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ROI? - is anyone getting there?


flatfourfan
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I put this under the beginner section as that's what I am. :D

My 12v light installation and ROI so far.

Yes I know that people frown down on simple 12v installations and I get a lot of rooftop $$nobbery from the community at large, but eh, Je m'en fiche!!

My initial system was installed in October 2015 and to date I’ve had little to no issues with it. I have however always been tweaking.

Total set up

28 x 3w LED 12v DC downlights (Eurolux)

12 x 1.5w LED strips mounted into existing light fittings.

4 x 1.5w LED strips mounted into spot light fittings.

4 x 1.3w LED strips mounted into spot light housings

What I have:

1 x 120watt/ 12v Sunmodule panel

Royal deep cycle battery N150

Steca - Solar charge controller 

The power pullers:

2 x kwikhot 150l geysers (1 hardly ever gets used)

4 x PC’s that we use for television

1 x defy stove

3 LED tv’s

1 big assed plasma (soon to be upgraded)

1 x dishwasher

1 x washing machine

1 x tumble dryer (only gets used during long spells of crap weather and only certain clothing items, i.e. none of mine)

To date I have had to replace 2 flickering lights that Eurolux replaced free of charge as they have a 12 month guarantee and also tighten some screws

Our household has always been pretty energy efficient and so I wasn’t expecting much in the way of savings. For a family of 4 with 2 girls, (showers) below is what we were using.

2015 – Average of 634kwh a month

(this includes the 2 months that we actually used just 12v DC lights in the house)

2016 – Average of 520kwh a month

(we then changed 3 outside lights and 1 spot light that pulled it down even more)

2017 – Average of the 6 months so far 507kwh

-          we’re due to change the last of the lights outside to the solar set-up and that should see us dip into the 400’s

-          Also looking into replacing the older of the 2 geysers to a Solar Geyser at some stage.

-          I also think that our 1 geyser is still set on the factory settling, which can be adjusted down.

The reason that we went 12v and just the lighting is because the rest didn't make much financial sense for what we needed, this was created in the age of load shedding, but we have come to use it all the time. We set a target of ROI of about 5 years and we should be in the green by then. 

 

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Initial system paid for itself in the recovered productivity that would have been lost due to load-shedding. I didn't exactly do the math past that, but since I push 80% of the PV directly to loads and don't involve batteries, it's probably a matter of calculating if my PV panels have made enough yet to pay for themselves... and I think the answer is No. No, they haven't.

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Although I have a lots of other stuff that has been running for donkeys years and still works fine. Some solar geysers between 5 and 10 years old, a 12V lighting system on a cottage that runs on 50W panels that I bought in about 2006. I had actually forgotten about those things, they just keep working.

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System cost R80 000 (including some rewiring which made my life simpler) . Diesel usage dropped by average of 350 litres per month. Saving using co-ops price for diesel this week (R102 564). When I did my planning worked on a ROI of 19 months which seems to be borne out by real figures. I plan to cut the staff over to solar too and do more of the heavy pump work via solar for further reduction but the savings are not going to be as great as the first time round but I also get to upgrade my kit and spoil myself for a second time having not tweaked my system in 18 months.

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1 minute ago, Chris Hobson said:

System cost R80 000 (including some rewiring which made my life simpler) . Diesel usage dropped by average of 350 litres per month. Saving using co-ops price for diesel this week (R102 564). When I did my planning worked on a ROI of 19 months which seems to be borne out by real figures. I plan to cut the staff over to solar too and do more of the heavy pump work via solar for further reduction but the savings are not going to be as great as the first time round but I also get to upgrade my kit and spoil myself for a second time having not tweaked my system in 18 months.

Holy crap...................drop of 350l diesel a month?????

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15 minutes ago, Chris Hobson said:

System cost R80 000 (including some rewiring which made my life simpler) . Diesel usage dropped by average of 350 litres per month. Saving using co-ops price for diesel this week (R102 564). When I did my planning worked on a ROI of 19 months which seems to be borne out by real figures. I plan to cut the staff over to solar too and do more of the heavy pump work via solar for further reduction but the savings are not going to be as great as the first time round but I also get to upgrade my kit and spoil myself for a second time having not tweaked my system in 18 months.

And that's why if you are already "off grid" and you kill fuel usage the pay back period is very "exciting"...  Nice Chris!

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Mine being a small Solar UPS (there where no Axperts back then),it was paid for with no loss in production within 12 months.

Never looked back since 2012. Can I do it better, yes, with SMA - once they sort the details in my favour. ;)

Being off-grid relying on generators, nirvana for solar I swear. 

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3 minutes ago, flatfourfan said:

Holy crap...................drop of 350l diesel a month?????

