There are a lot of scammers out there including big well known companies that are charging way too much for the systems.
Do not pay more than $15K for a 4000 watt, or $20K for a 6000 watt system all in (system + install).
Do not pay for "solar financing"
Do not buy your electricity from someone who "gives" you a system for $0 down.
If you want to pay nothing down finance the system yourself via a home equity loan or credit line.
Long ago installing a Solar Electric system was a somewhat complex task.
However these days installing a system is similar to playing with LEGOs. This systems mostly just snap together these days.
A standard install for the typical home can be completed in 8 hours by 2 or 3 people.
These days most solar electric systems cannot produce power during a utility power failure.
No doubt that seems rather counter-intuitive, but that is how it is.
If you want your solar electric system to produce power for your home during a utility power failure make sure to discuss this with your installer.
Net metering lets you use the company supplying your power as an infinite battery. When you produce excess power your meter spins backwards, when you need more power than you are producing your meter spins forwards.
In California, you can store excess power "in the grid", however once per year, your power provider gets to take the excess you've produced and keep it. Thats the deal.
It still a good deal, you just have to arrange the taking date to be a time in which you have little excess credit stored in the grid.
Natural gas is still cheaper to use for various energy purposes than electricity. On my last bill natural gas was a quarter the price of electricity for the same purpose. However, keep in mind that electricity prices vary wildly around the country and have odd scales in some jurisdictions. Here I use the last dollar cost. How much the next unit of energy would cost me.
29.3 kWh of electricity are required to produce 100,000 BTUs.
one therm of natural gas = 100,000 BTUs = $1.25 via PG&E
29.3 kWh of electricity = 29.3 * $0.23 = $5.29 via PG&E
Of course, you may want energy indepedence more than economy.
When calculating your cost for electricity you need to add all the electricity related costs together. Including the electricity charge, transmission charge, distribution charge, taxes. You should also include the income taxes you pay.
For example if you add all those charges together and get $0.25 per kWh and your top income tax bracket including California income tax is (36+11) 47% then your paying $0.25 * 1.47 = $0.37 per kWh.
When you generate your own electricity you are offsetting the dollars you pay PG&E and the dollars you pay the tax man.
You absolutely need to keep shadows off your solar panels. Even a small shadow will cause a dramatic drop in output while it moves across your panels.
You won't win purely economically. Its up to you. I'm currently using gas for hot water & the stove top.
Sadly, another friend, also a Staber owner, experienced the same problems and scrapped his Staber too.
Luckily today there are plenty of quality low energy washing machines made by reputable companies. I have a Sears Kenmore Ultra now.
The consensus is that if professionally installed the time to recover the cost of your investment in new windows is 10 to 30 years.
The money is better invested and waiting for a more cost effective solution.
Just go around with caulk and make sure you don't have any leaks.
Producing the power to run the pool pump will probably not be worth the increase in the size of the system.
You do not. I paid about $2500 more to have battery backup. You do not need batteries for any purpose other than backup.
thin-film solar has been making promises for years and has not come through. It seems every year someone is investing milllions in some thin-film technology which will not work out. "Just say no" to thin-film solar and the other revolutionary technologies which are just around the corner.
Fuel Cell's convert Hydrogen directly into electricity.
A Fuel Cell home generator was supposed to be available in 2001 from GE called the Home Micro Gen or HomeGen. It should have no problem powering your house. If you've been holding your breath for this you are most certainly dead by now.
However, a Fuel cell needs Hydrogen. The GE HomeGen takes in Propane or Natural Gas (both carbon based fuels) It separates the Hydrogens from the carbons and feeds the hydrogen into the fuel cell, and electricity comes out the other end.
So what does it do with all the separated out Carbon? It releases it as the "evil green house gas" CO2.
But it produces a lot less of it than your local power plant does when it converts natural gas, oil, or coal into electricity.
If you could get delivery of hydrogen to a tank, you could eliminate the CO2 emisions.
The "holy grail" is for you to pour water (H2O) into a system, and use electrolysis to separate the H2O into H (hydrogen) and O2 (oxygen). Feed the H into the fuel cell, and either release the O2 or store it in a bottle and sell it to your local O2 supplier. This solution does not seem to be coming any time soon.
It is 14 years later and still no home fuel cells in the US. Commercial ones are available and some buses are running on fuel cells.