Author Topic: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner  (Read 7176 times)

Glenstache

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #100 on: April 23, 2022, 11:17:18 PM »
PTF  to keep me motivated on the changes in my home and rental.

A mom

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #101 on: April 25, 2022, 04:39:23 PM »
Electrician coming tomorrow to add wiring for electric stove and dryer to replace the gas appliances. Hope to get the new stove in within a month. The dryer may wait until fall since I mainly hang clothes outside in the summer anyway. Still waiting to hear back from the heat pump guy who was out here three weeks ago.

AlanStache

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #102 on: April 25, 2022, 06:18:41 PM »
Electrician coming tomorrow to add wiring for electric stove and dryer to replace the gas appliances. Hope to get the new stove in within a month. The dryer may wait until fall since I mainly hang clothes outside in the summer anyway. Still waiting to hear back from the heat pump guy who was out here three weeks ago.

Given recent supply chain complications you might want to order and receive the dryer sooner than later just incase some third large container ship decides runs into the ground. 

AccidentialMustache

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #103 on: April 25, 2022, 09:33:06 PM »
Other than towels, clothes racking your laundry is not a big deal. Your clothes last longer too. I wouldn't consider a dryer a must-have, we could get by without it. Inconvenient? Yes. But it isn't like losing your stove and the ability to cook.

Fresh Bread

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #104 on: April 25, 2022, 10:12:07 PM »
This is an interesting thread! We live in a passive house with PV and have an EV on order to replace our ten year old ICE. The arrival date on that keeps getting pushed out though so who knows when we'll get it.

Our introductory solar feed-in tariff has now finished so we looked at battery options but the cost is still too high and the cheaper battery options don't seem to let you run the whole house off the battery during a power cut. Plus there's the embodied energy in the manufacture of a new battery.  So we pay extra for green power for what comes from the grid in the evening and to reduce our (already very small) bill we should try to maximise the power used in the day. Eg using the slow cooker, running the dishwasher in the day.

Does anyone on here have a battery and how did you justify it to yourself?

Other things I'm trying to do is buy secondhand whenever that's an option eg clothing, furniture. And at some point get back into bulk grocery shopping because the energy used for all that packaging had to come from somewhere.

One last thing we're debating is whether to replace a 1.5kw PV system on the old house on our property which is currently rented (we live in a new build). We can put a maximum of 6kw on it, but what about the old panels? I think there is now a PV recycling scheme in Australia - but is it getting rid of the existing perfectly functional panels to replace them with a much bigger system the right thing to do?
« Last Edit: April 25, 2022, 10:13:46 PM by Fresh Bread »

gooki

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #105 on: April 25, 2022, 10:43:00 PM »
If your old panels are half decent find a new home for them. RV, Campervan owners only need one or two panels, and reuse is better than recycling. Plus you might get a few dollars for them.

nereo

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #106 on: April 26, 2022, 05:02:47 AM »
If your old panels are half decent find a new home for them. RV, Campervan owners only need one or two panels, and reuse is better than recycling. Plus you might get a few dollars for them.

This.
Just because you cease to use them doesnít have to mean they stop being functional. If you offer them for free someone will snap them up and put them to good use.  You could probably even get a few hundred dollars for them if you wanted to. Iíve seen people selling ~15 year old panels around here for $25 each; they rarely last long.

As a landlord I consider my renterís energy consumption and footprint to be at least partially my responsibility (as in, I control things like insulation, weather sealing, etc).

Fresh Bread

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #107 on: April 26, 2022, 05:12:50 AM »
If your old panels are half decent find a new home for them. RV, Campervan owners only need one or two panels, and reuse is better than recycling. Plus you might get a few dollars for them.

This.
Just because you cease to use them doesnít have to mean they stop being functional. If you offer them for free someone will snap them up and put them to good use.  You could probably even get a few hundred dollars for them if you wanted to. Iíve seen people selling ~15 year old panels around here for $25 each; they rarely last long.

As a landlord I consider my renterís energy consumption and footprint to be at least partially my responsibility (as in, I control things like insulation, weather sealing, etc).

I could give it a go but ones I've seen here being given away haven't had any takers. Just don't want to risk taking them off if no-one wants them!! I'll have a look at old posts and see if any eventually got taken.

Fresh Bread

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #108 on: April 26, 2022, 06:20:05 AM »
I went down the rabbit hole and found that there's a market in the developing world for second hand panels. Places where there is so much sun that it doesn't matter if the output is a little lower. And I found that there are companies here in Aus that will remove & even pay for solar panels. Whether these companies ship them overseas or sell them domestically I'm not sure but they must have a market if they are willing to pay!  The inverter is probably worthless but it's coming up to 10 years old anyway.

It's a wonderful non-profit business idea to collect all the functioning panels that are no longer needed due to upgrades and sell them to microgrids installers either here in the outback or overseas.

NorCal

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #109 on: April 26, 2022, 06:47:38 AM »

Does anyone on here have a battery and how did you justify it to yourself?

One last thing we're debating is whether to replace a 1.5kw PV system on the old house on our property which is currently rented (we live in a new build). We can put a maximum of 6kw on it, but what about the old panels? I think there is now a PV recycling scheme in Australia - but is it getting rid of the existing perfectly functional panels to replace them with a much bigger system the right thing to do?

I think the battery might make sense if you live somewhere that has frequent power outages or a decent chance of a natural disaster.  I've also heard it can make sense in some US states that have structured their solar pricing in a way to strongly discourage solar, but I haven't seen the math on it.  Otherwise, the battery is kinda hard to justify. 

If your old system uses the Enphase microinverters, check in with Enphase.  They keep pinging me about a significant discount on their newer inverters and panels if I trade the old ones in.  If not, I bet you could sell them second-hand locally without much difficulty at all. 

I always feel okay about replacing something that works if I can find a new home for it that will take the device to the end of its useful life.  Here we have "ReStore" which is a donation center run by Habitat for Humanity.  I happily donated my old gas water heater there wen I went to the heat-pump model. 

rockeTree

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #110 on: April 26, 2022, 09:17:23 AM »
I am on the fence on whether it is better to landfill/recycle old systems or allow them to be reused. If we believe that everyone needs to stop burning stuff ASAP, what's the right answer? It hinges on what you think the consumer who might take your secondhand gear would have done instead: buy electric? Limp along with an older system longer? Buy new gas tech? It may depend on your regulatory environment; only in the last case is it obvious that giving them your old one might reasonably be expected to be a climate gain.

nereo

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #111 on: April 26, 2022, 09:27:49 AM »
I am on the fence on whether it is better to landfill/recycle old systems or allow them to be reused. If we believe that everyone needs to stop burning stuff ASAP, what's the right answer? It hinges on what you think the consumer who might take your secondhand gear would have done instead: buy electric? Limp along with an older system longer? Buy new gas tech? It may depend on your regulatory environment; only in the last case is it obvious that giving them your old one might reasonably be expected to be a climate gain.

It depends greatly on what the item is, what its environmental and economic cost is, and what the current options are for replacement.

Solar (PV) panels seem like a no-brainer; they should be reused as the only environmental cost is in their manufacture.

