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Old 02-10-2020, 06:05 PM   #1
Shreddy
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Default Solar?

Anyone on here installed solar panels? My little chalet in Moultonborough isn't too big, runs electric heat in the winter, a wall A/C in the summer, and now a hot tub. With the growing rate of my electric bill running this stuff, I'm contemplating a switch to Solar and wondering if it's worth it from a cost/installation standpoint.

My place is two floors, 32x24 so it's not huge. I'm trying to figure what the gross cost is and then net after incentives, reimbursements, etc. Also, how intense is the installation? I feel like it wouldn't be an extensive install. Recommendations on who to work with? Any other helpful info to contemplate?
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Old 02-10-2020, 06:50 PM   #2
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I believe we have a Solar rep on the forum. Sure he can assist


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Old 02-10-2020, 07:11 PM   #3
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Anyone on here installed solar panels? My little chalet in Moultonborough isn't too big, runs electric heat in the winter, a wall A/C in the summer, and now a hot tub. With the growing rate of my electric bill running this stuff, I'm contemplating a switch to Solar and wondering if it's worth it from a cost/installation standpoint.



My place is two floors, 32x24 so it's not huge. I'm trying to figure what the gross cost is and then net after incentives, reimbursements, etc. Also, how intense is the installation? I feel like it wouldn't be an extensive install. Recommendations on who to work with? Any other helpful info to contemplate?
Yes I have solar and live in Tilton. If your electric bill is over $150.00 per month call Granet state solar and get a free quote. Doug


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Old 02-10-2020, 07:24 PM   #4
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Start off by getting rid of that wall AC and installing a mini split heat pump.

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Old 02-10-2020, 08:23 PM   #5
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Hi Shreddy,
I've done a lot of installations around the lake and would be glad to help you in your research on powering your secondary home. You have some very hungry loads but that doesn't have to be a real problem
If you are currently grid tied your success will be based on the concept of net metering. As a kid do you remember seeing the old analog rotary electric meters spinning? and if they were under a heavy load they would spin at a really frantic rate. The new digital meters aren't as fun to watch, but the concept is the same. With net metering you would still see those expensive frantic forward wheel rotations when you fired up the hot tub for a starry evening, but at least you would be chewing through solar credits rather than hard earned dollars. Because of the infrequent usage of your home there will be plenty of days when even a small solar array will generate quite a lot of excess energy that will be exported into the grid and spin the meter steadily backwards building up credits on your Co-op (?) account at a rate of 75 cents on the dollar. The grid connection will allow you to consume power at whatever frantic rate your electrical service can handle, while the slow and steady buildup of credits when you aren't there will help to offset the luxury of your consumption. Yes it would be best if you incorporated some more efficient HVAC, lighting, hot water, etc, but if they are working fine just crank then and enjoy! Adding a few extra panels to a system design to accommodate the inefficiency of an older system is relatively inexpensive, upgrading a system to gain peak efficiency often is not. Crank those baseboards and window ac units, if you have enough solar power it won't add to your monthly bill and you also won't be creating any heavier carbon footprint.
Off grid is another matter and your power consumption needs to be carefully planned and controlled. That being said power limitation these days is totally not an issue. Powering a 200 amp panel 24/7 in late December is now an easy reality whereas even just five years ago it was a struggle. Two years ago I installed one totally off grid system, last year six, and I already have two booked for this spring once the ice goes out.
From a financial perspective, every time you send a dollar to the utility company to pay your monthly utility bill it is a pure expense and that dollar is spent and gone. If you divert that same outlay to the purchase of a solar array the dollar will now be spent on an equity that belongs to you. It is similar in concept to the difference between paying rent and paying mortgage.
Final note, and I bet a lot of folks on this forum don't know this, the NHEC has recently invested in their own 2.59 MEGA watt solar array on Moultonborough Neck Rd. That is 8000 modules and if you look at it on Google Earth it is truly impressive. Is solar worth the investment in the Lakes region? Well apparently the Co-op thinks so!
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:39 PM   #6
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Hi Shreddy,

I have solar in Mass and it's a great deal financially. You get 26% of the cost back right away from the IRS in the form of a tax credit, and then the system usually pays for itself in 6-7 years through lower electric bills and production credits. (I don't know how the NH credits work, so YMMV) After that, you get free electricity for another 20 years or so. For financial analysts on the forum, the annual return (IRR) is about 18% with very low risk. So it's more than twice what you would expect from the stock market over the same time.

