Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:06 am

moi wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:49 am
I thought when the grid goes down, your solar panel also goes down (no power). Unless you have a battery too?
Currently (ha! punny) that’s the case. I mentioned 2 ways around it: we have storage batteries. For complicated, inside baseball reasons, only 2/3 of our panels, the new ones connected to batteries, continue to provide power in an outage; the legacy panels don’t.

The batteries we have, made by the German company Sonnen, are a wonder (they’re being installed as I write this). We will exercise them every evening/night unless storms are forecast (in which case we will use the grid to maintain our backup capability). Between our daily power surplus, and the 32 kw of battery, I expect no bills other than the $7/month for being connected to the grid. I found a shelter that takes donations, so after I figure out what percentage of our net meter credits we can afford to donate without going negative, we will do that rather than let the utility pocket our surplus.

Sonnen batteries switch off power to the grid incredibly fast and effectively. They use a special inverter to accomplish this. There is a major incentive for the grid to encourage battery installation as it smooths out demand; we will be paid handsomely for exercising our batteries at least weekly; I expect to exercise them 350 times annually. The batteries are warranted for 10,000 cycles.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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RustyShackleford
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by RustyShackleford » Thu Jul 25, 2019 1:42 pm

moi wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:49 am
I thought when the grid goes down, your solar panel also goes down (no power). Unless you have a battery too?
That is correct. It's because the grid-tie inverter wants to see the correct signal from its grid connection (full voltage and 60Hz) and if it doesn't see that it shuts down. The company that quoted our 5kw system wanted almost twice as much ($25K instead of $15K) to add Tesla PowerWall batteries and allow it to work when the grid is down (this is referred to as a multi-mode or hybrid system). I said "I don't need all that storage capacity, I'll live with only having power (when the grid is down) when the sun is shining"; they were not interested. Apparently the PowerWall contains a bunch of electronics to make multi-mode easy. DIY'ing with a few kwh of lead-acid batteries is non-trivial. Decided to just get a generator and/or use the Nissan Leaf's battery.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Thu Jul 25, 2019 2:28 pm

RustyShackleford wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 1:42 pm
moi wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:49 am
I thought when the grid goes down, your solar panel also goes down (no power). Unless you have a battery too?
That is correct. It's because the grid-tie inverter wants to see the correct signal from its grid connection (full voltage and 60Hz) and if it doesn't see that it shuts down. The company that quoted our 5kw system wanted almost twice as much ($25K instead of $15K) to add Tesla PowerWall batteries and allow it to work when the grid is down (this is referred to as a multi-mode or hybrid system). I said "I don't need all that storage capacity, I'll live with only having power (when the grid is down) when the sun is shining"; they were not interested. Apparently the PowerWall contains a bunch of electronics to make multi-mode easy. DIY'ing with a few kwh of lead-acid batteries is non-trivial. Decided to just get a generator and/or use the Nissan Leaf's battery.
I understand that you didn't care for backup power, but just so everyone is aware, $10k is on the moderately low end for a standby generator. Also, it won't last as long as solar panels and requires far more ongoing maintenance plus fuel to operate.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Jul 25, 2019 3:29 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 2:28 pm
RustyShackleford wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 1:42 pm
moi wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:49 am
I thought when the grid goes down, your solar panel also goes down (no power). Unless you have a battery too?
That is correct. It's because the grid-tie inverter wants to see the correct signal from its grid connection (full voltage and 60Hz) and if it doesn't see that it shuts down. The company that quoted our 5kw system wanted almost twice as much ($25K instead of $15K) to add Tesla PowerWall batteries and allow it to work when the grid is down (this is referred to as a multi-mode or hybrid system). I said "I don't need all that storage capacity, I'll live with only having power (when the grid is down) when the sun is shining"; they were not interested. Apparently the PowerWall contains a bunch of electronics to make multi-mode easy. DIY'ing with a few kwh of lead-acid batteries is non-trivial. Decided to just get a generator and/or use the Nissan Leaf's battery.
I understand that you didn't care for backup power, but just so everyone is aware, $10k is on the moderately low end for a standby generator. Also, it won't last as long as solar panels and requires far more ongoing maintenance plus fuel to operate.
Being a belt AND suspenders kind of guy, in addition to solar panels (and a battery in a week or so), I have a smallish 8kw propane generator. I’ve lived here around a year and a half, and have had to get propane delivered, listen to the generator do its weekly test, have the generator serviced every six months (not much more than an oil change and diagnostics), and start it manually during an outage when it didn’t auto start. In that same amount of time, I have not done any maintenance on the solar field and it works every day.

