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Off-Grid Electricity

  1. #26
    BMW track whore e30addict's Avatar
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity


    In the meantime, during warmer months you might want to adjust the low limit on your boiler waaaay down and run it a lot cooler. I have on demand hot water (tankless) and found no need for heat means no need to keep that thing cranked all the time. A lower temp is sufficient for hot water and I crank it back up when it's time for heating season.

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  2. #27
    Backwoods lobster boy number9's Avatar
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Am I the only one who thinks going off-grid to save $80/mo is not going to pay for itself in any reasonable timeframe?

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  3. #28
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by number9 View Post
    Am I the only one who thinks going off-grid to save $80/mo is not going to pay for itself in any reasonable timeframe?
    Nope

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  4. #29
    Your Father csmutty's Avatar
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by number9 View Post
    Am I the only one who thinks going off-grid to save $80/mo is not going to pay for itself in any reasonable timeframe?
    It's $110 but I get your point. $80 is just the supply charge. Doesn't account for the actual usage of power charge (pun intended). It was an initial knee jerk post spurred by the rage of such a large increase.

    The other thing to consider is future increases. If costs continue to increase at the current rate (pun intended) the time required for payback could be greatly reduced. It would be a gamble for sure.

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  5. #30
    Lifer
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post
    Weird. We had some quotes for installing a solar hot water system to replace our 30 year old oil-fired tankless coil system. ROI was not there. Materials weren't bad. But installation was. Maybe it is easier on some homes. But for our 2-story cape we were looking at opening walls to run pipes and chases, loosing closed space, risking leaks in he walls, etc. Everyone we talked to said those systems were hugely unpopular these days, especially for retrofit. PV is just too good and too flexible.

    We talked with a local solar & alternative energy installer. They pushed a PV electric system with heat-pump water heater and mini-splits for climate control. We weren't ready for the splits. But we did get a quote for a 5KW system plus some additional work required for our situation (new sub-panel, water heater) for $18.5k before incentives. After incentives they estimated our payoff was in the 16-17 year timeline if we paid cash up-front. Much longer if we financed it. They water heater they quoted was also an exotic unit imported from Europe.

    In the end we went without the PV. I found a much less expensive heat-pump water heater. We would like to revisit the solar system one day but just haven't gotten to it yet. The water heater has maybe added $10-20/mo to our electric bill. And I now shut my boiler down completely every spring and cold-start it in the fall. I don't know exactly how much oil I am saving but it ain't nothing. So far I am delighted with the water heater. They are very common now. I bought mine at my local home-depot. We also have all the hot water my 6 year old can handle. A cool side-effect of the heat pump unit is that it knocks down the humidity in the basement.


    So many factors drive payoff. I think the math would be even worse for us now as I think our consumption has gone up. I wonder if the 5k system wasn't way undersized for us. I think they caught us at a weird time and our utility bills weren't showing the whole picture. On the flip side I have cut some trees and think the performance of a PV system would be better than they estimated.


    Smutty, were I you I'd get a couple quotes for a grid-tied PV system. Battery costs and maintenance headaches aren't attractive to me. Use the grid as your battery.
    Later consider a heat-pump heater and start shutting your boiler down 6+ mo/yr. I bet the impact on your electric usage is negligible and the oil savings pays for the heater quickly. (Although maybe not at <$2/gal oil prices!)
    They must have been trying to sell you a fancy system or maybe your house is built differently than most.

    There are tons of different solar hot water (SHW) systems so installation is all over the place. For my own house it was a fairly simple glycol system with a heat exchanger in ther basement. The 2 panels mounted on the roof and I ran the hot and cold lines right down the side of my house in this special ducting that has the 2 lines inside and is foam insulated. It took my longer to get my ladder than it did to screw that piece to the side of my house. From there I just drilled a hole into my basement and ran pex lines closer to my water pipes so I could tap in. I used a dead electric water heater as the storage tank with the heat exchanger mounted before it. Cold water would go from my supply to the heat exchanger to the dead tank to store and be ready for use. A simple circulating pump with a thermal probe made sure the tank never got too hot.
    I think that setup was under $3k. It didnt work great in the winter but I'm ok with that. The boiler was running by then and heating my water anyway. I did this when oil was over $4 PER GALLON and it paid itself off in just about 4 years.
    Much like solar, if you dont build it to work in every possible circumstance it's actually fairly cheap.

