Solar Panels At The Homestead! First Impressions and Cost 💸

I'm up here on my roof just
getting absolutely roasted
by the sun. But for once, I don't really mind. Why? Because
I have these solar panels here, just soaking it up and turning it into
beautiful energy that I can use to feed back into the grid and hopefully
run at least a net zero, if not a net positive energy production
home here at the Epic Homestead. So today's video on the Homesteading
channel will be mostly a follow-up to the initial planning video that I did
with my friend Ben Sullins way back earlier on in 2020.

What I'm looking at is 14
panels here up on this roof. And I'm going to talk a little bit about
the economics later on in the video, but I've only been running it for about
four days so I don't have a ton to share with you yet on that. I can
give you some projections, but we will do a follow-up
video in about a month. And then I'll talk about everything.
Anyways, 14 panels – three here, three in the back, eight right there.

Initially they were going to
be 330 watt Panasonic panels. It turns out that I got upgraded
to 340 watt because of the positioning of the microinverters,
which are below each panel. They are what convert the DC to AC and
actually enable me to feed that energy back into the grid. Something about the way that they were
configured on my particular roof meant we had to actually use a larger
panel. So I got 140 extra watts, totaling out to a 4.76 kilowatt
system. Very pleased about that, and actually quite pleased
working with West Coast Air, Heating and Solar who's
the company that I used. So their info is going to be in the
description. And if you mention my name, I believe that they will help you
out with a little bit of a discount.

Just Kevin Espiritu or Epic Gardening,
they will know who that is. Anyways, let's talk about this system first,
just a little bit down below. So I lied. I have one more thing to talk about up
here and that would be just the overall placement of the panels and
the positioning of the panels. So this again is a flat roof. It's
sloping backwards this way. And west, due west is probably about that way. So these are pointing slightly to
the south, maybe like 15 degrees, but primarily west.

And the reason why they're so slanted
like this is because the roof is slanting actually away from that direction. So we had to get some pretty tall
stanchions to kind of angle them at the optimal position to soak up as much sun, both over the winter and over the
summer. This is the winter right now, and we're still getting good production,
which I'll talk about in a second. But the real benefit here is the trees
that used to be on this side of the property, they all got cut down. You guys remember they got
mulched directly into my yard. I have some amazing wood
chip mulch directly from the
property and that freed up a lot of space.

Because what would have happened is the
sun would have been shaded out to about here probably until noon, I
would say, every single day. So we would have had to cram all the
panels onto this north side of the roof, which wouldn't have been ideal.
It would have been hard to extend. So now what we have is a system where I
have 14 panels and we're only taking up about, I would say,
two-thirds of the roof. So I could probably put another seven
here and have eventually 21 panels, which if I need to extend the power,
then that's absolutely fantastic.

But that's enough up here. Let's go
downstairs and check out the meter. So we're back down here on
solid ground. We have our meter, we have our electrical panel, and then
we have this extra piece of equipment. It's from Enphase. It is I believe
called the Envoy. It's one of their, I think it's their combiner.
But basically again, we have the microinverters
up on those panels. This is a two-way communication system. So it'll talk to the microinverters
and it'll talk to me. So it'll get data from
them or send data to them. And it will actually then aggregate that
and pull that to me on my phone or on my desktop. So this is a fantastic
product. It came with the install. It's going to be a really good way for
me to quantify how much I'm producing throughout the year. And then also
I'll check in with my SDG&E data, my San Diego Gas & Electric meter, and
see how much I'm actually consuming.

So that's that. There's probably a lot more
interesting things to say about that. I'm just not really that savvy
as far as solar technology goes. And so you can do your
own research on this. This came with the install that West
Coast provided. Honestly, they were very, very savvy. They knew the panels, they knew the system and they just were
very matter of fact and very business professional about it, which
I personally really enjoy. That's the way my brain works. But on
this meter, what our meters will do, I have net metering now. So it's
going to net out what I end up using. And it'll either apply a debit or a credit
to the account and I pay on a yearly basis now. There are some really cool
features on this I want to show you. Okay. So what we have here are,
it's just a rotating screen. But the real interesting thing,
first of all, that's DEL, so that's delivered and that's received.

So you can see that they've
received 44 kilowatt hours so far. It looks like I'm using up
about that much right now. But the interesting thing to look at
are these two blocks with the arrow pointing to the right. That means right now I am using
more energy than I'm consuming. It's getting late in the day and the
arrow is pointing towards the right, which means I am sucking out more energy
FROM the grid that I'm contributing back TO the grid. Now, most
of the time in the morning, or when I'm using my
energy in a lower level, I'm not running any appliances or
something, this is going the opposite way.

So the two blocks will be going this way
and then the arrow will be on the left side. That means that, of course, I
am producing more than I am consuming. So what happens here is it
won't show you the net amount. So you can see I delivered 226 kilowatts
in this cycle and they've received 44. Again, I've only been running
it for four days. So the net, you have to do the net
yourself. I'm net plus 190. So I've taken 190 more
kilowatts than I've used. But what I want to do now is show you
the Enphase app and you can see exactly what I've produced every day. So here we are on the Enphase app, and you can see I have produced
16.3 kilowatt hours today, January 11th, 2021.

