Author Topic: Looking at getting a home Solar system  (Read 6549 times)

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Offline EEVblog

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Looking at getting a home Solar system
« on: October 14, 2012, 07:25:52 am »
As the title says.
Anyone in Sydney got any pointers for the best deal/company/parts et.al?
I got this spam in the mailbox:
http://spnsw2012.loginwindow.com/customPages/solar-power?subSiteId=1
$1500 for a 1.5KW system ($2000 with 3KW inverter for expansion)

Preferably want an inverter than comms/data logging capable. e.g. ethernet/usb etc.
Would be cool if I could feed the data live to my web site or something.
An Oz made inverter would be nice.

Dave.
 

Offline poptones

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2012, 07:51:22 am »
Cheap Chinese solar just about killed a few American companies.

Wouldn't anything be ethernet ready with one of those $5 arm development kits? 12 bit analog i/o, ethernet, usb...
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2012, 08:02:04 am »
Wouldn't anything be ethernet ready with one of those $5 arm development kits? 12 bit analog i/o, ethernet, usb...

Only if the inverter supports data transfer to begin with.
Would be nice if I didn't have to dick around and could just plug it in and it generates a usage graph for the web.

Dave.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2012, 08:03:48 am »
According to this calculator:
http://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/wp-content/uploads/Sydney-Solar-Power-System-Return-on-Investment-Calculator-Spreadsheet.xls
Payback would be about 3 years for a 1.5KW system.
We get jack-all feed-in tariff now.

Dave.
 

Offline poptones

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2012, 08:28:41 am »
Have you seen this?

http://youtu.be/m5rM7QDi_5E

Lots of simple and meaningful ideas. He raises several good points relative to the issue of "cost."
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2012, 10:09:06 am »
That's another problem with solar, the energy isn't there when you get home on a hot evening. It would have been fine if you're home during the day and could run the A/C directly from the panels.

We are both home during the day now (unless I'm at the lab), so power usage during the day would get offset.
Wasn't the case when we both worked 9-5, so makes sense to get a system now.

Dave.
 

Offline GeoffS

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2012, 10:10:33 am »
OpenEnergyMonitor has a cheap DIY setup for monitoring power usage including solar.
If it wasn't for the hassle of getting the current transformers installed in the meter box, I'd have one of these running now.
 

Offline poodyp

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2012, 12:06:26 pm »
It's way too late here and I've been chasing a space shuttle but for a minute I thought you meant a "solar system" model of some sort, and was confused about why a little foam model of the solar system would need 1.5kw...

I should go...

BTW have you watched mjlorton's solar videos?
 

Offline tom66

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2012, 12:26:50 pm »
Is it bad that when I saw home solar system I thought of a model of the eight planets in the home?
 

Online NiHaoMike

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2012, 01:26:50 pm »
An open hardware grid tie inverter would be a good idea. I have a design for something similar (but it's for a stationary bicycle) but it was designed to work on 120V and would require a lot of modifications to work on unbalanced 240V. (And there were quite a few design shortcomings, like a lot of beginner unfriendly high voltage electronics and a topology that is optimized for low cost and doesn't scale well.)

Maybe it could be possible to design one that used a mains transformer so the amount of circuitry directly connected to the mains is minimized? That could also be a way to work around the "no mains DIY" laws in some areas. Make a box connected to the mains that just has some large mains transformers, a contactor, a low loss mains sense ("standby") transformer, overcurrent protection, and maybe a fan, then call it and certify it as a "power supply". (Or if possible, find an existing power supply that would be usable for this purpose and is already certified.) The actual inverter would be in a separate box connected to the first with a short cable, and would work with only low voltages in order to be exempt from certification.
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Offline KD0CAC John

