Free Heating in November, pretty rare

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,791
Northern NH
I had switched over to the wood boiler a few weeks ago but with this predicted warm sunny stretch I am back on the minisplit for heat. That is pretty rare for NH in Novemeber. As long as I get a full days sun, my solar generation during the day covers my minisplit usage so I do not eat into my long term surplus. I remember Indian Summer in October but a lot rarer in November.

Kind of handy to get some last minute projects done. I cut and split another cord for my inventory.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,113
Palmyra, WI
Split the last 3 nights here with the flood lights on, full moon and stars, 50-70deg, in November. Go figure. Just about the time I wonder if I'll ever even need any of it, it'll be snowing and below zero, then the wondering is over.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,163
Downeast Maine
We are going to take this opportunity to finish cleaning up the yard, getting some plastic around the chicken run, and finish shingling the house. I'm very thankful for this return to warmer weather.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
It's been very warm here the last week as well. I thought for sure winter was here for good, a couple days ago many places in Alberta set record high temps for the month of November. Yesterday morning we even had a thunderstorm, I've never seen a thunderstorm in October never mind November, it didn't last long though the storm was dropping freezing rain which quickly switched over to snow.
 

Gearhead660

Minister of Fire
Dec 20, 2018
538
Southern WI
Getting close to breaking record highs this week. I will take it! Couple sayings we have here...Can have 3 seasons in the same week, If you dont like the weather, wait 5 minutes.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,854
South Puget Sound, WA
Enjoy it while it lasts. A big high is dumping cooler air down us today. It will be heading eastward soon.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,791
Northern NH
Nice while it lasted, back to November weather.
 

faultymechanics

New Member
Oct 15, 2020
69
New Hampshire
I had switched over to the wood boiler a few weeks ago but with this predicted warm sunny stretch I am back on the minisplit for heat. That is pretty rare for NH in Novemeber. As long as I get a full days sun, my solar generation during the day covers my minisplit usage so I do not eat into my long term surplus. I remember Indian Summer in October but a lot rarer in November.

Kind of handy to get some last minute projects done. I cut and split another cord for my inventory.
Been loving the weather the past few days but looks to be relatively short lived.

Did NH offer you any good incentives for installing solar? The systems aren't cheap but I would love to go renewable with some of our energy.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,791
Northern NH
To derail the thread a bit, I am in Gorham (a local call to the top of Mt Washington). I am not familiar if you are in Eversource or NH Electric Coop which makes a difference. The Coop has the rep that they are far more solar friendly, Eversource does what they have to meet the law.

Start here with a summary of NH renewable incentives https://www.nh.gov/osi/energy/saving-energy/incentives.htm. The property tax situation could blow up if your town hasnt passed a ordnance that excludes solar so its worth checking if Bethlehem is on the list

Here is link to the NH PUC site https://www.puc.nh.gov/Sustainable Energy/RenewableEnergyRebates-SREG.html

NH rebate is 20 cents an installed watt or $1000 whichever is less. They send you a check. Plus a fed rebate. The fed rebate drops from 26% to 22% of total installed cost for 2021. The fed rebate is tax credit not a deduction so it 1 to 1. You also can sell SRECs which add up to a couple of hundred bucks a year for some extra paperwork. FYI, if you install solar panels on a roof and its not quite new, most folks install a new roof and add it to the installed solar cost so they get the fed to kick in for a percentage of the roof, I am not an accountant but many folks seem to do it.

A typical home will probably need 4000 to 6000 watts of panels installed. Add in an electric car and plan on 8000 to 10000 watts. Ideally do your energy savigns up front to cut your usage. The price of solar panels and inverters have been dropping but the electrical code has gotten more stringent which added some cost but its lot cheaper now than it was 5 or 10 years ago. Figure on $3 per installed watt minus rebates. DIY and keep an eye on deals on panels and you can get it below $2 a watt . I havent looked into the NH program for several years as I was one of the first people to use it but I think they may require a professional to do a site assessment. Its a 20 minute job with the right tools but that is one possible roadblock to DIY. That leads me to this group in Plymouth https://plymouthenergy.org/. I am not aware of how active they are. They used to do group installs of systems where a person who wanted solar would help out on other installs and then they would rise to the top of the list and get one installed on their own house. They started out on SHW systems but not sure how well they transitioned to solar electric. I think the membership and leadership has changed, one of the founders was a clueless peak oiler that went against my sensibilities so I have avoided them but expect he is long gone.