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  6. #31

    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by number9 View Post
    Am I the only one who thinks going off-grid to save $80/mo is not going to pay for itself in any reasonable timeframe?
    It won’t. And going through a tank and a half a year in oil won’t do anything for him switching to solar hot water either.

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  7. #32
    Lifer
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by number9 View Post
    Am I the only one who thinks going off-grid to save $80/mo is not going to pay for itself in any reasonable timeframe?
    It's a hobby/job for me so I like doing it. It's also a great feeling to say this house literally costs me nothing to run for a good part of the year.
    My house is also a beacon in the neighborhood when we have bad storms and stuff. Everyone ends up coming over to my place to charge things or take warm showers or cook etc.

    I've blown more money on stupider things. These things are probably some of my better investments. My electric bill was a lot lower than smuttys at the time too. Maybe 50 a month. I still did it.

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  8. #33
    BMW track whore e30addict's Avatar
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by csmutty View Post
    It's $110 but I get your point. $80 is just the supply charge. Doesn't account for the actual usage of power charge (pun intended). It was an initial knee jerk post spurred by the rage of such a large increase.

    The other thing to consider is future increases. If costs continue to increase at the current rate (pun intended) the time required for payback could be greatly reduced. It would be a gamble for sure.
    I was only half kidding about moving. The other part of the equation is that even with cost increases there are also plenty of other factors that the state could change that would lengthen the ROI and make it pretty pointless to invest a large amount up front in the hopes of "saving" money later. Pay now or pay later, but either way you're paying.

    You could plan for a 10 year ROI but 10 years from now, just as you start to break even, account maintenance fees or an off grid fee etc... could change the game again. For example, there are some states that are charging hybrid owners more in excise or registration fees to compensate for the loss in gas tax revenue. That sure can change the equation as to whether or not buying one is worth the premium, especially if they don't pound miles on a vehicle.

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  9. #34
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by tsorfas View Post
    It won’t. And going through a tank and a half a year in oil won’t do anything for him switching to solar hot water either.
    Says the guy who made the worst financial decision possible

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  10. #35
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by boosten lebaron View Post
    They must have been trying to sell you a fancy system or maybe your house is built differently than most.

    There are tons of different solar hot water (SHW) systems so installation is all over the place. For my own house it was...
    Ah. Now I see.

    There is nothing particularly unique about my house. Just your standard issue stick-built cape. When they built they took more care with curb appeal than they did situating the house to maximize solar heating potential. Had they rotated the house ~90 degrees I'd be in much better shape there. But that is nothing out of the ordinary.

    I don't think the system they had in mind was anything terribly exotic. Although it is possible as they did quote an exotic heat-pump heater. So who knows.
    I took it on face value that the standalone electric heat-pump water heater was much more straightforward to retrofit into my home. I think this is pretty obvious.

    Sounds like you have pieced together an ad-hoc system that works well for you. Sounds like you made a few concessions I wouldn't have considered. Notably running pipes & a conduit down the exterior of the house; that'd be a non-starter for me. For some reason I am okay with a length of EMT but not that. Different strokes.

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  11. #36
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by csmutty View Post
    Bubs do you have a link for what you got? Only kicker is that I have 100 amp service currently. I had planned to upgrade in the near future but bicycle purchases keep delaying that.

    I had a quote for solar a couple years ago and with my roof facing east west it was a no-go in terms of payback. My roof is also pretty old, so I would want to replace that before going solar (thinking next year for that).
    I can't share the quote. They are pretty clever in how they put it together and I can't even download it. I just checked and I do still have access to it though.

    Roof is an issue too. Ultimately that is the biggest factor that delayed it. I've since done the roof and am ready to revisit.

    As everyone has pointed out, the payoff is not that sweet for 98% of us by the numbers. Ironically I think the less you use the worse the payoff picture is. There has to be a sweet spot or a knee in the curve or something.

    I will also say the financed option they offered was horrible. >30 years to pay off.. and I question if the panels would still be effective in that time-frame. I kind of feel the same way about those 'lease us your roof' deals too. I don't know.

    We want solar because we want solar. One side effect of marrying a save the bees and whales type. I have to say the tech interests me as well. I would love to do the install myself and have kicked around the idea of trying to piece together a small system I could extend over time. I put solar on the roof of my race trailer as an experiment to play with the stuff. Problem is with grid tied houses the stakes are higher. You need to comply with code, do permitting and inspections. And ultimately the liability is pretty huge.