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2012, 02:26:00 pm »
Dave ,
I'm a little surprised that your not more familiar with solar stuff , one of the better companies for making inverters etc. is spouse to be from your country I thought , Outback Inverters , http://www.outbackpower.com/products/sinewave_inverter/     .
As for the chineeze , I happy that they are selling low enough to turn the screws on American companies , they have been ripping us off for far too long , with artificial high prices .
Trying to keep the use of alternative energy .
A number of new manufacturing process's & companies have been bringing down prices for yrs. but those prices never make it to the street .
Nano solar , http://www.nanosolar.com/index.html  , is one them , was spouse to be available for .99 per watt several yrs. ago .
Home Power magazine is one of the best sources of info here , https://homepower.com/   .
Another low cost internet site ,  http://www.sunelec.com/
From what I have worked with almost any of the quality systems have the abilities your looking for for at least 10-15 yrs. , just have to avoid the cheap stuff :)
I would be happy so supply any other info .
John
     
 

Offline GeoffS

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2012, 02:31:30 pm »
Despite the name, Outback Power are a US company.
 

Offline KD0CAC John

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2012, 02:52:44 pm »
Ya , that's why I said I thought , because of the name .
Normally I would worry about US companies losing sales to chineez , but when they go out of there way to gouge and keep from moving into the future , the hell with them , move on .
I look to efficiently spend my money , I would be willing to spend a little extra to keep my money here , but when I can buy panels for $0.90 to about $2.90 per watt , as compared to some of the store fronts here selling the same products , repackaged , renamed for $10 - $14 per watt , I think they should be prosecuted , when there is some disaster flood etc. and someone is selling on the street water for 10 times the price they prosecute the little guy .
I've been into alternative energy for about 30 yrs. and have seen this all the time , just get tired of the BS .
Enough on that .
 

Offline tom66

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2012, 03:05:15 pm »
If the 1.5kW system is $1,499, and the 3kW system is $4,990, what's stopping you just buying two 1.5kW systems and tying them together? Is that not possible?

In fact, the 1.5kW system is half the price per kW as the 10kW system. What gives?
 

Offline Jon Chandler

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2012, 05:51:04 pm »
My friend Orris is just wrapping up the installion of I believe a 4 kW system.  At nearly 49 degrees, I'm sure the challenges here are somewhat different than they will be for you.

Solar Farm Update


Orris did a lot of research with two major conclusions:

1.  Active aiming of the panels can tremendously boost performance.  Interestingly, tracking either rotation or elevation provide about the same boost.  Tracking both wouldn't add much improvement.

2.  At our elevation, reflectors are a much more cost-effective boost than additional panels.

Inverters are used to sell back power to the utility.  A GPS module and Aurdino are used to control the tracking.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2012, 07:57:45 pm by Jon Chandler »
 

Offline PeterG

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2012, 06:13:23 am »
I have only seen solar panels on house roofs. If i get solar installed i would want the panels installed over my carport(i can fit about 4kw of panels on my car port). Anyone know if the panels 'have' to be installed on the house roof?

Regards
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Offline Rerouter

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2012, 06:19:49 am »
they can be provided the structure can support them and the men fitting them, the main reason they go for the roof over say a carport is because then you need to raise and tilt the panels, enough that they can act as pretty good sails,
 

Offline Jon Chandler

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2012, 06:34:34 am »
Wind loading of free-standing panels is huge.  Orris used fence post stations anchored in concrete.  There's a lot of steel holding those panels in place.
 

Offline HackedFridgeMagnet

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2012, 06:36:47 am »
Quote
If the 1.5kW system is $1,499, and the 3kW system is $4,990, what's stopping you just buying two 1.5kW systems and tying them together? Is that not possible?

In fact, the 1.5kW system is half the price per kW as the 10kW system. What gives?

I am fairly sure what gives is a subsidy (RECs or somesuch) for the first 1500watts. The effect of this obviously tapers away quite fast above 1500w.
You may need to qualify to get this discount too, but it doesn't stop the companies advertising that price with an asterisk.

I have a neighbour who moved his system onto his garage, to get more sun. He also has added 3 altitude positions Summer , Middle, Winter and a 180 degree carousel.
He moves the thing around by ropes, it moves quite easily. But this only works if you are at home a fair bit.

If I got such a system I would make sure that they can do a good quality install, and one that looks good too. If you have partial shade then you must get (I think Monocrystalline) because the polys will give little power if so much as 10% of the panel is shaded.
Obviously the siting and aspect can be critical, so double check what they plan to do because they don't give a shit about your efficiency they just want to install and go.
 