I have three separate arrays of different vintages and rebuilt one of them with new panels so I have designed and installed 4 systems over the years. Most of the work is "plug and play" and isnt that difficult if you have standard mechanical skills. Most people do not want to mess with main panel and there are some limits on what can and can not be done with main panel so most folks find an electrician to work with. There are several folks with solar in the Green Room Forum and we helped at least one Hearth.com member design and install a big system in North Carolina several years ago. He scored some really nice incentives.

I have bought some equipment from this company, they are down in Mass and seem to be competitive and they can design a system that you can DIY. https://www.altestore.com/store/solar-power-systems/grid-tie-solar-power-systems-c569/. Shipping is expensive and a PITA so if you drive down with trailer to haul the stuff back its worth it just to save the hassle of messing with trucke deliveries to residential addresses. Note their kits which seem to be quite complete are below $2 a watt.

Ideally you want the array to face south with little or no things that would cause shade on the array from about 9 AM to 3 PM. Its great time of year to keep an eye out for potential winter shading as the sun is getting low and getting lower until Dec 21st. If you have a roof facing that direction with no shadows a roof array is the least cost install. If not you can do a ground mount or a pole mount. A site assessment can figure out quickly if shading issues are significant. The fancy tracking arrays that you see in the region that follow the sun rarely make sense economically but folks with money like them as the look high tech. Its far cheaper to install additional fixed panels if you have the room. VT has different rules and incentives that make the trackers a bit more affordable but

BTW, except for very rare circumstances, a typical solar system only works when the grid is on. If the grid goes down the solar panels will not produce power. Yes you can install a hybrid system with a battery but that is a lot more expensive and battery life can be an issue. Its far better to stop by Harbor Freight and pick up Predator generator for under $500 and make sure you keep 5 gallons of gas around. Run it on ethanol free gas, Presby on 302 is listed as selling it, if not go here https://www.pure-gas.org/index.jsp?stateprov=NH. That is all I run in my outdoor power equipment. If you run regular ethanol gas unless you a real careful whne you need the generator it may not run.
 

faultymechanics

New Member
Oct 15, 2020
69
New Hampshire
Thank you for the detailed reply. The house we're closing on, I believe will be a great candidate for a rooftop grid as the house is south facing with very little shading; though as you said we will have to watch through this winter.

I don't believe we are in a place to get solar setup in the next year or so but it's something we've talked about doing. The hard part is the roof is only 5 years old so we would be waiting a while to try and do both the roof and solar for the fed aid like you suggested.

Additionally we have to replace the propane boiler and water heater as soon as we close and those last 10-20 years and since we basically have to go Propane again unless we want a total rework of the entire HVAC system in our home (unless I misunderstood something), the HVAC system won't benefit from a solar array. Basically we would only get the benefit through our electric run appliances and lights.

As people that really want to look towards renewables it is definitely hard to have to install new propane appliances when there are alternatives but they seems to double the costs.

Very much appreciate your thorough reply. It's good to have all that information when looking forward to the near future. I do believe Bethlehem has the property tax exemption but I would certainly double check that.
 

Brian26

Minister of Fire
Sep 20, 2013
550
Branford, CT
Peakbagger is talking about using an electric air source heat pump/mini split powered off solar panels. Mini splits can operate at some incredible efficiencies. A pretty standard Coefficient of Performance number of 3 or 4 in a good mini split is equivalent to 300-400% efficiency.

I had panels installed over 4 years ago and converted my entire house to electric. Heat pump water heater, heat pump dryer, induction stove etc. I have been using 2 cold climate mini splits to carry my year entire year round heating/cooling load. With net metering my electric bill from Eversource is $9.62 a month. After going 2 winters and not ever even coming close to needing my oil furnace that I kept I removed it and the tank this summer. The tank was from 1958 so it needed to go.
 

andym

Feeling the Heat
Feb 6, 2020
318
Hicksville, Ohio
Peakbagger is talking about using an electric air source heat pump/mini split powered off solar panels. Mini splits can operate at some incredible efficiencies. A pretty standard Coefficient of Performance number of 3 or 4 in a good mini split is equivalent to 300-400% efficiency.

I had panels installed over 4 years ago and converted my entire house to electric. Heat pump water heater, heat pump dryer, induction stove etc. I have been using 2 cold climate mini splits to carry my year entire year round heating/cooling load. With net metering my electric bill from Eversource is $9.62 a month. After going 2 winters and not ever even coming close to needing my oil furnace that I kept I removed it and the tank this summer. The tank was from 1958 so it needed to go.
Just curious: what is your estimated break even time period? (Not counting all the new appliances)
 

Brian26

Minister of Fire
Sep 20, 2013
550
Branford, CT
Just curious: what is your estimated break even time period? (Not counting all the new appliances)
5 years. Here in CT we have like the 3rd highest electric rates after Hawaii and Alaska. It's around .23-.25 kwh. But the state has some of the best in the nation solar policies and energy efficiency incentives. After the state .70/watt incentive and federal rebate my $20k panels were about $8.5k.