The best thing to do is call a 2-3 installers--give them your address and your electric bill, and they can give you a preliminary estimate through computer modeling of system cost and financial return. Then meet with the ones who sound good on the phone. After you sign up, it can take a few months to get permitting, and then about a week for the install.

Good luck--keep us posted!
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Old 02-12-2020, 10:25 AM   #7
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This is all very helpful. My electric bill this past month came in with close to 1600kw of usage which was bananas. Granted, it's winter so I left the heat on 50 upstairs and downstairs, have the hot tub, etc. I'll probably wait until april/may to see what it levels out to on a normal non-winter basis before running the numbers.

Trust me, mini split is already being contemplated as well to make things more efficient I've only owned the place since June so there's still some things to tighten up.
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Old 02-12-2020, 10:54 AM   #8
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This is all very helpful. My electric bill this past month came in with close to 1600kw of usage which was bananas. Granted, it's winter so I left the heat on 50 upstairs and downstairs, have the hot tub, etc. I'll probably wait until april/may to see what it levels out to on a normal non-winter basis before running the numbers.

Trust me, mini split is already being contemplated as well to make things more efficient I've only owned the place since June so there's still some things to tighten up.
I would do what I could to cut electricity use before contemplating solar, JMO.
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Old 02-12-2020, 11:25 AM   #9
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I would do what I could to cut electricity use before contemplating solar, JMO.
I put in solar in Mass which has already paid for itself. If your're in your home for the long term, I would encourage you to talk with installers and run the numbers. My guess is you'll be pleasantly suprised by the benefits. As an added bonus, I like the stability of my electrical costs (0!).
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Old 02-12-2020, 11:50 AM   #10
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I put in solar in Mass which has already paid for itself. If your're in your home for the long term, I would encourage you to talk with installers and run the numbers. My guess is you'll be pleasantly suprised by the benefits. As an added bonus, I like the stability of my electrical costs (0!).
I have no problem with solar but if you're heating with electric baseboard that should be the first issue to address. If you're heating a house in NH with electric baseboard you're basically burning money.
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Old 02-12-2020, 11:56 AM   #11
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I have no problem with solar but if you're heating with electric baseboard that should be the first issue to address. If you're heating a house in NH with electric baseboard you're basically burning money.
I agree! One thing I wish I had done during my install was to switch from oil hot water to an electric heat pump hot water tank with the oil as a backup. I would love to turn my oil burner off from April through November. Maybe this spring...
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Old 02-12-2020, 12:09 PM   #12
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I have no problem with solar but if you're heating with electric baseboard that should be the first issue to address. If you're heating a house in NH with electric baseboard you're basically burning money.
I have electric baseboard and have struggled with the decision to change it out for many reasons: it's clean and doesn't exacerbate my wife's allergies, it's fast, it's silent, it's zero maintenance, and, most of all, is best with our wood stove given the independent thermostats.

If cost were my first requirement, though, I'd definitely look to a heat pump and, once getting those electric demands as low as possible, solar.

I've never gotten great numbers to compare to, but we pay $260/mth. year-round for a 2,200 ft² split with an all-electric house with AC. NG is at the street, though, and we have ductwork in the attic, so I've been thinking...

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Old 02-12-2020, 01:16 PM   #13
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I have no problem with solar but if you're heating with electric baseboard that should be the first issue to address. If you're heating a house in NH with electric baseboard you're basically burning money.
That's what I got which begs the question of solar. I can either shell out the cost for a mini split or two and still have an electric bill because I run other items such as lights and hot tub...OR I can contemplate floating the cost of Solar as a long term play, run whatever I want to run and eliminate my electric bill all together without having to think about the cost of a mini split.
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Old 02-12-2020, 01:20 PM   #14
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I have electric baseboard and have struggled with the decision to change it out for many reasons: it's clean and doesn't exacerbate my wife's allergies, it's fast, it's silent, it's zero maintenance, and, most of all, is best with our wood stove given the independent thermostats.

If cost were my first requirement, though, I'd definitely look to a heat pump and, once getting those electric demands as low as possible, solar.

I've never gotten great numbers to compare to, but we pay $260/mth. year-round for a 2,200 ft² split with an all-electric house with AC. NG is at the street, though, and we have ductwork in the attic, so I've been thinking...

