Solar hot water - How much will it cost?

Solar Domestic Hot Water and Solar hot water heating for homes and pools
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Solar hot water - How much will it cost?

Postby Mail Bag » Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:26 pm

I have a big old home and would like to know how many tube pannels how much it would cost to put a hot water system in.

In ontario there is a program where a company rents your roof and gives you free power and sells the rest to the ontario hydro do you have pannels that will do that ??



Conundrum
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Re: Solar hot water - How much will it cost?

Postby Conundrum » Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:27 pm

HI,

First off, there is no such rental program in New Brunswick for PV systems. Hot water and power systems are not the same type of panels. The reason Ontario Hydro has that program is that they have a severe shortage of power during the day because of the major cities. This makes it a viable option to rent space for solar installations. In some areas it is actually a big business, but realistically, the 'free power' isn't exactly that. The program is called 'Micro-FIT' and they pay for power produced by your system at a higher rate than you pay them for power. This allows you to break even or sometimes come ahead. In New Brunswick the program is called 'Net Metering' and it is not possible to get paid from it. It is actually structured so that you will always owe them something. They charge a $23 fee per month to read your meter, for example. Its really a moot point though because there are only 7 people in NB that are on the program and 5 of them are NB Power test cases.

The size of a solar system really depends on the number of people in your house. Also, the installation cost depends on the amount of pipe required as well as if you intend to do the installation yourself, or you want us to do it.

How many people in the house?

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Re: Solar hot water - How much will it cost?

Postby Mail Bag » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:03 pm

thanks for responding: right now there is only 2 of us but we have 8 kids and 3 usually come home from missionary service twice a year for a couple of months but i would like to heat the house with hot water as well as domestic hot water ,right now we have hot air wood furnace and a wood stove in the kitchen a big porch and lots of roof as well as a garage 20 x 45 . we probably burn 8 cord of wood a year i have it stored in a green house 28 x32 so its well seasoned .. but how much are solar panels that produce hot water and the ones that produce electricity.. I would average 1200 kwh per month what size of wind turbine or solar panel wold i need at what cost thanks

Conundrum
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Re: Solar hot water - How much will it cost?

Postby Conundrum » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:17 pm

Ok, I need to bite this off a bit at a time.

Before you consider going off grid for your power requirements you need to look at reducing the draw that you have. That means reducing your dependance on the power grid.

The first thing you should think about is that the solar hot water system. According to an insert in NB Power's bills last year, the hot water heater consumes approximately 60% of the electricity used in your home. This is assuming that the home does not have electric heating.

A solar hot water system will reduce that consumption between 60 and 80%. Having said that, the system needs to be sized according to your needs. That means if you typically have 2 people in the house, you should have a system with a 300L tank and 20 tubes. This will give you all the hot water you can use in the summer and most of the hot water you use in the winter. There is an electric backup to make up for anything the sun doesn't produce for you, so you don't need to worry about cold showers.

I would consider using it for some heating, but if you increase the size of the system to accommodate home heating, you need to have a place to put the extra heat in the summer. That usually means that you can use it to heat a swimming pool or hot tub. Without one of these, the glycol in the system can overheat and its lifespan will be severely reduced. The glycol typically has a lifespan of 8 years before it needs to be changed. If it is overheated regularly, the lifespan can drop to 2 years.

The cost of the system is $3800 + installation. We encourage out clients to install the systems themselves and provide free tool rentals and advice. That is mainly to help reduce the costs. We also offer installation services.

Usually when someone considers going off-grid the solar system comes first. When we install, or deliver the solar hardware, we install a weather station that loggs wind speed. This wind survey costs $250 and it is refundable against the cost of a wind turbine. Once the solar system is installed and you see the difference in your power bill, we can re-assess your power system needs. At that time I can recommend a specific turbine. The size of the turbines really depends on the amount of wind in your area. It is based on the information we get from the wind station and usually accurate within 10%. If you have enough wind to support a wind turbine, then we choose a size, and install the cement footings. At this time we can also install whatever solar equipment that you may require.

Its a bit more complicated than that, but that is the basic idea.

Is this something you would be interested in installing yourself?

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Re: Solar hot water - How much will it cost?

Postby Mail Bag » Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:48 pm

yes i would probably install it myself with some guidance one question? how much more efficient cost wise are vacuum tubes vs just the regular flat hot water collectors?

Conundrum
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Re: Solar hot water - How much will it cost?

Postby Conundrum » Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:50 pm

Well, there are a few very important differences between tubes and flat panels.

A flat panel that is filled with glycol weighs in the range of 250 pounds. A 20 tube solar array only weighs around 65 pounds when it is full of glycol. In Moncton this past winter the weight difference became a significant factor. Although I don't know of any roof problems caused by flat panels, the issue of added weight was brought to the forefront for some users. Many homes had roof problems, myself included.

The round tubes tend to clear snow as well, unlike the panels. The tubes stand off of the roof approximately 10" so the air moving around them tends to keep them clean, although in snow like last winter, even that isn't quite enough.

