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  • Solar Company

    Hi everyone!

    I've been soaking up all your guys's knowledge behind the scenes for a bit now but this is my first post- and I just want to start by saying thanks for everyones expertise and willingness to share. It's been a great experience.

    I'll get right to the point- I want to start my own solar company! FWIW I've always wanted to own my own busines. I come from a mechatronics engineering background and have always had a passion for alternate energy and just finding better ways to do things in general, and I think I've really found a point in solar where all those things converge into one.

    Let me clarify however that in no way is my intention to promote or advertise. I've researched here a ton already and I'm sure I will have a lot of more pointed questions to post in the future and I value the privelage of utilizing this forum.

    As I am performing my due dilligence market research, I feel like I would be making a mistake if I didn't see what you guys had to say about this endeavor. Without sharing anything too proprietary, my hope is to establish my minimum viable product(or service rather) through your run of the mill solar installs and an aggressivley competitive ROI model, and then gradually moving on to some other niche corners and innovations in the energy market.

    So forgive me if this is too broad of a question for a single thread, but what do you guys think? Any food for thought is welcome really. Is it a good time to do this? Is competing with the bigger solar companies foolish? Do you see it being difficult to secure funding? Are people receptive enough yet? What could one do to be succesful in aspects that bigger companies fail to do?

    Feel free to grill me with any questions as well. And thanks again everyone!

  • #2
    sadly, you are coming into the tail end of the boom. Many states and electric companys are discouraging solar installs, leaving the occasional off-grid install as possible work
    Federal credits will last a few more years, and the greenwashing crowd may still be in the market.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply!

      Ok...Ok...So does that mean you feel there isn't a profitable market left at all? To what extent I guess is what I am asking. Sorry if that's a hard question to answer. I know I read that in Utah(My state) alone, there was a 50% increase in solar installs from last year.

      About the discouraging of installs- Is that due to utility grid's capacity to recieve the excess power generated from solar users?

      Off grid solutions are definitely factored into my business roadmap, especially with more advanced storage soutions like the Tesla Power wall coming to maturity. I think there is still more unconventional applications out there like flex panels on boats/houseboats/RVs/etc... that can still be taken advantage of. What do you think?

      Comment


      • #4
        First, forget the power wall, any off-grid install of any med-large size, would need 3 or more of them. They are just filled with hype.

        Depending on your state, there may still be favorable conditions. But this last quarter, utilities have started push back on accepting homeowner solar, and are getting PUC's to grant un-favorable rates/terms for connection.
        Currently, I'd advise sticking to the lead acid batteries, and forget the more exotic alternatives till their status and expectations settle some more.
        Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
        || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
        || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

        solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
        gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister

        Comment


        • #5
          Agreeing w/Mike, forget PV. That train has left the station, at least for new businesses. I'd stay low for a bit, and spend the time getting more informed about how electricity is used in the residential and commercial markets, get technically informed about energy storage (batteries), and then find a way that makes it easy, or easier, for businesses and residential owners to use the concept of energy storage to keep their bills low and/or continue the profligate use of electricity without generating large POCO bills.

          Most of the public have two attributes that can be taken advantage of for good or not: They are lazy, and that laziness induces ignorance. Use those qualities for good or not.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by CryptoTenny View Post
            Thanks for the reply!

            Ok...Ok...So does that mean you feel there isn't a profitable market left at all? To what extent I guess is what I am asking. Sorry if that's a hard question to answer. I know I read that in Utah(My state) alone, there was a 50% increase in solar installs from last year.

            About the discouraging of installs- Is that due to utility grid's capacity to recieve the excess power generated from solar users?

            Off grid solutions are definitely factored into my business roadmap, especially with more advanced storage soutions like the Tesla Power wall coming to maturity. I think there is still more unconventional applications out there like flex panels on boats/houseboats/RVs/etc... that can still be taken advantage of. What do you think?
            Since you're asking: I think you are reading/believing too much of the marketing/media hype and not well enough informed of the technical aspects and realities of energy production, distribution and use to see that hype for what it may well be - B.S. You sound like someone whose mind is made up and doesn't want to be confused by the negative possibilities.