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Valid points as well that I've considered. I have a soapstone stove in the basement which I like. I can't get away with running just one mini-split upstairs since I need the downstairs heated as well. Getting rid of baseboard might sound like the reasonable option at first glance but I don't think it outweighs the benefit of solar given all the factors. That's coming from someone who'd never really contemplated solar and doesn't care for the thought of panels on my roof.
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Old 02-12-2020, 02:21 PM   #15
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I know it's not solar, but these "renewable energy" choices have consequences that their proponents rarely disclose....

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/featu...p-in-landfills

Where's the outrage? Nothing to see here folks, move along....
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Old 02-12-2020, 02:23 PM   #16
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I installed a four head mini spilt this past summer. Both, AC and heat. Three of the heads run year round. Have not had to use the electric baseboard heat at all. I received a call from Eversource that they were coming to unplug my meter for the baseboards as it appears I am no longer using it. Never came once I questioned whether the baseboards are still running if needed. They havd there own meter install in the 80’s as a promotional service. I get a minor reduction in rate. Long story short, 12k investment on mini, electric bill reduced by 35/40%. Pay back 8 to 10 years. But, heat quality is better. Fan forced around the room and no were near as dry as the baseboards. In fact, no humidifier needed. That’s a big plus


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Old 02-12-2020, 03:32 PM   #17
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This is all very helpful. My electric bill this past month came in with close to 1600kw of usage which was bananas. Granted, it's winter so I left the heat on 50 upstairs and downstairs, have the hot tub, etc. I'll probably wait until april/may to see what it levels out to on a normal non-winter basis before running the numbers.

Trust me, mini split is already being contemplated as well to make things more efficient I've only owned the place since June so there's still some things to tighten up.
I would guess that the hot tub is what is driving the bill up the most. Those are energy pigs! I have an 8 person tub in front of the house. I winterize it and shut the breaker off in October. Unless you are really using it a lot in the winter it does not seem worth it to me.
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Old 02-12-2020, 03:51 PM   #18
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I would guess that the hot tub is what is driving the bill up the most. Those are energy pigs! I have an 8 person tub in front of the house. I winterize it and shut the breaker off in October. Unless you are really using it a lot in the winter it does not seem worth it to me.
I bought it to use in the winter. It gets its use when I get up there. When I spoke to Sundance, they mentioned it only jacks the bill about $35/month if you're using it 30 minutes 3-5 days a week (or something like that). I use it on the weekends, it's a 6 person on a 60amp (wanted to be able to run both bumps and the heater at the same time). I don't doubt that it's drawing for sure which is another big reason for the push to solar.

Mini splits would be nice, but like I said, I'd have to run them upstairs and downstairs but it wouldn't get rid of the electricity usage from the hot tub. Even though folks have mentioned get rid of baseboard, it's already there, easy to use, and low maintenance. If I have solar, I can run it as I feel during the winter and run the wall A/C in the summer without issue.
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Old 02-12-2020, 04:00 PM   #19
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I'd be interested to know what size solar you'd have to go to in order to run the tub and electric baseboard vs. mini splits, etc. and the associated costs.

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Old 02-12-2020, 04:13 PM   #20
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What I have found is when a company says they are going to save you money they use funny math. I had an energy audit done on my house in Ma 5 years ago and did what was recommended. I have yet to see the payback that their funny math projected.

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Old 02-12-2020, 04:22 PM   #21
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What I have found is when a company says they are going to save you money they use funny math. I had an energy audit done on my house in Ma 5 years ago and did what was recommended. I have yet to see the payback that their funny math projected.

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Depends though...This is a third home for me and a vacation home. Primarily used on weekends. Seems pretty easy to bank some energy and use it when I need it. Not to mention, my place is south facing with amazing sun exposure. One way doesn't work great for everyone...facts and circumstances should drive any decision you make.
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Old 02-12-2020, 05:49 PM   #22
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Depends though...This is a third home for me and a vacation home. Primarily used on weekends. Seems pretty easy to bank some energy and use it when I need it. Not to mention, my place is south facing with amazing sun exposure. One way doesn't work great for everyone...facts and circumstances should drive any decision you make.
You sound like you have your mind made up on Solar. It wouldn't be my first move but it's not my money or my house. Good luck.

