Solar Water Heating

Solar Water Heating
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Friday, November 6, 2009

Can I get off the Grid with Solar?

"Can I get off the grid with Solar?" Is by far the number one question we get from everyone. Businesses, Municipals, and just regular people pose this question, which shows how much is yet to be learned about solar power and where we are in the growth of this industry today. To answer the question, we need to look at YOU. Hmmm, that sounds curious, lets dig in. I often use a calculator on the web from PV Watts. The first question we have to ask is "how many solar panels can we fit on your roof?". Then, we need to know if we can face them South. In North Texas we are located about 33 degrees latitude (to the south). What that means is that positioning from the equator, where the sun goes directly over head, we need to measure what angle to position solar panels to get maximum efficiency, then we can calculate, using our tool, how much any sized system will produce. By going to: . Click on the City closest to where you live and plug in the numbers for: DC rating, or the size you want to put on. The default is 4.0 KW. "how many panels can we fit on the roof?" well, 3.0 KW is 14 - 220 watt panels, 4.0 is 18 - 220 watt panels, and 5.0 is 24 - 220 watt panels. After that you need to put in what you are paying for electricity today, or how much you think you will be paying over the next few years in Energy Data - cost of electricity. the default for this is 9 cents, but most today are paying 12 cents. After you plug in 12 cents at the bottom, just hit calculate. The next page will give you a reading of what you get in one year from the size system you put in on the top like 4.0 KWs.
So with the reading of 5.0 KW and at 12 cents per kwh, we see that in Fort Worth, we will get about 7017 kwhs per year.
Here comes the fun part. after we figure all of that, we need to know how many kwhs YOU use on an annual basis. Are you a frugal person when it comes to spending energy in your home or business, or does your home look like the electronics section at Best Buy?
I got a call from a very nice lady here in North Texas, she has had a very successful life, lives in a very nice home and even has a pool, however, her electric bill is very high. She called to see if we could help her lower her bill, or offset some if not all of her energy use. Her averages per month were between 2000 and 3000 kwhs per month. Using the math that we did earlier, we see that a 5 KW solar panel system will only help her with three or four months of her electric bill. She simply uses too much electricity for the roof area she has available to take care of the whole bill. Some people I talk to do not use near that amount of energy, or they have a much larger area on their roof for solar, so now you can see how everyone is different, and finding out what solar can do for you is really a very detailed decision. If you can make your home or business more energy efficient, then you can have solar be a great benefit to you. typically most people in Texas use somewhere around 1000 to 2000 kwhs of electricity per month, so a 5 KW system creating 7000 kwhs per year takes care of more than half of there energy bill, and the system will pay for itself in about 12 years (with incentives and tax credit).

Today Solar panels and the cost of all of the components for solar power change weekly. The current cost of solar is somewhere between $6 and $8 per watt installed. What this means is that a solar power system of 5 KW will cost somewhere around $30,000 to $40,000. This is good news because just two years ago it was much higher. We also have some incentives in place today to help you pay for such a system. Utility companies are starting to offer some money, and there is a federal tax credit in place for 30% of a system, after incentives or rebates from utilities, or 30% of the total cost if you do not have any incentives available.

Solar installation must be done by certified installers, the rules for receiving incentives, rebates or tax credits are very clear. Equipment, panels, and installation must be done with the proper permits for the electricity and connectivity, so doing it yourself is not an option. Finding the right installer for you should be easy, just call us.

Jay M. Howe - Sunrise Solar of DFW
(214) 325-5877