OTOH, old-school heating sources which no longer meet code (e.g. 70% efficiency oil-fired burners, a-la my last home) should get scrapped, as they continue to have a terrible impact and everything available today is better in just about every way - reusing them is a short-term gain (purchase price) for a long-term loss (inefficiency, pollution).

In between... there's a ton of grey.

geekette

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #112 on: April 26, 2022, 09:36:04 AM »
Yeah, grey area here - our only car is 13 years old.  It's in good shape, but gets about 25mpg.  We generally drive fewer than 300 miles a month (one tank of gas).  If we replace it with a PHEV, the majority of our driving will be electric, but the old car will probably end up with someone who will drive it more.

rockeTree

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #113 on: April 26, 2022, 12:07:36 PM »
I am on the fence on whether it is better to landfill/recycle old systems or allow them to be reused. If we believe that everyone needs to stop burning stuff ASAP, what's the right answer? It hinges on what you think the consumer who might take your secondhand gear would have done instead: buy electric? Limp along with an older system longer? Buy new gas tech? It may depend on your regulatory environment; only in the last case is it obvious that giving them your old one might reasonably be expected to be a climate gain.

It depends greatly on what the item is, what its environmental and economic cost is, and what the current options are for replacement.

Solar (PV) panels seem like a no-brainer; they should be reused as the only environmental cost is in their manufacture.

OTOH, old-school heating sources which no longer meet code (e.g. 70% efficiency oil-fired burners, a-la my last home) should get scrapped, as they continue to have a terrible impact and everything available today is better in just about every way - reusing them is a short-term gain (purchase price) for a long-term loss (inefficiency, pollution).

In between... there's a ton of grey.

Yeah I was thinking of NorCal's gas water heater (and my own when it comes out). I am mindful that not all of this stuff will get to be used as long as it still works, and that in fact the responsible thing at some point is to trash it, as much as it goes against my tree-hugger impulses.

Syonyk

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #114 on: April 26, 2022, 01:57:21 PM »
I could give it a go but ones I've seen here being given away haven't had any takers. Just don't want to risk taking them off if no-one wants them!! I'll have a look at old posts and see if any eventually got taken.

They suck to ship, they're the sort of thing that only has any value locally.  By the time I stack and protect a set of panels on a pallet, I may as well give them away locally...

I think the battery might make sense if you live somewhere that has frequent power outages or a decent chance of a natural disaster.  I've also heard it can make sense in some US states that have structured their solar pricing in a way to strongly discourage solar, but I haven't seen the math on it.  Otherwise, the battery is kinda hard to justify.

In almost all cases, batteries don't make sense.  If you want backup power, an infrequently used generator is going to be cheaper and far lower environmental impact than batteries - they don't pop out of the ground fully formed, they take rather a lot of energy to produce.  A small bank with a generator might make sense, but that's not what's typically sold for solar installs.

You can sort of make it pencil out in obscenely high power priced places, but nobody ever seems willing to do the math against "Oversize the install and shift your loads into the producing periods" against batteries, because it makes batteries look pretty silly indeed in those cases.  Yes, you can charge them during the day and run your loads at night, or you can find better ways to run your loads during the solar production peak and shift stuff around.

Quote
If your old system uses the Enphase microinverters, check in with Enphase.  They keep pinging me about a significant discount on their newer inverters and panels if I trade the old ones in.  If not, I bet you could sell them second-hand locally without much difficulty at all.

Probably because they've learned that they're going to have to replace a crapton of them as they age and fail before the end of the warranty.  Enphase is a popular company, but they're evasive and deceitful in most of their operations, and I've no reason to believe anything that looks good from them is anything but more of the same.

Yeah, grey area here - our only car is 13 years old.  It's in good shape, but gets about 25mpg.  We generally drive fewer than 300 miles a month (one tank of gas).  If we replace it with a PHEV, the majority of our driving will be electric, but the old car will probably end up with someone who will drive it more.

On the other hand, they might replace something older in the mid-teens for fuel economy.  Though with that little driving, a PHEV is unlikely to make sense compared to a standard hybrid.  The battery pack life isn't indefinite, even if they're never used.

geekette

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #115 on: April 26, 2022, 06:28:42 PM »
Yeah, grey area here - our only car is 13 years old.  It's in good shape, but gets about 25mpg.  We generally drive fewer than 300 miles a month (one tank of gas).  If we replace it with a PHEV, the majority of our driving will be electric, but the old car will probably end up with someone who will drive it more.

On the other hand, they might replace something older in the mid-teens for fuel economy.  Though with that little driving, a PHEV is unlikely to make sense compared to a standard hybrid.  The battery pack life isn't indefinite, even if they're never used.

Not sure I understand - with the PHEV, we'd use the heck out of the battery, and very little of the engine.  With the federal rebate, the price is about the same, I think, between the hybrid and the PHEV.  Looking at the Kia Niro (or some small crossover).

AlanStache

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #116 on: April 27, 2022, 06:50:16 AM »
I ordered an ebike a few weeks ago and after several shipping delays it arrived monday.  So that night I put it together and got it charged over night to ride in tuesday.  Before leaving home I checked the weather, clear and beautiful all day with 40% chance of rain at 7pm - no worries I leave at 530.  I ride in and the bike is great, lots of fun, right level of power, can go fast with modest effort, thumps up.  Well 5oclock rolls around and I look out the window and its rather dark, walk over to the door and I can see rain, go back to my desk and check online and my area is under a thunderstorm warning!  Little bit of back and forth and I am like no way am I riding an unfamiliar bike in a thunderstorm so I booked a lyft home.  So yes I biked to work and ended up taking a Lyft home.  But I have had to take lyft home after driving somewhere too. 

Syonyk

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #117 on: April 27, 2022, 12:10:28 PM »
Not sure I understand - with the PHEV, we'd use the heck out of the battery, and very little of the engine.  With the federal rebate, the price is about the same, I think, between the hybrid and the PHEV.  Looking at the Kia Niro (or some small crossover).

Sorry, down some rabbit holes there.  If the concern is actual carbon emissions, for a sufficiently low use vehicle, it's not clear that a PHEV or BEV are actually better than an efficient ICE.  The energy required to build the battery pack is significant, and over the lifespan of the car, you end up far ahead with those, but that assumes normal driving miles.

Battery packs wear out from both use and from age - so if you park a PHEV for a year, the pack will have lower capacity at the end than at the start, even with zero trips on it - and even if you keep it charged, etc.

In the edge case, if I buy a car to park for 20 years, the emissions from a BEV or PHEV are far higher than the ICE (BEV >> PHEV >> ICE), because the ICE requires less energy and "energetically complicated stuff" to build.

At 4k miles/yr, you're in the space where it starts to be interesting to reason about.  If you do that on a Prius type hybrid at 50mpg, that's 80 gallons of gas, or ~1400 lbs CO2/yr, depending on if you run E10 or E0.

I would expect over the lifetime you're still coming out ahead with a PHEV, but it's worth digging into some studies if you're curious.  Or if not, just buy one and don't worry too much about it.

