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Solar Panels and Systems.

Posted By: Shyboy

Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/15/15 02:36 AM

Since electricity is expensive here and sun is abundant, I expected to see more of a Solar Industry here.. Ok; imported from the mainland and not based here. Why is this not a blossoming industry on the island?
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/15/15 06:14 PM

Shyboy I think lack of understanding and too few elections that know how to do installations. Having observed my installation two neighbors immediately wanted theirs. One already has his in.
Posted By: CaptOneIron

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/16/15 11:51 AM

I have recently installed photovoltaic panels with microinverters here in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. I cannot recommend them highly enough. I just can't imagine this not being a great thing on the island. My two main concerns would be expertise of local electricians and the corrosiveness of the atmosphere. Plus I wonder if you could get the good quality cells down there without paying a huge custom fee. If the people running BEL had any brains, and I stipulate that they don't, then they would get into this business and sell the installations and have them supplement the power being purchased from Mexico. It would be a win-win all the way around and for that reason it obviously won't be done.

I'd be interested Scuba Lady in knowing how your installation holds up and whether or not you have batteries in your system.
Posted By: fearndeaux

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/16/15 06:44 PM

Harriette - Where did you buy your system and who did your install? I am currently looking into this for our home.

Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/17/15 01:21 AM

I think the outfit is called North Woods something or other in Colorado. I'll look it up and let you know. Installed by an USA educated electrical something or other (BA or BS degree). Nice gringo who has lived here some time.
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/19/15 03:30 PM

I was trying to find the card hence the delay. Solar Energy Solutions Belize just did an install on one of our boats, they were originally located on the island about 12 years ago but are now in Belmopan.

www.solar-energy-solutions-belize.com
Posted By: CaptOneIron

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/19/15 08:24 PM

Does BEL buy power from solar panel users? Do they do net metering? Seems to me that is a big question to answer because if you don't have to have batteries that makes it much more attractive.
Posted By: Shyboy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/19/15 09:37 PM

I have taken the liberty of contacting BEL by email and their website. I have asked for the best contact person to answer Solar questions. Maybe I will get a response: if not, I will call when I am there in June. I will also check into Simon's link above.
Posted By: Shyboy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/19/15 10:14 PM

I looked at Simon's link.. They will have all the answers.. I have contacted them and will follow up with more info. There was supposed to be direct grid hookup ( no batteries) by the end of 2014.. I'm guessing " not yet" but I will find out soon. Whether or not you buy their systems; it's a great place to start.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/20/15 10:54 AM

BEL does not buy back power.
Posted By: Bear

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/21/15 04:16 PM

Originally Posted by Shyboy
Since electricity is expensive here and sun is abundant, I expected to see more of a Solar Industry here.. Ok; imported from the mainland and not based here. Why is this not a blossoming industry on the island?


Capt One Iron is on point. Cost of importation, cost of installation and lack of familiarity with a rapidly advancing technology. Heck lack of familiarity "period" when I ask local electricians. They know about it but haven't looked into it or even want to look into it; they know its expensive and a technology that pushes their envelope...Even here in the states its hard to sort out what is best for a given installation; some of that is driven by what the owner wants to do...supplement or substitute. I do know that most installers at home (No.California) are pushing the simplest of forms of installations which simply inverts and substitutes/inserts Solar AC power for Utility AC power. This supplement slows the metered usage during the day and makes no attempt to "store" power for future use. I can second Diane's comment, I got quite a laugh out of a BEL "lineman" when I asked! smile

Our place is absolutely perfect for an installation but the cost and potential loss due to hurricane velocity winds makes it a tough choice. Maybe DiCaprio will make his island solar...a good ground breaking "green" application inline with his agenda.
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/21/15 04:32 PM

It's not a blossoming industry on the island because it's too expensive to live here and the majority of the work is on the mainland. It probably wouldn't take much to go around the island and count the number of houses that are owned by people who could actually afford solar...
Posted By: Wizardofaahs

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/21/15 04:58 PM

If it were a bit more affordable I think it would be a great thing for all the resorts and businesses. Since electricity is one of the most expensive things here, and the need for backup power, it would be a great alternative...and create a lot of jobs.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/21/15 06:43 PM

On the other hand .... I have a very low tech solar hot water heater that works beautifully.
It cost me1,500 US for the unit and installation. I think it will pay for itself in just over a year.
Purchased from GrupoLumiere in Chetumal.
Email address. [email protected]
Website. www.grupolumiere.com
Phone. 00-52-983-833-1335

Owners are brothers, Yves and Guy Abboud. Tell them Diane sent you. They speak English, although the front desk lady does not.

