Author Topic: Pesudo-Off-Grid Alternatives To Solar Roof  (Read 778 times)

FrugalBeard

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Pesudo-Off-Grid Alternatives To Solar Roof
« on: April 13, 2019, 02:18:05 PM »
I looked into solar panel quotes for our roof and they seem reasonable, but the problem is we have a double-shingled roof (courtesy of the previous owner), so it sounds like we can't add the weight of panels to that, and some roofers we trust said those shingles have 10 years of life left on them, so it doesn't really make sense to replace them yet, either.

So it seems we're stuck on that front, but I still really want to cut down on our energy emissions where I can, so I've been researching and watching videos about "solar generators," which are really giant batteries that can be powered by solar panels. Seems to be a good time to get into it, with the way more convenient lithium ion batteries starting to become cost competitive with the old lead kind. I was thinking about starting with a fairly cheap one, like a Rockpals 300 and getting a 100W panel, to get used to the logistics of how much power I actually get from it and see what i can run from it, like a computer and phones or whatnot, and then if I like how that's going invest in something bigger like an Apex (1500W output, up to 500W panel input) and try to run part of the house on it, like maybe some kitchen appliances or something, maybe run some wires inside the house or something...?

Does this sound reasonable... or totally crazy? I know the ROI through generators is gonna be way less than roof panels, which is why most people just use these for camping or actual off-grid scenarios, but I don't really care about the ROI... we aggressively paid off the house and now I'd like to use some of our extra cashflow towards our values of reducing emissions, even if it's slightly, um... unconventional? The Holy Grail would be to get a plug-in hybrid down the road and charge that from the panels+generator, even though I figure that'd be super inefficient (charge one battery to charge another?) and I'm not even sure if the Apex is big enough to handle that (it's hard to tell from my research but its max sounds uncomfortably close to the numbers I'm finding). I'm also not sure at what point, as you start dealing with larger power flows, you start running into potential safety issues as a DIY knucklehead.

Basically, if it's not feasible to spend ~10K on roof panels right now I figure I might as well spend a couple K on smaller stuff to play around and have fun and get experience with solar power and actually generate some clean energy for something, maybe even several things... Just wondering if anyone's tried to use "off-grid" stuff in an urban setting like this before or if you have any suggestions / recommendations / cautions / warnings.... :)

EricL

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Re: Pesudo-Off-Grid Alternatives To Solar Roof
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2019, 02:27:55 PM »
Maybe you can get wind turbines.  If you're short of space or have a vexing HOA you might not get one large enough to do the job you want.  But a little is better than nothing.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Pesudo-Off-Grid Alternatives To Solar Roof
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2019, 07:08:37 AM »
There's also plug and play solar kits (e.g. https://plugandplaysolarkits.com/collections/plug-in-ground-mount) if you have any ground space and want to experiment with those.

nereo

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Re: Pesudo-Off-Grid Alternatives To Solar Roof
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2019, 08:32:35 AM »
what does your surrounding property look like?  Ground-mounted solar (particularly on frames you can re-position 2-4x/year) can have higher output than fixed on your existing roof (due to sub-optimal orientation and angle).

FrugalBeard

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Re: Pesudo-Off-Grid Alternatives To Solar Roof
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2019, 12:48:34 PM »
There's also plug and play solar kits (e.g. https://plugandplaysolarkits.com/collections/plug-in-ground-mount) if you have any ground space and want to experiment with those.

Wow so you literally just plug this into your outlet and it automatically and safely produces instead of consumes? I didn't even know that was possible. I'll definitely research this (and make sure if I need to coordinate with my electricity provider), but this sounds like an amazing alternative - reasonably priced, expandable, direct energy...

To the questions about property, it's small urban lot with a small backyard and small front yard and some large trees, but there's some decent deck space in the backyard where I could put some ground panels.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Pesudo-Off-Grid Alternatives To Solar Roof
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2019, 07:34:45 PM »
Can you choose electricity providers in your state? The easiest thing you can do in that case is to purchase a 100% renewable power plan so you’re contributing to industrial-scale renewable projects.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Pesudo-Off-Grid Alternatives To Solar Roof
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2019, 06:37:58 AM »
There's also plug and play solar kits (e.g. https://plugandplaysolarkits.com/collections/plug-in-ground-mount) if you have any ground space and want to experiment with those.

Wow so you literally just plug this into your outlet and it automatically and safely produces instead of consumes? I didn't even know that was possible. I'll definitely research this (and make sure if I need to coordinate with my electricity provider), but this sounds like an amazing alternative - reasonably priced, expandable, direct energy...

To the questions about property, it's small urban lot with a small backyard and small front yard and some large trees, but there's some decent deck space in the backyard where I could put some ground panels.

Yeah, I thought about getting these, since they require only a dedicated outlet to install. At around $2.81/kW pre-tax credit, it was price competitive and provides a way to fly under the radar with permitting. Downsides are it only offsets current electric usage (i.e. doesn't net meter), unless your utility approves net metering and you go through the formal permitting process.

Or, Wholesale Solar can be a great place for a full ready-to-install kit going the traditional permitting route if you can DIY or find a local electrician to install. They were really helpful and can do a custom package with ground mount.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 06:39:58 AM by Roots&Wings »

BlueHouse

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Re: Pesudo-Off-Grid Alternatives To Solar Roof
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2019, 07:44:11 AM »
There's also plug and play solar kits (e.g. https://plugandplaysolarkits.com/collections/plug-in-ground-mount) if you have any ground space and want to experiment with those.

