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The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby pstarr » Thu 21 Dec 2017, 16:19:17

"Call Outback tech support. They've been outstanding in my experience...."

I don't have to call tech support. I rely on PGE to take care of problems that I do not have to know about. The above is why the personal power plant is dead on arrival. We can not all be system integrators and plant managers. (I do have a grid-tied system, but have no interest in learning it. And then I have to call in a technician when/if things go wrong. I don't like that responsibility. It is scary.)
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby GHung » Thu 21 Dec 2017, 16:41:45

pstarr wrote:"Call Outback tech support. They've been outstanding in my experience...."

I don't have to call tech support. I rely on PGE to take care of problems that I do not have to know about. The above is why the personal power plant is dead on arrival. We can not all be system integrators and plant managers. (I do have a grid-tied system, but have no interest in learning it. And then I have to call in a technician when/if things go wrong. I don't like that responsibility. It is scary.)


Do you have a technician for this? Looks complicated 8O

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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby pstarr » Thu 21 Dec 2017, 16:56:12

That's Adam's personal power plant (PPP), not mine. It energizes his fevered imagination lol
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby baha » Sat 27 Jan 2018, 07:51:06

The worst of the winter is about over in NC. The nights are around 30f and the days are getting warm. I saw less than -2f twice this winter two weeks apart. In hindsight I have a good feel for how this works.

I settled on 25% reserved on the battery and heated with electricity only...I turned on the LP gas heater once for two hours. If the night time temps are no lower than 30f I can get thru the night on the battery. If the temps are below 15f I have to turn on both heat pumps and the battery is down to 25% before midnight. Then the grid takes over.

Here is an example graph. The red is power from the battery. When there is nothing there the grid is carrying the load. From 11:30 on.

1-15-2918.png
1-15-2918.png (172.62 KiB) Viewed 7373 times


I can also tell exactly how much grid power was used (not from that graph). I can use a formula to calculate BTUs based on kWhrs and the Coefficient Of Performance (COP) of the heat pumps. On that night I took about 40,000 BTU from the grid.

I have 4 - 4x10 solar thermal panels. The rated output of each panel (during winter in NC) is about 25,000 BTU/day. So on a good sunny day they will make 100,000 BTU.

The plan is to heat my house with solar heated water. I won't need the heat pumps much at all. Then the battery only goes down to 60% each night and I am 100% grid free. I need to get with it. But I have been busy at work and I hate crawling around in a very tight, 60 year old crawlspace.

BTW - The solar PV has consistently made 25-35 kWhrs/day. If it's a reasonably sunny day. :) Still more than the house uses...
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby GHung » Sat 27 Jan 2018, 10:03:42

baha wrote:The worst of the winter is about over in NC. The nights are around 30f and the days are getting warm. I saw less than -2f twice this winter two weeks apart. In hindsight I have a good feel for how this works.

........

I have 4 - 4x10 solar thermal panels. The rated output of each panel (during winter in NC) is about 25,000 BTU/day. So on a good sunny day they will make 100,000 BTU.

The plan is to heat my house with solar heated water. I won't need the heat pumps much at all. Then the battery only goes down to 60% each night and I am 100% grid free. I need to get with it. But I have been busy at work and I hate crawling around in a very tight, 60 year old crawlspace.

BTW - The solar PV has consistently made 25-35 kWhrs/day. If it's a reasonably sunny day. :) Still more than the house uses...


Must be flat plate water heaters, eh? I replaced my old flat plate panels a few years ago with a 60 tube evacuated tube array that is soooo much more efficient. Really makes a lot of hot water using about 1/3 the space. 45 degree tilt for better performance in winter. This is the only system I took tax credits on and my out-of-pocket cost was less than $1000 (35% state credit + 30% federal). Sourced from these guys near Huntsville, AL: http://www.dudadiesel.com/solar.php Also a good source for glycol.

BTW: You said; "The worst of the winter is about over in NC.' ... I wouldn't be so sure. Some of our coldest days here in the mountains come in late Feb - early Mar. I have also set my record PV productions during this period. PV loves those very cold crystal clear days. Batteries get full charge before noon and the PV system dumps to hot water which gets pumped through the floor.
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby baha » Sat 27 Jan 2018, 17:45:42

Yes, they are flat plate collectors. I traded my RV for two of them and salvaged the other two. I had to replace one of the internal plates and glass...about $800.