NorCal

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #118 on: April 28, 2022, 11:41:52 AM »

Yeah I was thinking of NorCal's gas water heater (and my own when it comes out). I am mindful that not all of this stuff will get to be used as long as it still works, and that in fact the responsible thing at some point is to trash it, as much as it goes against my tree-hugger impulses.

My take is to view these decisions in the context of the market I'm operating in.  For this water heater, I'm pretty damn confident that someone getting a water heater at ReStore isn't someone about to go and buy a heat-pump unit.  And they probably NEED something that is cheap and functional way more than I need just about anything new in my life right now.  I'm okay with that one.

But yea, don't be wasteful when it's not warranted.  Just replacing something because it's a couple percentage points more efficient is almost never worth it.  But replacing something that is 75% more efficient is frequently worth it.  The dividing line is pretty fuzzy, but I've found most things to be pretty clear cut.

My other thoughts on participating in the market:

While the heat-pump water heater reduces my household emissions by about 1,000lbs/yr (with further reductions as the grid gets cleaner), the biggest impact isn't the emissions of my one water heater.  It's me voting with my wallet.  One of the biggest lessons I've learned in a decade of corporate finance is that success creates success, and declines have a way of becoming mutually reinforcing.  By buying this new technology, I am:

-Encouraging local contractors to learn how to install heat-pump water heaters.  As demand for these increases, more contractors will learn about them, market them, and sell them to their customers.  Companies that specialize in heat pumps may even start investing in lobbying to influence local building codes, which is where there's potential for real change.

-The best way to decrease the price of a new technology is to increase sales volume.  The money I spent on the new technology will be used for some growth in sales, marketing, R&D, production efficiency, etc.  This will make the next generation even cheaper and more competitive.

-Public policy doesn't lead consumer sentiment, it follows it.  As more consumers employ new technologies, more politicians will be comfortable endorsing and supporting it in various ways.

As for natural gas, I've reduced my bill by about $500/yr, but added about $200/yr to my electric bill.  This has the following impacts:

1. Since expenses in the natural gas business are largely fixed due to the big capital investments in pipelines, infrastructure, etc, a revenue reduction has to come from decreased spending somewhere.  While $500 isn't much in the grand scheme of things, that's $500 less that I'm personally paying towards the fossil fuel lobby that is preventing most decarbonization policies.  Shrinking revenue will decrease the natural gas industries ability to expand, retain quality workers, lobby, etc.

2. Since I participate in a wind-energy program through my utility, that's $250/yr going to produce and develop wind energy in Colorado.  This will increase investment in the wind business.  When I eventually get a new solar system, that will be money going directly to local solar installers, who are becoming quite good at managing lobbying and public policy.  They have way more influence than I ever will as an individual.

While I'm under no illusion that my individual decision will make a big difference, I believe most people highly underestimate how small changes in consumer behavior can influence business behavior.  It just takes new technologies to show sustained growth over a few years in order to create a beneficial investment cycle that lowers prices, which increases sales, which helps drive down prices even further.  The decreasing price of solar and wind is a prime example of this.

The same is true of the fossil fuel companies.  They have a TON of fixed expenses that they can't shed.  A simple annual revenue decline in the 2-5% range over a number of years would be enough to put many of them in serious financial distress.  Those small revenue declines might translate into earnings decreases of 20% or more, which would really decrease what they are capable of, and impact their ability to raise capital.

I believe that choosing who I give my money to is a much bigger decision than whatever specific item I choose to have in my house.


« Last Edit: April 28, 2022, 12:09:48 PM by NorCal »

eyesonthehorizon

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #119 on: April 30, 2022, 12:18:33 PM »
PTF/ maintain motivation. I don't know if we'll make it to absolute zero by 2030, but I'd like to get to net zero, & have a plan to overhaul our already low burn.

Currently we have one ICE (rarely driven now but former commute car, ~40mpg) & one hybrid (still in commute use, 50mpg); the natural gas water heater/ fireplace/ furnace typical of our area; standard AC; newly-all-electric kitchen. Laundry is hung, mileage is minimal, cooking is strategic. We averaged about 175 watts per square foot per month last year with less insulation & much more AC use than I expect going forward.

Overhaul plans include:
- upgrade electrical service (done)
- close up wall gaps after some damage from foundation repairs & settling (pending more)
- finish the new insulation job (DIY in progress)
- improve door weatherstripping & sealing at switches & outlets
- add solar with/ without a battery (undecided)
- transition the water heater & furnace to electric, ideally heat pump
- add radiant heat to mitigate use of forced air heat (full underfloor is overkill in this area, considering ceiling panels, maybe selectively-placed underfloor in sitting areas - new ultrathin subfloor mats look promising)
- transition the fireplace back to wood-burning for occasional use, will require rebuild of crumbling firebox or an oven insert
- cut the gas line
- eventually substitute (probably just-one) EV for one or both cars.

On solar... we're already using renewable power with extremely low consumption & cheap bills, so I recognize the preference is probably more emotional than rational, if I'm honest. Were it just about security on the unreliable Texas grid, occasional (secondhand) gas generator use probably does represent less embodied energy.

Cons:
- owning the system is another liability to insure from hail, fire, etc.
- grid service for solar users is biased toward those with batteries - you still pay all delivery charges on gross draw (net metering only applies against sales surcharges) & the base charge & sales surcharges are a bit higher for solar users. Even the most recyclable batteries are consumables. Cradle-to-cradle certified panels are costliest. Debt simply feels awful, even for small five figure balances at stupidly low interest rates.

Pros: based on current usage (maintaining gas line & appliances,) a high-end, green manufacture, well-warrantied, pro solar install at 100% replacement of last year's usage but with no battery would put us almost exactly square on annual cash flow for this year vs. last if we used the 1.5% financing offer. I expect modest increases due to transition off natural gas, but doubling with an EV. I also expect inflation & energy price increases. It seems like the hedge of a financed system at that interest rate would just get rosier over time. They also offer a battery as part of the financed package, which would about double the install price but give us minimum ongoing exposure to energy pricing & grid negligence as well as increasing weather extremes, increasing the arbitrage on interest vs. inflation.

I guess the next step is math on the heat pump water heater to more accurately estimate a new base kWh consumption (home heat last year was largely via electric space heaters so this should be pretty close), & confirm with home insurance what it would cost to cover solar/ heat pump installations. My loose math suggests that if I implement all these fixes & pay cash for the heat pumps, my cash flow for power would immediately jump 35% ... but remain nearly a fixed-dollar cost thereafter.

Any gaping holes in my logic? Critical-thought facepunches are appreciated. (Other considerations: my SO puts a high premium on the service warranty for this, so we'd really have to see a big savings to win him over to DIY w/ solar.)

NorCal

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #120 on: April 30, 2022, 12:51:01 PM »

I guess the next step is math on the heat pump water heater to more accurately estimate a new base kWh consumption (home heat last year was largely via electric space heaters so this should be pretty close), & confirm with home insurance what it would cost to cover solar/ heat pump installations. My loose math suggests that if I implement all these fixes & pay cash for the heat pumps, my cash flow for power would immediately jump 35% ... but remain nearly a fixed-dollar cost thereafter.