On the standby generator pricing, Willthrill is right. Don’t just read the prices on the internet; you have a lot of work for an electrician: permits, pulling wire, installing a transfer switch, etc.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by RustyShackleford » Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:36 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 2:28 pm
I understand that you didn't care for backup power, but just so everyone is aware, $10k is on the moderately low end for a standby generator.
Wow, no foolin' ? I had no idea. The 40kwh battery in our Nissan Leaf will take care of most of our backup, with a $few-hundred 1000 watt pure-sinewave 120vac inverter attached (refrigerator, modem/phone/laptop, a few lights). The well pump is the big problem, 240vac 1000 watts (and more on startup). Was thinking of punting (on trying to power it with 240vac on Leaf or multi-mode solar) and just buying a generator. Of course, your figure is for one that'd run whole house, including HVAC and water-heaters, and has automatic transfer switch and such, I imagine.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:56 pm

RustyShackleford wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:36 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 2:28 pm
I understand that you didn't care for backup power, but just so everyone is aware, $10k is on the moderately low end for a standby generator.
Wow, no foolin' ? I had no idea. The 40kwh battery in our Nissan Leaf will take care of most of our backup, with a $few-hundred 1000 watt pure-sinewave 120vac inverter attached (refrigerator, modem/phone/laptop, a few lights). The well pump is the big problem, 240vac 1000 watts (and more on startup). Was thinking of punting (on trying to power it with 240vac on Leaf or multi-mode solar) and just buying a generator. Of course, your figure is for one that'd run whole house, including HVAC and water-heaters, and has automatic transfer switch and such, I imagine.
A $10k standby generator probably wouldn't run the whole house, but it would probably run any single major appliance one at a time (i.e. electric furnace, central air, water heater, etc.). And yes, the big premium being paid for a standby generator is for convenience. You could get a manual transfer switch installed by an electrician and buy a portable generator of the same size for under $2k, including a lot of fuel. In a power outage, you could easily pull out your generator, start it, and connect it to your transfer switch in 5 minutes.

Regarding your well pump, I wouldn't even think about trying to power that from an inverter. At best, you'd spend significantly more on one than you would on a generator big enough to power it. A 240 volt well pump will need at least a 5 kW generator, virtually all of which at that size or larger will have a 240 volt outlet, to operate due to the large startup load.

What many who are interested in standby generators overlook is the required oil changes. The oil needs to be changed on about any generator every 100 hours of operation or roughly 4 days of continuous operation. Many of those interested in standby generators aren't interested in stopping their generator, changing the oil and filter on the generator, then restarting it every 4 days in a power outage.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by susa » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:10 am

willthrill81 wrote: .. but just so everyone is aware, $10k is on the moderately low end for a standby generator. Also, it won't last as long as solar panels and requires far more ongoing maintenance plus fuel to operate.
Just so you (and everyone) is aware, a $2k generator handles a whole house easily. I actually paid $1,800 for our last Honda inverter from a marina foreclosure sale. Brand new inside box. I often pickup little used ones for friends and family for around $2k (inverter has less than 100 hours on LED display gauge).

The key is to run all major house appliances using inverters (DC power, not AC power). We run houses on a single Honda Inverter (rated 5000watts with surge 7000watts) and when running on inverter via a dedicated 30amp switch on outside wall, the whole house uses less than 2600watts of power. Have run this on total blackout outages lasting up to 3 weeks. All of our major appliances are 240volt/DC motors (pool pump,heat pumps, compressors). When water heater is on backup inverter, we use a 3-way switch to modulate 220v to 110v and thus reduce power use from 4,500watts to 1,125watts.

We run cooling during the summer on multiple combined total capacity (42,000 BTU - 3.5tons) heat pumps using less than 1400watts of power.

As to longevity and maintenance, you need to monitor oil and filters and we use a Qwik/Fumoto valve that enables simple finger valve to drain/re-fill oil in less than 5 minutes every 50 hours. Very easy and clean job.
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by susa » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:16 am

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by susa » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:17 am

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:22 am

RustyShackleford wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:36 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 2:28 pm
I understand that you didn't care for backup power, but just so everyone is aware, $10k is on the moderately low end for a standby generator.
Wow, no foolin' ? I had no idea. The 40kwh battery in our Nissan Leaf will take care of most of our backup, with a $few-hundred 1000 watt pure-sinewave 120vac inverter attached (refrigerator, modem/phone/laptop, a few lights). The well pump is the big problem, 240vac 1000 watts (and more on startup). Was thinking of punting (on trying to power it with 240vac on Leaf or multi-mode solar) and just buying a generator. Of course, your figure is for one that'd run whole house, including HVAC and water-heaters, and has automatic transfer switch and such, I imagine.
Does your Nissan Leaf support use as a backup battery? I’ve asked about using our Tesla 90kw battery that way, and it was not supported (would have voided warranty).
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by finite_difference » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:34 am

Generally speaking, I would argue that if you can get a 3% nominal return on solar power over your frame, then it seems worth it from a financial perspective. That beats money in the bank earning ~2%. (And as a bonus it’s also good for the environment.)

