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    Going Solar By Day

    Donal has written a number of amazing blogs on solar energy projects in his area. Those blogs convinced me it would be a good time to try talk to my husband about investing in a solar electric system for our house.  He agreed immediately thinking it was an excellent idea so in the next three months we are going solar by day. We signed the contract yesterday. Yes we live in the Seattle area, it seems weird in a way to have a solar system here, but from everything I've read our clouds really don't matter and solar systems are not just very popular here, but very effective.

    We've been in this house since it was built. We've been here 20 years, and we are obviously not moving anywhere, so we figured it might be a really good time to make this kind of investment. We are nearing the end of this roof life anyway, so we'll get a roof and have the solar electric system installed shortly after that, amazingly we are on a waiting list of 6-8 weeks to have the system installed, the solar contractor is incredibly busy, he told me they hired four new people so far this year and will be hiring at least 2 more. Wow, that is great.   Our system will produce 4.1 kW of electricity, that equals 17 panels. The panels we've purchased are manufactured in the state of Washington, the company is Itek and they are in Bellingham which is north of us, near the Canadian border. 

    There are a number of excellent incentives for going Solar now.

    The federal government gives homeowners a 30% tax credit for investing in solar energy, essentially paying for 1/3 of the cost of the system, which is great!

    Washington State has a number of incentives for homeowner who invest in solar systems, the first one is a no sales tax on solar panels, this saves a ton of money. Our sales tax is right around 9%. There is another incentive that pays homeowners for producing power until the year 2020. This programs offsets the cost of the system by $8,000. Every state is different having their own programs. When we rode our bicycles in Pendleton, Oregon this year for a 3 day ride, that city has a loan program for people who want to invest in solar electric systems, it was something they promoted on the city web site. So each state, sometimes individual cities have incentives for people looking to invest in alternate renewable energy sources.

    We are really excited and when the work begins I will post pictures of the project. I wish you were out here Donal, we'd celebrate with wine and cheese when the project is complete!


    That sounds so cool. I read your blog to my wife, and now she wants panels, too.

    How steep is your roof? On Living With Ed, Begley demonstrated that he had to hose off the panels every so often. Maybe rain will do that for you, but you might want to make sure you can stand on the roof to access the panels.

    Hah, Donal, it is a great time to do it. We are lucky in Washington that the state incentives are truly excellent too, but all that writing you did about solar, really convinced us we should just go for it!  It's pretty easy to get up on our roof and the engineer who came out here did mention that people don't clean them off enough.  So it is a great point to remember. Next up, the water harvesting system.

    That's great, Teri.  Nice incentives, too.  Hope it catches on!  At my place we could do it with wind power, I think.  Constant blowing from the northwest makes me think windmills.

    I hope you do a play-by-play as it's being installed, and then afterwards, of course.  Looking forward to it.

    Thanks Mona, it is interesting that you mention a windmill. Just on the other side of the mountains from us is Ellensburg and Moses Lake,  both places are incredibly windy. The last time I was driving through there to head back to Montana in June, I was eating at a Sherries and the waitress and I began talking about the windmills. There are lots of wind farms across the mountains.  She and her husband were thinking about getting one for their property. I think there are good incentives for that as well.

    I will do a play by play with pics and everything. The roofing guys will be here next week and then once that work starts, I'll post all. I think it is great that the cost of some of this stuff is finally coming down. It is finally becoming more affordable for people to do this stuff! Which is great.

    Right on. Be interested in the results.

    I'm very proud of my daughter and her husband in Colorado. They installed Solar at a gross cost of 20K, don't know about the tax credits. But they now have no electric bill whatsoever. In addition they bought a late model used Prius at a good price and have no fuel cost on their second car. They are avid mountain bikers and it is a badge of honor for them to tell people, "we're off the grid".

    Wow you daughter and her husband are living entirely off-grid! That is cool!  It is amazing I think because as individuals we can make some other choices that can help alleviate our long term energy problems. More people who do this, the less expensive it will become. I wonder if there will be a time when builders design their houses to include other energy sources. I think it is the wave of the future.

    I am kind of interested in the Chevy Volt too, their commercials have me convinced that the next time we buy a car, that should be the car we buy.

    There was a good article in a tech magazine I get that had some good arguments as to why solar is no longer cheaper than "the grid" for power. And though it did not mention it, I would guess adding wind or some such as well, would also factor into that as well.

    Well the system we are having installed will pay back in 8 short years, approximately, it could be sooner if energy prices rise as much as people expect. So although it isn't inexpensive to do this, in the long run it pays off, and then there is this, those panels will be around 40 years from now with no need to change them. It definitely makes our house worth more, and that is just one more added benefit to the investment.

    That's what this article brings up. If you take your yearly electric bill and multiply it times 10 you easily come up with the price of a kick ass system.

    Do the Math: My Modest Solar Setup

    I have made repeated references in past posts to the modest off-grid photovoltaic (PV) system I built to cover a large share of our—again modest—electricity usage.  By popular demand, I’ll take you on a tour of the system: it’s history, its composition, and adaptation to my house.

    In 2007, I acquired a single, second-hand solar panel—intent on doing something useful with it. Confronted with a variety of options, and eager to explore multiple paths, I purchased a second panel and proceeded to set up a dual system: two stand-alone off-grid PV systems mounted side by side. It was really cool. I was able to power my television console and living room lights off of the two systems, while experimenting with different components and learning to live (part of) my life on natural power. I wrote a comprehensive article about how to size and design such a system, which may be worth reading first. Since that initial success, I have incrementally expanded my system so that I now get more than half of my electrical power from eight panels sitting in the sun. This is their story.

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