EcoRenovator

EcoRenovator (https://ecorenovator.org/forum/index.php)
-   EcoRenovator Blog Discussion (https://ecorenovator.org/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=24)
-   -   Reducing solar installation costs: ideas? (https://ecorenovator.org/forum/showthread.php?t=5132)

creeky 02-21-17 10:27 AM

Reducing solar installation costs: ideas?
 
How do we reduce the installation costs for solar?

My adventure in solar panel distribution systems has me thinking about what the real costs of solar are.

As of today. You can buy the "stuff" for a solar install for less money than the install itself.

So in terms of creating value and increasing adoption of solar, how do you reduce the installation cost?

First idea: reduce the installers overhead.

One installer said to me, "can I get "just in time" delivery of the panels." This brings up the issue of overhead. If an installer is carrying all the costs of acquiring, storing, transporting the not insubstantial materials of a solar install. That's a lot of capital. Lot of soft costs.

Would it be better to have deliveries to the home owners in segments? Can you break up the install?

When you build a custom house. There can be delays while you wait for the electrician. Windows.

For solar installation would it be better to have specialists who show up with the racking. Or have the racking at the site. And just install racking. Then the panel installers show up the next day. Or a week later. Install panels. Someone runs the wires. Then the electrician shows up. A tradesman he's expensive. Can we reduce his time per job?

Engineering. Like home inpectors. Can we get a line of specialists who do "pre-install" inspections. Note sizes. Locations. Rafter types. Plug the data into an "app" and give the homeowner the results?

Can the roof engineering be standardized. Right now a roofing assessment and sign off can cost upwards of 700. Permits here in Canada aren't that bad. But ... I hear in other areas they're terrible.

Anyway. This is what ran through my head last night.

Thoughts? Ideas? Brilliant flashes of insight?

jjackstone 02-23-17 01:22 AM

I had always thought that where possible the panels and racks should be assembled on the ground or in a shop and then simply lifted and mounted onto a roof. I understand that a small crane might be needed to do this. I believe it would be cost effective if used on a regular basis. Obviously the homework would still need to be done for accurate measurements, making sure the roof can handle the load, and mounting brackets and conduit runs. Same thing with whatever electronics that need to be installed. Build it on a panel in a shop and then just slap it on the wall at the installation site. I used to do this type of thing regularly on a small scale in previous jobs so I see no reason it can't be done on a residential home.

What this mainly does is it keeps people from needing as many tools for an installation and lessens both time wasted running back and forth to a truck to get those tools and lessens the manpower needed onsite. While I haven't performed a rigorous economic breakdown on this I know from past experience that this method saves money and time for installations if done properly.

JJ

creeky 02-23-17 10:32 AM

Here are some of the tips I've received

* Experienced crews. (Lower callbacks. Saves time. Warranty.)
* Skip tricky installs.
* pre-engineer the product
* standardize (ex. bracing schematic to reinforce roof)
* improve distribution access to avoid multiple markups

* In the event of diy? what if your equipment requires service

creeky 02-23-17 10:41 AM

Another popular tip

* change codes

oil pan 4 02-23-17 12:48 PM

Put the panels on their own stand, not on the roof.

creeky 02-23-17 01:05 PM

Excellent point.

Ground mount are permit free in many areas around me.

oil pan 4 02-23-17 03:16 PM

I figure wood is probably cheaper than racks.

Xringer 02-24-17 12:12 AM

Google diy ground mounted solar panels
It might give you some ideas for ground mounts..

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/8PL6dduvrjU/maxresdefault.jpg

Xringer 02-24-17 08:36 AM

Yeah, those people must have a large home! My DIY solar arrays are tiny..
Mine are only used for Hotwater and battery charging (for back-up power).

https://i46.photobucket.com/albums/f...pscdd5266b.jpg

creeky 02-25-17 11:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by oil pan 4 (Post 53626)
I figure wood is probably cheaper than racks.

:thumbsup:

Engineered racking does go together faster tho. I like the longevity too.

For my own build I used both. Metal rails for panel attachment and wood for structural attachment. Of course I also hung my panels off my shed roof with dock hinges to allow for seasonal adjustment. :) :D :rolleyes:

Still: 6 winters. 100 km winds. Still no problem.
There are details and pictures of the structure and assembly here.

jjackstone 03-07-17 07:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jjackstone (Post 53613)
I had always thought that where possible the panels and racks should be assembled on the ground or in a shop and then simply lifted and mounted onto a roof. I understand that a small crane might be needed to do this. I believe it would be cost effective if used on a regular basis. Obviously the homework would still need to be done for accurate measurements, making sure the roof can handle the load, and mounting brackets and conduit runs. Same thing with whatever electronics that need to be installed. Build it on a panel in a shop and then just slap it on the wall at the installation site. I used to do this type of thing regularly on a small scale in previous jobs so I see no reason it can't be done on a residential home.

JJ

And I found someone who does it. Although he prefers pole mounts.

https://endless-sphere.com/forums/vi...p?f=41&t=86155

jeff5may 08-22-17 08:25 AM

The best, easy way to save boat loads of cash on a solar panel install is to have a good plan. Way too many people start out with something small, like it, and then proceed to expand the output. Most of the time, the two (or more) phases of installed components are completely different and not compatible. A few hours of homework done up front can result in better efficiency and lower total amount spent.

pinballlooking 08-22-17 09:12 AM

I agree with Jeff here. I started out wanting something small prove it then grow it. Then I did research and found this would not work very well.
I even looked at making my own panels. Then I found that power companies will not let you grid connect those panels. If you shop for deals you can buy them cheaper with a bankable warranty anyway.

