Canadian Money Forum banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone have any experience/thoughts/opinions on solar powering a home?

I am looking into this for my house to power my well pump and to heat the pool. Anyone who has information on expectations for cost/maintenance etc would be awesome.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,061 Posts
Does anyone have any experience/thoughts/opinions on solar powering a home?

I am looking into this for my house to power my well pump and to heat the pool. Anyone who has information on expectations for cost/maintenance etc would be awesome.
It really depends on where you live and how much you pay for electricity. Where I live in Québec, for example, electricity is clean and cheap, so there's really no good reason to go for solar unless you live far from the nearest power line and it would cost a fortune to bring electric to your house. Solar electricity requires a hefty up-front investment and if your price per kilowatt-hour of electricity is low it could take decades to recover the cost, although you can recoup faster if you are allowed to sell back your excess power through the grid ("net metering" in electricity lingo).

Solar hot water, on the other hand, is usually economical and can pay for itself in a few years by reducing your water heating bills.

Here's a general overview to producing your own green power, with links to software and tools you can download to look into cost-effectiveness:

http://www.pollutionprobe.org/whatwedo/greenpower/consumerguide/c2_3.htm
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,748 Posts
Living in BC, my solar power source works as follows...

Sun shines on ocean, water evaporates, clouds move east, striking mountains, fall as snow/rain, runs downhill, turning turbines, producing electricity. Still driven by the sun (clean) and yet much cheaper than solar panel technology.... plus it is not intermittent when stored behind large dams.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Living in BC, my solar power source works as follows...

Sun shines on ocean, water evaporates, clouds move east, striking mountains, fall as snow/rain, runs downhill, turning turbines, producing electricity. Still driven by the sun (clean) and yet much cheaper than solar panel technology.... plus it is not intermittent when stored behind large dams.
thanks for nothing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,061 Posts
Still driven by the sun (clean) and yet much cheaper than solar panel technology.... plus it is not intermittent when stored behind large dams.
Note that a friend of mine in Mt. Vernon, Washington (directly south of Vancouver) has been generating much of her home's electricity using solar panels for about four years now and is very happy with it. PV panels generate power even when it's cloudy or rainy, and they are used to charge batteries; you get your power from the batteries which means you can use electricity at night even though the panels are obviously not generating power.

In my earlier response I forgot to link to info on solar hot-water systems -- here's a good one:

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/ge_bib/hotwater.htm

And a link from the same source on photovoltaic systems:

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/ge_bib/photo.htm

These should help you make a decision.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
23 Posts
Just thought I would throw this out there for heating your pool. Heard this from a few different guys in my trade.

They bought long spools of CPVC piping, the new kind they use for plumbing lines in new homes. It's ran in coils in your attic and connected to your pool with a in feed and out feed. Then to circulate it you can get a small electric pump from the local hardware store. All in, shouldn't cost you much more that a couple hundred at most I would think. It seems like a very good idea, anyone who has been in their attic in the summer knows the heat is unbearable so it's a great source. The pump won't use much electricity either so this setup would cost very little to run and could pay for itself in a year or two.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
50 Posts
Just thought I would throw this out there for heating your pool. Heard this from a few different guys in my trade.

They bought long spools of CPVC piping, the new kind they use for plumbing lines in new homes. It's ran in coils in your attic and connected to your pool with a in feed and out feed. Then to circulate it you can get a small electric pump from the local hardware store.
I would be concerned about condensation on the tubes causing mold in attic.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,936 Posts
Does anyone have any experience/thoughts/opinions on solar powering a home?

I am looking into this for my house to power my well pump and to heat the pool. Anyone who has information on expectations for cost/maintenance etc would be awesome.
Best advice I can offer is to do your homework before hand. Don't go into this all starry-eyed without finding out the true costs. Search forums online to try and find rational discussions about this and find out the real truth and not some glossy feel-good hype.

What I've heard is that the infrastructure costs aren't worthwhile for the average white collar city slicker. Only do this if you've got land and space, time and money available. And don't expect to recoup your costs right away. It takes years. How much time do you have? For the average guy looking to save $20 a month on his power bill, meh, do your homework.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
23 Posts
I would be concerned about condensation on the tubes causing mold in attic.
That very well could be problem but the water continuously moving threw the tubing would help to stop the condensation.

Royal-Mail is right. Solar is generally the most expensive option to power your home with. Even just for those few things you want to run you would need panels/cabling/batteries (+?) to store the power for night. It could even end up being more cost effective to buy more to run your whole home since the same components are needed for 1 or 10 items.