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Old 02-12-2020, 06:03 PM   #23
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You sound like you have your mind made up on Solar. It wouldn't be my first move but it's not my money or my house. Good luck.

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If my mind was made up on solar, why would I come here to ask the questions? Not for nothing, based on the questions I asked you really didn't provide too much value nor answer any of the questions I had about solar. You have a great opinion and maybe what you've recommended works for you but I think you're failing to analyze all of the facts. For example, getting rid of baseboard and spending $12K+ on mini splits doesn't mitigate my electric bill, just enhances my heating and cooling. I'd still likely be incurring over $100/month in electric as there are other factors like a hot tub I account for. I can pay roughly the same or even less for solar and run my heating, A/C, and hot tub all at no additional electric cost. Maybe I'm missing something here, or maybe I'll just continue "burning money" with my baseboard...
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:10 PM   #24
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If my mind was made up on solar, why would I come here to ask the questions? Not for nothing, based on the questions I asked you really didn't provide too much value nor answer any of the questions I had about solar. You have a great opinion and maybe what you've recommended works for you but I think you're failing to analyze all of the facts. For example, getting rid of baseboard and spending $12K+ on mini splits doesn't mitigate my electric bill, just enhances my heating and cooling. I'd still likely be incurring over $100/month in electric as there are other factors like a hot tub I account for. I can pay roughly the same or even less for solar and run my heating, A/C, and hot tub all at no additional electric cost. Maybe I'm missing something here, or maybe I'll just continue "burning money" with my baseboard...
Believe you under estimated the solar cost. Whole house install hits the 20-30k number


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Old 02-12-2020, 06:17 PM   #25
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If my mind was made up on solar, why would I come here to ask the questions? Not for nothing, based on the questions I asked you really didn't provide too much value nor answer any of the questions I had about solar. You have a great opinion and maybe what you've recommended works for you but I think you're failing to analyze all of the facts. For example, getting rid of baseboard and spending $12K+ on mini splits doesn't mitigate my electric bill, just enhances my heating and cooling. I'd still likely be incurring over $100/month in electric as there are other factors like a hot tub I account for. I can pay roughly the same or even less for solar and run my heating, A/C, and hot tub all at no additional electric cost. Maybe I'm missing something here, or maybe I'll just continue "burning money" with my baseboard...
OhhhK!

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Old 02-12-2020, 06:20 PM   #26
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If my mind was made up on solar, why would I come here to ask the questions? Not for nothing, based on the questions I asked you really didn't provide too much value nor answer any of the questions I had about solar. You have a great opinion and maybe what you've recommended works for you but I think you're failing to analyze all of the facts. For example, getting rid of baseboard and spending $12K+ on mini splits doesn't mitigate my electric bill, just enhances my heating and cooling. I'd still likely be incurring over $100/month in electric as there are other factors like a hot tub I account for. I can pay roughly the same or even less for solar and run my heating, A/C, and hot tub all at no additional electric cost. Maybe I'm missing something here, or maybe I'll just continue "burning money" with my baseboard...
Hi Shreddy--you're right. Mini splits and solar work great together--it's not an either/or thing. I have both. With respect to waiting for more data on electric usage, I think you should still call the installers now and ask them to do the math for you with the bills you have. A couple of reasons for this. First, almost no roof is big enough for a home to get 100% of its electric from solar, so the chances of you buying too many panels and being unable to use all the juice are really low. Second, the credits are going to fall from 26% to 22% on December 31, so you'll get an extra 4% back if you do it this year.

With respect to the comment on some home improvement guys using fuzzy math--I'm not surprised to hear that some do that. My solar panels have actually generated more savings than originally promised when installed 20 months ago.
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:25 PM   #27
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Believe you under estimated the solar cost. Whole house install hits the 20-30k number


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That's why I came here to ask. My place is NOT very big at 768 sq ft per floor. Based on online models, seems like cost might range around $15k gross before incentives. Again, kinda why I came here to ask the questions in my original post and user experience.
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:29 PM   #28
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Default Rough simple figures...