My family of four uses about about 125-150kwh/mo with the heat pump water heater. We use cold water for most laundry and dishwashing, but have kids that take long showers. Itís roughly 1.5kwh per shower.  Itís a bit more if two people take showers back-to-back, as the backup resistive unit will kick in.

Your plan sounds good.  The only thing Iíd potentially add is to see if your utility offers a subsidized home energy audit. It sounds like youíve got a good understanding of it, but they might spot something you havenít.

Iím also a fan of adding home energy monitors to spot gremlins, but it may not be a high ROI given your low baseline usage.  Iíve found it helpful in my day-to-day decision making to know exactly how much each device uses.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2022, 01:06:28 PM by NorCal »

Syonyk

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #121 on: April 30, 2022, 04:51:28 PM »
(Other considerations: my SO puts a high premium on the service warranty for this, so we'd really have to see a big savings to win him over to DIY w/ solar.)

There's no shortage of high gloss, "We take care of all of it!" companies out there who may or may not be around long term, and you'll pay out the nose for that sort of handholding.

I have none of that.  But also did my install for $1.50/W pre-incentives and know it deeply so I can troubleshoot any issues I have with it.  And even if I have to do a bit more work, I come out way ahead.  It helps that I like that sort of thing, though.

NorCal

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #122 on: May 01, 2022, 08:12:13 AM »
(Other considerations: my SO puts a high premium on the service warranty for this, so we'd really have to see a big savings to win him over to DIY w/ solar.)

There's no shortage of high gloss, "We take care of all of it!" companies out there who may or may not be around long term, and you'll pay out the nose for that sort of handholding.

I have none of that.  But also did my install for $1.50/W pre-incentives and know it deeply so I can troubleshoot any issues I have with it.  And even if I have to do a bit more work, I come out way ahead.  It helps that I like that sort of thing, though.

@Syonyk

I think we have different conclusions on this, but largely because you're confident in your ability to manage and fix these things yourself, where I'd be calling a professional.

In my market (Denver) solar installers have consolidated into a small number of kinda mega-regional installers.  They're much more expensive, but you can feel pretty confident they'll be around in a decade.  They typically have business in both residential and commercial scale installations.

You can also find plenty of tiny sorta-sketchy companies that will install it for cheap, but you'll probably never be able to find them again.

My advice would be to get quotes from both types of companies.  Then you can make a decision on whether the price premium for a more established company/warranty is worth it.

Syonyk

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #123 on: May 01, 2022, 08:42:22 AM »
I think we have different conclusions on this, but largely because you're confident in your ability to manage and fix these things yourself, where I'd be calling a professional.

The number of "major wiring projects" I'd engaged in before my solar install: 0.  I've done my office, and that was something, though certainly not a large code compliant install, and the home install was substantially different in both design and quality from my office.

I view things like solar as "Great, I can learn how to do something new and save myself a ton of money."  I was getting ground mount quotes in the $75k range - so I saved nearly $50k in the process of learning new skills.  That's a win-win to me, far as I can tell.

I didn't grow up doing any of this stuff.  I learned to fix cars myself in college because I couldn't afford a shop and hated walking long distances.  The few things I couldn't do myself frequently "totaled" the cars i was driving (a $100 exhaust system on a $150 car, basically anything involving a set of tires, etc).  I've got some relevant background with EE from college, but the overlap between "EE" and "actually installing solar" doesn't go very far.  I knew Ohm's Law and such, but it really doesn't get very deep for plans, it's a case of "Do the NEC math."  Nothing more complex than a 4 function calculator is needed in there, by design.

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In my market (Denver) solar installers have consolidated into a small number of kinda mega-regional installers.  They're much more expensive, but you can feel pretty confident they'll be around in a decade.  They typically have business in both residential and commercial scale installations.

So they're large enough to be ordering parts by the container-load, and are still more expensive?  M'kay, good luck.  Sounds like a way to get a very professional amount of hot air blown up your rear end by someone skilled in the art of doing it, with promises that somehow never manage to come true.  High cost solar is, in every way, worse than the same capability for less money.

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My advice would be to get quotes from both types of companies.  Then you can make a decision on whether the price premium for a more established company/warranty is worth it.

Or figure out how to do it yourself, and learn a lot in the process.  And save money, and have the skills to troubleshoot it.  And to help guide other people through the process locally.

Or, I guess with the way this forum is going, see if you can lease a new Tesla while you're getting $4/W solar installed, plus the cost for batteries, because, you know, the salesguy promised values only go up.  *shrug*
« Last Edit: May 01, 2022, 08:48:19 AM by Syonyk »

omachi

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #124 on: May 02, 2022, 02:03:01 PM »
High cost solar is, in every way, worse than the same capability for less money.
And yet high cost solar is, in every way, better than none. Even paying $4/W (before tax credit, production credit, and any other incentives) should see a payoff well before the panels stop producing.

There's also an opportunity cost for time. I didn't pay that much, but I'd have never gotten around to it until after FIRE if I'd insisted on doing it myself. Even then, there's too much to do in a day.

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #125 on: May 02, 2022, 07:52:57 PM »
What's your power cost for the math on that?

I did 20.8MWh on 15.9kWh installed, and while admittedly that's lower specific yield than pure south facing panels (1.31kWh per watt nameplate), it's what my system does and it's designed for maximizing self consumption long term.

If I expect a 30 year lifespan on the system (panels should last longer, inverters may need replacement at the 15-20 year mark, so I'll average it to 30), that's 624MWh generated.

At $1.50/W, with the federal credit, that's around $18k net system cost, or around $0.03/kWh delivered.

At $4/W, that's around $0.08/kWh, which isn't much improvement on my current power costs (it's around $0.10/kWh if I handwavingly average for the year)... and that's for 30 years of having the funding tied up.  You're welcome to argue that it's doable for emissions alone, and certainly a lot of people agree, but it isn't the huge win both financially and emissions-wise that doing your own installer at far lower cost is.

Rooftop is likely to be lower annual production per panel with the various shading issues.  I'm ground mount and almost entirely unobstructed, though the east-west facing yields per panel are somewhat lower than south facing (just, more useful production times, especially in the summer).

*shrug*  Anyway, as noted, this forum seems to have drifted away from doing stuff yourself and onto paying others to do it for you, so... whatever.

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #126 on: May 03, 2022, 05:02:29 AM »

*shrug*  Anyway, as noted, this forum seems to have drifted away from doing stuff yourself and onto paying others to do it for you, so... whatever.

Speaking of paying others to do something for meÖ (and keeping thread OT)

I had two companies come out to bid on insulating the crawlspace on our home.  Typically the best practice is to condition the crawlspace and bring it within the building envelop, but this wasnít a good option here - itís already vented and built on concrete posts over a mount of granite, so sealing the floor with a vapor barrier wasnít a good option.

Anyway, plan is to add 4.5Ē of closed (2lb) foam to the deck, which will double as a true vapor barrier at that thickness as well as air seal the space. It should give a full R-30 - far more than I was expecting on a 70+ year old home.  This will remediate the biggest thermal loss area (by far) in our home permanently.   