My old man ended up with a 10kW 3 phase and when the gennie is on you try and run everything you possibly want. Lift water 180m to two mountain tops run fridge/freezers - pump water for livestock - garden house staff etc. Workshops etc. But as with all things it does not work as planned. Gennie starts and runs to power the compressor because it will take all day to pump a tractor tyre by hand. But for those 20 minutes one cannot even get water ½way up the mountain so there ends up a huge amount of waste.

 

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3 hours ago, Chris Hobson said:

pump a tractor tyre by hand.

Oh I remember that! We also used to fill the tyre with water, and THAT was even more fun... for some odd value of fun. I remember the first time, the tyre had to be lifted onto the back of a truck where it was laid flat and then filled with water. Then you would drive it to wherever the tractor got stranded with a flat, and then you had to lower it, using a block-and-tackle, roll it carefully (it took three people), and you didn't want it to fall over as you would never be able to pick it up. And then, with a lot of effort, you got it back on the tractor.

But I did say that was the first time. My father developed an attachment with a pipe inside a pipe, the inner one to let out air, the outer one to insert water. With this new contraption, you would pump the tyre with normal air, put it on the back of a bakkie and take it to the tractor and bolt it on. Then you'd drive home with this lopsided contraption (water one side, air in the other), and when you get home you'd park it on a jack, and attach the hose-pipe with the aforementioned contraption. This was a considerable improvement!

People who wonder why you put in water? To make it heavy... really heavy, so it digs in when you're pulling implements.

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Love hearing the stories, especially the *ou dae* ones. :D

I'd love to go totally off, but the numbers don't add up for us in our area, we also don't use enough to ever expect an type of  ROI. If we had unreliable power, then so be it, but we don't. If the rates keep going up, well then that's another thing altogether. 

My wife's uncle who lives about 60kms from Lainsburg is the one who actually got me interested in solar as his farm, (closest neighbour 27km away) is totally off the grid and was all very much DIY, but his farms existence depended on it. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, DeepBass9 said:

Chris, you should try and sell that 350l of diesel as a carbon credit to someone.

I have about 1000 ha of spekboom which is fixing 14 tons carbon/ha/annum - a far more marketable source of carbon credits but the carbon credit market keeps getting sabotaged.

 

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23 hours ago, Chris Hobson said:

I have about 1000 ha of spekboom which is fixing 14 tons carbon/ha/annum

Hi Chris

Except for the obvious reasons of lowering carbon levels, for what purpose do you maintain that level of Spekboom.

If you had a herd of Elephant, I can see the use, even some leaves in you daily green salad, but 1000 ha?

Not criticizing, just curious. (Other uses for Spekboom)

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1 hour ago, Riaanh said:

Except for the obvious reasons of lowering carbon levels, for what purpose do you maintain that level of Spekboom.

Hi Riaan 

It is the natural vegetation for about 1/3 of the farm. It is at times highly palatable grazing despite not being highly nutritious. There was some government "incentives" to re-establish spekboom on areas where it had been wipeout. The incentives were so small and the red tape so great I do not know of anyone who applied. The Baviaans Mega reserve and Addo park have planting teams but no-one private.

Chris

 

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On 2017/06/21 at 3:10 PM, flatfourfan said:

I put this under the beginner section as that's what I am. :D

@flatfourfan

Back on topic.

As one of the “smaller” solar users, the following from my side.

I started the whole process in August of 2013.

The main drive was much like yourself to stick it to the man who decided Load Sh1tting is the way forward in SA.

I did not like the bulk of forum users here fork out a bunch of cash upfront to implement a total solution aka “off-grid”.

I started small, and did a little every month as some funds became available. Made a lot of idiotic purchases along the way, but one has to pay school fees along the way, though the amount differs from one person to the next.

What I most likely did a little differently, is I took my savings on the municipal account and used that to procure additional items for saving even more.

I am currently paying +/- R 1200 less on my municipal account than I did in August of 2013.

My aim is, (and I still manage succeed every year to date) is to at least counter the annual increase of the municipality, plus a little.

With this in mind I can really say that the R 1200 less that I pay local government at the moment is actually WAY more. If one factor in the average of 10% increase in accounts per annum since 2014.

I still have a LONG way to go, but at the moment everything I have (subject related) is paid for.

The latest increase show only an increase of 1,8% on electricity, but 10,7% on water. So no need to convince myself where the next expense in going to be.

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1 minute ago, Riaanh said:

The latest increase show only an increase of 1,8% on electricity, but 10,7% on water. So no need to convince myself where the next expense in going to be.

Yup. And water equipment is a lot simpler and cheaper...

I finally have the old doll-house removed from the back garden, now I can put in a concrete floor and next month we'll get the tank. Should have done this ages ago.

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1 hour ago, plonkster said:

Come to think of it, I wonder what kind of carbon-absorbing capabilities the good old Turksvy (prickly pear bush) has? My father has acres of those... cattle actually eat it, they love it!

