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Home Forums General Discussion Once set up, how much money is required to live each year? Re: Once set up, how much money is required to live each year?


Our system paid for itself and its energy of manufacture in 5 1/2 years, self installed. The original 8 L-16 350 Amp hour batteries without desulfators had to be changed after 8 years. They originally cost $1,200. They were replaced with L-16S 410 Ah batteries with desulfators to last twice as long, for a total of $1,800. So that is between 112 and 150 per year. I had to check and fill the batteries 4 times per year with distilled water and use baking soda to clean up, for about $3-4/year. Our solar Staber clothes washer requires yearly several drops of 3 in 1 oil after taking off the front. I had to repair some cracks with glue once. The arrays have to be checked for tight bolts and wires twice a year of so. The full tracker requires grease and spray lube. Sometimes I have to use an extender broom to sweep snow and dust from the panels. The backup generator is used 25 hours per year costing $24 with oil change. Composters require turning and doses of bacteria for decopmp along with the septic system, seeds for new crops, other than the ones I can save seeds from. Then you have the usual house maintenance, replacing leaking toilet innards, faucets, painting, carpet/flooring, weatherstripping. Eventually re-roofing.

So besides the approximately $15 per month for the solar electric system, it is mainly the labor. The Trace/Xantrex inverter/chargers may eventually have to be replaced, but they are doing well after 13 years, so far. If they last 15 years, then it would cost $2,400 or so to replace them, then another 16 months or less for them to pay for themselves again. The panels themselves may last 50 years, gradually losing power over time. The warranty is only for 25 years. All can be used as depreciation for tax purposes.

Eventually, when the panels need to be replaced, then it will depend on the cost of grid electricity at that time, the cost of disposal, and the new panel costs, to determine payback time again.