I have Been interested in installing solar panels for years. However when I analyzed how much it would cost, and how long it would take to recoup my costs, I could not justify installing solar panels. That is until I found out exactly how inexpensive it can be if you do it yourself, and use Grade B solar panels. I know when I first looked at grade B panels, I was skeptical. However after more research, the grade B solar panels give the exact same output, and have the same warranty as grade A. The only difference is that the cells colors are not as pretty as the grade A, and that makes no difference at all to me.
Before I get into how and what I did, I want to cover how well this is working.
As you can see, there was a large drop in power usage when I installed my panels. This may be is a little deceiving since I installed the panels at the same time the weather warmed up. However if you look at the overall trend for the last 2 years, it is obvious My power consumption has dropped significantly.
Now Lets look at the best part. Since I have my Power setup to use Time of day (see here for more details). Most of this Power drop was taked off my most expensive Electricity. Lets look at two of my bills. The first one is from 2011, and the second one is the same month in 2012 shortly after installing my solar panels.
Before you can understand exactly what These numbers show, you need to know how the Power meter works. Basically it does not know when the solar panels are doing anything until the solar panels produce more power than our current usage. For example if our panels are putting out 2KW of power, but our house is using 3KW of power, the meter will think our house is using 1KW of power. Because of this, the total generated (the negative number) is not very big, however the solar panels did reduce the total amount used. For the month I showed you here, my bill was only a couple dollars, because the the panels generated more on peak power than I used. Even though my off peak power used was much higher, it is also a lot cheaper than the on peak my panels generated. So basically because of the time of day meter I have, I was able to use (468 KW off peak – 140 on peak) 328 KW more power than I generated, and I got if for nothing.
Now if we compare the two months, you will see the one before I had my solar panels (remember both months are for June-July, just different years). In 2011, I used and was charged for a total of 1,140 kw of power. The next year with panels I used a total of 328 KW of power (this is 328KW more than my panels generated), but was not charged for it, since most of my solar panels generated power was peak time power. I do want to make a note here that I was very careful not to use much power on the 2012 year, so it is not totally fair to compare the two months. I just wanted to show this, to help show how using the time of day meter is so beneficial, and also to show how much difference These solar panels do make.
Go here If you wish to see how I actually installed these panels, where I got them from, which inverter I used, and instructions on how to do it yourslef and save $20,000.