Previous owner had just shoved fiberglass batts down there, which worked about as well in a crawl space as you might expect (as in - they didnít, but just sagged under the weight of summer condensation).  Batts are supposedly R-19, but only when installed correctly (they werenít, and rarely are) and stay in place (they hadnít).  Entire large sections had zero insulation at all, and our feet certainly felt that when it was in the single digits outside.  In short - exposed fiberglass batts suck.

Ironically the contractor is coming it at less than what I could do it for with rigid foam or buying froth-packs. The stateís rebate for contractor-installed services certainly tips the scales in hiring the job out. I am doing the removal portion as I couldnít justify spending $1/foot just to bag up some old batts and transport them 2 miles to the transfer station.

omachi

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #127 on: May 03, 2022, 10:08:21 AM »
What's your power cost for the math on that?

I did 20.8MWh on 15.9kWh installed, and while admittedly that's lower specific yield than pure south facing panels (1.31kWh per watt nameplate), it's what my system does and it's designed for maximizing self consumption long term.

If I expect a 30 year lifespan on the system (panels should last longer, inverters may need replacement at the 15-20 year mark, so I'll average it to 30), that's 624MWh generated.

At $1.50/W, with the federal credit, that's around $18k net system cost, or around $0.03/kWh delivered.

At $4/W, that's around $0.08/kWh, which isn't much improvement on my current power costs (it's around $0.10/kWh if I handwavingly average for the year)... and that's for 30 years of having the funding tied up.  You're welcome to argue that it's doable for emissions alone, and certainly a lot of people agree, but it isn't the huge win both financially and emissions-wise that doing your own installer at far lower cost is.

Rooftop is likely to be lower annual production per panel with the various shading issues.  I'm ground mount and almost entirely unobstructed, though the east-west facing yields per panel are somewhat lower than south facing (just, more useful production times, especially in the summer).

I'm paying around $0.12/kWh in the winter, more in summer, and that's before the various adjustments of $0.02+ /kWh they get to tack on for whatever reason. And the ~15-20% increases to rates they want and will likely get over the next couple years. My solar is almost all south facing roof mount, with a little shading in the early morning when production is low anyway. I'm part of a utility program that pays $0.07/kWh produced for 10 years, regardless of whether that's put on the grid or consumed, which helps as well.

My handholding experience, quoted around $3/W, should come to about $1.50/W after all incentives are applied. Could've done it cheaper, maybe, if I'd had the time. I'll still break even fairly quickly and be a net exporter of green energy the whole time.

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*shrug*  Anyway, as noted, this forum seems to have drifted away from doing stuff yourself and onto paying others to do it for you, so... whatever.
I don't disagree, but I'll pick my battles. More solar, even with long payoff times, is better than less because people couldn't or wouldn't dedicate the time to do it themselves. Guilty as charged on that front, but I don't think it wasn't worthwhile.

eyesonthehorizon

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #128 on: May 05, 2022, 01:31:12 PM »
Awful timing on my part to get dragged offline for a few days, because I really appreciated both these threads of replies.

My family of four uses about about 125-150kwh/mo with the heat pump water heater. We use cold water for most laundry and dishwashing, but have kids that take long showers. Itís roughly 1.5kwh per shower.  Itís a bit more if two people take showers back-to-back, as the backup resistive unit will kick in.
I'd estimate per week we use an hour of hot water to bathe & have 50% odds of running the dishwasher once. Laundry's cold. Might be half or less, with install inside the house envelope & tepid tap water for three of four seasons.

Average gas bill's equivalent to an extra 330kWh/mo at today's prices. Almost all our climate control use (AC, space heating) is already electric, so utilities billed would go down, though installations will be expensive even locking in today-dollars at sub-inflation interest.

It appears heat pump units that offer combination space & water heating exist, but it takes more than my hasty, cursory googling to identify if those still offer significant space cooling. That's our next priority.

I think we have different conclusions on this, but largely because you're confident in your ability to manage and fix these things yourself, where I'd be calling a professional.
The number of "major wiring projects" I'd engaged in before my solar install: 0.  I've done my office, and that was something, though certainly not a large code compliant install, and the home install was substantially different in both design and quality from my office.

I view things like solar as "Great, I can learn how to do something new and save myself a ton of money."  I was getting ground mount quotes in the $75k range - so I saved nearly $50k in the process of learning new skills.  That's a win-win to me, far as I can tell.
<snip>
Both these resonate.We could DIY a lightweight array & battery to safeguard the food storage for a third of the price of the pro install, but I'm trying to nail down what makes me less than comfortable with just that; in part, concerns about protracted outages in extremes of weather. Due to low use, the cost differential between "some" vs. "near-total redundancy" is small. The battery that gives others a day of outage would defer our grid needs for a week or more. It does feel like I'm trying to sell myself on something, though, as if there's some foggy irrationality. I'm already moving to only consuming clean power, so it feels odd to take on the liability & become a net producer for zero cost advantage - perhaps fear I might be skimming over better negative-burn alternatives for lack of better intel. So I appreciate the critical take.

(Re: paying for pros, I think I partly have some fears about iffy health prohibiting my ability to DIY the upkeep is making me more receptive to my SO's concerns. Even the fancy company's warrantied rooftop install plus high-end battery came in well under half the eye-popping quote they stuck you with, though. Mind if I ask around what year that was?)

Nereo, love to hear you got to come up cheaper for less effort on the crawlspace!

NorCal

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #129 on: May 06, 2022, 06:32:54 AM »
Well, I have an interesting decision point here.  Denver recently announced some MASSIVE incentives for electrification projects and ebikes: 

https://denverite.com/2022/04/14/trying-to-electrify-your-home-add-solar-panels-or-buy-an-e-bike-denver-wants-to-help-pay-for-it/#:~:text=The%20Denver%20program%20would%20provide%20the%20largest%20incentives,internet%20connection.%20Up%20to%20%244%2C000%20for%20home%20solar.

Switching my furnace to a heat pump was on my "maybe in 3-4 years list".  Now there's a $9,000 incentive to make the switch, but Denver only funded the program with $3M.  This program won't last long unless they come up with more money.  I'm getting a quote, and we'll see where it comes out at.  This will still be a chunk of money I hadn't planned to spend this year.   But I don't know how much I'll count on them finding another pot of city money.

I will use the city program to install an EV charger, as that's a smaller investment, and something I know I'll need eventually anyways.

After this, my last gas appliance is a gas-insert fireplace.  It doesn't get a lot of use, but it would also be the only reason I'm paying a monthly fee to my utility for a gas connection.  I'll have to do a cost/benefit analysis on that one.

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #130 on: May 06, 2022, 06:44:00 AM »
Really hoping Denver's program becomes a model for other places/broader expansion.

Especially with solar parts so hard to come by right now, this feels like the year to turn to electrification over solar for me. Water is happening, I give 80% on gas stove replacement happening over the summer. Electric bike was lost in the mail, ordered over three weeks ago and no sign of it and the company is stalling on sending me a new one. I really want to drive less as work travel increases again.

