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Pulled the trigger on Solar in Dallas, Texas

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  • #16
    Originally posted by DrLumen View Post

    Congrats and welcome. I recently had a 8.4kW system installed under the heel of Garland Power & Light.

    How is the Vera working out? I am using a Samsung SmartThings hub for most all except the security system. I don't like all the cloud dependency though. Will Vera run locally? I am looking at a Universal Devices ISY994 but the jury is still out.
    Hiya DrLumen ! Uh oh.... the 'under the heel' comment sounds a little ominous... Do you mind sharing what happened?

    Regarding the Vera, I'm a pretty big fan... I've had a Vera based system in three homes (including one rental property) since 2013 and am pretty pleased with it as the most effective consumer solution that I've found for my uses.*

    I've had my Vera bridged to several other non Z-Wave devices as well which is a really helpful integration point for me:
    -Lutron Caseta Smart Pro: Controls Honeycomb Shades and Roller Blinds in the house
    -Chamberlain MyQ garage door operator
    -IP Cameras
    -Alexa, Nest, and I've had it bridged to a Honeywell Security System to expose the Honeywell sensors to Vera as well.

    *It's also noting that plenty of professional Home Automation / AV installers use Vera based systems as well.

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by cebury View Post
      Welcome to the forum and I hope your system works to your liking. I also have a hard time seeing any simple payback under 15 years, but that is your money not mine. We do tend to get lots of folks coming asking for advice on the most cost effective proposals, so I cringed a bit when I saw both you and DrLumen were from Tx because we have had these conversations a few times with folks comparing their quotes with others from CA where the installation costs may be near the same, but the simple payback is much different since we are averaging in the 25ish cents per kwh.

      Either way, glad to have you guys here.
      Thanks for the welcome cebury !

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by majorcuddles View Post

        Hiya DrLumen ! Uh oh.... the 'under the heel' comment sounds a little ominous... Do you mind sharing what happened?

        Regarding the Vera, I'm a pretty big fan... I've had a Vera based system in three homes (including one rental property) since 2013 and am pretty pleased with it as the most effective consumer solution that I've found for my uses.*

        I've had my Vera bridged to several other non Z-Wave devices as well which is a really helpful integration point for me:
        -Lutron Caseta Smart Pro: Controls Honeycomb Shades and Roller Blinds in the house
        -Chamberlain MyQ garage door operator
        -IP Cameras
        -Alexa, Nest, and I've had it bridged to a Honeywell Security System to expose the Honeywell sensors to Vera as well.

        *It's also noting that plenty of professional Home Automation / AV installers use Vera based systems as well.
        As to GP&L, somehow they were able to sidestep and opt-out of the deregulation. I haven't really researched how that was possible but they did it. Almost all of Garland has to use GP&L. No choice.

        All the people I have dealt with at the city has been great but their interconnect agreement has a clause in it that roughly says 'We are not obligated to buy back or re-imburse for over production'. Currently, they only pay regeneration rates for over production which is only 2 or 3 cents per kWh. I will be getting a bill credit for $5k so that helps but, again, not really market rates for solar incentives. Oncor or some other utility would pay like $7k in incentives.

        If you lose your internet connection, are you still able to control the stuff in Vera? I know Alexa is lost in space without an internet connection. The Samsung ST hub has to be controlled via the internet (phone app) as well. That is what I'm trying to get away from.

        I have my security system and cameras intentionally isolated from anything z-wave or wireless. While that does eliminate some of the convenience it also eliminates some concerns. I can't unlock the front door from Amsterdam but I don't foresee ever needing that ability. By the same token, neither can anyone else.

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by DrLumen View Post

          Currently, they only pay regeneration rates for over production which is only 2 or 3 cents per kWh. I will be getting a bill credit for $5k so that helps but, again, not really market rates for solar incentives. Oncor or some other utility would pay like $7k in incentives.

          If you lose your internet connection, are you still able to control the stuff in Vera? I know Alexa is lost in space without an internet connection. The Samsung ST hub has to be controlled via the internet (phone app) as well. That is what I'm trying to get away from.

          I have my security system and cameras intentionally isolated from anything z-wave or wireless. While that does eliminate some of the convenience it also eliminates some concerns. I can't unlock the front door from Amsterdam but I don't foresee ever needing that ability. By the same token, neither can anyone else.
          DrLumen , those rates are not so great...

          Re: Using the Vera without an internet Connection: Yes... I can control the Vera devices by WiFi based iOS apps that speak directly to the controller. I also have a wall mounted controller that I use to trigger some scenes/devices.

