Anyone generate their own electricity? (Solar panels, wind etc.)

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  • Psiloc 15 May 2019 12:05:08 5,077 posts
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    Bought a house that has solar panels on the roof and I'm getting a bit obsessed with it. I've never been one to fuss over electricity bills but now there's a gadget involved I keep trying to think of ways to make the most of it. Problem is we both work all day and miss most of the sun.

    I installed one of those solar diverters that puts any unused solar electricity into the immersion heater for free hot water but it only runs for about an hour before the tank is hot and the free energy is going to waste again.

    Anyone else generating their own energy? How are you getting the most out of it?
  • Nexus_6 15 May 2019 12:08:36 4,240 posts
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    just leave your telly on during the day.
  • Frogofdoom 15 May 2019 12:09:17 13,262 posts
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    Mine cryptocurrency and get rich.
  • mrpon 15 May 2019 12:10:51 35,219 posts
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    Shouldn't it go back into the grid to negate your electricity bill?
  • Psiloc 15 May 2019 12:11:05 5,077 posts
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    It did occur to me it would be great for powering a grow house
  • grey_matters 15 May 2019 12:12:14 4,699 posts
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    Not yet. House renovation will include though. Do you have a feed-in tariff? There is none here so I'm looking at crypto-mining to earn something from the excess. That's kinda shitty though, sending letters to politicians is my longer term payoff.
  • Psiloc 15 May 2019 12:13:38 5,077 posts
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    mrpon wrote:
    Shouldn't it go back into the grid to negate your electricity bill?
    No. It's actually one of those shitty free lease deals. But even fully owned systems the feed in tariff was almost always based on 50% of the total amount generated, meaning you should still be looking to use all of the power yourself as it wouldn't affect your payments
  • Psiloc 15 May 2019 12:14:35 5,077 posts
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    The feed in tariff scheme is finished now anyway I believe
  • mrpon 15 May 2019 12:18:22 35,219 posts
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    I'm toying with the idea of panels to heat the water for whole house underfloor heating.
  • Technoishmatt 15 May 2019 12:19:46 3,410 posts
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    I would like solar panels on my new house, but the entry into the feed-in thing has finished, which means the panels are pretty much never going to pay for themselves if you dont use much energy during the day (and unless energy prices spike massively).

    I have been thinking about this problem too. Isn't Musk developing household batteries for this stuff? I could use the energy to pump water to the top of the house into a massive tank, then at night use the drop back down to generate electricity.
  • Malek86 15 May 2019 12:19:49 8,454 posts
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    I wonder how many private houses actually have their own wind turbine. Looks like it would take a lot of space.
  • nudistpete 15 May 2019 12:21:17 673 posts
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    If I had solar I'd probably consider getting a proper wall mounted air conditioner/air source heat pump so I could make the house like a fridge during the summer (and slightly warmer during sunny days in winter). We have a "portable" unit which is wonderful but it's expensive to run (1kW), as noisy as fook, and with having to run a pipe out of the window you're obviously going to lose a lot of the anti-heats - so it's used very sparingly.

    With solar and knowing there's no recoup from any feed in tariff, I'd run it unashamedly through the summer knowing it's essentially free cooling.

    Edited by nudistpete at 12:21:57 15-05-2019
  • Frogofdoom 15 May 2019 12:24:09 13,262 posts
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    Aren't the heat pump systems really noisy as well, you need to live on a pretty big bit of land for them to be viable dont you?
  • Technoishmatt 15 May 2019 12:27:25 3,410 posts
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    @Frogofdoom my two bedroom house in DC had the A/C heat and pump on the roof, but yes they aren't quiet. Biggest problem I found was unequal heat distribution in the house, and difficulty in controlling it.

    Not sure where I would put it on my London house. Are you allowed to out them on the roof? There is a flat part as the loft is extended.

    Edited by Technoishmatt at 12:28:37 15-05-2019
  • Psiloc 15 May 2019 12:28:10 5,077 posts
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    nudistpete wrote:
    If I had solar I'd probably consider getting a proper wall mounted air conditioner/air source heat pump so I could make the house like a fridge during the summer (and slightly warmer during sunny days in winter). We have a "portable" unit which is wonderful but it's expensive to run (1kW), as noisy as fook, and with having to run a pipe out of the window you're obviously going to lose a lot of the anti-heats - so it's used very sparingly.

    With solar and knowing there's no recoup from any feed in tariff, I'd run it unashamedly through the summer knowing it's essentially free cooling.
    It has occurred to me that I could have free air conditioning, since of course it's only going to be used when the sun is beating down. What's a good brand for portable air conditioning?
  • grey_matters 15 May 2019 12:28:47 4,699 posts
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    Technoishmatt wrote:
    I would like solar panels on my new house, but the entry into the feed-in thing has finished, which means the panels are pretty much never going to pay for themselves if you dont use much energy during the day (and unless energy prices spike massively).

    I have been thinking about this problem too. Isn't Musk developing household batteries for this stuff? I could use the energy to pump water to the top of the house into a massive tank, then at night use the drop back down to generate electricity.
    Batteries probably won't pay for themselves yet either (unless the energy price spike thing happens).