There is a local manufacturer of Thermal panels and pump stations here in Raleigh. http://www.solarhot.com. I get all my stuff from them.

Yeah, I'm sure it will get cold again. Hopefully not like two weeks ago...I got 12" of snow. Most I've ever seen in NC. It was fun :) I didn't leave the house for five days. The grid went down 5 times for 5 minutes each time and I didn't even notice :)
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby baha » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 06:48:05

I'm starting to think someone out there is listening.

Duke power has started giving incentives for solar installations. My boss has been part of a board that has been meeting with Duke for months. All the local Solar companies are represented and they have been giving Duke hell. Duke has decided it might be better to cooperate. The incentives are as follows:

60 cents a watt for residential installs up to 10 kW. Max of $6,000
50 cents for commercial installs up to 100 kW. Max of $50,000
75 cents for non-profit organisations. I'm not sure what the max is?

This is payable on the day the system is turned on.

If I had qualified for this I would have gotten $4000 back. Bringing my total cost to $8000 including the battery. I don't need to worry about that since I am a solar dude :)

We are slammed at work. We are booked up thru June and are hiring new folks as fast as we can find them. I am working basically full time and have started doing Internet connectivity for the install crews and installing usage meters. They hired me an assistant. He is younger, stronger, and eager to learn. My back feels better already :) I told him if he plays his cards right, in ten years he can have this damn job. I'll be cruising around in my EVW.

We have 25 Tesla Powerwalls on order, all of them already sold. I have been tasked with leading the installs. And these are not even part of the existing schedule. We should get them in May.

My 6720 DC watt PV system has a 7600 AC watt inverter. Several times in the last few weeks it has pegged at 7600 watts output for more than an hour. Just like Ghung said, cold weather and high sun makes big power :) That is 12% above the rated output of the PV panels. PV panels are rated at 72f. The colder it gets the more power they make.

We have had several frosts but my Seedlings in the garden are still hanging in there. I'll have Lettuce while it's still snowing in Boston :)

And finally, Trump is bound and determined to crash the system. Everyone is bitching about it but it's the best thing that could happen :)

Damn, life is good :-D
A Solar fuel spill is otherwise known as a sunny day!
The energy density of a tank of FF's doesn't matter if it's empty.
I will see your google and raise you an infinity!

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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby Tanada » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 08:56:33

baha wrote:We are slammed at work. We are booked up thru June and are hiring new folks as fast as we can find them. I am working basically full time and have started doing Internet connectivity for the install crews and installing usage meters. They hired me an assistant. He is younger, stronger, and eager to learn. My back feels better already :) I told him if he plays his cards right, in ten years he can have this damn job. I'll be cruising around in my EVW.

We have 25 Tesla Powerwalls on order, all of them already sold. I have been tasked with leading the installs. And these are not even part of the existing schedule. We should get them in May.


Powerwall questions. Would it not be in the interest of Duke power and other utilities to encourage consumers to install Powerwall systems even on the grid? they would charge overnight from excess baseload capacity and level off the peak demand at around 2 PM every day by supplementing individual houses/businesses. Also has Tesla come up with a commercial scale Powerwall or are they just networking together house size units if they have an install at say the local big box store with rooftop solar? If the darn things were not so freaking expensive I would be interested in getting one to even out the spikes and lower my electric expenses. My location is lousy for solar, I am not eliminating shade trees that keep the A/C bill down in summer, and in winter we get about 2 hours of good sun a day with 17 hours of night and lots of heavy cloud most days. My actual best solar option would be wall mounted on my west facing exterior wall which gets solid sun for about 2 hours before sunset each day when the clouds are not in the way. We would actually be doing much better with a smallish wind turbine because my home is in a very windy spot, however that is a no go with the community regulations and distance requirements that would place it off our small property. Best case scenario for wind here would be a small roof mounted turbine but we are afraid of damage to our steel roof with its lifetime guarantee.
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby baha » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 09:17:40

Tanada wrote:Would it not be in the interest of Duke power and other utilities to encourage consumers to install Powerwall systems even on the grid? they would charge overnight from excess baseload capacity and level off the peak demand at around 2 PM every day by supplementing individual houses/businesses


Duke hasn't gotten that far yet. Tesla has that capability but the utility has to buy in and co-operate with the control software. That and Powerpacks should be operated by the grid manager. https://www.tesla.com/utilities

Unless you have a really big demand...