Wow so you literally just plug this into your outlet and it automatically and safely produces instead of consumes? I didn't even know that was possible. I'll definitely research this (and make sure if I need to coordinate with my electricity provider), but this sounds like an amazing alternative - reasonably priced, expandable, direct energy...

To the questions about property, it's small urban lot with a small backyard and small front yard and some large trees, but there's some decent deck space in the backyard where I could put some ground panels.

Yeah, I thought about getting these, since they require only a dedicated outlet to install. At around $2.81/kW pre-tax credit, it was price competitive and provides a way to fly under the radar with permitting. Downsides are it only offsets current electric usage (i.e. doesn't net meter), unless your utility approves net metering and you go through the formal permitting process.

Or, Wholesale Solar can be a great place for a full ready-to-install kit going the traditional permitting route if you can DIY or find a local electrician to install. They were really helpful and can do a custom package with ground mount.

I am not finding the offset of electric usage to be that helpful because I don't use electricity when I produce it.  I'm at work during the day when my panels produce.  If you don't have net metering, and you have a day job, the benefits may not be worth it. 

bacchi

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Re: Pesudo-Off-Grid Alternatives To Solar Roof
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2019, 09:40:12 AM »
There's also plug and play solar kits (e.g. https://plugandplaysolarkits.com/collections/plug-in-ground-mount) if you have any ground space and want to experiment with those.

Wow so you literally just plug this into your outlet and it automatically and safely produces instead of consumes? I didn't even know that was possible. I'll definitely research this (and make sure if I need to coordinate with my electricity provider), but this sounds like an amazing alternative - reasonably priced, expandable, direct energy...

To the questions about property, it's small urban lot with a small backyard and small front yard and some large trees, but there's some decent deck space in the backyard where I could put some ground panels.

Yeah, I thought about getting these, since they require only a dedicated outlet to install. At around $2.81/kW pre-tax credit, it was price competitive and provides a way to fly under the radar with permitting. Downsides are it only offsets current electric usage (i.e. doesn't net meter), unless your utility approves net metering and you go through the formal permitting process.

Or, Wholesale Solar can be a great place for a full ready-to-install kit going the traditional permitting route if you can DIY or find a local electrician to install. They were really helpful and can do a custom package with ground mount.

I am not finding the offset of electric usage to be that helpful because I don't use electricity when I produce it.  I'm at work during the day when my panels produce.  If you don't have net metering, and you have a day job, the benefits may not be worth it.

The old electro-mechanical meters actually run backwards unless they're "fixed" with a pin. As long as you were still consuming more than you produce, the utility is none the wiser.

Some of the digital meters will increment whether the power is coming from the utility or inside the house. It would truly suck to pay for power from your own panel.

FLBiker

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Re: Pesudo-Off-Grid Alternatives To Solar Roof
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2019, 11:06:47 AM »
I'm no expert, but I'd certainly check with my electric provider before using one of those plug in panels.  My concern would be that I might electrocute someone working on the line.

I love the idea of the solar generator, though.  Here in Florida, we lose power fairly often (particularly during hurricane season) and I hate maintaining gas engines.  If we weren't planning to move to Canada, I'd definitely get one (and I actually might anyways because Nova Scotia gets a fair amount of power outages as well).

BlueHouse

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Re: Pesudo-Off-Grid Alternatives To Solar Roof
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2019, 12:46:13 PM »
There's also plug and play solar kits (e.g. https://plugandplaysolarkits.com/collections/plug-in-ground-mount) if you have any ground space and want to experiment with those.

Wow so you literally just plug this into your outlet and it automatically and safely produces instead of consumes? I didn't even know that was possible. I'll definitely research this (and make sure if I need to coordinate with my electricity provider), but this sounds like an amazing alternative - reasonably priced, expandable, direct energy...

To the questions about property, it's small urban lot with a small backyard and small front yard and some large trees, but there's some decent deck space in the backyard where I could put some ground panels.

Yeah, I thought about getting these, since they require only a dedicated outlet to install. At around $2.81/kW pre-tax credit, it was price competitive and provides a way to fly under the radar with permitting. Downsides are it only offsets current electric usage (i.e. doesn't net meter), unless your utility approves net metering and you go through the formal permitting process.

Or, Wholesale Solar can be a great place for a full ready-to-install kit going the traditional permitting route if you can DIY or find a local electrician to install. They were really helpful and can do a custom package with ground mount.

I am not finding the offset of electric usage to be that helpful because I don't use electricity when I produce it.  I'm at work during the day when my panels produce.  If you don't have net metering, and you have a day job, the benefits may not be worth it.

The old electro-mechanical meters actually run backwards unless they're "fixed" with a pin. As long as you were still consuming more than you produce, the utility is none the wiser.

Some of the digital meters will increment whether the power is coming from the utility or inside the house. It would truly suck to pay for power from your own panel.
I have net metering in place, but the cost to purchase electricity is more than the price that the utility pays me to produce for them.  In addition, it's always more efficient to use what you produce rather than transmitting it back and forth.  I would consider a battery, but I work in a place that occasionally uses storage batteries and I've seen them explode.  I do not want one in my garage.