So if the environment is your main concern, then ~2% nominal return is about breakeven.

Don’t forget to factor in all costs.
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:42 am

finite_difference wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:34 am
Generally speaking, I would argue that if you can get a 3% nominal return on solar power over your frame, then it seems worth it from a financial perspective. That beats money in the bank earning ~2%. (And as a bonus it’s also good for the environment.)

So if the environment is your main concern, then ~2% nominal return is about breakeven.

Don’t forget to factor in all costs.
That really feels too low. Insufficient return fie the risk.

It all depends in what you assume your terminal value to be.

You either model the system out to 25 years say and assume zero value at the end OR you assume a future buyer in 15 years say pays you some value. Perhaps 50 per cent of book cost (nominal so much less in real terms).

In either case though with a bank account or CD or bond you do get your nominal investment back. You do not with a solar panel array .

So there is that liquidity cost. You cannot just liquidate a solar panel investment for cash.

I am prepared to believe it's a relatively low risk investment. 2 to 3 per cent real or 4 to 5 or 6 per cent nominal say.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Nate79 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:55 am

finite_difference wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:34 am
Generally speaking, I would argue that if you can get a 3% nominal return on solar power over your frame, then it seems worth it from a financial perspective. That beats money in the bank earning ~2%. (And as a bonus it’s also good for the environment.)

So if the environment is your main concern, then ~2% nominal return is about breakeven.

Don’t forget to factor in all costs.
The problem I have with this is that the principle (aka the added value of the solar equipment itself) is not guaranteed like a savings account. If you sell your home you may or may not get extra value back from the added solar. So I am much more interested in a much higher return to get fast enough payback in case we need to sell our home.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:00 am

susa wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:10 am
willthrill81 wrote: .. but just so everyone is aware, $10k is on the moderately low end for a standby generator. Also, it won't last as long as solar panels and requires far more ongoing maintenance plus fuel to operate.
Just so you (and everyone) is aware, a $2k generator handles a whole house easily. I actually paid $1,800 for our last Honda inverter from a marina foreclosure sale. Brand new inside box. I often pickup little used ones for friends and family for around $2k (inverter has less than 100 hours on LED display gauge).

The key is to run all major house appliances using inverters (DC power, not AC power). We run houses on a single Honda Inverter (rated 5000watts with surge 7000watts) and when running on inverter via a dedicated 30amp switch on outside wall, the whole house uses less than 2600watts of power. Have run this on total blackout outages lasting up to 3 weeks. All of our major appliances are 240volt/DC motors (pool pump,heat pumps, compressors). When water heater is on backup inverter, we use a 3-way switch to modulate 220v to 110v and thus reduce power use from 4,500watts to 1,125watts.
Our 240 volt water heater alone needs 4,500 watts of power and has no 120 volt setting. We could run it off a 5 kW generator, but we couldn't run anything else. Note that generators can only output 90% of their rated wattage for an extended period of time.

I'm glad that you're able to do so.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by illumination » Sat Jul 27, 2019 12:00 pm

The numbers I've seen, the installation price seems to be what throw out most arguments that it's any sort of investment.
I'd like to seen apples to apples comparison, but I'll see installation quotes of around $20,000-$30,000, but the equipment is in that $6-$8k range. Seems absurd to me, a few guys could do the job in 1-2 days.

At some point I'd like to install my own and pay an electrician to tie it in.

My state wrangled in a lot of the over-the-top subsidies and frankly I'm glad, even though I plan to go on solar someday.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by danaht » Sat Jul 27, 2019 12:40 pm

Having solar power also depends if you have severe weather. For instance - in north TX - I would never buy anything that sits on the roof where it will easily get destroyed after a couple of hail storms. Every now and then I see solar panels on north TX roofs - and I always think to myself that's not going to last too long.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by RustyShackleford » Sat Jul 27, 2019 1:38 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:56 pm
Regarding your well pump, I wouldn't even think about trying to power that from an inverter. At best, you'd spend significantly more on one than you would on a generator big enough to power it. A 240 volt well pump will need at least a 5 kW generator ...
Actually my well pump is 1/2HP, which appears (from web search, obviously I can't read the nameplate) to consume about 1000 watts running and maybe 2000 watts startup. Nonetheless, I think you're right about not trying to run it off an1 inverter.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by RustyShackleford » Sat Jul 27, 2019 1:43 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:22 am
Does your Nissan Leaf support use as a backup battery? I’ve asked about using our Tesla 90kw battery that way, and it was not supported (would have voided warranty).
No, I do not think it's officially supported. However there are folks over at the "mynissanleaf" forum who seem to be happily pulling 1000 watts (or a bit more) off the terminals of their 12v battery. They've figured that the DC-to-DC converter (that supplies the 12v battery from the main/traction battery's 400+v) can supply 135 amps. If something went wrong, I would not go into the dealer and say "hey, by the way, I've been running a 1000 watt inverter off this thing :happy " If you do it the right way, bolting your inverter cables to the battery's terminals (and using a circuit breaker or fuse, of course) then there's not even marks from alligator clips.