          Re: Security System & Camera Isolation: I'm more fully integrated on my implementation. I take the perspective that it's probably easier for a burglar/thief to break one of my 4 ground level floor to ceiling windows than it is to break the Vera security to gain access. However, I dont have children in my house so that probably skews my approach to be much less conservative. My camera's are isolated so that the Vera cant disable them

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by majorcuddles View Post

            I know that Texas power rates make solar a hard sell in most cases

            I've 'earned' a Powerwall 2 through one of the prior Tesla referral programs and I look forward to integrating it to the system especially as time of use shifting becomes available.

            So, what can I tell this group about my experience?
            Well really you cannot tell us much of anything. But we can tell you what you will experience throwing money away on a battery. If you were to utilize and use the power from the battery every single day, the energy from that Powerwal Scam will cost you $1 per Kwh or more vs say 8-cents from TXU or OnCore. Champion energy you can lock in rates for 3-years At 7-cents per Kwh for the first 2500 Kwh and drops to 6-cents over 2500 Kwh in a month. So what you did is jumped up, raised your hand and said PICK ME I WANT TO PAY 10 TIMES MORE FOR ELECTRICITY THAN I HAVE TOO and my neighbors pay for it. If you only use the Powerwall for emergency power, you have a great big nasty surprise waiting for you.

            You drank the Kool-Aid.

            In addition there are no Net Metering Laws in TX except for the Left Coast Island they call Austin. In DFW area to get a RE plan from one of the providers means you have to pay a higher rate than your neighbors pay for any power you take from the POCO, and they will only pay you wholesale price for any excess you generate with a monthly CAP and no credits in most plans. Example your neighbor pays around 7 to 10-cents for all the power he/she wants and goe slower if they use more than 2500 Kwh in a month. You will not get that rate. You will pay 12 to 15 -cents per Kwh, and only get 4 to 6 cents per Kwh for excess you sel back to the POCO and then sell to your neighbor for a profit. Texas utilities and your neighbors would like to say a great big THANK YOU and keep drinking Kool-Aid.

            FWIW unless you live in a RV using gas for heat, cooking, and hot water, you have 240 volt service at your house. Trust me if you have just one of the following items in your home, you have 240 VAC:
            • Central heat/air conditioning. You live in DFW, you have HVAC unless you are in a trailer park.
            • Electric oven
            • Electric cooktop
            • Electric dryer

            But you would not know that if you drink Kool-Aid, so you get a pass.
            Last edited by Sunking; 09-15-2017, 03:04 PM.
            MSEE, PE

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by Sunking View Post
              Well really you cannot tell us much of anything. But we can tell you what you will experience throwing money away on a battery. If you were to utilize and use the power from the battery every single day, the energy from that Powerwal Scam will cost you $1 per Kwh or more vs say 8-cents from TXU or OnCore. Champion energy you can lock in rates for 3-years At 7-cents per Kwh for the first 2500 Kwh and drops to 6-cents over 2500 Kwh in a month. So what you did is jumped up, raised your hand and said PICK ME I WANT TO PAY 10 TIMES MORE FOR ELECTRICITY THAN I HAVE TOO and my neighbors pay for it. If you only use the Powerwall for emergency power, you have a great big nasty surprise waiting for you.

              You drank the Kool-Aid.

              In addition there are no Net Metering Laws in TX except for the Left Coast Island they call Austin. In DFW area to get a RE plan from one of the providers means you have to pay a higher rate than your neighbors pay for any power you take from the POCO, and they will only pay you wholesale price for any excess you generate with a monthly CAP and no credits in most plans. Example your neighbor pays around 7 to 10-cents for all the power he/she wants and goe slower if they use more than 2500 Kwh in a month. You will not get that rate. You will pay 12 to 15 -cents per Kwh, and only get 4 to 6 cents per Kwh for excess you sel back to the POCO and then sell to your neighbor for a profit. Texas utilities and your neighbors would like to say a great big THANK YOU and keep drinking Kool-Aid.

              FWIW unless you live in a RV using gas for heat, cooking, and hot water, you have 240 volt service at your house. Trust me if you have just one of the following items in your home, you have 240 VAC:
              • Central heat/air conditioning. You live in DFW, you have HVAC unless you are in a trailer park.
              • Electric oven
              • Electric cooktop
              • Electric dryer

              But you would not know that if you drink Kool-Aid, so you get a pass.
              Uhh... Goodness... I'm not sure why my post would generate this type of response Sunking . It certainly doesn't seem aligned with a community of people who participate because of an interest in Solar PV.