Tanada wrote:My location is lousy for solar, I am not eliminating shade trees that keep the A/C bill down in summer


Ha, PV can handle your AC loads in summer just fine. Let me get out my Lithium powered chainsaw and those trees will beg for mercy :) ...And you'll have more sun for the garden.
A Solar fuel spill is otherwise known as a sunny day!
The energy density of a tank of FF's doesn't matter if it's empty.
I will see your google and raise you an infinity!

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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 09:23:48

Be realistic about costs with the Powerwall. Not everybody is a solar installer like baha. The biggest uncertainty is the amount of markup on the battery and supporting equipment and installation. Other significant considerations are local electrical power pricing and whether or not your power utility allows the practice of "net metering".
Image
The list price for a new Tesla Powerwall 2.0 battery, which offers twice the storage capacity of the original Powerwall, is $5,500. Supporting hardware adds another $700 to the equipment costs, bringing the total to $6,200. Installation can add anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000 to the final bill.

It is important to note that the list prices you see don't include the cost of installing your Powerwall on your property. Tesla estimates that installation will add $800 to $2,000 to your bill. However, this estimate doesn't include the cost of electrical upgrades, taxes, permit fees, or connection charges. EnergySage users have reported installation costs that add anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000 (before any financial incentives are applied). The final number will be dependent on the specifics of your installation.

If you want to install the Powerwall as part of a solar-plus-storage system, battery costs are just one part of the equation. An average 5 kilowatt (kW) solar energy system costs anywhere from $8,500 to $16,000 depending on where you live and the type of equipment you choose. That may sound like a lot of money, but installing a solar-plus-storage system can be a worthwhile investment. Solar battery economics depend on a few different factors. Whether or not the Tesla battery pack makes sense for you depends on the way that your electric utility structures its rates, as well as your reasons for installing a solar battery.


https://www.energysage.com/solar/solar-energy-storage/tesla-powerwall-home-battery/

Recall that baha has two of these batteries, because he is seeking energy independance. The above prices are per battery.
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby Tanada » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 09:37:25

baha wrote:
Tanada wrote:Would it not be in the interest of Duke power and other utilities to encourage consumers to install Powerwall systems even on the grid? they would charge overnight from excess baseload capacity and level off the peak demand at around 2 PM every day by supplementing individual houses/businesses


Duke hasn't gotten that far yet. Tesla has that capability but the utility has to buy in and co-operate with the control software. That and Powerpacks should be operated by the grid manager. https://www.tesla.com/utilities

Unless you have a really big demand...


Not what I have in mind, I don't want to give control to the Utility, I just want to have a timer on my Powerwall so that it charges during lowest cost hours and discharges during the highest cost hours. The benefits go to me and the utility gets to benefit from less demand during peak hours so they should STFU and accept the lack of control over my (theoretical) battery system.

Our current big businesses are obsessed with gaining total control when what they should be focused on is selling the things to consumers that will make their lives easier. It can't be that difficult to set up a powerwall system so that it follows the 'average' load on the system and provides home energy during the peaks with a simple timer. After all the peak demand falls in a time window of 2 or 3 hours about the same time every day. Having consumer level Powerwall's click on at Noon or 1 PM local time and deal with that spike for 2 or 3 hours every afternoon would be a big advantage to the utility and no external controls are needed for it to work just fine.
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 09:51:51

Tanada, you don't appear to appreciate the term "smart grid". Distributed battery resources, as with distributed solar production, are considered part of the grid and are managed by the grid operator.

Here in Silicon Valley we don't as yet have much grid battery storage. However, shopping malls and schools have huge amounts of grid-attached PV panels above their parking lots. These exceed individual residence rooftop PV capacity considerably. There are also standby diesel generators that typically are controlled by the power company and can be brought online when needed to supplement grid power at peak consumption. My former employer HP had such. Then the utilities have their own (or more often leased from CALPINE) relatively large peaking gas turbine power plant facilities.

