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Posted by komobu on July 25, 2006, 6:58 am

I am looking for some practical advice from someone who has installed
solar panels on thier home. I have a single family home (Brick Ranch)
in Virginia that was built in 1962. It is approximately 1700 square
foot. It has a new 18 seer heatpump that was installed this year. I
live in a large city and electric service is readily available. I am
thinking about installing some solar panels on the roof. I have a lot
of sunshine and my attic tops 150 degrees easily from May through
October. I am brand new at this so please start with the basics.

I will be doing all labor myself. If I install solar panels on the
roof, how much will they cost me in materials, and how much will I save
in my electrical bills? How long do the panels last, and what is the
break even point for the materials purchased. I believe that
conservation is the right thing to do, and I want to be green, but I
dont want to throw away money on an experiment. Have you saved any
money? Have you actually sold back electricty to the utility companies?
How much would I be spending as an initial outlay of money, and how
long would it take me to recoupe the initial expenses?

Thanks for any advice


Posted by Anthony Matonak on July 25, 2006, 8:31 am
komobu wrote:

I haven't actually installed panels on my home (location issues) but
I've seen a number of installs right up close and personal.

First off, there are basically three different types of solar panels.

Photovoltaic (PV) generate electricity and there is a newsgroup called
alt.solar.photovoltaic for that discussion. The other two heat water
and air and this newsgroup is for discussions about them and any other
ways to use heat from the sun.

You're not going to make money generating electricity with solar PV.
It's too expensive. The best you can do, with some help form your
government, is to break even. Forget about huge profits and selling
electricity to your power company. It still might be a good thing
to do but not for economic reasons.

Solar water heaters are an excellent investment though. A good model
will keep plugging along for decades without any significant upkeep
and will pay for itself in less than a couple of years. You'll want
to do your homework though and buy a reputable version. In the 80's
a lot of junk was sold due to government rebates but most of those
companies have gone out of business since the rebates dried up.

Solar air heaters you can make yourself out of common materials found
in most home improvement stores. Only useful in the winter, of course,
so you may want to put that off a couple of months. Plans are available
off the web. They're really quite affordable if you build them yourself.

Cleardome Solar ( http://www.cleardomesolar.com/  )seems to have an
interesting design that consists of a box made of polycarbonate twinwall
with what appears to be 95% greenhouse shade cloth stretched across it
in the middle. I'm not fond of their triangle shape but the idea of
making almost the entire thing (except end caps) out of one piece of
plastic sounds good to me.


Posted by komobu on July 25, 2006, 10:23 pm
 Thanks Anthony...I will check out that group. I will probably go the
hot water route because I do believe it is the right thing to do.


Posted by Jeff on July 25, 2006, 11:38 pm
 komobu wrote:

You may wish to look around here:

<URL: http://builditsolar.com  />

   Solar space and/or water heating has the advantage of not only being
more efficient than photovolatic, but it also is cheaper per panel.

You can also look through the archives of this group for details on
homemade solar water panels.


Posted by dold on July 25, 2006, 4:45 pm
The group alt.solar.photovoltaic is the proper group for PV panel
discussions.  This group would pick up the thermal solar issues.

Look at the thread "Sticker Shock" in the alt.solar.photovoltaic group

http://www.dsireusa.org/  would show the rebates and incentives for your
state, both PV and other solar topics.  Self-installed in California loses
15% of the rebate.  In some states, it must be professionally installed.

Clarence A Dold - Hidden Valley Lake, CA, USA  GPS: 38.8,-122.5

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