Looks like yesterday was a little bit
lower by one kilowatt hour, at 15.2. There's a cool little sort
of contextualizer here. I can power a 100 watt
light bulb for two weeks. I can power a fridge for four days. So just off the power of
generating today. Pretty cool. Now what's really
interesting to me though, is you can look at your array on a per
panel basis. So here all my panels, you guys just saw those up on the roof, and I can see every single
panel's output for the day, which is really kind of neat. And it
allows you to troubleshoot. For example, you can see I'm at 1.12 to 1.13 kilowatt
hours on these panels up at the front. Whereas these ones are in the
1.15 to 1.2 and the 1.18 to 1.2. So why are these lower? Well I've got a jacaranda tree that's
probably sitting right about here on the median. And so if I have the city come and
actually cut that down or trim it down, not cut it down, it's
a little bit unwieldy, it will shade this a little
bit later in the day.

Which means that more sun will hit it, which means that I'll get more production. And if I can match let's say 1.18 here, then I'll add another 0.6, 0.6 and 0.5, which means I'll be adding almost
a fifth of a kilowatt hour per day. So that's how you can kind of troubleshoot
that little system right there. Now you also have your energy produced
over the course of a day/week/month, whatever sort of time period you
want. You can even compare day to day. So take a look. I can overlay January's graph from
January 10th and it looks like there was a bit more of a steep drop-off as
you get to about, I don't know, about 2:00 PM or so. Something must have
happened. Some clouds must've come in, something like that. So
that's kind of handy. There's also a currency equivalency here. This is not super accurate because
your rate is not the same all the time. I put in a general estimate right there. And that's roughly what I've
produced just today and voila. So the system is pretty cool.

I really like being able to see
it on my phone or my desktop. It allows me as a data person to just get
a sense of how the system's performing. Now that we've seen the actual system,
we've looked at some of the data. Again, it's all preliminary. I don't
have a lot to go by yet, but how much should I pay for the system? How long is it gonna
take to pay itself off? Do I think it's worth it in
the long run? First of all, in San Diego we get sun just such
an abundant amount of sun that it's hard for solar to not be worth it, but
you have to think about your use case.

So for me, I ran maybe 450 kilowatt
hours worth of energy in December. And in the next pay
period, I was somewhere around 600. I was quite high because I was
kind of just willy nilly doing a maximum "don't think about energy use
case" for a month to see how much I would actually have to pay. And it turns out that my electricity
bill was about $180 or $190, which is more than I've really ever paid. Except for the one time that
an old roommate forgot to
turn the air conditioner off and I had a $600 bill at my old
place. Let's not talk about that. That's another painful story. But it looks like the production will
cover somewhere around $160 to $170 worth of electricity per month, which I'm not even going to touch
because I have a lot of ways that my electricity usage is going
to go way, way, way down.

But how much did the system cost? Now
because of the California rebate system, I don't have the exact numbers yet, but I paid roughly $13,500 for this system fully installed, all of that. What's interesting about the rebate system
is a 26% rebate if you had it turned on in 2020, which I did. And so what that means is 26%
of the total cost of the solar, but ALSO the part of the roof
that was needed to be improved to install the solar, gets deducted, or you get a rebate or you
get a check back for that. And so that actually reduces
the cost quite a bit. So I'll have the full numbers once
all the tax stuff gets done and that's actually finalized. I'm
really curious to see, but even conservatively the payback
period on this particular solar at my house is somewhere in the
seven to eight year range, which is really quite quick for solar.
And I'm very, very excited about that! And actually I believe the way that the
net metering works here in San Diego is I get to earn backwards all
the electricity that I've
paid for already to date.

And so it'll start deleting my bills
from the past and I'll earn credits on that. Now I'm not a 100% sure because
the minutiae of that is actually kind of complex. I need to call up the energy company
and see if I'm on the right plan and all that kind of stuff. But
just in the net, number one, to me renewable energy, it's the right way to go even if
the payback period is kind of long. Because for me, I want to live the way that I think
I would want everyone else to live. And that would be in a sustainable
way. And certainly solar panels, yes, they cost energy to produce
and all that sort of stuff.

You really can't get away from the
fact that living on earth takes energy, but you want to take as little as you
can in ways that aren't as damaging as other ways, right? So not just using gas for absolutely
everything or just pulling straight from the grid which will come from a coal
plant or what have you. So in my opinion, it is going to be a fantastic move! And I also have the ability to expand
the system if I build, when I build, really intense gardening systems out
here that are going to require more electricity. Or if I run power out to
the shed here or sprinkling systems, whatever the case may be. So I know that
was sort of a rough look at the solar. It's a rough period right now.
I don't have all the numbers. So if there's something
you really want to know, I will do a full one month/six month/one
year retrospective on this solar install here at the Epic
Homestead so you can see it.

So drop it in the Comments. What
do you actually want to know? I'll do all the research.
I'll crunch all the numbers. Maybe I'll have my friend Ben Sullins
back to do some of that for me. He is the data God himself. So until
next time guys, good luck in the garden, stay renewable and keep on growing..

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