Offline G7PSK

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2012, 05:31:52 pm »
Have a look at this site it is all alternative energy.

http://www.fieldlines.com

There is a section on solar.
 

Offline gxti

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2012, 06:10:21 pm »
An OSHW inverter would be cool to design and study but there's no way anyone would let you connect it to the grid without lots of expensive certifications. And without any company to take the blame when one burns your house down, the liability would be on you. I've been tinkering with a multi-channel power meter myself and even just the idea of selling something to read off current transformers makes me a little fidgety. Even though it's only connected to the mains through current and voltage transformers, someone is going to do something stupid and I can't stand the thought of taking the blame.
 

Offline nukie

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2012, 11:19:07 pm »
You might want more than 3kW to support a household during winter time. My 1.8kW hardly produce any power during winter time in Melbourne it was a regret for not having a 3kW. Now I have to upgrade my inverter to support more panels. Going for bigger inverter is good idea, the new panel efficiency goes up over time so you don't have to change much when upgrading the panels in the future.

I suggest name brand inverters, they have all their efficiency and specs published and long warranty.
I have a SMA SunnyBoy inverter, the webserver? and wireless connectivity is optional and its not expensive. With the feed back tarrif going down, I think it will take a little longer to pay for itself. But the ultimate goal for most solar powered home owners is to boast how much they are saving the earth from burning more coal. Regardless how much energy it took to produce the panels and inverters in the first place.

Hopefully the cost(energy used) of these panels will drop, then more people can benefit from Sun power. But being in Australia of the greedy business models it might not happen anytime soon.

If you are building a new home, may I suggest solar hot water system with gas boosted. It saves a lot of money and slightly more complicated than in tank electric heater. And also gas ducted heaters.

 

Online NiHaoMike

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2012, 01:09:58 am »
An OSHW inverter would be cool to design and study but there's no way anyone would let you connect it to the grid without lots of expensive certifications. And without any company to take the blame when one burns your house down, the liability would be on you. I've been tinkering with a multi-channel power meter myself and even just the idea of selling something to read off current transformers makes me a little fidgety. Even though it's only connected to the mains through current and voltage transformers, someone is going to do something stupid and I can't stand the thought of taking the blame.
Thus my suggestion to use transformers in a separate box so the inverter itself only work with low voltages. Preferably, it would be nice if someone could find a box containing the transformers that is already certified. There are AC wall warts, but they tend to be lossy and too low power. We could resort to using a transformer along with an external power switching module and a wall wart (for sensing), but just how hard is it to certify a box that only contains a few transformers, a contactor, a fuse or circuit breaker, and maybe a fan? The electronics that make it work won't need certification because they only work with low voltages.

And most (if not all) open hardware (and open software) licenses include disclaimers so the creator would not be liable.
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2012, 07:08:26 am »
But the ultimate goal for most solar powered home owners is to boast how much they are saving the earth from burning more coal. Regardless how much energy it took to produce the panels and inverters in the first place.

I've been paying for wind power for a decade now, no coal for me.
The solar is mostly for kicks, and eventually financial payback.

Dave.
 

Offline G7PSK

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Re: Looking at getting a home Solar system
« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2012, 07:39:41 am »
If you pay for wind power electricity how do you know that the electricity being delivered was from a wind generator and not a coal powered unit. We have the option to pay more for wind power here in the UK but as you are already charged extra on all power used in order to subsidize the wind farms I think that it is a complete con to then charge a further extra amount for so called green energy for which I have already paid once. I also live in one of the windiest areas of the world and there are wind turbines all around me, I have also built wind turbines and know from first hand experience that the wind does not blow all the time, in fact it is surprising how often the wind does not blow despite being one of the windiest areas of the world. The best place for the wind turbines would be in the jet stream but what would taking energy out of that do to the worlds weather, the gulf stream would be another great source as would geothermal which to my mind offers the best solution and on a cost par with nuclear power and would go down with increased use, the factor against it that I have seen cited most often is drilling cost, then the nutters turn around and drill for oil and gas in deep water or the arctic, geothermal drilling could be done on dry land.
 


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