            Comment


            • #7
              You are about 10 years to late. The market is already collapsing and the Boom has gone Bust.
              MSEE, PE

              Comment


              • #8
                I say it all depends on what people are paying for their electricity in Utah. Dont worry about the doom and gloom people, if people in Utah are paying over 20 cents per kWh you will be able to sell solar till the cows come home. If power is cheap in Utah you are probably going to struggle. People love solar, but its all about ROI, if its around 5 or 6 years your on a winner if its over 10 years your stuffed, cheers and if the ROI is there first thing would be to get qualified as a solar designer.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                  Agreeing w/Mike, forget PV. That train has left the station, at least for new businesses. I'd stay low for a bit, and spend the time getting more informed about how electricity is used in the residential and commercial markets, get technically informed about energy storage (batteries), and then find a way that makes it easy, or easier, for businesses and residential owners to use the concept of energy storage to keep their bills low and/or continue the profligate use of electricity without generating large POCO bills.
                  Thanks for the adivce. I had plans on looking into hybrid/offgrid systems but had placed my time-priority on just general net metering as that's what everyone was doing. Maybe I'm assuming too much. I was under the impression that lead acid batteries and other new storage solutions still had a long way to go and were generally inneficient. But like I said, I defer to you guys. I'll be sure to really dig into that sooner rather than later. Do you personally see a market there? I mean people here in Utah are pretty whacko about preparedness and whatnot.

                  Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                  Most of the public have two attributes that can be taken advantage of for good or not: They are lazy, and that laziness induces ignorance. Use those qualities for good or not.
                  I'll admit, that's actually what got me to where I am in all this. I looked into solar for a personal project and was suprised at how possible it was to do it yourself. I, like most people I'm sure, assumed it to be something that could only be done professionaly.

                  Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                  Since you're asking: I think you are reading/believing too much of the marketing/media hype and not well enough informed of the technical aspects and realities of energy production, distribution and use to see that hype for what it may well be - B.S.
                  There certainly seems to be a lot of that, so I'm open to the possibility. Like I said, I've been studying my arse off and already have a partial background in electrical engineering. I don't want to get into a butt sniffing match on how much I actually know, but for the sake of productivity lets just assume I know more one-time DIY'er. I'm definitely trying to put hard numbers to what it is that I'm reading/hearing. I don't expect anyone to invest in something based on stuff I read on the internet once. Lol.

                  Although I do have to ask as I am a little confused. How can solar be 10 years done while still having a lot of hype and attention? I mean, I may be getting too deep in the rabbit hole here, but isn't all value percieved? A diamond is just a rock with a name if you get what I mean.

                  Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                  You sound like someone whose mind is made up and doesn't want to be confused by the negative possibilities.
                  Not sure what I said makes you feel that way, but I respectfully disagree. I came here to find the hairy details about it all. If it trully is a bad idea then I don't want to put my house or whatever on collateral for it. Can you imagine? Lol.

                  Perhaps you could clarify what negative possibilities you are alluding to. I already know that all utility grids have a limited capacity, not all locations are prime for solar radiation, finite government incentives, relative innefeciency of individual solar cells, etc... But it sounds like you might have some more specific factors I should consider.



                  Last edited by CryptoTenny; 03-19-2017, 05:20 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by solar pete View Post
                    I say it all depends on what people are paying for their electricity in Utah. Dont worry about the doom and gloom people, if people in Utah are paying over 20 cents per kWh you will be able to sell solar till the cows come home. If power is cheap in Utah you are probably going to struggle. People love solar, but its all about ROI, if its around 5 or 6 years your on a winner if its over 10 years your stuffed, cheers and if the ROI is there first thing would be to get qualified as a solar designer.

                    That is a fair point.I know I personally pay far less than .20 [Edit. Utah average is 9.93 cents]. I was really going to dig into that when I got around to doing financial projections. I was really hoping to do just that; have the best ROI. However I can do it. If it means getting my own stringer/tabber, laminator, blah blah blah then so be it.
                    Last edited by CryptoTenny; 03-19-2017, 05:30 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If it makes a difference, I'm honestly not trying to get filthy stinking rich or anything. I don't want to undervalue myself or what I have to offer, and I plan on growing as much as I am capable if this takes off, but my main goal really is to just own a business working with something I love. Financial independance you know? Most people hate their jobs, I just kind of want to do something about it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CryptoTenny View Post
                        If it makes a difference, I'm honestly not trying to get filthy stinking rich or anything. I don't want to undervalue myself or what I have to offer, and I plan on growing as much as I am capable if this takes off, but my main goal really is to just own a business working with something I love. Financial independance you know? Most people hate their jobs, I just kind of want to do something about it.
                        At $0.085 / kWh - $0.115 / kWh for the first 1000 kWh monthly in summer, grid-tie PV will be a tough sell, especially if you use honest projections of costs and payback. At least you have good net metering. Don't worry about the tabber or laminator, you'll never make panels that compete with the off-the-shelf stuff available today.