About $16K gross will get you a simple 6.4 kW (20 modules) grid tied roof mounted array. If your roof has a good exposure (170-220 azimuth, 8/12 pitch, and solid sun from 9-4) you will get about 8,000 kWh per year of solar harvest. This would equate to an average NHEC monthly bill of just over $100.
You will get a 26% tax credit from Uncle Sam and a $1,000 rebate from the State of NH PUC, so you net cost after incentives would be $10,840.
If you take that net and divide it by 8,000 kWh x .16 (the current Co-op rate) it tells you that the solar system will save $1,280 per year. Divide the net cost of $10,840 by the savings and your ROI is 8.47 years. Ie, that is how long it will take for the savings to justify the net cost of the installation ...if you assume that the electric rate will never go up ...and if you totally dismiss the fact that a monthly electric bill is purely an expense, while the funds spent on a solar array goes toward an asset the adds to both the value and salability of your property.
Oh, and one other little thing, a solar array has a life cycle of 35+ years. If the array has justified its cost in ~8.5 years, that will mean that for the following 26.5+ years your electricity will potentially cost you nothing. If you take the 26.5 years of free and clear and multiply it by the annual at the current electrical rate the savings is... $33,920. How's that grab you?
To be the devils advocate, what can go wrong during that projected 35+ year life cycle? With the solar modules likely nothing, they almost all carry a 25 year warranty are non-switching and relatively bulletproof. The most likely failure would be an inverter but even those generally have a 12+ year warranty. If you assume realistically that an inverter will fail during the 35+ year life cycle it will cost about $2,500 to have it replaced, but in most cases I tell my clients to consider this pretty much a wash against the slowly creeping electrical rates. Over the past twenty years electrical rates in NH have risen on average about 5% a year.
How long can a solar system potentially last? Most likely much longer than any of us but the modules do degrade in performance at a rate of about 1-2% per year as they age. The 25 year warranty generally actually guarantees the performance of the module and in most cases they are warrantied to produce 80% of the rated power on year 25. Think about that for a minute, 25 years ago we were burning 100 watt light bulbs to get the same illumination that we now get out of an 18 watt bulb, and running electric baseboard heaters that consumed electricity at a rate 2.5 times higher than what it takes now to get the same BTU out of a modern air source heat pump. But don't be too anxious to dump the baseboards and spend a lot of money on a mini-split unless the state of the equipment dictates it. As Thinkxingu has pointed out, baseboards are cheap, reliable, effective for heating, and require little or no maintenance. Yes, just like the hot tub they consume a lot of electricity, but if you have a large enough solar array you won't care and neither will the environment.
If you have yard space, I will almost always recommend a ground mount over a roof mount but not for the common reason. A roof mount properly installed will not cause leakage, but the roof has to be in very good condition before the install is done. The reason I am so enthusiastic about ground mounts lies in bi-facial modules. Bifacials are clear on the back sheet rather than opaque and will absorb the solar energy reflected of the ground. This is negligible during the summer, but the long days of strong sunlight negate this. Where bifacials really excel is when there is snow on the ground and that is a time when most houses need the extra energy boost the most. A bifacial ground mounted array will outperform a conventional module array by 20-25% all winter long.
This is just a simplified explanation and there are a lot of variables, both good and bad, but solar has really come into its own over the last few years. If you want exact details about your site, contact me and my competitors and get a bunch of bids based on your exact site.
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:43 PM   #29
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About $16K gross will get you a simple 6.4 kW (20 modules) grid tied roof mounted array. If your roof has a good exposure (170-220 azimuth, 8/12 pitch, and solid sun from 9-4) you will get about 8,000 kWh per year of solar harvest. This would equate to an average NHEC monthly bill of just over $100.
You will get a 26% tax credit from Uncle Sam and a $1,000 rebate from the State of NH PUC, so you net cost after incentives would be $10,840.
