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To be Solar, or not to be? Part 2: What solar panels should I choose?

Discussion in 'News from Electrek.co' started by RSSFeed, Aug 21, 2016.

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  1. RSSFeed

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    Electricity is one of the most important things in our lives. That solar panels allows us to collect photons from the skies and drive – literally if it’s an electric vehicle – our modern world is almost magical. In our first article on residential solar, we talked about the structural aspects of a house and how they affect solar output. The next step is to decide what hardware you want to include – solar panels, inverters and racking are the three main components to a system. Solar panels get the most attention, and their amazing price drop has been the greatest driver of solar uptake over the last ten years.

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  2. Topher

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    Get the kind of solar panels that the best installer in your region recommends. Seriously.

    Thank you kindly.
     
  3. Badback

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    We are in the process of installing solar, just finished the engineering phase and are waiting for an install date. The chart is nice and pretty and all but does not mention cost. More efficient solar panels cost more (generally true across the broad spectrum of types). More efficient panels means that fewer panels are needed to get a certain output. The goal is to balance cost against output NEED. Our system has panels with an efficiency of 16.29%. They are not on the above chart (SolarWorld 325 XL Mono). This efficiency seems very low on the face of it but we will have 42 panels in a single rectangular array with an unobstructed view of the southern sky at close to the ideal angle (40 degrees vs. the ideal 37 degrees). This makes 13.65kW max and is projected to provide 94% of our annual use. The system is very affordable when the reduced electric bill is factored in. It will be paid for in ten years and is expected to last at least 25 years.

    Another important consideration is the rated degradation of the panels. Ours are expected to degrade by 0.7% per year. During my investigations I saw some very high efficiency panels that degraded much faster.

    Putting the solar electrons into the M≡ negates the arguments that 'oh, you are just moving the pollution elsewhere' or 'the efficiency of the electric grid is so bad that you are just burning more coal instead of gasoline'.
     
  4. Rick59

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    Congratulations.
     
  5. EBelly

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    We just completed installation 14 days ago. A 33 panel system (SolarWorld Sunmodule 285W Mono black 17% efficiency with an unobstructed SW view) in early preparation of receiving our Model ☰. The system was designed to produce 103% of our everyday use and even with temperatures in the 90's and the AC cranking we have pushed more power back to the utility than we have pulled. Extremely happy with our decision to go solar and have over sized the inverter so we can add some panels in the future for the increase in usage.
     
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    • Mark C

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      I chose to buy non-Chinese Solar Modules, Inverters and other equipment to the greatest extent possible because I want to support jobs in the US. The system has been active since Dec 2012 and I'm expecting it to be paid back in 10.5 years. It is by far the best financial investment I have ever made.

      As far as more efficient modules, a benefit of more efficiency is less overall size of each module as compared to output. This could easily translate into money saved on the racking system. I chose adjustable ground mount racking so I could change the tilt angle on the two equinoxes, which gives me greater production than a fixed tilt. It also allows easier cleaning since my roof would have been too high for me to reach from the ground with a water hose or pressure washer. It also allowed a better orientation than if I'd roof mounted them.

      If your home wasn't built with energy efficiency in mind and you haven't done much in the line of energy efficiency upgrades, I'd build an array sized for what you use now. Energy efficiency upgrades will save you more than your Model 3 is likely to require and make your home more comfortable at the same time. I wish you all the best in your Solar endeavours.
       
    • xxZULAxx

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      How does one know exactly what was produced and pushed in to grid? Is there some device that measures this traffic, hence, giving you some idea about savings before bill comes in?
       
    • Mark C

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      In my case, we have 2 utility meters at our home. The old style meter charges us for the electricity we consume. There is a smart meter that counts the production of the solar array. It goes on the utility line side of our consumption meter, so one does not offset the other. I read our meter most days. As of 6 pm 9/26/16, 1380 days since the system came online, our 6.81 kW arrays have produced 37,091 kWh of clean electricity. I also keep a spreadsheet so I can give a precise answer when I'm asked how fast it is paying itself back.

      If done with two meters like ours, you can read both meters and compare them to your previous utility bill to see whether you are consuming electricity faster than you are making it. Hope this answers your question.
       
    • Badback

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      In our case, we will have a separate production meter as well. But the software that is part of the SolarEdge inverters will report daily production, straight to your smart phone if you like.
       
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      • EBelly

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        In our case, we have a digital meter that measures both ways. It gives us forward and reverse numbers that let us know how much we push and pull to the utility. If it isn't pushed or pulled it is consumed. Our converter has a online app that gives us production numbers. We just received our first zero use bill that shows a credit of 110 KWH going forward.
         
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