Energy Saving Solutions – Active: Photovoltaic (Solar) Panels

Amazing return on investment here!  This is a project that we did at our home several years ago now – photovoltaic panels to gather energy from daylight.

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Layout of Photovoltaic (PV) panel system

At the back of the property is a ‘shop.’  Really it’s a storage building more than a shop.  So, after being contacted about having an energy converting solar photovoltaic panels system installed, we started to think about the benefits.


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Support post for tracks that support panels

The price-tag is not low for this, but the payback will be only about 10 years and then it will continue to produce for the next maybe 15 to 40 years.  We are told that the converter has a shorter life of maybe 10 years.  Our system is on the west-facing slope of the shop’s roof.  There are 26 panels for this system.  In the middle of winter, with essentially no sun, it still produces about 12 kilowatt hours per day (kwh/d).  We use about 13-22 kwh/d, depending on day of week and other factors.  In the summer time we get about 37 kwh/d from the system.  On the hottest days of summer it is slightly less.  They don’t produce as well if they get too hot.

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Statistics plate on a Photovoltaic panel

The first full year of use of this system we had a total electricity bill of about $444, plus the $4.50 monthly maintenance fee.  So, the total was about $500 for the year.  Doesn’t sound all that good until you realize that the previous yearly amounts averaged about $3,400 (that’s $280/month).  This made us net consumers (using more than we produced).  Pretty good return so far.  At that rate our payback on this system will take about 12 years.  It gets better here!

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Clip attached to track

This past year (having learned more about conserving energy) we are so far looking like we will easily be net producers, meaning that we will feed more electricity into the local power grid than what we draw out.  This means we will receive compensation for the extra electricity we produce.  The rate of savings so far looks like the payback will now go down to less than 9 years, even with the first year being less return.

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Track being assembled

The real catch is that the price of electricity will continue to climb so our payback will continue to get better every time the utility company’s pricing goes up.  Our system has the Solar World panels, which carry an amazing 25 year linear warranty.  I believe they are also the only ones being manufactured in the US at this time.  Though the warranty is 25 years, they fully expect the lifespan to be about double that.  Since the panels are the pricey part of the system, my guess is that by the time they’re failing we could have saved ourselves easily over $70,000, if the price of electricity doesn’t change at all.  Of course, I don’t think I will last that long.

Inverter Stats

Inverter Statistics

This site has some great little things to educate yourself on the benefits of these systems: Solar World  There are also pictures and photographs of the systems to look at.

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Long story here – an interim array of panels

More Energy Saving Solutions Coming!

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