The state also has some extremely generous incentives for insulation, heat pump water heaters, mini splits. I got my heat pump water heater for free 7 years ago. This is true across most of New England with Massachusetts having the best in the nation solar and energy efficiency programs.
 

stoveliker

Member
Nov 17, 2019
216
Eastern Long Island NY
Just curious: what is your estimated break even time period? (Not counting all the new appliances)
My panels, cost me 10k$ (with a 12.5k$ additional cost born by the federal and state taxpayers...). I have generated about 13.1 MWh in 2 years, which, at 22 ct/kWh equates to $3000. (Yes, my usage is low at 11 kWh per day averaged over the year, before I had the minisplit - so I have some kWh in the bank from the meter running backwards here, which I'll slowly burn up using the minisplit.)

And with that, I also saved an estimate 1 tank of oil using the (now free running) minisplit. That was (with fairly low oil prices) $500.
If I extrapolate that ($3500 not spent per 2 years), it brings me to 5 years and 9 months break even (to reach the $10,000 initial cost).

This does not include the cost of the minisplit, which we wanted anyway because we did not have AC for the summer.
 

CaptSpiff

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2014
527
Long Island, NY
My panels, cost me 10k$ (with a 12.5k$ additional cost born by the federal and state taxpayers...).
I have generated about 13.1 MWh in 2 years, which, at 22 ct/kWh equates to $3000.
Thank you for stating it that way. You recognize that the Tax Credits offered by the govt are incentives paid for by all of us.

Renewable energy resources are truly in a sweet spot right now. Aggressive Govt incentives have driven down RE costs to a level where traditional highly polluting fossil energy sources are struggling to compete. Coal and Bunker #6 oil burning electric power stations built 40-50-60 years ago are retiring everywhere. Those power plants were the only thing available to us then, but hidden cost of acid rain pollution and public health were never fully accounted for. I will gladly continue to pay a tiny portion of my taxes to clean up this industry/energy sector for a cleaner environment.

Long Island residents have installed more than 450000 kw of behind the meter (rooftop) PV panels.
NY state saw its last Coal Power Station retire its boilers in the spring of 2020.
NYS is processing applications for over 2500 Mw of offshore wind turbines in the near term, with a target of 8000 Mw by 2035.
This wind capacity is forecasted to lower future electricity prices, and continue to place pressure for even traditional NG fired power stations to retire.
 
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stoveliker

Member
Nov 17, 2019
216
Eastern Long Island NY
Thank you for stating it that way. You recognize that the Tax Credits offered by the govt are incentives paid for by all of us.
Well, regardless of whether one is in favor of such incentives or not, this is a simple fact - that I used to my economic advantage.
For this forum though, the most important part is that I like the combination of the minisplit (nicely heating me now) and the stove (for when it's really cold). I hope to be able to, for the first time in my life, go through a winter without using any oil (or buy electricity to heat).
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,791
Northern NH
The fed tax incentives come out of the overall federal budget, but most state incentives in New England Regional Green House Gas Initiative (REGGI) funds. Utility incentives usually come out of ratepayer funding meaning other ratepayers are paying some percentage of their power bill to pay utility incentives.
 
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Brian26

Minister of Fire
Sep 20, 2013
550
Branford, CT
Well, regardless of whether one is in favor of such incentives or not, this is a simple fact - that I used to my economic advantage.
For this forum though, the most important part is that I like the combination of the minisplit (nicely heating me now) and the stove (for when it's really cold). I hope to be able to, for the first time in my life, go through a winter without using any oil (or buy electricity to heat).
What size are your panels and what kind of mini split are you running? Im guessing you have a 5- 6 kw system? Mine is 5.4 kwh and has been averaging about 6500-7000 kwh/yr just across the sound from you. Our payback time and electric rates are really close.

With the milder climate here a mini split can run at some incredible efficiencies. I heated my house for the last 2 winters with my splits and logged the electrical consumption. The total electrical consumption for both units was never over 500 kwh even in the coldest months. Its incredible how little power they draw when running. Mine spend a good chunk of their time only drawing like a 150-400 watts.
 

stoveliker

Member
Nov 17, 2019
216
Eastern Long Island NY
My system is 7.2 kW (not kWh... physicist here...). But I'm in a N/S running well-treed valley, and my roof ridgeline is also running N/S. So the panels face E/W (10 each), and the ridges and tall oaks on them make the sun come up late and set early.
Installed October '18. In 2019 I made 6300 kWh. 2020 so far 6000 kWh.
Minisplit is a Mitsubishi MXZ-4C36NA2 unit outside (and MSC-GL units inside). At 47 F outside that thing is capable of 36000 BTUs/h, and at 17 F it still does 22000. But of course the power used per BTU delivered inside goes up with lower temp outside, so I don't really run it below 35 F. I have a good stove after all (BK Chinook 30).