If you take that net and divide it by 8,000 kWh x .16 (the current Co-op rate) it tells you that the solar system will save $1,280 per year. Divide the net cost of $10,840 by the savings and your ROI is 8.47 years. Ie, that is how long it will take for the savings to justify the net cost of the installation ...if you assume that the electric rate will never go up ...and if you totally dismiss the fact that a monthly electric bill is purely an expense, while the funds spent on a solar array goes toward an asset the adds to both the value and salability of your property.
Oh, and one other little thing, a solar array has a life cycle of 35+ years. If the array has justified its cost in ~8.5 years, that will mean that for the following 26.5+ years your electricity will potentially cost you nothing. If you take the 26.5 years of free and clear and multiply it by the annual at the current electrical rate the savings is... $33,920. How's that grab you?
To be the devils advocate, what can go wrong during that projected 35+ year life cycle? With the solar modules likely nothing, they almost all carry a 25 year warranty are non-switching and relatively bulletproof. The most likely failure would be an inverter but even those generally have a 12+ year warranty. If you assume realistically that an inverter will fail during the 35+ year life cycle it will cost about $2,500 to have it replaced, but in most cases I tell my clients to consider this pretty much a wash against the slowly creeping electrical rates. Over the past twenty years electrical rates in NH have risen on average about 5% a year.
How long can a solar system potentially last? Most likely much longer than any of us but the modules do degrade in performance at a rate of about 1-2% per year as they age. The 25 year warranty generally actually guarantees the performance of the module and in most cases they are warrantied to produce 80% of the rated power on year 25. Think about that for a minute, 25 years ago we were burning 100 watt light bulbs to get the same illumination that we now get out of an 18 watt bulb, and running electric baseboard heaters that consumed electricity at a rate 2.5 times higher than what it takes now to get the same BTU out of a modern air source heat pump. But don't be too anxious to dump the baseboards and spend a lot of money on a mini-split unless the state of the equipment dictates it. As was pointed out, baseboards are cheap, reliable, effective for heating, and require little or no maintenance. Yes, just like the hot tub they consume a lot of electricity, but if you have a large enough solar array you won't care and neither will the environment.
This is just a simplified explanation and there are a lot of variables, both good and bad, but solar has really come into its own over the last few years. If you want exact details about your site, contact me and my competitors and get a bunch of bids based on your exact site.
Very nicely done, Peter. That's roughly what I was seeing as well for cost online and then factoring in net after incentives. There's still a fair amount to contemplate, but that's why I came here to ask. Would love to add mini splits, etc., and not ruling them out just that there may be an easier way to solve the problems.
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:51 PM   #30
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Look again Shreddy, I just added a bit more information in an edit.
My belief is to add the solar first and stop the monthly bleeding, then go after the efficiencies. If in the future, after doing the HVAC upgrade, you find that you now have excess energy it is pretty easy to utilize. I recently bought a Chevy Volt and it gets me to Cannon 2-3 times a week on just the excess solar coming off my roof ...sure beats filling up the Duramax once a week with expensive dirty diesel (and no I won't ever give up the Duramax, the Volt won't pull 10,000# with ease).
There is a fantastic HVAC installer in your town that I'd recommend as your first contact; Austin at AM HVAC, 476-8933. Don't lose the number ...he doesn't have to advertise
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:53 PM   #31
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No one says you have to get rid of the electric base board heat if you get a mini split, keep them as back up. I got an estimate for a mini split on my 1700 sq ft house of under 8K from The Heat Geek in Belmont.
I heat with oil and wood burning stove but I know the mini split will reduce my oil bill, wood usage, and my electric bill in the summer getting rid of the window A/C's.
But I don't have a hot tub and my electric bill is never over $100 per month.
I do have to admit that I hate the look of solar panels of a roof and I would never pay extra for a house with them on the it, JMO!
I'm of the mind set of trying to reduce consumption first rather than trying to find another way to feed it.

