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How Much Power Do Solar Panels Provide?

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    How Much Power Do Solar Panels Provide?

    I always wonder if you can really live totally on Solar Power. Is running A/C, hot water, stove, fridge, tv and a decent computer really possible? It seems like a great idea. How many folks actually do this irl? Do they supplement with the power company?
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    #2
    Hi,

    My husband and I live in Southern California, in Palmdale, which is in the upper desert north of Los Angeles. We installed solar on our 1700 square ft house and everything is powered by our solar panels, and we run a credit balance with our power company - 2 big screen TVs, 2 desktop computers, 2 laptops, air conditioning, French door refrigerator, etc. You just need to have sufficient number of the right size for what you want to power. My husband is an electronics engineer and figured out what we needed. We don't have batteries to store the power but when we build our TH, we will so that we can be off grid.

    Wind power is another option to consider that can work really well and didn't require a big turbine making it a good choice for tiny homes.

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      #3
      That's awesome! I read a few horror stories but I think they didn't know how to do it right.

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        #4
        Originally posted by TinyHouseGirl View Post
        Hi,

        My husband and I live in Southern California, in Palmdale, which is in the upper desert north of Los Angeles. We installed solar on our 1700 square ft house and everything is powered by our solar panels, and we run a credit balance with our power company - 2 big screen TVs, 2 desktop computers, 2 laptops, air conditioning, French door refrigerator, etc. You just need to have sufficient number of the right size for what you want to power. My husband is an electronics engineer and figured out what we needed. We don't have batteries to store the power but when we build our TH, we will so that we can be off grid.

        Wind power is another option to consider that can work really well and didn't require a big turbine making it a good choice for tiny homes.
        Having an electronic engineer for a husband is a bonus. I live in Massachusetts and am currently designing a small home of approx 725 sq ft plus loft on a basement foundation. What solar company did you use? Where did you put the panels? How much do you think I would require for my home?

        thank you, Kim

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          #5
          Our panels are on our roof, 24 in total and they face south. We used a company that was in our local Costco store. There are so many companies out there that we just decided to go with them, since we felt reasonably secure that any company that Costco allowed in their store would be reasonable and reliable. One of my sisters is installing solar with a company from her local Costco and she is very happy with them.

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            #6
            How many you need is determined by lots of parameters: your square footage, how many appliances and how much wattage do they require, how many days of sunlight do you average a year, how much daily sunlight do you average, air conditioning, heating (gas, oil, or electric), tree coverage - how much, etc. and so much more.

            The only way to really know is to get estimates (they are free) from different solar companies. My primary recommendations are these:

            1. Be sure the company has been in business at least 5 years.
            2. Ask for a list of people who have used the company's services and then definitely contact them for their evaluation of how the installation and subsequent service has been.
            3. Check your Better Business Bureau for complaints and issues.
            4. DO NOT LEASE the solar equipment. My late parents got conned into leasing their solar and it was a nightmare after they died and I had to deal with the company's horrid policies when selling their house.
            5. Check with neighbors to see who they used.

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              #7
              Originally posted by TinyHouseGirl View Post
              Hi,

              My husband and I live in Southern California, in Palmdale, which is in the upper desert north of Los Angeles. We installed solar on our 1700 square ft house and everything is powered by our solar panels, and we run a credit balance with our power company - 2 big screen TVs, 2 desktop computers, 2 laptops, air conditioning, French door refrigerator, etc. You just need to have sufficient number of the right size for what you want to power. My husband is an electronics engineer and figured out what we needed. We don't have batteries to store the power but when we build our TH, we will so that we can be off grid.

              Wind power is another option to consider that can work really well and didn't require a big turbine making it a good choice for tiny homes.
              Just out of curiosity, do you know how long it will take for you to break even financially on the solar panel purchase/installation?

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                #8
                Originally posted by Gimom View Post

                Having an electronic engineer for a husband is a bonus. I live in Massachusetts and am currently designing a small home of approx 725 sq ft plus loft on a basement foundation. What solar company did you use? Where did you put the panels? How much do you think I would require for my home?

                thank you, Kim

                Hi Kim & for anyone interested in Solar, I
                hope this is ok to post - it's not my own advertisement but a recommendation of a great solar resource called Solar United Neighbors. They are national, focus mainly on regular hoises & businesses but are I interested in having reps fr the tiny movement join in. Their website gives basic info & they have a good forum($8/month) which kind of like this one so you can learn a lot about solar.
                I posted about my tiny house & asked for help/advice about designing a system & an electronics Prof offered to help me for free! I've been a member fir about a year & it's been totally worth it for all I have learned. They also have regional co-ops to help people get the best prices & also to advocate for them if there are issues. There might be a co-op in your area.

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                  #9

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                    #10
                    Hope that helps.

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                      #11
                      Great info & resources. Thanks!
                      One take away, in addition to all the other points already mentioned, is you have to know what your local electric company is up to w/ their policies, fees, etc

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                        #12
                        That is helpful! Thanks! It definitely sounds worthwhile not only for environmental reasons, but economically as well.

                        We can barely even see the sky for all the trees here, and when we can, it's usually cloudy much of the year, so solar isn't really a viable option for us. I love to hear how it works well for others!

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                          #13
                          I found this article that may be helpful to you: https://news.energysage.com/what-is-...a-solar-panel/
                          Also, here is a chart that will detail the usages of a Tiny Home so you will know what amount of output you will require:

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by SmallHomeFamily View Post

                            That is helpful! Thanks! It definitely sounds worthwhile not only for environmental reasons, but economically as well.

                            We can barely even see the sky for all the trees here, and when we can, it's usually cloudy much of the year, so solar isn't really a viable option for us. I love to hear how it works well for others!
                            Thank you Small House Family. It appears your investment made a huge difference! ?

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                              #15
                              ThinHaus has solar engineers in staff and this is what they have to say ... if you think about it, there is only so much power coming from the Sun here on Earth. If you want more, you will need to get closer (Mercury?). Even out in the desert near our Gilbert AZ build center, the max power is about 1,000 watts per square meter. That's it. This is why you don't blow up when you go outside. If you had a perfect solar panel, you could only run two hair dryers with one panel and then only for a few hours a day ... but no panel is perfect, at least not yet. Panels are maybe at 20% efficient so you would need 5 panels to run that hair dryer. Each panel is about 10 square feet so this is now 50 square feet. You can see where we are going with this ... it works, but it has some considerations. You will need a lot more space for your solar array than you need for your tiny house. Ground mounting will come into play if you want to run off grid and cover all the power needs. You could reduce your use of power, but that may not be a great solution. Solar works, especially out here in the Valley of the Sun ... but it's not cheap and it needs space. It also needs batteries, but that's a discussion for another day.
                              Last edited by ThinHaus; 08-19-2019, 08:04 AM.

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