OTOH, some people seem interested in accessing the traction battery directly, for far higher wattages. This would be done via the CHADEMO (quick-charging) port, and yes, that would be insane because of the danger of 400v and because then you really are asking for trouble with the car's well-being. Now, at one point Nissan was touting a thing called "Leaf to Home" which does just this, but apparently it was very expensive and never sold in the US.
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by RustyShackleford » Sat Jul 27, 2019 1:51 pm

susa wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:10 am
The key is to run all major house appliances using inverters (DC power, not AC power). We run houses on a single Honda Inverter (rated 5000watts with surge 7000watts) and when running on inverter via a dedicated 30amp switch on outside wall...
I'm not following you at all. Don't generators have integral inverters ? But sounds like you're using a separate inverter (or inverters). Are you using a generator that produces DC ?

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 4:13 pm

RustyShackleford wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 1:38 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:56 pm
Regarding your well pump, I wouldn't even think about trying to power that from an inverter. At best, you'd spend significantly more on one than you would on a generator big enough to power it. A 240 volt well pump will need at least a 5 kW generator ...
Actually my well pump is 1/2HP, which appears (from web search, obviously I can't read the nameplate) to consume about 1000 watts running and maybe 2000 watts startup. Nonetheless, I think you're right about not trying to run it off an1 inverter.
Do you mean a sump pump? I don't think that I've ever seen a well pump that was only 1/2 HP. Most well pumps are 240 volts and several HP.

1 HP equals 746 watts, so 1/2 HP is 373 watts. But pumps like that can may need 5x that much to start. It's very doable to power such a pump with an adequately sized inverter or a 2kW inverter generator.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by susa » Sat Jul 27, 2019 4:37 pm

RustyShackleford wrote: I'm not following you at all. Don't generators have integral inverters ? But sounds like you're using a separate inverter (or inverters). Are you using a generator that produces DC ?
Yes, all our home pumps, motors, compressors are inverters that convert AC to DC and they run in variable speed mode aka constant speed that varies
,,
Yes, our generator is an inverter that inverts DC to AC power.
willthrill81 wrote: Our 240 volt water heater alone needs 4,500 watts of power and has no 120 volt setting. We could run it off a 5 kW generator, but we couldn't run anything else. Note that generators can only output 90% of their rated wattage for an extended period of time.
It is a simple 10 minute job to install a 3 way switch to flip 220volts to 110volts for the water heater. Yes, you can run anything else by this method. Water just takes a little longer to reach max temperature but is not in any way an inconvenience on backup power.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by RustyShackleford » Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:28 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 4:13 pm
Do you mean a sump pump? I don't think that I've ever seen a well pump that was only 1/2 HP. Most well pumps are 240 volts and several HP.
Yep, I checked the paperwork. Head is less than 100ft.
1 HP equals 746 watts, so 1/2 HP is 373 watts. But pumps like that can may need 5x that much to start. It's very doable to power such a pump with an adequately sized inverter or a 2kW inverter generator.
I haven't measured the current, but I've been assuming wattage figures shown here: https://www.generatorjoe.net/html/wattageguide.html . I'd be delighted to learn these are too high, though I'm dubious, since it's on a 20amp double-pole breaker (though I'm told 15amps is typical for 1/2HP).

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Sconie » Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:04 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 4:13 pm
RustyShackleford wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 1:38 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:56 pm
Regarding your well pump, I wouldn't even think about trying to power that from an inverter. At best, you'd spend significantly more on one than you would on a generator big enough to power it. A 240 volt well pump will need at least a 5 kW generator ...
Actually my well pump is 1/2HP, which appears (from web search, obviously I can't read the nameplate) to consume about 1000 watts running and maybe 2000 watts startup. Nonetheless, I think you're right about not trying to run it off an1 inverter.
Do you mean a sump pump? I don't think that I've ever seen a well pump that was only 1/2 HP. Most well pumps are 240 volts and several HP.