The tube systems are more efficient in cold weather because they have a smaller surface are to lose heat from. In addition, they are more durable and if a tube should be broken, it can be easily and cheaply replaced. Tube systems can lose tubes without any great loss in efficiency and the damage does not cause the system to stop working. In the case of a cracked flat panel, the system stops working and you lose glycol. This usually requires replacement of the glycol as well as the panel.

Typically flat panels are more expensive as well. I personally don't sell them because the technology is much older than the evacuated tubes. Flat panels have been around for just over 60 years and the evacuated tubes are closer to 30 years old. According to one Australian study, tubes can be up to 163% more efficient than panels, but that really depends on the panel and tube being compared. I think the number would be closer to 25% for the latest tube and panel systems. Tubes also take up less roof space than a panel system with similar heat output.

This is the link to the comparison I mentioned: http://www.energymatters.com.au/renewab ... cuated.php

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Re: Solar hot water - How much will it cost?

Postby Mail Bag » Fri Oct 28, 2011 3:35 pm

thanks i appreciate the info now about the cost ? typically how much is a tube pannel .how much glycol do they contain is the 300 gallon storage tank filled with glycol as well
are the pannels moveable or stationary , my main roof faces due east about 12 12 pitch and catches the sun as soon as it comes up until about 2 pm .. thanks

Conundrum
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Re: Solar hot water - How much will it cost?

Postby Conundrum » Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:10 pm

Here are the costs of the array and what we put together as a kit.

The 2 person hot water systems we sell as kits typically have the following components:

1x 20 tube array of evacuated tubes
1x 300L (75 Gallon) hot water tank with 2 heat transfer coils and auxiliary electric heater element
1x pump station
1x controller
1x Autovent (prevents air from collecting in the system)

The complete kit retails for $3800.

In addition to this kit, you will need:

Pipe to connect the array to the pump station and tank
Pipe connectors
lag screws
9x 6" L brackets
3x 1 1/2" aluminum mating strips (if installed on a shingle roof)
18x 1/4" bolts, nuts and lock washers (to secure the mating strips to the L brackets)
roofing tar to seal around the L brackets
pipe hangers
Glycol and Distilled Water (quantity depends on the length of pipe)



Thats pretty much it. It isn't possible to give a complete system package price without an estimate on the pipe length. We use 'Duo-pipe' that has 2 pipes and a sensor wire connected together inside an insulated UV resistant shell so that they can all be installed together quickly. It is much faster than installing L pipe.

An important note on our self installs, otherwise know as our 3 simple rules:

We require either copper or steel pipe to be used for the solar loop. PEX pipe can NOT be used. The temperature that a solar system generates will cause the PEX to fail.

Connections for either steel (Duo-pipe) or copper must be compression fittings. We will not accept soldered connections. Solder resin can react with the glycol and reduce system lifespan. Soldered connections can also fail due to the pressure involved. Duo-pipe is actually a cheaper alternative in any case because it is less labor intensive.

When filling the solar system, we require food safe glycol and distilled water. We sell both here, and we also sell a premix version called 'Thermo-liquatix' that is a product made from Dowfrost-HTF and distilled water. This will last about 8-10 years before it needs to be replaced. Typically its about $75 to fill the system. It is important that either this product is used, or at the very least a Dowfrost-HTF and distilled water mix acquired locally is used. No tap water can be used in the solar loop, no matter how good your tap water tastes. When tap water is heated, the minerals can be deposited on the inside of the pump and pipe system so that is the reasoning.


In your case, as I understand it, the 2 faces of your roof face either east or west. This gives you a couple of options. First of all, you can install an additional set of 15 tubes that could be placed on the other side of the house. Without a picture its difficult to recommend, but I'm sure there are a few options there. In Fredericton we have an install that actually uses the tubes as a 'sun shade' over their deck. That allows the array to face south and also pretty much eliminated any possibility of snow buildup. The snow just falls through it. If you decide on adding a second array of tubes, the 15 tube arrays are $1000 or you can take 2x 15 tube arrays instead of 1 20 tube and that would mean only an additional $500 on top of the system cost.

To answer the question of, can they be turned, thats another question I need to answer with a question. Do you mean 'can the array be moved once it is installed?'. If so, the answer is no, because of the plumbing connections. The individual tubes can be turned within the array and that facilitates off-angle installations. If you send me a picture of the outside of the house maybe I can come up with some installation suggestions.

Just a note on the costs, if you happen to have a business, we can give you all the hardware on a lease-to-own ($10 buyout) and there is no upfront costs. The monthly costs are usually less than the money you save, so you actually come ahead each month.

For non-business clients we also offer financing through Homeworks Financial.

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Re: Solar hot water - How much will it cost?

Postby Mail Bag » Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:57 pm

THANKS HERE ARE SOME PICTURES OF OUR HOUSE PATIO SIDE FACES DUE SOUTH THE END FACES DUE EAST THE SHED NORTH AND SOUTH
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Conundrum
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Re: Solar hot water - How much will it cost?

Postby Conundrum » Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:58 pm

I think that the patio roof would be the best option. If it partially obstructs the view from the dormer windows, is that a problem? Is that roof shaded during the day?


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