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Old 02-12-2020, 07:49 PM   #32
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About $16K gross will get you a simple 6.4 kW (20 modules) grid tied roof mounted array. If your roof has a good exposure (170-220 azimuth, 8/12 pitch, and solid sun from 9-4) you will get about 8,000 kWh per year of solar harvest. This would equate to an average NHEC monthly bill of just over $100.

You will get a 26% tax credit from Uncle Sam and a $1,000 rebate from the State of NH PUC, so you net cost after incentives would be $10,840.

If you take that net and divide it by 8,000 kWh x .16 (the current Co-op rate) it tells you that the solar system will save $1,280 per year. Divide the net cost of $10,840 by the savings and your ROI is 8.47 years. Ie, that is how long it will take for the savings to justify the net cost of the installation ...if you assume that the electric rate will never go up ...and if you totally dismiss the fact that a monthly electric bill is purely an expense, while the funds spent on a solar array goes toward an asset the adds to both the value and salability of your property.

Oh, and one other little thing, a solar array has a life cycle of 35+ years. If the array has justified its cost in ~8.5 years, that will mean that for the following 26.5+ years your electricity will potentially cost you nothing. If you take the 26.5 years of free and clear and multiply it by the annual at the current electrical rate the savings is... $33,920. How's that grab you?

To be the devils advocate, what can go wrong during that projected 35+ year life cycle? With the solar modules likely nothing, they almost all carry a 25 year warranty are non-switching and relatively bulletproof. The most likely failure would be an inverter but even those generally have a 12+ year warranty. If you assume realistically that an inverter will fail during the 35+ year life cycle it will cost about $2,500 to have it replaced, but in most cases I tell my clients to consider this pretty much a wash against the slowly creeping electrical rates. Over the past twenty years electrical rates in NH have risen on average about 5% a year.

How long can a solar system potentially last? Most likely much longer than any of us but the modules do degrade in performance at a rate of about 1-2% per year as they age. The 25 year warranty generally actually guarantees the performance of the module and in most cases they are warrantied to produce 80% of the rated power on year 25. Think about that for a minute, 25 years ago we were burning 100 watt light bulbs to get the same illumination that we now get out of an 18 watt bulb, and running electric baseboard heaters that consumed electricity at a rate 2.5 times higher than what it takes now to get the same BTU out of a modern air source heat pump. But don't be too anxious to dump the baseboards and spend a lot of money on a mini-split unless the state of the equipment dictates it. As Thinkxingu has pointed out, baseboards are cheap, reliable, effective for heating, and require little or no maintenance. Yes, just like the hot tub they consume a lot of electricity, but if you have a large enough solar array you won't care and neither will the environment.

If you have yard space, I will almost always recommend a ground mount over a roof mount but not for the common reason. A roof mount properly installed will not cause leakage, but the roof has to be in very good condition before the install is done. The reason I am so enthusiastic about ground mounts lies in bi-facial modules. Bifacials are clear on the back sheet rather than opaque and will absorb the solar energy reflected of the ground. This is negligible during the summer, but the long days of strong sunlight negate this. Where bifacials really excel is when there is snow on the ground and that is a time when most houses need the extra energy boost the most. A bifacial ground mounted array will outperform a conventional module array by 20-25% all winter long.

This is just a simplified explanation and there are a lot of variables, both good and bad, but solar has really come into its own over the last few years. If you want exact details about your site, contact me and my competitors and get a bunch of bids based on your exact site.
Great information. Thank you


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Old 02-13-2020, 11:34 AM   #33
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No one says you have to get rid of the electric base board heat if you get a mini split, keep them as back up. I got an estimate for a mini split on my 1700 sq ft house of under 8K from The Heat Geek in Belmont.
I heat with oil and wood burning stove but I know the mini split will reduce my oil bill, wood usage, and my electric bill in the summer getting rid of the window A/C's.
But I don't have a hot tub and my electric bill is never over $100 per month.
I do have to admit that I hate the look of solar panels of a roof and I would never pay extra for a house with them on the it, JMO!
I'm of the mind set of trying to reduce consumption first rather than trying to find another way to feed it.
The look of panels on the roof is arguably the one deterrent for me. I've kept my baseboard heat on the past two months just due to winter and not being there full time. I just added the hot tub in late November. I'm getting a decent idea of what winter months look like from a heating standpoint, but I'm still wondering what it will level out to once I pretty much cut the electric heat for the spring/summer months.
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Old 02-13-2020, 12:34 PM   #34
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Anyone on here installed solar panels? My little chalet in Moultonborough isn't too big, runs electric heat in the winter, a wall A/C in the summer, and now a hot tub. With the growing rate of my electric bill running this stuff, I'm contemplating a switch to Solar and wondering if it's worth it from a cost/installation standpoint.

My place is two floors, 32x24 so it's not huge. I'm trying to figure what the gross cost is and then net after incentives, reimbursements, etc. Also, how intense is the installation? I feel like it wouldn't be an extensive install. Recommendations on who to work with? Any other helpful info to contemplate?
My recommendation is to start to experiment with Solar. I myself am considering getting a kit to start the learning curve. I have a friend who has done this, and has slowly been building up to be able to power his camp. He has learned about proper positioning, what it takes to charge a battery, how long a single or multiple batteries can power various things like lights or well pumps.... Best thing is he hasn't had to spend a bunch of money all at once.... He also has yet need to attached his camp to the grid....