1 HP equals 746 watts, so 1/2 HP is 373 watts. But pumps like that can may need 5x that much to start. It's very doable to power such a pump with an adequately sized inverter or a 2kW inverter generator.
Hmm.....I'd say that the vast majority of deep well submersible pumps are 1/2 to 3/4 HP-----sometimes 1 HP and rarely 1 1/2 HP-----but that's about it.
Check out this deep well pump pricing/size guide:
https://www.waterpumpsdirect.com/pumps/ ... pumps.html
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by swordandscales » Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:13 am

Not sure if it’s been mentioned yet, but there’s an organization called Arcadia power https://www.arcadiapower.com/ which takes over your utility bill and replaces up to 50% of your fossil-fuel originated power with sustainable power. There’s also an option to source solar power at $100 a panel.

I haven’t done a substantial volume of research on it, but it seems like one opportunity for reducing contributions to carbon emissions if that’s your main goal.
Discipline is freedom. | -Jocko Willink

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:12 am

RustyShackleford wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:28 am
willthrill81 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 4:13 pm
Do you mean a sump pump? I don't think that I've ever seen a well pump that was only 1/2 HP. Most well pumps are 240 volts and several HP.
Yep, I checked the paperwork. Head is less than 100ft.
1 HP equals 746 watts, so 1/2 HP is 373 watts. But pumps like that can may need 5x that much to start. It's very doable to power such a pump with an adequately sized inverter or a 2kW inverter generator.
I haven't measured the current, but I've been assuming wattage figures shown here: https://www.generatorjoe.net/html/wattageguide.html . I'd be delighted to learn these are too high, though I'm dubious, since it's on a 20amp double-pole breaker (though I'm told 15amps is typical for 1/2HP).
If it has a standard plug on it, you could plug in something like a Kill-a-watt meter to measure the running watts of the pump. You might be surprised.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by RustyShackleford » Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:35 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:12 am
RustyShackleford wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:28 am
I haven't measured the current, but I've been assuming wattage figures shown here: https://www.generatorjoe.net/html/wattageguide.html . I'd be delighted to learn these are too high, though I'm dubious, since it's on a 20amp double-pole breaker (though I'm told 15amps is typical for 1/2HP).
If it has a standard plug on it, you could plug in something like a Kill-a-watt meter to measure the running watts of the pump. You might be surprised.
I have a Kill-a-Watt meter but those are 110/120vac.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by RustyShackleford » Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:50 pm

Sconie wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:04 am
Hmm.....I'd say that the vast majority of deep well submersible pumps are 1/2 to 3/4 HP-----sometimes 1 HP and rarely 1 1/2 HP-----but that's about it.
Check out this deep well pump pricing/size guide:
https://www.waterpumpsdirect.com/pumps/ ... pumps.html
Cool link, thanks. Based on their tables of acceptable wire size, it looks to me like I'd be fine switching to a 115vac pump, at least if I'm willing to upgrade the 12awg wire to 10awg. Still, they scrupulously avoid quoting running or starting amperages, though I guess they could be computed from the acceptable wire lengths.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by rj342 » Sun Jul 28, 2019 4:53 pm

swordandscales wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:13 am
Not sure if it’s been mentioned yet, but there’s an organization called Arcadia power https://www.arcadiapower.com/ which takes over your utility bill and replaces up to 50% of your fossil-fuel originated power with sustainable power. There’s also an option to source solar power at $100 a panel.

I haven’t done a substantial volume of research on it, but it seems like one opportunity for reducing contributions to carbon emissions if that’s your main goal.
Took a look and Im skeptical. Seems like the equivalent of what people around here call mental accounting. Pretend buckets that change nothing about how the electricity is generated or where it actually ends up but make people feel good.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Sun Jul 28, 2019 8:31 pm

rj342 wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 4:53 pm
swordandscales wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:13 am
Not sure if it’s been mentioned yet, but there’s an organization called Arcadia power https://www.arcadiapower.com/ which takes over your utility bill and replaces up to 50% of your fossil-fuel originated power with sustainable power. There’s also an option to source solar power at $100 a panel.

I haven’t done a substantial volume of research on it, but it seems like one opportunity for reducing contributions to carbon emissions if that’s your main goal.
Took a look and Im skeptical. Seems like the equivalent of what people around here call mental accounting. Pretend buckets that change nothing about how the electricity is generated or where it actually ends up but make people feel good.
It's not mental accounting. If one wants to reduce carbon emissions, it doesn't matter whether you reduce them on your own property or on the other side of the planet. I'm not saying that such a desire is logical, but if that is one's desire, carbon reduction is carbon reduction.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by tadamsmar » Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:01 pm

What is the best way to get an estimate on ROI?