Wind is another option, there might be some self contained units to buy that would have everything you need. Geothermal heat/cooling is more cost effective if your looking to save on utilities elsewhere.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
174 Posts
I would be concerned about condensation on the tubes causing mold in attic.
PVC doesn't really sweat as you might see in copper pumbling. The issue can be rather easily addressed with a fan attached to a humidistat, along with regular inspection of the connections, and cleaning. Unions in this case are your very best, albeit expensive, friend! I know this because I've been dealing with salt water, condensation, humidity and DIY projects for a very long time now.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
50 Posts
But if its not sweating then one could assume that the heat transfer is poor as the PVC would be self insulating hence high surface temp..

Also don't think it would work in an attic as yes it hot but its insulated so not a lot of heat to take away on a continious basis. Now if you didn't have air conditioning it would help keep the house cooler.

I have heard of people painting PVC black and putting it on top of a garage.

How about cooling your AC condensor with pool water?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
174 Posts
Painting PVC is a huge PITA, and costly. I could probably think of a few better options for heating your pool. Sometimes its well worth people's time to go look into other similar hobbies/industries for ideas.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
378 Posts
PVC doesn't really sweat as you might see in copper pumbling.
I switched to Pex in my house and the cold lines were sweating in the summer even with rather low humidity - so I wrapped them. Realized that hot water is losing some heat (less than copper, certainly) so wrapped them up too. I wrap everything now. For 1/2 inch it is cheap.

Try to recover heat from your drain before it goes to your h20 tank. This works great and I wish it could work in my home (wrong locations for drain, water line-in and h20 tank...errr)

http://www.renewability.com/uploads/documents/en/gen_res_bro.pdf
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,412 Posts
Best advice I can offer is to do your homework before hand. Don't go into this all starry-eyed without finding out the true costs. Search forums online to try and find rational discussions about this and find out the real truth and not some glossy feel-good hype.

What I've heard is that the infrastructure costs aren't worthwhile for the average white collar city slicker. Only do this if you've got land and space, time and money available. And don't expect to recoup your costs right away. It takes years. How much time do you have? For the average guy looking to save $20 a month on his power bill, meh, do your homework.
Right on that. I looked into a home solar panel system that would mount on
my flat roof. In short a 2800watt system (each solar panel will generate
205 watts on a good sunny day in peak daylight hours) will set you back
about $12,666.64.

Now add that the McGinty gov'ts HST ($2,357), shipping costs (and I'm not sure that that includes the
cost of the deep cycle marine 12 volt batteries that have to be designed in series/parallel for a 48 volt
system), shipping costs (say $500) and installation costs by a qualified
electrician (say $1500 + hst) and the cost of several deep cycle batteries
(minimum 8 at $100 per battery = $800 + hst...
and oh yes a roof strengthing platform, and a place for those 8 large storage lead acid batteries..
a dedicated battery room with venting for the gases giving off..
and the maintenance cost/eventual replacement of the batteries (4 years)..at a cost of $800 + gst

Well you get the picture..maybe you can can recover your costs in 20-25 years,
on the power you will get from the solar panels...guess what..it's time
to replace the panels and upgrade the system again.

Of course, McGinty wins right away with the HST charged on all that solar eqt and
you still can't get off the grid completely in a rural or city environment, so
you will still be paying fixed costs minium bill every two months.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,246 Posts
carver, for the heck of it I will point out that all the items you listed were subject to PST, and hence, there was no increase in taxation when the HST came into effect.

I wouldn't bother with solar power (PV) myself. But solar thermal sounds like it has potential. You can even use excess heat in the summer to heat your pool or provide air conditioning to your house.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,412 Posts
carver, for the heck of it I will point out that all the items you listed were subject to PST, and hence, there was no increase in taxation when the HST came into effect.

I wouldn't bother with solar power (PV) myself. But solar thermal sounds like it has potential. You can even use excess heat in the summer to heat your pool or provide air conditioning to your house.
Yes, you are right "andrewf". On commodities that were taxable with the
two taxes before, there is no difference and no savings of course. What got
me interested was the local Nepean paper's article on a large solar array
installed on the roof of of a realestate/property management firm here.

It mentioned that this solar power system was installed with a grant from
McGinty's gov't/OPA FIT (Feed-in-Tariff) program to install and activate 52 solar
panels. The 52 panels at 225w each will (in ideal sunlight conditions only)
generate up to 11,700w (11.7kw) of dc power, which will get converted by DC/AC
converters (75-80% efficient) to about 8700 (8.7kw) of a/c power.