My power company wants a $100 for every change. The array has to be inspected by county with fees every change.
I have to the equipment shipped in by truck the fee for one pallet or two pallets is not very different. I installed 9.2kw first then went to 12.5kw it would have been cheaper to go with 12.5 right from the start.

creeky 08-22-17 01:15 PM

Great points.

In my case I started out with a small system. And grew. Being off grid I don't have the inspection costs of course. I saved a lot of money on panels. When i started I was paying $2/w. When I upgraded I was paying .80.

I got lucky on my solar controllers also.

Inverter upgrades pretty much cost me no extra. I find that selling off older equipment usually covers the initial cost. Less handling/taxes.

Occasionally I have actually made money. Solar controller costs didn't drop until this year. So fluctuations in the value of the $C vs $US covered any losses. Again I got lucky. I bought US dollars when the $C was 1.02 and sold at .76. So in one case I netted a bit of profit even after 5 years of use.

Planning for the future is a good thing. Changes in technology though are hard to foresee. I think, perhaps, chancing an "opportunity cost" isn't necessarily a bad thing.

jjackstone 01-30-18 02:23 AM

Bringing this thread back to life. I found a couple of methods of installing panels that do not require roof penetration which should decrease installation time.

The first method is essentially a friction based solution. Place a polymer foam on the bottom of the mounting rails so the panels can't move and that's it. I think the article said it has been tested up to 130mph winds. You can read it.
https://www.solarpowerworldonline.co...olar-industry/

The other method lays a framework on both sides of a roof. On one side is just bare frame, on the other side the panels are installed. Makes sense. Keeps the panels from sliding down the roof and makes it more difficult for the wind to lift them. I'm sure a lot of people would have a problem with aesthetics with this one though.

https://cleantechnica.com/files/2015...9843265720.jpg

https://cleantechnica.com/2015/12/13...certification/

JJ

creeky 01-30-18 10:14 AM

Neat technique. I wish they sold the tech rather than bundling with a system. Maybe I missed something at the website.

Xringer 01-30-18 11:11 AM

I saw that 'L' frame technique used years ago. The DIYer used a wooden framework.
IIRC, the YouTube video showed the frame on the north side of the peak, was weighted down with sandbags.
There may have even been some sandbags around the PV array too.

The weight of the steel frame on the backside of this install (pic above) doesn't look like much.
Around here, it's common to get wind gusts over 60 MPH. I've seen the wind move dumpsters around parking lots, in industrial parks.

This past year, my neighbor across the street, has lost some of the siding aluminum trim and a few roof shingles ripped off by high winds.
Top Wind Gusts In Eastern Massachusetts From Blizzard Of 2018 CBS Boston

pinballlooking 01-30-18 11:17 AM

Looking at that setup made me cringe. We don’t always get kind of wind but sometimes we do.
I would not sleep good knowing my array was mounted that way.
I put extra support on my setup. It added very little to the cost of the project.
There is a lot of money sitting on my roof. I even have insurance on it.
I insured it for enough for someone else to replace it.

jjackstone 01-30-18 05:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Xringer (Post 58470)

The weight of the steel frame on the backside of this install (pic above) doesn't look like much.
Around here, it's common to get wind gusts over 60 MPH. I've seen the wind move dumpsters around parking lots, in industrial parks.

I don't think it's the weight of the frame that matters as much as the amount of torque(moment?) that it would take to move the installation in that configuration. One thing I might have done for additional security would be to extend the strut all the way to the edges of the eaves and make a hangers that would slip over the edge in a few different spots.
JJ

Xringer 01-30-18 07:09 PM

It is the weight. Because the rig has to weigh enough to resist the 'Lift' that comes from air flow.
The hood on my SUV is pretty heavy.. But, because of the aerodynamic design of the front end,
if the hood latch isn't engaged, and there is a gap 10 or 20 mm wide, a 60 mph wind will lift the hood.
https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...+while+driving

Look at the top and bottom edges of the array.. Do you see the gap?
Wind from the south hitting that bottom edge reminds me of an unlocked car hood.. But not too bad.
Wind from the north side flowing over the peak, will create lift, at the top of the panels..
https://d12m281ylf13f0.cloudfront.ne...s10/1-42-3.jpg

jjackstone 01-31-18 10:45 AM

Interesting graphic. I do understand about the wind loads and power of the wind. Would you have a guess at what weight(if any)you think might be safe?
JJ

Xringer 01-31-18 11:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jjackstone (Post 58478)
Interesting graphic. I do understand about the wind loads and power of the wind. Would you have a guess at what weight(if any)you think might be safe?
JJ

It depends on where the house was located. If it was in a hurricane or tornado zone,
that would make a difference.
Your best bet would be looking into the historical wind data for that area.


Because it's "The Weather", it's an unknown factor. I don't think there is a high-limit on wind speed.
https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/19...station-record


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:01 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Ad Management by RedTyger