We've decided to go Solar, solar electric, that is. Otherwise known as Solar PV or Solar photovoltaic, this technology has been around for quite some time. Just recently though, there has been several factors that make solar pv very price attractive. I'll get into that later. But first, what is Solar PV, and what are the main reasons driving our decision to go solar? And why do it in Minneapolis?
Solar photovoltaic is a method of converting the sun's rays into electricity. Solar cells produce direct current (DC) power. With the DC power several things can happen. It can be stored in batteries (such as car batteries) by use of a charger. It can power dc equipment. It can be converted to alternating current (AC) with the use of an inverter.
We will be having inverters to convert the DC to AC. Our system that is being installed, is a "grid-tie" system. That means that our solar power will be hooked up to the local utility company (XCEL Energy) and we will get paid for any excess capacity generated. That's right. If we use less than what the solar panels produce, our meter will "spin backwards" giving us credit. Obviously at night time, our meter will spin forward since no electricity will be produced because of no sun.
Now the reasons:
Well, for starters, Minnesota has had a ban on no new nukes since 1994. Recently, there was a bill introduced to repeal the ban. There isn't a power company pushing to build another nuclear plant but for some reason, someone was trying to pave the way to allow consideration for another nuclear plant. We don't have anywhere to store the current nuclear waste so why add to the problem? Fortunately the bill was pulled.
Another reason that we decided to go solar is to lower our electric bill. Last year we used 5647 KWH of electricity. Anyone can find out how much they use by calling the electric company and asking for the total over the past 12 months. Our electric rate is $0.08, which means that we paid about $450 for electricity over the past 12 months.
Our solar system will generate about 66% of our household needs, or about 3700 KWH per year of electricity. That means our bill will drop to about $150 for the next 12 months.
Yet another reason that we decided to go solar is to "go green". I know it is the "popular" thing to do, but there is some appeal to reduce our dependency on "the grid". Also, I am currently working on my "Green REALTOR" certification, and this project fits right in.
There are 11 panels, each producing 235W of power. Each panel has a dedicated micro-inverter by Enphase. You can see this inverter on the back of this particular panel to the right. From there, the inverters are strung together, each one linked to the other, and that runs down to the electrical panel. If one panel or inverter goes out, or is shaded, the rest of the system continues working.
Now the cool part of this is that the whole system can be monitored remotely, via the internet. I can pull up a website that gathers information and view the output of the system.
As far as costs go, the system is being installed by Innovative Power Systems, http://www.IPS-Solar.com, and they quoted us a price just around $21,000. Our costs were higher than our neighbors house because we have a roof that faces west. So the panels needed to be tipped up to face south. XCEl energy has a rebate of $2.25 per watt for a total of $5,800, and the MN Department of Energy has a rebate of $2.00 per watt for a total of $5,170. The Federal Government has a 30% tax credit on the gross system cost which is about $6,000. Grand total $21,000 - $5,800 - $5,170 - $6,000 = $4,030.
I will post more as the system comes online in the next few weeks.