My plan in the next couple of years, is to get a small setup put together, that I can use to provide power to a crawl space heater, to help keep pipes from freezing and extend my fall season.... with out increasing my electric bill....
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Old 02-13-2020, 12:46 PM   #35
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The look of panels on the roof is arguably the one deterrent for me. I've kept my baseboard heat on the past two months just due to winter and not being there full time. I just added the hot tub in late November. I'm getting a decent idea of what winter months look like from a heating standpoint, but I'm still wondering what it will level out to once I pretty much cut the electric heat for the spring/summer months.
I'm not sure how much electricity is used to power the hot tub but before I start running my window AC my monthly electric bill runs around $60 to $80. I'm only there on weekends and when I'm not I only have one light that goes on with a timer and the oil burner runs all year.
I bought my place 5 years ago. It was built in the 80's and initially had electric baseboard heat, I guess that was a thing back then. I was told by the real estate agent that when he went to refinance the mortgage they wouldn't give it to him unless he put in a regular heating system. So he install an oil fired hot water system and removed the electric baseboard heaters.. That was 30 years ago and I replaced the boiler when I bought the place.
Now I'm considering a mini split heat pump for AC and another heat source for when oil spikes.
I'm not trying to turn you off to solar but your place is small enough that I don't think a mini split would cost all that much. I think the savings would be considerable and I think the payback would be fairly quick.
There are rebates for mini splits also but no where near what they are for solar.

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Old 02-13-2020, 06:21 PM   #36
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The look of panels on the roof is arguably the one deterrent for me. I've kept my baseboard heat on the past two months just due to winter and not being there full time. I just added the hot tub in late November. I'm getting a decent idea of what winter months look like from a heating standpoint, but I'm still wondering what it will level out to once I pretty much cut the electric heat for the spring/summer months.
You might consider the all black panels from LG. Most installers carry them--it's a much sharper look than the typical black and silver.
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:56 PM   #37
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Default Onsite advice

1. FREE Have a couple of firms do an analysis. Preliminary can be done looking at Google earth and on the phone. Can you remove trees, or do they belong to neighbors?
2 FREE Have an onsite visit
3. Next cheapest: Put all your electric stuff on timers or control from your cell phone
4. Low cost: Do an energy audit. Seal cracks, add insulation etc.
5. Low upfront cost: you can lease solar panels instead of buying. May or may not be a good deal, but check it out.
6. As home #3, it appears to be used mostly for snowmobile weekends. Make a better effort to rent or raise the rent for summer or shoulder season tenants.
7. Go 100% solar and brag to everybody how great it is and what an environmentalist you are even if it costs you a little extra, it's good for the planet and you'll make it up when electric rates go up and/or you sell the house. You're personal friends now with Al Gore.
8. How long are you going to own this place? Can you get back your upfront costs on resale? You can often get your money back on a new kitchen, but not on a new roof. What do local Realtors have to say?

I think there are a lot more questions than just the monthly electric bill.
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Old 02-18-2020, 12:04 AM   #38
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Default Are you storing energy in this system?

Or just "feeding the grid"? Which would mean being on-grid at night?

I suppose if your storing your own, there's not much advantage in sending to the power companies and letting them store it.
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Old 02-22-2020, 08:34 AM   #39
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Default ...... squirrels nesting under solar panels?

Anyone with solar panels installed on the roof have any problems with red or gray squirrels nesting under the panels, and chewing things up? .....
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Old 02-22-2020, 08:49 AM   #40
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Default Another question

Another question: any problem with winter weather causing ice dams around the panel installations or snow covering the panels.

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Old 02-22-2020, 04:11 PM   #41
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Anyone with solar panels installed on the roof have any problems with red or gray squirrels nesting under the panels, and chewing things up? .....
That can be a significant problem. We purchased critter guards for our panels--black metal mesh fence between bottom edges of panels and roof. As a side benefit, they dress up the look in general by hiding the mounting hardware. Between the critter guards and all black panels (no silver frames), the system can look very sharp
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Old 02-22-2020, 04:13 PM   #42
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Another question: any problem with winter weather causing ice dams around the panel installations or snow covering the panels.

Dave
We'd had no problem with ice dams, probably because the top edge of the panels is high upon the roof. The surface of the panels is much slicker than the roof--snow slides off pretty fast.
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