                        Hybrid / battery systems for those who want to feel energy independent may be better business (for your soul), probably a decent market in RV systems, too. If you can learn lead acid and get in the front end of lithium based systems, it could be worthwhile, depending on your local competition. ROI isn't the sales pitch, here... designing systems for availability and reliability should take you further.
                        CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by sensij View Post

                          At $0.085 / kWh - $0.115 / kWh for the first 1000 kWh monthly in summer, grid-tie PV will be a tough sell, especially if you use honest projections of costs and payback. At least you have good net metering. Don't worry about the tabber or laminator, you'll never make panels that compete with the off-the-shelf stuff available today.

                          Hybrid / battery systems for those who want to feel energy independent may be better business (for your soul), probably a decent market in RV systems, too. If you can learn lead acid and get in the front end of lithium based systems, it could be worthwhile, depending on your local competition. ROI isn't the sales pitch, here... designing systems for availability and reliability should take you further.
                          Awesome! I really feel like I am getting a lot of good feedback from you guys- Thanks. Appreciate you taking the time to look into Rocky Mountain Power's rates too.

                          So storage and hybrid solutions really seem to be the general concensus then I'll shift my attention to that accordingly.

                          On that note, I did also consider looking into the idea of solar for peoples cabins(lots of them around here) or things in otherwise remote locations as well as . How does everyone feel about that?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CryptoTenny View Post

                            Thanks for the adivce. I had plans on looking into hybrid/offgrid systems but had placed my time-priority on just general net metering as that's what everyone was doing. Maybe I'm assuming too much. I was under the impression that lead acid batteries and other new storage solutions still had a long way to go and were generally inneficient. But like I said, I defer to you guys. I'll be sure to really dig into that sooner rather than later. Do you personally see a market there? I mean people here in Utah are pretty whacko about preparedness and whatnot.



                            I'll admit, that's actually what got me to where I am in all this. I looked into solar for a personal project and was suprised at how possible it was to do it yourself. I, like most people I'm sure, assumed it to be something that could only be done professionaly.



                            There certainly seems to be a lot of that, so I'm open to the possibility. Like I said, I've been studying my arse off and already have a partial background in electrical engineering. I don't want to get into a butt sniffing match on how much I actually know, but for the sake of productivity lets just assume I know more one-time DIY'er. I'm definitely trying to put hard numbers to what it is that I'm reading/hearing. I don't expect anyone to invest in something based on stuff I read on the internet once. Lol.

                            Although I do have to ask as I am a little confused. How can solar be 10 years done while still having a lot of hype and attention? I mean, I may be getting too deep in the rabbit hole here, but isn't all value percieved? A diamond is just a rock with a name if you get what I mean.



                            Not sure what I said makes you feel that way, but I respectfully disagree. I came here to find the hairy details about it all. If it trully is a bad idea then I don't want to put my house or whatever on collateral for it. Can you imagine? Lol.

                            Perhaps you could clarify what negative possibilities you are alluding to. I already know that all utility grids have a limited capacity, not all locations are prime for solar radiation, finite government incentives, relative innefeciency of individual solar cells, etc... But it sounds like you might have some more specific factors I should consider.


                            You're welcome.

                            Since you again seem to be asking: I believe there will be a market for peddling energy storage to homeowners and maybe small/med. size businesses, but I could be wrong. In the beginning of that cycle, as with PV (and many/most other things) early adoptors will fuel the business. Those types tend to be those with more money than brains, and part of the reason (along with gov. subsidies that do more harm than good) solar PV has survived. I expect a similar pattern might develop for local/micro storage. If/when energy storage becomes a mature technology in the same way PV has mostly become a commodity, eventually the profit margins will sink, the utilities will adjust, and the hucksters will move on to other ways to separate fools from their money.

                            As for your conjecture that you might be assuming too much, it looks to me that you're assuming your perceptions are mostly correct and your knowledge is sufficient. Believe/assume as you see fit. I'll do the same. NOMB or concern, but it looks to me like you're assuming things are different than I see them. Opinions vary.

                            As for your stated confusion, perhaps I can help: Repeat a lie enough and it becomes reality. Example: " Solar is always cost effective". Or: "eliminate your electric bill". Another way: The negative possibilities I mention can come to fruition when perceptions are influenced by wishful thinking based on incomplete information. That can happen when folks see more of the possible good than the limits - those goods, actual or not made larger than life by those with skin in the game. That can happen when people drink the Kool-Aid of the marketing B.S. and think they're doing research, when what's happening may well perhaps be better described as those doing "research" are being manipulated and are clueless about it.