    Another factor is resilience to power outages. Obviously grid-tied is useless here. I've heard rumors that some of the EV car makers are working on options where you could reverse the flow and power your house off the battery in your car. Then you'd theoretically be able to make use of the battery when the utilities are up and not have this hole in your wallet just sitting there the rest of the time. Usually when the power is out it is due to weather and we aren't going anywhere anyhow.

    Bottom line on that front is that a generator from harbor freight and 5 gal of unleaded with a suicide cord is still way more cost effective there too.

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  12. #37
    Your Father csmutty's Avatar
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    This one looks pretty cool. Looks like most of it is there. Would be $2k after rebate. Only thing that worries me is the buildup of hot water if not used.

    https://www.amazon.com/Duda-Solar-He...6120987&sr=8-2

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  13. #38
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Most solar hot water systems needs a thermal dump in the event you collect too much of the sun's goodness. Most people use a swimming pool or air to water radiator of sorts. If you allow the glycol to get too hot you'll scorch it and can foul the inside of your heat exchanger.

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  14. #39

    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by csmutty View Post
    Says the guy who made the worst financial decision possible
    I’m not sure if you’re referring to IOM or having a kid. Lol

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  15. #40

    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by Falko View Post
    Most solar hot water systems needs a thermal dump in the event you collect too much of the sun's goodness. Most people use a swimming pool or air to water radiator of sorts. If you allow the glycol to get too hot you'll scorch it and can foul the inside of your heat exchanger.
    That is one of the things I found very weird when I moved here. In Europe the solar water systems are pretty much in every house. Well at least Southern Europe. They have been around forever. Doesn’t matter how old of a house, it most likely has it. I remember ours had electric coils build in and if our demand increased you could run it on regular power to heat up water faster. Having lived in Greece that gets plenty of sun our system was good enough for a family of 4 to do laundry and shower even in the winter if timed right.

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  16. #41
    Your Father csmutty's Avatar
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by tsorfas View Post
    That is one of the things I found very weird when I moved here. In Europe the solar water systems are pretty much in every house. Well at least Southern Europe. They have been around forever. Doesn’t matter how old of a house, it most likely has it. I remember ours had electric coils build in and if our demand increased you could run it on regular power to heat up water faster. Having lived in Greece that gets plenty of sun our system was good enough for a family of 4 to do laundry and shower even in the winter if timed right.
    Probably because it is a minor inconvenience. Americans love to be completely comfortable. I kinda giggle at people who use umbrellas to get 10 feet from the building to their car. Same kind of thing haha.

    Quote Originally Posted by tsorfas View Post
    I’m not sure if you’re referring to IOM or having a kid. Lol
    Kid haha. Everyone here has made bad decisions when it comes to motorcycles...that one wouldn't be fair.

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  17. #42
    Lifer
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by csmutty View Post
    This one looks pretty cool. Looks like most of it is there. Would be $2k after rebate. Only thing that worries me is the buildup of hot water if not used.

    https://www.amazon.com/Duda-Solar-He...6120987&sr=8-2
    That's not bad but I'm sure of everything it comes with. I prefer panels to tubes as well.

    My system have a few safety systems built in that took care of it automatically.
    First layer was the expansion tank.
    Second layer was a solar powered circulator pump related to a temp sensor. If the temp sensor tripped the glycol side would just start circulating. Having it solar powered made sure I never had to worry about it not starting. If the sun is out to bake the glycolic could run the pump easily.
    The 3rd layer was another pump to start circulating the cold water on the bottom of the tank through the exchanger. This would rapidly cool the over temp glycol coming in.
    The final layer was a pressure relief like you find on all hot water tanks. It would just dump the super hot glycol into a large container. I never saw that one come into play. Usually just the second stage was enough to take care of the over temp situation.

    All of this was controlled by the units command centre as well. Just low voltage wiring and setting values for everything.

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  18. #43
    Lifer TIMMYDUCK's Avatar
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    Well I just got my bill .

    Delivery charges are more than twice the supply charges.

    Wish I was young like Csmutty and could make some changes that would pay off .
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Off-Grid Electricity-bill-2-jpg  

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  19. #44
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    It's getting insane.

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  20. #45
    Expert Agitator GearHd6's Avatar
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    Re: Off-Grid Electricity

    PURA just suspended the rate hike while they investigate it further.

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