    Domestic gravity-based systems are not feasible, especially using water. Mass x g x height (g=9.8m/s/s) will give you the energy storage in joules, watts is 1J/s it takes a huge tank (very heavy) at a good height to gain anything worthwhile, even as a buffer. Well shafts with heavy weights on a cable might work. But costs. And management.
  • nudistpete 15 May 2019 12:29:12 673 posts
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    Frogofdoom wrote:
    Aren't the heat pump systems really noisy as well, you need to live on a pretty big bit of land for them to be viable dont you?
    Not really. I've seen a few AC units on houses on my estate of regular 70's & 80's identikit houses. You wouldn't know they're there unless you were looking for them.
  • TPReview 15 May 2019 12:32:51 1,375 posts
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    We have a heat source pump for our tiny two bedroom semi. It was there when we moved in and yeah you can hear it when it's on but it's more of a steady droning that's easy to ignore if the windows on that side are shut. Plus you only hear it in the winter when it's working hard, in the summer it barely comes on other than to heat the water in the morning. We never notice it then ( and everyone on our street has them).

    Money wise our bills seem pretty unaffected, we don't pay much for electricity and don't have gas, but then the house is small.
  • grey_matters 15 May 2019 12:35:14 4,699 posts
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    nudistpete wrote:
    Frogofdoom wrote:
    Aren't the heat pump systems really noisy as well, you need to live on a pretty big bit of land for them to be viable dont you?
    Not really. I've seen a few AC units on houses on my estate of regular 70's & 80's identikit houses. You wouldn't know they're there unless you were looking for them.
    Yeah, ground source needs a decent amount of land. The air-source ones are pretty good too though and have a fairly small footprint.
  • nudistpete 15 May 2019 12:46:05 673 posts
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    Psiloc wrote:
    What's a good brand for portable air conditioning?
    I have no idea. The one we've got is a Prem-i-Air, and it's amazing for what we paid for it but it's coming up to 10 years old and I don't think it's got many summers left in it. Before we settled on this one we had some cheaper Amcor units which both arrived broken.

    The portable units sound like a good idea, but they're a poor relation to the proper split units. They're a hassle to move (ours weighs around 25-30kg), a pain to hang the pipe out of the window, they're as noisy as fuck and you need to routinely drain & clean them or else they start to have a disgusting smell that exhausts from them.

    If you're going to get free power and intend to make good use of it, a proper split unit is the way to go.
  • You-can-call-me-kal 15 May 2019 12:54:37 15,757 posts
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    I thought the whole point was your house ran off a battery which the panels charge. Not that you have to use the electricity at the point the sun was out. Iím sure thatís how the Tesla home battery thing works. Are there not other similar solutions?
  • grey_matters 15 May 2019 13:05:20 4,699 posts
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    You-can-call-me-kal wrote:
    I thought the whole point was your house ran off a battery which the panels charge. Not that you have to use the electricity at the point the sun was out. Iím sure thatís how the Tesla home battery thing works. Are there not other similar solutions?
    There are but they are pretty expensive. Using the grid as a battery is a good system if the grid can switch off some hydrocarbon-based generation, but I reckon feed-in tariffs are needed even if its just a small return for the donation.
  • Psiloc 15 May 2019 13:35:46 5,077 posts
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    The battery component is optional (most installations don't have them), so for me and for most people it's a case of using whatever power you can while the sun is out.

    At the moment the economics of the batteries are even more dubious than the solar panels themselves; they're unlikely to pay for themselves before they wear out. Hopefully there's a turning point soon where they either become more affordable or more efficient.

    I wonder why the government can't step in and make the energy companies pay you back per unit that you export. I struggle to see why that's not already the case
  • Psiloc 15 May 2019 13:36:15 5,077 posts
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    nudistpete wrote:
    If you're going to get free power and intend to make good use of it, a proper split unit is the way to go.
    Cheers, I'm going to look into this
  • fontgeeksogood 15 May 2019 14:53:37 6,084 posts
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    My furnace is fucked at home, definitely won't survive another winter so was looking at heat pumps. They don't run much more expensive to install and the warm embrace of being smug about being ecologically friendly is free heat
  • grey_matters 15 May 2019 14:59:59 4,699 posts
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    fontgeeksogood wrote:
    My furnace is fucked at home, definitely won't survive another winter so was looking at heat pumps. They don't run much more expensive to install and the warm embrace of being smug about being ecologically friendly is free heat
    They're usually a lower temperature water system though, which means requiring a larger surface area on each rad. There's probably cleverly designed low-temp radiators that fit into a similar volume but maybe confirm that in case any extra volume affects the living space.
  • fontgeeksogood 15 May 2019 15:01:07 6,084 posts
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    I don't want to do this, but

    *slaps cock onto table *

    I have land
  • GuybrushFreepwood 15 May 2019 15:40:11 956 posts
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    My boss has solar panels and has a similar predicament. He says he's going to get a battery array so he can store the electricity. He's a proper miser, so he must have found a way to make it pay.

    By the way, he got a wind turbine and says it was a waste of money and hardly generates any electric as the wind is usually not enough to drive it.
  • grey_matters 15 May 2019 16:15:30 4,699 posts
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    GuybrushFreepwood wrote:
    My boss has solar panels and has a similar predicament. He says he's going to get a battery array so he can store the electricity. He's a proper miser, so he must have found a way to make it pay.

    By the way, he got a wind turbine and says it was a waste of money and hardly generates any electric as the wind is usually not enough to drive it.
    Yeah, domestic wind is not feasible for most.
    You need a fairly big rotor and good wind speed (energy scales with the square of the radius and the cube of the wind speed) or it doesn't work well.

    I'm still going to try a few experiments though.
  • Frogofdoom 15 May 2019 17:25:42 13,262 posts
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    @fontgeeksogood of course you do, you live in Canada. Everyone that visits gets an acre.
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