All of these are considered grid resources and are managed by the power utility, and most people want it that way. This operation scheme is in fact the very definition of convenience.

My rooftop grid-tied PV system is controlled and monitored by PG&E. I still get all the financial advantages I expected. But realisticly those advantages do not come close to paying for the addition of Powerwall batteries. My off-the-cuff estimate is that grid electricity would have to be 800% of present pricing for batteries to make financial sense. That assumes that battery pricing could remain the same when grid power has made an 8X price rise, which is a major assumption, battery production costs in an era of expensive grid power are hugely unknown.

Present Powerwall pricing, although relatively high, probably does not make a large profit for Tesla, any more than the EVs.
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby baha » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 11:13:35

We are selling Powerwalls at a fixed price. We have done 10 so far and the number crunchers have settled on $10k each. It will be my job to bring in some margin. Like KJ said, If you install the Powerwall with PV the whole system gets a federal rebate. If you just install a Powerwall, tough cookies :) Here is where the utility can come in, offer battery incentives, and get a more stable grid.

Just give me a little more time :) Things are changing fast...

KJ, I only have one Powerwall and I paid $6005 for it. I installed it myself with a little help from the people in my cult. And yes, a smart grid is a good thing.

But, very soon Tesla will be downloading software to all Powerwalls that does exactly what Tanada wants. Load shifting. I have already completed the training and I'll let you know when I have it. But it won't help me :( I don't use the grid much anyway.

Oh, at least one of those jobs is a 15 kW PV system with 3 Powerwalls. This Doctor hates Duke power :)
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby baha » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 11:58:29

Something else interesting...

I just replaced a Xantrex 5000 watt battery based inverter (like Ghung's) with an SMA grid tied inverter. These folks had lived there for 10 years with 15 kW/hrs of battery backup. The gel-cell lead-acid batteries finally died and and they wanted a quote to replace them with more hands off gel-cells. I quoted them about $4500. Just for the batteries.

They decided to ditch the old museum piece, install a modern grid tied inverter with on-line monitoring for $1750, and buy a Powerwall at a later date.

These are the changes I see happening every day.

I should say...One of my co-workers is taking the old inverter home to make something. Probably an EMP weapon :) It still works fine.
A Solar fuel spill is otherwise known as a sunny day!
The energy density of a tank of FF's doesn't matter if it's empty.
I will see your google and raise you an infinity!

https://monitoringpublic.solaredge.com/solaredge-web/p/kiosk?guid=19844186-d749-40d6-b848-191e899b37db
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 12:27:37

baha, is the $10k just the battery, or does it include the mounting mechanicals and electrical hardware? $10k would be a 45% markup if the retail cost of the battery alone is $5500 plus shipping, which is what I assume you meant by $6000.

My interpretation of "It will be my job to bring in some margin." is that the installation is time and materials. Does Duke charge a grid connection fee? PG&E waived my nominal $300 fee but then two months later everybody on my street got the same cellular SmartMeters for free anyways.

The SmartMeters offer the option of variable load shedding, but almost nobody in this area retrofitted the extra managed relays to enable this function. New Silicon Valley homes are being built "SmartGrid Ready" and housing contractors are offering PV options up to and including Net Zero Energy packages, but as yet PG&E does not offer a discounted rate schedule that would incent the retrofit for load shedding on existing homes. My interpretation of what I have read is that this may not even be required in this area, peak power consumption aligns nicely with peak solar power production because the highest consumption is Summer A/C loads.