Edit: Opuntia ficus indica, perhaps Chris' use is similar?

Spekboom is unusual in that we are looking for carbon permanently removed from the atmosphere. All plants fix carbon but most of of it will be cycled at some point in time. Spekboom leaves fall to the ground as litter and because of the dry environment the leaf litter is not broken down microbially but physically gets weathered and broken down into smaller and smaller bits (called particulate organic matter - POM). What little rain there is leeches these small particles and they are permanently (is anything permanent?) taken up in the soil.- Well that's what the "dikbrille" tell us.

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Just now, Chris Hobson said:

permanently removed from the atmosphere

Yup, my small bit of research this morning indicates that by the time a Turksvy is two years old it slows down capturing of carbon, and it only really continues doing it as long as you water it. So yeah, Spekbos definitely wins :-)

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Just now, Riaanh said:

Allow me to rephrase: And water equipment could be a lot simpler and could be cheaper...

:angry:

Hehehe Agreed. But what I mean is this, instead of starting out with 10k worth of PV panels, a 5k inverter (or more like 12k in my case, back in 2013), a battery bank of a couple k, etc etc... you can buy a 5kl tank for 4.4k, a centrifugal pump for less than 2k, and so on and so forth. I'm sure by the end of it all it will add up to one motherly big number, but it's not like the PV game where you cannot actually get started unless you blow at least 10k on the first bits and bobs...

Also... way less regulations and stuff... for now.

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I started out of necessity as I could get Eskom on the farm but total cost to company after 10 months paid to Eskom would have been R 80 k ,

R 35 000 deposit  (There was a 100kva 3 phase transformer that the previous owner installed ) 
R 2500 per month line fee
I had to wait three months before I could apply for a reduction in transformer size and then it would take another 3 months to investigate then it would take yet another 3 to install and then I had to pay yet again deposit fee for the new transformer R 12k . The first deposit would then be placed on debit and monthly charges would be deducted from it. All and all it would be close to 80k and all I would have to show for it was that we used Eskom for 10 months. So I used that money to convert the house to be solar friendly and then started the mission to get Eskom prepaid on the farm. (It took 11 months! be I got it.) 
Power is nou costing us about R 250 a month so I could argue that the system is paid for but in my books I am about 4 years before I get ROI..

 

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On 6/23/2017 at 9:51 AM, Riaanh said:

@flatfourfan

Back on topic.

 

As one of the “smaller” solar users, the following from my side.

 

I started the whole process in August of 2013.

 

The main drive was much like yourself to stick it to the man who decided Load Sh1tting is the way forward in SA.

 

I did not like the bulk of forum users here fork out a bunch of cash upfront to implement a total solution aka “off-grid”.

 

I started small, and did a little every month as some funds became available. Made a lot of idiotic purchases along the way, but one has to pay school fees along the way, though the amount differs from one person to the next.

 

What I most likely did a little differently, is I took my savings on the municipal account and used that to procure additional items for saving even more.

 

I am currently paying +/- R 1200 less on my municipal account than I did in August of 2013.

 

My aim is, (and I still manage succeed every year to date) is to at least counter the annual increase of the municipality, plus a little.

 

With this in mind I can really say that the R 1200 less that I pay local government at the moment is actually WAY more. If one factor in the average of 10% increase in accounts per annum since 2014.

 

I still have a LONG way to go, but at the moment everything I have (subject related) is paid for.

 

The latest increase show only an increase of 1,8% on electricity, but 10,7% on water. So no need to convince myself where the next expense in going to be.

 

I actually really wish that my consumption was more, but alas, our family is so energy conscious that we struggle to get it any lower. So we can only save so much. We are however managing to cut bit by bit and to cover the general increases with a bit more to spare.

 

I’ve been tweaking the system a bit and every few months I’ve been adding some stuff and changing some other stuff that didn’t really pan out. Luckily I’ve got a friend who did what I did before I did it, so most of the teething issues were sorted out by him. So very little changes had to be made to my set-up.

 

I think that the last big changes will be a full gas stove as well as a solar geyser and then when the pool comes along a 12v DC pump for that sucker.

 

I like what you do with spending the savings……however at this stage we’ve had self-payment gaps with medical aid of about R10 000 a year that we’ve had to cover.

 

We already made the crossover to drinking our borehole water a few years back and this was the best thing that we did to date. Testing was cheap and I pump once a week into the big storage tank outback. Next will be adding a pump to get it into the house, cause at the moment, it’s done the old school way.

 

I remember my neighbours comment when I was on the roof installing my loan 120watt 12v panel……………..”hey buurman……….HEY…..GARY!!!!..........jy gaan die son doodtrek met daai ding…..klim af die dak seun.”

 

I also remember the load-shedding and him getting off his bike to open his gate, in the dark, while Chez-Gary was lit up like the Moulin Rouge.

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