              I'd like to respond to try to understand some of the points that you're trying to express here, but it's a little hard to follow on first read and I think I should pause for a bit because I'm not sure that I would respond politely right now.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by majorcuddles View Post

                Uhh... Goodness... I'm not sure why my post would generate this type of response Sunking . It certainly doesn't seem aligned with a community of people who participate because of an interest in Solar PV.

                I'd like to respond to try to understand some of the points that you're trying to express here, but it's a little hard to follow on first read and I think I should pause for a bit because I'm not sure that I would respond politely right now.
                SK was busy lately cleaning up hurricane mess and couldn't provide his somewhat harsh counterbalance to the expected PV friendliness of this forum. Now as you saw the full picture, welcome one more time .

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by majorcuddles View Post

                  Uhh... Goodness... I'm not sure why my post would generate this type of response Sunking . It certainly doesn't seem aligned with a community of people who participate because of an interest in Solar PV.

                  I'd like to respond to try to understand some of the points that you're trying to express here, but it's a little hard to follow on first read and I think I should pause for a bit because I'm not sure that I would respond politely right now.
                  Response is not required, really. You can attempt to verify whether what Sunking wrote is true or false, or ignore it, but alternative points of view that encourage members to question their assumptions are welcome here, even if the message isn't politely wrapped. If the tone of the post prevents you from evaluating the merits of its content, that is as much on you as it is on him. I don't personally enjoy his style of communication, but it is sometimes effective, and I think it is important that the culture here not require that there be pro-solar "alignment", or that the technology be "embraced" without contemplating its weaknesses.
                  CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by sensij View Post

                    Response is not required, really. You can attempt to verify whether what Sunking wrote is true or false, or ignore it, but alternative points of view that encourage members to question their assumptions are welcome here, even if the message isn't politely wrapped. If the tone of the post prevents you from evaluating the merits of its content, that is as much on you as it is on him. I don't personally enjoy his style of communication, but it is sometimes effective, and I think it is important that the culture here not require that there be pro-solar "alignment", or that the technology be "embraced" without contemplating its weaknesses.
                    +1. Nice post.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by majorcuddles View Post
                      I've 'earned' a Powerwall 2 through one of the prior Tesla referral programs and I look forward to integrating it to the system especially as time of use shifting becomes available.
                      Looking forward? You mean you have a free battery, but you're getting solar now and thinking of adding the battery later?

                      Why not get the battery now to avoid problems like "oops, you need to replace your inverter"? That's not unlikely given the model of inverter you mentioned.
                      17kw. I like science, but I'm no expert.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by DanKegel View Post

                        Looking forward? You mean you have a free battery, but you're getting solar now and thinking of adding the battery later?

                        Why not get the battery now to avoid problems like "oops, you need to replace your inverter"? That's not unlikely given the model of inverter you mentioned.
                        Dan, are you sure? Please corrrect me if I'm wrong but from what I read about Powerwall it is 'AC coupled' so OP should have 0 problems integrating it later with whatever inverter he might have at the time. You can have it without solar for that matter and use it as 'rate shifter' so to speak.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by max2k View Post

                          Dan, are you sure? Please corrrect me if I'm wrong but from what I read about Powerwall it is 'AC coupled' so OP should have 0 problems integrating it later with whatever inverter he might have at the time. You can have it without solar for that matter and use it as 'rate shifter' so to speak.
                          Although there is no longer a partnership, I think the DC coupled version of the powerwall (supposedly still available in the USA, but discontinued elsewhere) with the storedge inverter is a better choice than any of the AC coupled options I've heard of. If the OP has any say in what the configuration will be, it wouldn't hurt to build now with that end state in mind.
                          CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            I'm not sure where Sunking is or what particular utility company he was talking about but I have not experienced much of what was said. While TXU/Oncor is probably the most widely used, there are 66 electric providers in Texas and most people do have a choice. If a particular company's terms are not good then they can shop around. As majorcuddles said, he has a deal with Green Mountain with the rates spelled out. As I said, I'm locked in here but I am not paying more per kWh now since the install of solar. My bill last month was the same per kWh rate as it has always been (it varies a little each month) except that I reduced it by about 1mWh.

                            As to only getting co/re-generation rates for over production and to play the devil's advocate, why should the utility company be forced to pay retail rates to someone that over generates? I don't like that I will get wholesale rates but as a producer I have to accept market conditions. Why should they buy mine at retail when they can get it elsewhere cheaper? For those that can get retail rates, great on you! I also think this may be one of the reasons the utilities rail against solar installs and the attempted net-metering rule changes. If I could get mandatory retail rates, what is to stop me from putting in a 100kW system to be distributed by the local utility?