The minister of infrastructure was there to help "throw the switch".
The business will get a guaranteed fixed rate from the OPA
for supplying the grid with any excess power, (assuming they are
using some power for their own use).

I was trying to find out what grants (if any were available to the homeowner),
and couldn't find any. I suppose that the roof tops of most homes aren't
large enough for the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to be bothered with as
any excess power, not used by the household would be negligeable, and
therefore the installation by the individual homeower would only be for their
own use.

The extremely high cost/long payback is one major problem, the
short hours of sunlight from Nov to February up here is another and
the fixed roof panels (assume south facing) and sun angle is another.

So if even if you had the financial resources to buy a $20K (2800watt)
solar a/c system, with sun tracking issues, efficiency issues, battery
maintenance, etc...there is no savings to be had.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,061 Posts
As I pointed out in my first reply to this post, photovoltaics are generally economical only if you live far from the nearest power line and it would cost a lot of money to bring electricity to your place. I had a friend in southern Colorado who was told it would cost him $25,000 to have a power line brought to his remote cabin, so PV made sense for him -- plus he lived in a place that gets a lot more sun than we do in Canada.

But I also have a friend in northern Washington state who installed solar panels on her roof and sells the excess back to the utility through the grid; it works out well for her. PV panels will generate electricity even on cloudy days, and her battery stores the power while she's away at work.

There are three main reasons why someone might want to install solar power in Canada: 1) remote location, 2) a desire for independence from the grid, or 3) environmental reasons. In provinces like Québec where most electricity comes from clean sources, solar doesn't even make sense from the point of view of climate change and air pollution, although I suppose if you're opposed to big hydro dams you'd be making a statement.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
65 Posts
I was trying to find out what grants (if any were available to the homeowner),
and couldn't find any. I suppose that the roof tops of most homes aren't
large enough for the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to be bothered with as
any excess power, not used by the household would be negligeable, and
therefore the installation by the individual homeower would only be for their
own use.
What you're looking for is microFIT: http://microfit.powerauthority.on.ca/

For a 10kW rooftop project you would get 80.2 cents per kwh that you send into the system. The contracts last for 20 years.

The full prices are here: http://microfit.powerauthority.on.ca/microFIT-Rules/microFIT-Program-pricing/index.php
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,412 Posts
What you're looking for is microFIT: http://microfit.powerauthority.on.ca/

For a 10kW rooftop project you would get 80.2 cents per kwh that you send into the system. The contracts last for 20 years.

The full prices are here: http://microfit.powerauthority.on.ca/microFIT-Rules/microFIT-Program-pricing/index.php
While the OPA's generous scheme of paying 80.2c a kwh to encourage
small private generators, there are some strings attached.
Based on their website, a 10kw system would cost $90,000 to install.

If the prospective home or property owner doesn't already have the resources,
then you have to borrow from the bank at private loan (short term) or secured LOC interest rates.

Assuming you can get a 20 yr (4 x 5 yr terms) or a floating rate
the secured LOC, using their example ($370 per month payments) and
your return on investment ($245 per month) means a short fall of $75
per month that you would have to pay out of your pocket until the
investment is paid for. (20yrs?)

Now the other catch..assuming that you use none of the solar power generated
yourself and deliver the full output of your microfit, without any internal
losses, they claim you should realize a profit of $2940 per year...
roughly 3% return on investment..and Ontario will tax you at a 30.5%
rate on that, so the net profit will be approximately $2,000 a year or
$166 a month.

Did I miss anything?

Oh yes, according to an RBC loan calculation website, borrowing $90,000
(provided you even qualify for that kind of loan) at 8% interest over a 10 year
term requires monthly payments of $1,091.95 . (total interest over 10 yrs = $41,033.00)
so the OPA microfit calculations are skewed...

Loan repayment $1,091.95 per month (without added life insurance)
Income: avg 8hrs per day x 30 days = 240hrs x 10kw = 2400kwh x .80c = $1920.00

$1920-$630 ( income tax rate 30.5%) = $1290 gross profit per month
$1290-$1091.95 = $198.00 net profit x 12 = $2376.66 per year.

$90K invested in GIC at 2.36 % is about $2367 (taxed at effective lowest tax rate ) say 21% = $1870
per year..which is a very poor rate of return.

So the real winners in this scheme are: OPA, and the Banks, and the Fed/Prov gov'ts.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top