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Les squires

I'm an engineering PhD at RPI, and used to work with a solar power
installer in NYC. I'm currently self-installing a solar PV system, and
when I'm finished I'd like to assist others on this. I'm very busy with
school at the moment but I can definitely advise. The benefit of
self-install in the counties that allow this upstate is you can save
about $10-15k on the labor involved in an installation, even considering the NYSERDA per watt

The system I'm installing was about $22k all told; I'm building a system that is grid connected, but also has a limited battery backup system that I could expand later if necessary (and I will likely expand as soon as I can build a good lithium ion charging system and get access to enough storage - Li-Ion of the Chevy Volt type will be good for up to 20 years, and is largely invulnerable to cold and heat.) In other words, I've built the core of a system that can be modified and expanded for conditions where the grid gets flaky - expansion can be done a lot faster than building a system from scratch.

This system through an installer would have been probably in the $35k range... anyone interested in help with this? You need to be able to do the basic work yourself, and you need to have a
locality that will allow you to do your own power (this is the case
mostly in rural areas.) The Federal rebates on the equipment still apply - so in my case I get back about $6.5k in January, and another few thousand the following year. My time to pay off is about 8 years... longer than a normal PV system because of the batteries and the ground mount system I built.

Down the line I'd like to get a small group of people to "barn raise"
systems - in other words, get 3-4 people who help each other with the
labor in sequence on all of their systems. I'm especially interested in
helping anyone who's doing farming or other critical low tech production
stuff (say shoe making, ceramics, machining, etc.)


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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Tim,

I have a small farm in upstate New York (near Lake Ontario) that could really use a PV system.  How much do you think I would have to come up with up front before we could start this?


I thought the tax rebates/credits were only available if the installation was performed by certified solar installers.  I contacted a couple of installers and they told me they would not do hybrid grid-tied/battery storage systems.


That said, I'm still very interested in your "barnraising" proposal.  I'd like to do the same with homestead/small gardening projects.  I have knowledge/tools to double-dig a bio-intensive garden, build coldframes, hoop-houses, and a lot of woodworking tools.  A skill/time share LETS system would facilitate formalized trading of time/skills/tools, but in the meantime, I'd be happy to do some informal bartering.

The federal solar tax credit is not dependent on the certified installer.


The NYSERDA rebate which is given per watt in NYS is dependent on a certified installer.


I'm working on getting that - in theory I've got the necessary number of installs, have the credentials, and I also have some contacts in NYSERDA. For my install I just made a deal with someone I used to work with. Are you in New York State? If you are, Alteris does do battery systems, and I believe Sun Dog does also.


The reluctance to do batteries, btw, is that sealed lead acid deep cycle batteries, which is the current type virtually everyone uses, have a short life, and are difficult to maintain. If you were truly off grid you'd have to have them and replace them every few years. Mine weigh 150 lbs each. They're also an ecological nightmare. Lithium ion is much better, but that product for house storage hasn't made it to market yet, though apparently a lot of companies are close.

Are you willing to come to Virginia when we can organize a "barn raise"?       Dele

It's not a short enough process that I could do that... I'd be going by for a few weekends. I wouldn't mind doing skills transfer to someone who could run a group down there, though.

Okay.......what is the time commitment/other requirements for a skills transfer session(s)?.......
What skills would is the person I'm teaching starting with? Let's talk offline...


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