NorCal

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #131 on: May 06, 2022, 09:18:36 AM »
Really hoping Denver's program becomes a model for other places/broader expansion.

Especially with solar parts so hard to come by right now, this feels like the year to turn to electrification over solar for me. Water is happening, I give 80% on gas stove replacement happening over the summer. Electric bike was lost in the mail, ordered over three weeks ago and no sign of it and the company is stalling on sending me a new one. I really want to drive less as work travel increases again.

Likewise. For a bit more context, this is part of a program approved by ballot measure for a 0.25% sales tax increase to fund projects like this.  This is one of several programs supported by this fund.  Another program involves electrification of a big downtown central steam-heating system that is getting old.

Ironically, I had originally voted against it because the measure language made it sound more like a political slush fund. It was worded to be a sales tax increase to fund climate justice projects, with no definition of what that actually meant, and very little oversight and controls.

Iím fully in support of this use of funds, and would have voted for it if they had defined it like this upfront.  Hopefully it can be used as a model for other cities, but implemented with some better governance.

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #132 on: May 06, 2022, 09:32:24 PM »
The battery that gives others a day of outage would defer our grid needs for a week or more. It does feel like I'm trying to sell myself on something, though, as if there's some foggy irrationality.

I say this, having tried, at the limits of my DIY ability, to engineer and get approved a battery backed system for indefinite grid down running: Buy a generator.  The embodied energy and emissions in a decent battery pack is radically more than just a bunch of metal and some semiconductors for a little generator you only use a dozen hours a year or less.  I'd been telling people for years to just get a generator, and set about for my home solar trying to demonstrate that you could, at a reasonable cost, do home backup and battery and solar.  I eventually got to a "I am spending money to meet nonsensical requirements, and that requires upsizing the wire, and then the panel, and... no, this is stupid!" point.

... so I'm starting a business doing solar/battery trailers for off grid power backup, camping, cabins, markets and fairs, etc.  Because I will beat my head into a brick wall until I get through.  And one of our major features is the ability to use a small generator to power larger loads (think "small inverter generator feeding power into the trailer, the trailer starting your 240V well pump").

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(Re: paying for pros, I think I partly have some fears about iffy health prohibiting my ability to DIY the upkeep is making me more receptive to my SO's concerns.

If it's a sane install, any random solar contractor will be able to work on it.  It's not like the only company who can work on it is the installers, though they'll generally be more willing to do so.

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Mind if I ask around what year that was?)

2018.  I got one quote for 8.68kW roofmount at $38,687, or $4.45/W, and I got another quote in the same ballpark .  The ground mount was a verbal "Ugh, go away, we don't want to do this..." sort of number.

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #133 on: May 06, 2022, 10:40:15 PM »
Holy moly Syonyk! $38k! Over in Australia in 2020 I paid AU$1.17/w so about US$0.8/w fully installed and connected to the grid. I understand why people DIY now. 

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #134 on: May 07, 2022, 03:42:35 PM »
Holy moly Syonyk! $38k! Over in Australia in 2020 I paid AU$1.17/w so about US$0.8/w fully installed and connected to the grid. I understand why people DIY now.

I would have just signed the paperwork around $2.50/W or lower.  But if you're going to bullshit me at $4+/W, no, I'm going to do my level best to undercut your business model going forward.  I've been helping some people do homeowner installed solar out here this year, based on what I've learned. :)

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #135 on: May 09, 2022, 10:47:58 AM »
Finished running the electrical circuit to disconnect for a split ductless install to replace deeply inefficient baseboard heaters in my house. Parts of the ductless system are on backorder, so it will probably be late June by the time I finish the project. For the maybe 7 days a year that AC would be nice to have, I'll appreciate that functionality too. Once that is done, it is just a question of if solar becomes worthwhile on my house. As a townhome, I have a very small roof footprint to work from. That may be the 2023 project.

NorCal

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #136 on: May 14, 2022, 07:04:50 AM »
One other idea for those thinking of home backup is something like this:

https://www.jackery.com/

It's still friggin expensive, and I'm not sure it's worth it.  But they're roughly a third of the price of something like the Tesla powerwalls (at least the versions I compared).  They won't provide a backup for your whole house, but it would provide enough energy to keep your refrigerator and other essentials going.

I don't think I'll be buying anything like this, but I'm fortunate to live in a place with a very reliable grid.  I'd certainly be looking at something for backup if I lived where utility power went out on a more frequent basis.

I'm personally very happy to no longer have gas-powered anything (other than cars).  I like not having a gas can, oil rags, spark plug tools, etc. in my garage.  I didn't really appreciate how unappealing that stuff can make a garage until I didn't have it.  I would avoid buying a gas generator just to keep those things out of my house.


Chaplin

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #137 on: May 14, 2022, 09:25:30 AM »
One other idea for those thinking of home backup is something like this:

https://www.jackery.com/

It's still friggin expensive, and I'm not sure it's worth it.  But they're roughly a third of the price of something like the Tesla powerwalls (at least the versions I compared).  They won't provide a backup for your whole house, but it would provide enough energy to keep your refrigerator and other essentials going.

I don't think I'll be buying anything like this, but I'm fortunate to live in a place with a very reliable grid.  I'd certainly be looking at something for backup if I lived where utility power went out on a more frequent basis.

I'm personally very happy to no longer have gas-powered anything (other than cars).  I like not having a gas can, oil rags, spark plug tools, etc. in my garage.  I didn't really appreciate how unappealing that stuff can make a garage until I didn't have it.  I would avoid buying a gas generator just to keep those things out of my house.

I've been looking at options like that too. Keeping the refrigerator running would be huge, and keeping the fan on our propane fireplace insert running for emergency heat would also be key in the winter. Ideally we would get rid of the propane insert (stop burning stuff!), but it does seem like poor planning to not have backup heat. We're aiming at two goals that are sometimes aligned and sometimes in conflict: decarbonize and be ready for disasters like earthquake or a long duration power outage.

There are other options similar to Jackery like Ecoflow and Bluetti. I seem to recall that @SheWhoWalksAtLunch went the Ecoflow route. Perhaps she could chime in with the decision-making process that went into that...

Syonyk

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #138 on: May 15, 2022, 10:53:39 PM »
It's still friggin expensive, and I'm not sure it's worth it.

I... uh...  I knew those were expensive, but that's absurd.  A couple kWh of battery and some inverter, plus some small overpriced solar panels, is what?

My office system initial build costs what one of their big ones runs, and that was with 3kW of solar panel!  And 10kWh of battery.  A bit less portable, though.

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But they're roughly a third of the price of something like the Tesla powerwalls (at least the versions I compared).  They won't provide a backup for your whole house, but it would provide enough energy to keep your refrigerator and other essentials going.

Whole house backup is really expensive on battery.  I'm insane, and I couldn't make it feasible for my solar build due to the various regulatory requirements around it from NEC... and the plans review process.  A generator solves a lot of problems.

