Anyone ever used solar panels on their barn/arena roof?
We have a perfect southern exposure for our barn and
half our 200 foot indoor and are exploring it. Just looking
for other people's experiences.
We are in Massachusetts.
My parents have solar panels on their house to heat their pool, and it works very very well.
You just have to do a cost analysis to weigh the cost, minus any rebates, how much electricity it will provide compared to how much you pay, whether you could sell any of it back to the power company, and see how many years it will take to pay for itself.
Of course, that ROI may be irrelevant if the whole point it so get off the grid
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We have solar panels mounted on our barn roof. We had it done last year when the rebates made it very worthwhile. We live in NJ-you may want to talk to people in your state to see if the investment is worthwhile.
The transformers are mounted in our barn and at first I was a bit worried the noise would be annoying, but to be honest, I don't even notice it.
We had the largest system allowed for residential use installed and our electric bills are substantially reduced. I think the highest one we had last year was $150 and that was in the winter with the hot tub running and 4 floating stock heaters in my water tanks running 24/7.
Our Winter Quarters barn in NJ has a solar array on the roof and said it mostly covers the barn and some of the house. At the time it was more cost effective as part of the price to install was covered in a state program (now ended) and other costs were covered sellling credits to the power companies (was for higher $ per credit, tanking a bit now with more people having solar credits to sell).
Another friend looked into putting up a small array in their barn to avoid running wires out there. Wanted to cover pump, auto waterers and electric fence I believe.
Turns out their barn in open field is ideal for solar and they ended up putting up more panels to cover house energy needs as well. Again, more programs were available a few years ago to lower costs - no longer available now.
In my youth I was stationed at NAS Quonset Point, RI. Based upon what I remember about New England weather I would say be very careful when you do the math on cost vs. benefit.
If you can get a subsidy from the State or Feds then that grossly alters the ROI and might turn a loser into a winner. Of course then we get to make fun of you by noting you're slopping at the public trough.
The economic viability of solar (and wind) is highly dependant upon the micro-climate of where you will put the arrays, how you adjust them, how clean you keep them, etc. In SoCal where it never rains they can be a big winner. In NE where it rains a lot (and is often cloudy, foggy, etc. when there is no rain) I'd be very leery of making the expenditure.
Check with your Extension Officer or Farm Service office and see if they have average sunshine/wind charts for your area by month. If they don't have them try your local TV meterologist. I think they are published by NOAA and might be on the NOAA website. DOE may also have some. I would start with these and then go forward.
Find someone going to school for alternative energy studies. They will at some point have to do several home evaluations for wind and solar as part of their degree. I had a friend do one of his evals at my place. Gave him my last years utility bills, he came out and did all sorts of measurements and calculations. As it turns out, it would take me over thirty years to recover the investment, even with the tax credits...but my house is also highly energy efficient, so that affected the outcome. I live in Wi and heat my 1800 sq. ft. house for around $650 per year and elec. runs around $75 per month.
There are a lot of great points being made here. I did want to mention that last year was a bit tough because we had snow sitting on the panels for a decent part of the winter, which definitely affected the efficacy. The overhangs on my barn have a slight pitch, so the snow didn't slide off as easily as it would on a steeper pitched roof.
Now usually snow doesn't hang around that long here in the winters, but the last two years have definitely proven me wrong.
I think the feasibility studies are an excellent idea.
You can also PM me if you have any questions on our setup.
I'm assuming you're asking about photovoltaic panels for electricity, not solar radiant panels for hot water, right?
Both PV and solar radiant have worked very well for us here in Maine, even during the depths of winter, with very short daylight hours and snow.
Our house and some of the barns are covered by our 4.5kw of PV panels. We need about 15kw more of PV to completely cover our needs, though that's more due to how electricity works in Maine than actual production. Our barns also use a significant amount of electricity year round, between fly zappers and fans in spring- early fall and heating the automatic waterers during the winter.
Angle and orientation is very important in setting up solar. Here, our thermal panels are at a steeper angle to maximize collection during the winter, while the PV panels are at less of an angle. And because of how far north we are, our panels must face south.
And you need to make sure that whoever you hire to evaluate your site and install your system is honest, reliable and knows what they're doing. That's been our biggest problem.
And whatever you do, do NOT invest in small wind, since it does't work!
If you decide to go with solar, choose your vendor carefully. According to financial news sources, the Solyndra failure and resulting scandal won't be unique. Serious questions are cropping up as to how many "green" corporations with poor business models have been kept afloat by carelessly doled out taxpayer dollars. The sight of execs incessantly invoking Fifth Amendment protections does not inspire confidence. (Anyone else having flashbacks to the repetitive pleading of the Fifth during the Congressional Labor Racketeering Hearings of the '50s?) It's bad enough to be stuck for the bill for this malfeasance through increased taxes, but to be saddled with a system with no on-going support would be very expensive.
The good news: System prices are supposed to drop by about 20% over the next year.
Last edited by Frank B; Sep. 24, 2011 at 06:12 PM.
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