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by DrLumen View Post
                              I'm not sure where Sunking is or what particular utility company he was talking about but I have not experienced much of what was said. While TXU/Oncor is probably the most widely used, there are 66 electric providers in Texas and most people do have a choice. If a particular company's terms are not good then they can shop around. As majorcuddles said, he has a deal with Green Mountain with the rates spelled out. As I said, I'm locked in here but I am not paying more per kWh now since the install of solar. My bill last month was the same per kWh rate as it has always been (it varies a little each month) except that I reduced it by about 1mWh.

                              As to only getting co/re-generation rates for over production and to play the devil's advocate, why should the utility company be forced to pay retail rates to someone that over generates? I don't like that I will get wholesale rates but as a producer I have to accept market conditions. Why should they buy mine at retail when they can get it elsewhere cheaper? For those that can get retail rates, great on you! I also think this may be one of the reasons the utilities rail against solar installs and the attempted net-metering rule changes. If I could get mandatory retail rates, what is to stop me from putting in a 100kW system to be distributed by the local utility?
                              As others, including me have been suggesting for some time, it doesn't seem a viable, to the point of no-brainer, and depending on to what extent it occurs, not a sustainable business model or practice, to be forced to buy the same product you sell at the same price you charge.

                              However, I notice my POCO (and other POCO's tariff's I keep a lazy eye on) breaks down the my bill in various ways. One of those ways is to show the cost of the commodity (or, as they claim, the cost of the actual power that they buy from producers).

                              Looking at those numbers called "Electric Energy Commodity Cost", or EECC, I have to wonder how they can charge somewhere between $0.07438/kWh and $0.35896/kWh and claim that's what their cost component for just the electricity they put through their lines, and then claim that the $0.27/kWh or so they pay for excess generation is their cost of what the same commodity.

                              I appreciate that the commodity cost can vary by season and demand, and maybe more than most, appreciate no one has a gun to my head forcing me to use their product, and that net metering is not a good way to run a business.

                              I just wish the POCOs would stop dancing with my leg or explain W.T.F. is going on.
                              Last edited by J.P.M.; 09-16-2017, 12:37 PM.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

                                As others, including me have been suggesting for some time, it doesn't seem a viable, to the point of no-brainer, and depending on to what extent it occurs, not a sustainable business model or practice, to be forced to buy the same product you sell at the same price you charge.

                                However, I notice my POCO (and other POCO's tariff's I keep a lazy eye on) breaks down the my bill in various ways. One of those ways is to show the cost of the commodity (or, as they claim, the cost of the actual power that they buy from producers).

                                Looking at those numbers called "Electric Energy Commodity Cost", or EECC, I have to wonder how they can charge somewhere between $0.07438/kWh and $0.35896/kWh and claim that's what their cost component for just the electricity they put through their lines, and then claim that the $0.27/kWh or so they pay for excess generation is their cost of what the same commodity.

                                I appreciate that the commodity cost can vary by season and demand, and maybe more than most, appreciate no one has a gun to my head forcing me to use their product, and that net metering is not a good way to run a business.

                                I just wish the POCOs would stop dancing with my leg or explain W.T.F. is going on.
                                In the long run it seems like a death spiral. The utility increases the rates, more people get motivated to install solar/wind, the utility "has" to buy any over production at the higher rates, that increases the overall rates again, ... It has to stop somewhere. As evil as we think some utilities may be, they are a necessary evil.

                                My current utility just gives the cost for electricity and then adds a Retail Adjustment Factor which roughly equates to distribution cost. I have seen different terms though. Last time I was on TXU, they called the electricity costs co-generation or regeneration rates which is the wholesale cost.

                                The $0.25+ rates are surprising to me. There must be slews of regulation or some inefficient generation practices or net-metering is having a larger impact or something causing those rates to be so high. Last I checked, the cost of natural gas, coal, hydro or nuclear fuel was the same in CA as it is in TX. Maybe deregulation here in TX wasn't such a bad thing after all. <shrugs>

                                While it would be nice to 'profit' off my solar install, I would be happy just to break even at the end of the year. I'm going to talk to the utility about a possible annual billing. As it is, I should under produce in the summer and winter and overproduce in the spring and fall. Buying @ 11 cents in the summer and selling at 3 cents in the fall is not beneficial to me. If I could get just an annual bill then I will be close to a zero sum and not have to pay the 8 cent per kWh difference.
                                Last edited by DrLumen; 09-16-2017, 03:15 PM.

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