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I'm personally very happy to no longer have gas-powered anything (other than cars).  I like not having a gas can, oil rags, spark plug tools, etc. in my garage.  I didn't really appreciate how unappealing that stuff can make a garage until I didn't have it.  I would avoid buying a gas generator just to keep those things out of my house.

Instead of a $1500 open frame generator, you'll drop $15k+ on a battery backup system to not have to smell a garage? M'kay.  Not my style.  But I also think that smell is quite proper for a garage.  It's the smell of older cars, motorcycles, tractors, etc. :)

I've been looking at options like that too. Keeping the refrigerator running would be huge, and keeping the fan on our propane fireplace insert running for emergency heat would also be key in the winter. Ideally we would get rid of the propane insert (stop burning stuff!), but it does seem like poor planning to not have backup heat. We're aiming at two goals that are sometimes aligned and sometimes in conflict: decarbonize and be ready for disasters like earthquake or a long duration power outage.

I don't see them particularly in conflict.  Decarbonize when things are running sanely, and it's properly hard to beat the thermal density of propane, gasoline, diesel, etc, when things aren't running nicely.  My office still requires propane heat in the winter, despite nearly 5kW of panel, and being tiny.  On a bad inversion day, I'll have 150W coming off the array - at solar noon.  I go through a couple gallons of propane a winter for heat out there, though the rolling battery backup trailer does solve a lot of that use case as well.  It's quite flexible.  Just not quite public yet.

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #139 on: May 16, 2022, 09:51:27 AM »
What is the current feasibility of using an EV vehicle as the battery backup? I've often heard this talked about conceptually, but not seen any practical applications.

Chaplin

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #140 on: May 16, 2022, 10:20:36 AM »
I don't see them particularly in conflict.  Decarbonize when things are running sanely, and it's properly hard to beat the thermal density of propane, gasoline, diesel, etc, when things aren't running nicely.  My office still requires propane heat in the winter, despite nearly 5kW of panel, and being tiny.  On a bad inversion day, I'll have 150W coming off the array - at solar noon.  I go through a couple gallons of propane a winter for heat out there, though the rolling battery backup trailer does solve a lot of that use case as well.  It's quite flexible.  Just not quite public yet.

I would paraphrase that to say that it's better to improve everything by 90% rather than wasting time and money trying to take any one thing from 90 to 99 or 100%. For us, the propane fireplace is a good backup, but since it's there certain family members will turn it on for extra warmth or ambiance, but even with that it's way, way less propane (well over 90% less) than if it was our primary heat source.

What is the current feasibility of using an EV vehicle as the battery backup? I've often heard this talked about conceptually, but not seen any practical applications.

Others have followed this more closely so I won't comment on too many of the specifics, but in general there are some proof-of-concept demonstrations and a fair bit of talk, but nothing widely deployed. I think the original Leaf had that capability, but it requires change on the house side of the equation too and it was demonstrated in Japan only, I believe.

More relevant is that without needing to connect it to a house an EV can become a little emergency shelter. ICE cars can too, but then you have to run them outside to not kill yourself. There are lots of stories of people retreating to their EVs during heat-waves, power-outages, etc. You can get warmed up or cooled down, dried off, charge a phone, etc. An EV in the shade, or in a garage, can stay cool or warm for a long time.

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #141 on: May 16, 2022, 10:26:18 AM »
What is the current feasibility of using an EV vehicle as the battery backup? I've often heard this talked about conceptually, but not seen any practical applications.
Bi-directional charging has been a [theoretically possible] thing since the LEAF was first introduced, as the CHAdeMO spec had it built-in. This actually got used during the Fukushima disaster. But the necessary hardware to hook this up to your home just never really took off in North America.

However, it is looking like it will become viable soon with more new vehicles being bi-directional capable. The ID.4, for example (possibly even enabled for the earlier models), and other MEB-platform EVs. The most serious contender now is the new F-150 Lightning which Ford offers with their own a bi-directional station (for a reasonable extra charge). With its 131 kWh battery pack it can easily power your home for 3 days or more. The whole truck probably costs less than what you'd pay for that size house battery pack alone.

The Lucid Air is supposed to support bi-directional charging as well, but that's $$$ and I couldn't get a good explanation from the salesperson as to how it worked (probably the same as Ford). Future Polestars are supposed to support it. The Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6 have what they call V2L (vehicle-to-load) which is a standard 15-amp outlet that can power basic stuff, but not your whole house (annoyingly since we use 120V in North America the maximum wattage is more limited here...). There are probably more that I'm forgetting right now.

JLee

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #142 on: May 16, 2022, 10:35:23 AM »
What is the current feasibility of using an EV vehicle as the battery backup? I've often heard this talked about conceptually, but not seen any practical applications.
Bi-directional charging has been a [theoretically possible] thing since the LEAF was first introduced, as the CHAdeMO spec had it built-in. This actually got used during the Fukushima disaster. But the necessary hardware to hook this up to your home just never really took off in North America.

However, it is looking like it will become viable soon with more new vehicles being bi-directional capable. The ID.4, for example (possibly even enabled for the earlier models), and other MEB-platform EVs. The most serious contender now is the new F-150 Lightning which Ford offers with their own a bi-directional station (for a reasonable extra charge). With its 131 kWh battery pack it can easily power your home for 3 days or more. The whole truck probably costs less than what you'd pay for that size house battery pack alone.

The Lucid Air is supposed to support bi-directional charging as well, but that's $$$ and I couldn't get a good explanation from the salesperson as to how it worked (probably the same as Ford). Future Polestars are supposed to support it. The Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6 have what they call V2L (vehicle-to-load) which is a standard 15-amp outlet that can power basic stuff, but not your whole house (annoyingly since we use 120V in North America the maximum wattage is more limited here...). There are probably more that I'm forgetting right now.

I have a Sunrun person coming tomorrow to look at the viability of the bidirectional feature at my house - I am curious how they would integrate it with my existing solar array (no batteries) and automatic standby generator.

Syonyk

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #143 on: May 16, 2022, 02:49:15 PM »
What is the current feasibility of using an EV vehicle as the battery backup? I've often heard this talked about conceptually, but not seen any practical applications.

The "Easy, works with everything" approach is to put a 1500W or so inverter on the 12V system, in the style of the "PriUPS" solutions - the high voltage pack will charge the 12V system, and you can run your inverter off that.  For something like a Prius or Volt, this turns it into a very efficient long duration generator (add gas, get electrons, at somewhat better efficiency than a typical small single lung generator).

Otherwise, you're into high voltage power conversion electronics and hardwired interfaces, which rapidly into "Your goal is to spend a ton of money to get a little bit of capability, but while being able to be smug about not having a generator."  If you can get "vehicle to house via high voltage" going for under $5k, I'd be shocked, and I expect it will be a lot higher.

The most serious contender now is the new F-150 Lightning which Ford offers with their own a bi-directional station (for a reasonable extra charge). With its 131 kWh battery pack it can easily power your home for 3 days or more. The whole truck probably costs less than what you'd pay for that size house battery pack alone.

Yeah, "Buy $70k battery pack, get truck for free!" is closer to correct than it really should be.  The truck can also be optioned with some split phase inverters for 240V output, at which point you could just plug it into a generator inlet for the house with an existing manual transfer switch.