Meanwhile every empty lot in Silicon Valley has been filled with medium-sized Solar PV, as with the Guadalupe Parkway Solar Project I wrote about:
http://peakoil.com/forums/solar-pv-for-215-homes-vs-ohlone-indian-burial-site-t73314.html
...and most public school parking lots were roofed over with solar PV, thanks to a General Obligation Bond Measure we passed a few years back.
https://www.borregosolar.com/commercial-solar-systems/santa-clara-unified-school-district

The mall parking lots were also built out with solar purely as a paying investment. These medium sized solar PV projects have better payback and lower costs than individual residence solar PVs, but (as on my own roof) we have that as well.
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 12:33:51

Baha, my own inverter is an SMA-3000US "Sunny Boy". I have been happy with it, and it is managed by an optional plug-in PCMCIA relay board connected to the cellular modem in the SmartMeter.
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 13:02:26

At the risk of stating the obvious, finances are the whole ballgame. And looking at the current total costs and at the variance in the way utilites bahave toward solar system owners (recalling what Nevada did to solar system owners recently, including reneging on long term pricing contracts for customers selling excess power to Nevada Power -- with the government's blessing), clearly the result is a big question mark for a LOT of homeowners, with solar situations less favorable than, say, southern CA.

I, for example, have a total monthly power bill (including all taxes and fees) of something like $60. Waiting for solar system prices to drop, and to see more instances of local working installations, and being able to see how people are faring, being treated, if they have installer recommendations, etc. seems like a no-brainer to me. For me, it's like buying a car -- getting ripped off or having a lot of hassles is NOT on my agenda.

Oh, down the road when I can actually conveniently buy and confidently maintain and service a long range, desirable, BEV, then I'll have real personal motivation for solar, as I'd just love to charge it off of solar and have relatively clean, guilt-free driving on area country roads -- which I can't do with an ICE.

The way things seem to be going in my red state, that looks to happen by 2025 or so, if BEV makers plans/claims can be relied on, which, IMO remains to be seen (given where we are with the Bolt and the Model 3, thus far).
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby baha » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 16:19:09

$10k is installed. Our cost is around $6k and the rest is markup, labor, and materials. There is a permit required but no connection agreement with Duke. That's just for the Solar PV. It is my job to turn a $10k payment into actual profit. We are planning on 2-3 days per install. I want to get that down to 1.5-2.

OS, Contracts suck. I don't want to be under contract for 20 years and neither does Duke power. They are avoiding the whole future obligation thing by paying up front. Which is fair because the owner is doing the same thing. If the incentives become too onerous they will just stop giving them. If they start making more money because I give them free power, maybe they'll start buying batteries too.

I can dream :)
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 17:04:29

Knowing that Tesla has a habit of releasing code when it is about 3/4 baked, and fixing it later (that's the pattern with vehicles anyways) I am wondering if the Powerwalls will be phoning home and if Musk is charging service or providing it under warranty.
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby baha » Mon 02 Apr 2018, 06:00:37

You're right KJ,
Tesla is making this a lot harder than it needs to be. Like Tanada said, all you need is a timer that says charge now...power later.

But in typical Tesla fashion, the new software is self-learning. You tell it when the high and low rates are and it learns your usage patterns and reserves power to meet them. They said it will continue to learn and get better over months. I expect they will integrate weather predictions as well. Something I struggle to do manually...

The individually owned Powerwall is not intended for grid interactions. It will not export power to the grid. Which is why no connection agreement is needed. It is intended to be used with alternative energy. If it is configured with on-site solar, it will not charge from the grid unless you are using it in purely backup mode.

What it will do is shift your solar output into the high rate times.

Tanada, If your peak rates are during daylight hours you don't need a battery, you need solar. I am on a TOU (time of use) plan but it doesn't matter since the high rate is in the middle of the day. I almost always make enough PV power for my house at that time. But some rates go up in the evening. In winter the Powerwall can save your PV output and shift it into the evening to cover your expected usage (automatically).

Again, this doesn't really affect me. The only time I ever use the grid is late at night, in the winter.

We all talk about the cars, and the crash and burn scenarios, but in the end Tesla is a software company. Their success or failure will depend on the control software they write.

Do I have to admit how many cars I have crashed and burned? :oops: My control software don't work too good either...but I am self-learning :)

I bet the Tesla control software was distracted by the good looking tail of that Prius in front of him :)
A Solar fuel spill is otherwise known as a sunny day!
The energy density of a tank of FF's doesn't matter if it's empty.
I will see your google and raise you an infinity!

https://monitoringpublic.solaredge.com/solaredge-web/p/kiosk?guid=19844186-d749-40d6-b848-191e899b37db
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