                            As for DIY'ers, most of solar is not rocket science. but that doesn't mean any shade tree mechanic that can tighten a bolt or take stuff apart can produce a safe, fit for purpose and well designed electrical production facility. Saying you know more than a DIY'er may be a bit like damning with faint praise. I wouldn't buy a house that had a DIY PV system, but that's just me.

                            All value is, in a sense perceived, but those perceptions can be easily manipulated in ways most folks are clueless about. That's one of several reasons way/reason why solar (the PV end of it anyway) can be 10 years down the road. People see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. Fertilizer is just B.S. with another name if you get what I mean.

                            IMO only, what you've received here so far, from me and others mostly looks a bit less than optimistic for solar businesses with its best days behind it. It also looks, to me anyway, that you got something maybe a bit different than you thought you might get or wanted. I'm actually or maybe a bit more optimistic about possible ways to make to make it easier for people to throw money at perceived self inflicted problems and make a buck doing so.

                            Welcome to the forum of few(er) illusions.

                            Take what you want of the above. Scrap the rest.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              All very well put.

                              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                              Since you again seem to be asking: I believe there will be a market for peddling energy storage to homeowners and maybe small/med. size businesses, but I could be wrong. In the beginning of that cycle, as with PV (and many/most other things) early adoptors will fuel the business. Those types tend to be those with more money than brains, and part of the reason (along with gov. subsidies that do more harm than good) solar PV has survived. I expect a similar pattern might develop for local/micro storage. If/when energy storage becomes a mature technology in the same way PV has mostly become a commodity, eventually the profit margins will sink, the utilities will adjust, and the hucksters will move on to other ways to separate fools from their money.
                              That's a hair that can be split many different ways I suppose. At what point does making convenient a service become ripping people off in an immoral fashion. I found one of the earlier replies about better business for my soul to be amusing. But if there is indeed a potential for a pattern there, I don't feel bad about facilitating it

                              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                              As for your conjecture that you might be assuming too much, it looks to me that you're assuming your perceptions are mostly correct and your knowledge is sufficient. Believe/assume as you see fit. I'll do the same. NOMB or concern, but it looks to me like you're assuming things are different than I see them. Opinions vary.
                              Definitely don't think I'm an expert- That's for sure. In fact I'm quite overwhelmed with what I still have left to learn. But fair enough. As long as all of this gives me direction in what I spend my time learning, I'm comfortable being a clueless idiot for the time being

                              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                              As for your stated confusion, perhaps I can help: Repeat a lie enough and it becomes reality. Example: " Solar is always cost effective". Or: "eliminate your electric bill". Another way: The negative possibilities I mention can come to fruition when perceptions are influenced by wishful thinking based on incomplete information. That can happen when folks see more of the possible good than the limits - those goods, actual or not made larger than life by those with skin in the game. That can happen when people drink the Kool-Aid of the marketing B.S. and think they're doing research, when what's happening may well perhaps be better described as those doing "research" are being manipulated and are clueless about it.
                              Thanks for clarifying. I am starting to see that there is a definitely rose-colored-glasses syndrome going on between what your average consumer might come across and what you veterans have learned. Guess I'm in the right place.

                              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                              As for DIY'ers, most of solar is not rocket science. but that doesn't mean any shade tree mechanic that can tighten a bolt or take stuff apart can produce a safe, fit for purpose and well designed electrical production facility. Saying you know more than a DIY'er may be a bit like damning with faint praise. I wouldn't buy a house that had a DIY PV system, but that's just me.
                              Also fair enough. I actually wasn't aware until a few hours ago that there was such a comprehensive structure for certifications and curricula in PV until I looked up what Solar Pete was saying about being a PV designer. The course work seems like it would be a huge asset in a situation like this, but unfortunately DIY might be my only means of gaining that working knowledge until I could afford the tuition for something like that. Unless you know some other magic place.

                              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                              IMO only, what you've received here so far, from me and others mostly looks a bit less than optimistic for solar businesses with its best days behind it. It also looks, to me anyway, that you got something maybe a bit different than you thought you might get or wanted. I'm actually or maybe a bit more optimistic about possible ways to make to make it easier for people to throw money at perceived self inflicted problems and make a buck doing so.
                              Ha. Can't argue about the optimism bit. But if you're late, you're late. But it sounds like there may still be something left with the storage side of it. If there is indeed a way to get in front of the lithium storage side of things, it sounds like starting with lead-acid would be a good place to be when it does mature more. At the very least it's something to look into more before I look elsewhere I suppose.

                              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                              Welcome to the forum of few(er) illusions.
                              Glad to be here

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