My wife keeps bringing it up. I don't think it will pay off. We will need to replace our roof soon. I think we will need an expert estimate to resolve the issue. I live in Cary, NC.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:43 pm

tadamsmar wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:01 pm
What is the best way to get an estimate on ROI?
IMHO, the best way is to do an internal rate of return calculation via a spreadsheet. In this way, you can view the impact of rising cost of electricity, periodic maintenance/replacement of system components, etc.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by abuss368 » Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:28 pm

We have family looking into this presently.
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by rj342 » Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:45 pm

I am in the deep South, in Mobile. Apart from the up front expense and way too slow payback in my area (too close to the expected equipment lifetime for my taste), really not sure about hurricane damage risk and impact on insurance rates.

BUT...

What would interest me is a modest sized panel that would mainly just serve to offset a chunk of the A/C cost in summer (savings other seasons would be gravy).
Anybody ever hear of something incremental like that?

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Jul 29, 2019 2:39 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 8:31 pm
rj342 wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 4:53 pm
swordandscales wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:13 am
Not sure if it’s been mentioned yet, but there’s an organization called Arcadia power https://www.arcadiapower.com/ which takes over your utility bill and replaces up to 50% of your fossil-fuel originated power with sustainable power. There’s also an option to source solar power at $100 a panel.

I haven’t done a substantial volume of research on it, but it seems like one opportunity for reducing contributions to carbon emissions if that’s your main goal.
Took a look and Im skeptical. Seems like the equivalent of what people around here call mental accounting. Pretend buckets that change nothing about how the electricity is generated or where it actually ends up but make people feel good.
It's not mental accounting. If one wants to reduce carbon emissions, it doesn't matter whether you reduce them on your own property or on the other side of the planet. I'm not saying that such a desire is logical, but if that is one's desire, carbon reduction is carbon reduction.
Generally we do not have a carbon emission permits system ("cap and trade") in the way we do for, for example, SO2 from power stations in the NE & Midwest. That programme was brought in by Bush the Elder's administration and has been very successful.

So the question becomes whether buying Renewable Energy Certificates -- the other thing Arcadia does - genuinely abates emissions?

I'd have to think hard about Market Design on this one.

To the extent that the money is used to invest in renewable schemes, ie the other part of what Arcadia appears to do, that is genuine abatement, probably. As long as that simply does not displace another dollar of investment say from private equity players (taking private equity in its loosest sense ie not just buyouts & high growth VC). If it does, then all you have done is marginally lowered the cost of capital for new renewable schemes.

TBH I'd rather invest in a rainforest charity. Stopping use of a tonne of palm oil, by lobbying, I am sure benefits the planet. Ditto biodiversity benefits.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by tadamsmar » Mon Jul 29, 2019 7:54 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:43 pm
tadamsmar wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:01 pm
What is the best way to get an estimate on ROI?
IMHO, the best way is to do an internal rate of return calculation via a spreadsheet. In this way, you can view the impact of rising cost of electricity, periodic maintenance/replacement of system components, etc.
When I google "solar irr calculator" (without quotes) I get many. I wonder which is best.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by tadamsmar » Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:46 am

I just did an estimate at sageenergy.com. All I had to enter was my address and my average monthly electricity bill = $120 per month.

It assumed a 520 sq ft sunny roof.

Estimate assuming I pay cash:

14,000 net cost
9.1 year payback
3% increase in home value
21,000 20-year net savings

The increase in property value is $13,800 using the Zillow estimate.

They seem to be projecting that I will cover 100% of my electricity bill.

It looks like the net savings don't factor in the increase in home value. In other words, the installation costs me about zero capital and nets $21,000 over 20 years (I think).

Not sure I have 520 sq ft without taking out two trees or serious pruning.

This seems too good to be true. Is it?

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:52 am

tadamsmar wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:46 am
I just did an estimate at sageenergy.com. All I had to enter was my address and my average monthly electricity bill = $120 per month.

It assumed a 520 sq ft sunny roof.

Estimate assuming I pay cash:

14,000 net cost
9.1 year payback
3% increase in home value
21,000 20-year net savings

The increase in property value is $13,800 using the Zillow estimate.

They seem to be projecting that I will cover 100% of my electricity bill.

It looks like the net savings don't factor in the increase in home value. In other words, the installation costs me about zero capital and nets $21,000 over 20 years (I think).

Not sure I have 520 sq ft without taking out two trees or serious pruning.

