM battery for energy storage.

Larger 12V appliances, or an small inverter running moderate AC loads like
CF light bulbs would require slightly more than a couple 15W panels to keep
up with energy usage.

Posted by Rick F. on March 14, 2007, 3:34 pm
We've got a contract to have a 6kw system installed on our house later this
year and we got last years rebate rate -- (it's locked in) since the rates
went down in January a little bit.. As time goes on the rebates shrink here
in CA..  The main reason we're doing it is to eliminate or cut (mostly) the
existing electric bill we're using now.. We are frequently (even w/o the heat)
spending $50/mo on electricity -- we've had a high as about $90/mo.. That
makes the solar payback a bit easier to chew when you figure you're spending
almost $k/year on electricity alone.. Anyway, it's all relevant to how much
power you consume and what you end-goal is for the solar capability you're
interested in setting up.. Some people just want a system that can take a bite
out of their overall usage of electricity (removing one or more of the tiers
from the bill which are the highest cost parts) and not spend tons of $$ on
the equipment/installation.  If you do get a system installed, I think it
would be wise to have a Solar contractor do the setup/install as it's not
exactly a project for a newbie -- the local power company might require a
licensed contractor to do the final setup anyway before they'll switch your
meter over to a net-metering meter.  YMMV!

Posted by N9WOS on March 14, 2007, 4:38 pm

Oh boy..... My brain was working on all cylinders when it spewed that.

Let me correct it.....

What type of rebates is that with. (dollars per watt installed)
What type of inverter is it with.

Posted by jeremy_ho on March 14, 2007, 8:37 pm
For the off grid conversion

I am thinking of 7 15W panels rated at 1 amp max each, output for each
panel, to power things like my computer and TV at night.  Where I live
with a south facing roof, I don't see a problem getting average 5 amp
hours charge from each panel, 7 panels should replenish 5 * 7 = 35 amp
hours into the battery for use at night.

If the computer usage at night average around 400W for 8 hours,   That
would be around 27 amps of usage. if invertor effecieny is poor then
maybe it use 32 amps hrs.  With a 100 Amp hour battery as a buffer.
This is sort of a very small plan which helps address the electricity
that I predictably use.

Please tell me if I am correct or not, I am new at these calculations.

The panels around $0 each so $60 and add some cost for a inverter
and battery, I guess a bit more than $00.. but does this sound right
to you?   If I am happy then I am going to try convert this 1 circuit
to solar.  as long as I can predict my usage.   It's a relatively
small home (1000 sq ft) and 2 person household.

I know what you are saying, a real 3kW system is alot bigger than what
I am planning with this $00 system, like I said this sort of let me
get my feet wet.   If I keep the receipt for the parts I think I can
claim 30% of it for federal credit.

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