Plus, it's body on frame, which means it'll actually be able to take some decent hitches.  I figure with the way the value on my F350 is going up, I'll just trade straight across in 5 years... or not, I do like the full size bed.  I'm hoping for an electric Super Duty announcement soon.

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #144 on: May 16, 2022, 07:25:16 PM »
Good info on the EV practicality and bootstrap solutions. Thanks.

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #145 on: May 17, 2022, 12:45:51 PM »
First ebike trip that would have been a car errand yesterday. Woo hoo!

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #146 on: May 17, 2022, 03:27:55 PM »
Update on my end:  I got a quote back to replace my home HVAC with a heat pump, as well as install an EV charger.  It's also coming with a house humidifier (the bypass kind, not a steam unit) and an extra 20amp circuit for the powertools in my garage.

All in, I'm looking at $11.7K after rebates and incentives.  I may also need some minor drywall repair afterwards, depending on how the existing HVAC lines are routed in the basement ceiling.

While not cheap, this does feel like a relative bargain considering this is my last major item on getting my home to a definition of net-zero.  After this, I just need:

1. Figure out what to do with my gas-insert fireplace.  I don't use it that often, but I'll still be paying a fixed $15/mo just to have a gas meter.  Maybe I'll just shut it off, or maybe I'll replace it with an electric version eventually.
2. While I currently pay my utility an extra $0.015/kwh for them to purchase renewable energy on my behalf, I plan to add solar someday.  My roof has less than 5 years left on it, so this will come later.
3. EV's will come at some point.  I'm think we'll replace one car with an EV in the next year, and wait 3-5 years for the second car.

Syonyk

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #147 on: May 17, 2022, 03:46:02 PM »
Update on my end:  I got a quote back to replace my home HVAC with a heat pump, as well as install an EV charger.  It's also coming with a house humidifier (the bypass kind, not a steam unit) and an extra 20amp circuit for the powertools in my garage.

Only 20A?  If they're running it and you're not out of panel space, have them run a 14-50 outlet (240V).  They'll be running split phase for the EV charger, so shouldn't be hard to run another chunk of wire while they're in there.  Again, assuming you don't have to do anything silly with your panel.

You can trivially split 14-50 out to various 120V outlets (there are molded adapters that do a nice job), and if you want to run a big air compressor or something, you already have 240V there.

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1. Figure out what to do with my gas-insert fireplace.  I don't use it that often, but I'll still be paying a fixed $15/mo just to have a gas meter.  Maybe I'll just shut it off, or maybe I'll replace it with an electric version eventually.

Get rid of the gas service, and ask your home insurance company if you can get a reduced rate for no longer having gas service.  Then put a proper grate in and use it as a wood fireplace.

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2. While I currently pay my utility an extra $0.015/kwh for them to purchase renewable energy on my behalf, I plan to add solar someday.  My roof has less than 5 years left on it, so this will come later.

Put in a metal roof!  If you go standing seam metal (it's not the cheapest option), solar can mount without any additional roof penetrations - it clamps to the seams and the whole thing remains entirely sealed.

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3. EV's will come at some point.  I'm think we'll replace one car with an EV in the next year, and wait 3-5 years for the second car.

EV or PHEV... about a wash in terms of emissions, the PHEV is more flexible, and IMO right now I'd get a medium range PHEV (Gen 2 Volt or RAV4 Prime), then get a pure EV later.  Though I suppose if you've got a gasser for longer travel, an EV would work now.

NorCal

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #148 on: May 17, 2022, 05:34:44 PM »
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Only 20A?  If they're running it and you're not out of panel space, have them run a 14-50 outlet (240V).  They'll be running split phase for the EV charger, so shouldn't be hard to run another chunk of wire while they're in there.  Again, assuming you don't have to do anything silly with your panel.[/quote

You can trivially split 14-50 out to various 120V outlets (there are molded adapters that do a nice job), and if you want to run a big air compressor or something, you already have 240V there.

My phrasing wasn't clear.  It's a 50A EV circuit, and I want a separate 20A circuit for my powertools.  I'm currently running most of the shop off some outlets I added to an existing 15A circuit.  It's pretty maxed out.  The new circuit will mostly be for my dust collector and dust filter which run when other powertools turn on.  I want the 240v outlet for big future powertools as well. 

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Get rid of the gas service, and ask your home insurance company if you can get a reduced rate for no longer having gas service.  Then put a proper grate in and use it as a wood fireplace.

Good call on the insurance.  I hadn't thought of that one.  A wood fireplace isn't an option, as there is no chimney, and they can't be added in Denver anyways.  Our local air quality is pretty horrendous.

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Put in a metal roof!  If you go standing seam metal (it's not the cheapest option), solar can mount without any additional roof penetrations - it clamps to the seams and the whole thing remains entirely sealed.

I would like a metal roof, and I'll price that out when it's needed.  The few local people I've talked to say they're roughly 3x the cost in our local market, but I haven't tried to get a real quote yet.  I really like metal, but I don't know if I like metal enough to pay that much of a premium.  Our roof-line is moderately complex.


Syonyk

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Re: #StopBurningStuff by 2030 or sooner
« Reply #149 on: May 17, 2022, 09:14:21 PM »
My phrasing wasn't clear.  It's a 50A EV circuit, and I want a separate 20A circuit for my powertools.  I'm currently running most of the shop off some outlets I added to an existing 15A circuit.  It's pretty maxed out.  The new circuit will mostly be for my dust collector and dust filter which run when other powertools turn on.  I want the 240v outlet for big future powertools as well.

I'm still not entirely clear - are they running a hard wired EV, or a 14-50 outlet for EV use that you can also use for shop tools?  As long as you're getting a 14-50 out there, good enough.  Though... why not two 20A? ;)  If they're willing to run a multiwire branch circuit (should be legal per NEC), all they need to run is one more 12AWG.  They're already going to be running a hot/neutral/ground, and they should be able to get you a pair of 20A for hot/hot/neutral/ground (maybe upsizing the ground a notch).  The conduit work is the expensive bit, adding a wire and outlet doesn't add much cost.  I'm a fan of the "more power than you think you'll need" approach to wiring.

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Good call on the insurance.  I hadn't thought of that one.  A wood fireplace isn't an option, as there is no chimney

Oh, gross.  Ok.  I hate direct vent stuff, I've got one in my office for aux winter heat and it stinks the place up pretty badly.  Better than freezing my tail off out there, but just put a nice IR panel or something in and call it good.

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I would like a metal roof, and I'll price that out when it's needed.  The few local people I've talked to say they're roughly 3x the cost in our local market, but I haven't tried to get a real quote yet.  I really like metal, but I don't know if I like metal enough to pay that much of a premium.  Our roof-line is moderately complex.

Look at it this way: A standing seam roof will last the rest of the life of the building.  One and done.  And then, for solar, you don't have any additional roof penetrations.  This is not the case with the extruded style metal roof (I've got that) - it uses some little rubber sealing washers that eventually rot out and leak.  I should probably go check mine at some point, we're rather high UV out here.