This seems too good to be true. Is it?
How much do you pay per kWh for electricity?
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by tadamsmar » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:28 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:52 am
How much do you pay per kWh for electricity?
This would be my rate if I were not on TOU rates:

For Single-Phase Service:
Bills Rendered During July - October: 10.868¢ per kWh
Bills Rendered During November:10.395¢ per kWh

The overall answer is complicated, I have a choice of 2 other rates:

TOU rates with a demand charge:

https://www.duke-energy.com/_/media/pdf ... .pdf?la=en

TOU rates without a demand charge:

https://www.duke-energy.com/_/media/pdf ... .pdf?la=en

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:16 pm

tadamsmar wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:28 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:52 am
How much do you pay per kWh for electricity?
This would be my rate if I were not on TOU rates:

For Single-Phase Service:
Bills Rendered During July - October: 10.868¢ per kWh
Bills Rendered During November:10.395¢ per kWh

The overall answer is complicated, I have a choice of 2 other rates:

TOU rates with a demand charge:

https://www.duke-energy.com/_/media/pdf ... .pdf?la=en

TOU rates without a demand charge:

https://www.duke-energy.com/_/media/pdf ... .pdf?la=en
That's not much more than what we pay, about 9¢ per kWh. Our utility company estimated a roughly 20 year payback period, and that's assuming no maintenance or replacement costs over that period, which is unlikely since the grid-tie inverters I've seen seem to have about a 10 year lifespan. However, I would estimate that if your installation costs are similar to mine, which are essentially the national average, you'd be looking at a roughly 17 year payback period.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by tadamsmar » Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:55 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:16 pm
That's not much more than what we pay, about 9¢ per kWh. Our utility company estimated a roughly 20 year payback period, and that's assuming no maintenance or replacement costs over that period, which is unlikely since the grid-tie inverters I've seen seem to have about a 10 year lifespan. However, I would estimate that if your installation costs are similar to mine, which are essentially the national average, you'd be looking at a roughly 17 year payback period.
So you got a negative return, but it seemed that sageenergy.com figured a positive return. Do you have any idea why?

The probably left out inflation. They certainly left out the opportunity costs on my 14K.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:29 pm

tadamsmar wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:55 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:16 pm
That's not much more than what we pay, about 9¢ per kWh. Our utility company estimated a roughly 20 year payback period, and that's assuming no maintenance or replacement costs over that period, which is unlikely since the grid-tie inverters I've seen seem to have about a 10 year lifespan. However, I would estimate that if your installation costs are similar to mine, which are essentially the national average, you'd be looking at a roughly 17 year payback period.
So you got a negative return, but it seemed that sageenergy.com figured a positive return. Do you have any idea why?

The probably left out inflation. They certainly left out the opportunity costs on my 14K.
I didn't 'get' a negative return, but with the cost of replacement grid-tie inverters, the return for us would probably be 2-3%. Combine that with the complete lack of liquidity and the risk of not recovering your investment at resale, and it's a complete non-starter for us.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by WhiteMaxima » Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:52 pm

I just bought 4 solar panels and a 500W Li battery inverter generator. It will be my science project. My from lawn will have a rack of solar panel. I am planning use it charge during day time and use it to power my audio equipment in the evening. I hope the sound quality and video quality would be much better. :wink:

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by tadamsmar » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:15 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:29 pm
I didn't 'get' a negative return, but with the cost of replacement grid-tie inverters, the return for us would probably be 2-3%. Combine that with the complete lack of liquidity and the risk of not recovering your investment at resale, and it's a complete non-starter for us.
Is that 2-3% real return or nominal return?

Even if it is real return, it's on par with a conservative investment.

Plus, there is a chance that solar tech will get cheaper and better if one waits.

Thanks for your input.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:36 pm

tadamsmar wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:15 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:29 pm
I didn't 'get' a negative return, but with the cost of replacement grid-tie inverters, the return for us would probably be 2-3%. Combine that with the complete lack of liquidity and the risk of not recovering your investment at resale, and it's a complete non-starter for us.
Is that 2-3% real return or nominal return?

Even if it is real return, it's on par with a conservative investment.

Plus, there is a chance that solar tech will get cheaper and better if one waits.

Thanks for your input.
Nominal.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Puckman1035 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:09 pm

Hello Everyone,

Just few quick points I haven’t seen mentioned here in any great detail:

1). If your residence is geographically close to the equator (FL, TX, etc.) , you’ll usually benefit substantially better with solar all year compared to northern states (where you’ll crank in the summer, but lose out in the winter with shorter lengths of daytime. (Solar panels are best situated to point south—-towards the equator if you live in the Northern Hemisphere).

2). Co-ops are out there and worth joining. A co-op is a collection of homeowners that come together and get solar installers bidding for your business. It’s “buying power” that lets potential installers know that this group is serious about solar. The installers then bid for your business. In Florida, there are various figures floating around for “cost of solar” depending on the size of system you install. I’ve seen figures saying cost of solar in FL is anywhere between $2.63/watt to $5.99/watt. More recent figures as of July 2019 put the number around $2.63/watt to $3.02/watt. Using the $3.02/watt figure, a 6 kW system would cost $18,116 to install BEFORE the 30% federal tax credit, and $12,681 after that tax credit.