I don't know how much the minisplit uses (don't have the usage side of monitoring installed, only the production side). I installed the minisplit right after Christmas 2019, but I had ran a space heater in the living room before that to use some of the kWhs in the bank, so I only have one datapoint of "solar w/o minisplit" (winter '18/'19), and this will be my first winter where my usage will be up from that "only solar" datapoint without a space heater. However, I'm so far quite happy - I did not see much difference in the net usage in Feb./Mar. last year. And with a relatively warm winter then, the minisplit was running more than what would be average (b/c when it's cold I'd run the woodstove).

We'll see. So far I'm happy. AC in summer, working from home since March (and on going...) and still put more or less similar in the kWh bank this year as compared to last year. I guess I overdimensioned the solar array -but it's nice to be flush in free energy, whether it's electrons or wood :cool:
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,791
Northern NH
The company I work for is heavilly involved with big deployments of minisplits and their "bigger cousins" VRF systems. Yes the efficiency is crazy good in a mild climate and even still impressive down to 20 F, from there on down the efficiency starts to drop while the house heating demand cranks up . So those in colder climates than coastal NY definitely want a backup.

I have mentioned before I have a friend that has been selling and servicing vented kerosene heaters (Monitors and more recentlyToyostoves) for many years and his business had been tapering for several years until minisplits started showing up in homes as primary heating systems. His business has picked up considerably since minisplits hit the Maine market as former and new customers are calling him up to get a supplemental heat for really cold conditions. Really cold temps usually occur at night but warm up during the day. The kerosene heater is relatively cheap and very economical. a fifty gallon tank of fuel in the garage will last a few typical cold snaps and some folks just buy a few 5 gallon cans.
 

stoveliker

Member
Nov 17, 2019
216
Eastern Long Island NY
The company I work for is heavilly involved with big deployments of minisplits and their "bigger cousins" VRF systems. Yes the efficiency is crazy good in a mild climate and even still impressive down to 20 F, from there on down the efficiency starts to drop while the house heating demand cranks up . So those in colder climates than coastal NY definitely want a backup.

I have mentioned before I have a friend that has been selling and servicing vented kerosene heaters (Monitors and more recentlyToyostoves) for many years and his business had been tapering for several years until minisplits started showing up in homes as primary heating systems. His business has picked up considerably since minisplits hit the Maine market as former and new customers are calling him up to get a supplemental heat for really cold conditions. Really cold temps usually occur at night but warm up during the day. The kerosene heater is relatively cheap and very economical. a fifty gallon tank of fuel in the garage will last a few typical cold snaps and some folks just buy a few 5 gallon cans.
I've been looking for a small kerosene heater for my garage so I won't freeze any crucial bodyparts off in winter. It's just a 1.5 car garage into my basement. While the basement is finished, the garage is just block (and insulation in the ceiling to the bedrooms). I won't need it to be toasty, but 50 F would be nice. However, e.g. common ones like Dura Heat DH2304S are way too big (footprint and heating BTUs). Do you know of a significantly smaller unit? I can find e.g. 5000 BTU units running on propane, but don't like a propane tank in my garage...
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,791
Northern NH
Minisplit - Its a unitized heat pump. Using the same components it can move heat from the indoors to the outdoors for air conditioning and move heat from the air outside to the inside to heat the interior space. There is an outdoor unit that bolts to an outside wall or on the ground and a smaller indoor unit that mounts on the interior wall. Since it just moved heat around instead of creating it, it can be more efficient than 100%. Depending on the indoor or outdoor air temps the efficiency can be up to 400% (I unit of electricity to move 4 units of heat). There are larger units that have one outdoor unit and multiple indoor units. They generally use the same basic process but handle the refrigerant differently. With respect to heating, the outdoor temps get lower, the efficiency drops down to the point where its no better than electric heat.
 

Adabiviak

Feeling the Heat
Dec 7, 2008
361
Sierra Nevadas, California
Interesting... I have solar/battery and juice to spare. I use a swamp cooler in the summer, but it's noisy (and due for a replacement). Maybe a minisplit would work for me (quiet operation is a huge plus). House is 800 square feet total.
 

stoveliker

Member
Nov 17, 2019
216
Eastern Long Island NY
They look like this (1 outdoor unit, 3 indoors in this pic):
1605390828515.png