The reason why I mention going with a co-op is you’ll get a significant savings because the chosen installer will get ALL the business of those interested (and those that actually move forward) to install solar. In Florida, my co-op price was $1.98/watt. So, for a 10kW system, $1.98 x 10,000= $19,800. 30% federal tax credit = $5,940. Total cost of system= $13,860. With a $200/month electric bill (used as an example, mine was higher due to AC in Florida, pool pump, heat/light/pump & filtration systems for “several” reptiles, etc.). $13,860 / $200 month bill = 69.3 months /12 months = 5.77 years (5 years and 9 months to “break even”). Assuming the panels produce for 30 years, that’s 24 years and 3 months that I’m golden (I’m 52 years old, so I should be good until I’m 76 😄 and maybe even have more reptiles 🦎 🐢.

But, the cost savings of the co-op using $3.02/watt - $1.98/watt = $1.04/watt is a 34.4% savings off retail just for joining a co-op! If you want to use the lower figure of $2.63/watt (FL solar) - $1.98/watt = 0.65 difference = 24.7% savings!! Whether it’s 34.4% or 24.7% savings (depending on which figure you use), 1) this is SWEET; and 2) this is just the START!

Factor in the FEDERAL TAX CREDIT (not mentioned much here on this thread) of 30%, and add that 30% savings to the 34.4% or 24.7% from joining a co-op, and you’ll be saving 64.4% or 54.7% on adding an investment to your house, as well as joining the ranks of those interested in environmental stewardship. You’ll be smiling like a butcher’s dog with these kinds of savings!

Now, keep in mind the federal tax credit is 30% for 2019, 26% for 2020, and 22% in 2021. In 2022, the federal tax credit expires for residential homeowners, so, if you’re thinking of going solar, you may want to move a little faster vs. a little slower.

In my geographical area (FL), our electric provider is FPL (parent company NEE), and their rates are some of the lowest in the nation! However, FPL has an aggressive program to install 30 million solar panels by 2030 — “30 by ‘30 “ as they call it. 30 million solar panels to help generate electricity to the 3rd most populous state in the nation.... in a hurricane-prone area... think about that, folks. If FPL is cranking on this, what do they know that the rest of us don’t? FPL has a “net metering” program in place, and a few years ago, the utilities spent millions of dollars to come up with a campaign to confuse voters with ambiguous wording (Amendment 1 in our state as it was called at the polls), to trick the voters into voting AGAINST solar power in the Sunshine State!!! (Now why do you suppose these multi-million dollar companies, Fortune 500 companies, would spend millions of $$$$ to confuse people to NOT INSTALL SOLAR ?? Hmmmmmm.....)

Now, being realistic, I’m sure solar isn’t for everyone. But, if you think it’s for you, 1) remember the federal tax rebate of 30% ends this year; 2) check into joining a co-op for bargaining power with other homeowners to get better/lower prices; 3) check into your vicinity’s special situations— utility credits for YOUR state or town, tax initiatives/breaks, money back, etc.

I liked my rooftop solar (installed July 2018 -9.4kWp), so much, that I had a ground solar array installed in January 2019– 7.2kWp. 16.6 kWp potential power plant at my house! Why, you may ask? 1) scored with the co-op pricing discount that saved 25%-35% off the retail price; 2) 30% federal tax rebate; 3) environmentally friendly/green energy/planet Earth stewardship; 4) I’m looking into buying an EV vehicle which would literally be “powered by the sun”, so you have to have the apparatus to do so...so why not do it which the price breaks of co-op competitive pricing, and a federal tax rebate. (55%-65% off regular price).

And, the additional money that came back on this year’s tax refund because of the solar project and solar incentive? Invested it by paying down the mortgage. Win-win-win.... invest in solar, invest in the house (pre-pay mortgage), & invest in the planet.

Wishing you all the best! For those of you that are thinking of going solar, may your days be a little brighter and all good things come your way!

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:35 am

Puckman1035 wrote:If your residence is geographically close to the equator (FL, TX, etc.) , you’ll usually benefit substantially better with solar all year compared to northern states (where you’ll crank in the summer, but lose out in the winter with shorter lengths of daytime. (Solar panels are best situated to point south—-towards the equator if you live in the Northern Hemisphere).
I have seen reports that conclude that TOU customers might benefit from pointing panels West. In any case, a roof pointing West is not a deal breaker.

Our ground mount panels near Boston point SSW, and are sloped (I think) to catch a good bit of low winter sun. I don’t know much about it, but I was surprised that our winter production was as strong as it was (we’ve been here since March 2018). The lower temperature helps, and perhaps the installer was optimizing for balanced rather than peak production. Since grid outages occur mostly in winter around here (trees), we will benefit from the surprisingly strong winter production.

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Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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