Posted By: Shyboy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/21/15 06:44 PM

Well; I'm happy that I started this discussion but Diane and Bear "talked" me out of further pursuit. I hadn't thought about Hurricane winds and if BEL doesn't buy back power, it doesn't get affordable. My thought was that vacation rentals are vacant some of the time and that Solar Power would go back to BEL ( even at a reduced rate). My theory was that Solar would "reduce" power costs when the rental was in use and further reduce the bill via BEL buyback when not in use.

This thread should be a good thread for this subject anyway.
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/21/15 11:19 PM

Some things are 'just the right thing to do."
I try not to always think about cost/savings but just do what's right for all of us in the long run.

It does not matter to me that BEL isn't thinking, it matters to me that I am thinking environment AND - when the lights go out for you - mine are still on AND - I have hot and cold water. (cisterns on solar system and two hot water on demand units.)
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/22/15 03:38 PM


IMHO solar power is fabulous, but until we tackle the issue of population growth all bets are off in the struggle for survival of the species.
Posted By: Bear

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/22/15 04:16 PM

Originally Posted by Diane Campbell

IMHO solar power is fabulous, but until we tackle the issue of population growth all bets are off in the struggle for survival of the species.


Ahaha! I got up this morning, read this, and got so depressed I went back to bed!!! Thanks a lot Diane!

(but i get your point)
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/23/15 04:05 PM

Sorry Bear.
Posted By: fearndeaux

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/23/15 04:44 PM

Thanks for all the input. It is still something I intend to pursue so all assistance is appreciated.
Posted By: pagan

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/23/15 06:53 PM

After reading these posts, I'd like to add my two cents. I have been in Belize for 11 years and installed the first of many solar electric systems when I arrived. There seems to be so much ignorance, fear, and disinformation out there that cloud the issues of solar electric. The benefits do out weigh the negatives now more than ever here in Belize. Since the nationalization of BEL by the government all duty is waved on any alternative energy products entering the country. True,, BEL's infrastructure does not allow a buy back or net metering however when the power goes out so do your lights with micro inverter solar cells. These do not make economical sense anywhere. Crunch the numbers and you will see a 3 to 5 year payback for battery/solar systems in Belize. All fear of batteries can be alleviated with an hour of research. Insurance companies here also allow solar to be included as homeowner insurance.
Posted By: Wizardofaahs

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/23/15 07:10 PM

Pagan, do you know where it is in writing that "all alternative" energy products entering are free of any duty? That would be good information to have because I have been under the impression that only a "complete" system is exempt (so batteries, panels and inverters need to come in together).

I would love having power when everyone else loses theirs...security cameras and such are not any good when that happens.

Posted By: pagan

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/23/15 07:55 PM

I do not know where it is written, neither am I a lawyer, I do have friends in Customs and the only proof I have is in the past two years I have imported no less than 5 systems and various parts with no duty attached. There was an article published by a Belize newspaper that stated this back when BEL was being nationalized. It had to do with the old company, Fortis out of Canada, had a stipulation to build the grid here as long as no alternative energy products were allowed
Posted By: pagan

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/24/15 01:37 PM

If anyone is seriously interested in solar power please PM me. I live here on Ambergris Caye and can answer your questions and hopefully get more solar going in Belize. Yes I did Harriette's and many others here. "Electric Dave"
Posted By: Shyboy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/24/15 08:20 PM

Dave; I suggest that interested people ask their questions on the forum as this is a hot topic with MANY people interested in the info. You certainly have the answers to 99% of the questions. I'll start off.

I am guesting that a "starter" or least expensive system consists of panels and an inverter... No batteries.. My questions for everybody's benefit are..

Is the unit hooked up to the meter. If so, does it handle the small usage with little or no meter "spinning" and does it, at least, slow down the meter during heavier electric use? Last question ( for today).. If the Villa is vacant on a sunny day, does the meter spin backward?

Thanks
Posted By: Shyboy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/24/15 08:25 PM

Diane: What is "IMHO" solar power?
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/24/15 09:28 PM

Shy - Why are you so intent on NO BATTERIES? Even gasoline motors use batteries. Has some one put a bug in your ear?

Actually - while the sun is shining I use little electricity. My usage is after dark when I need lights! Everything I have hooked into the solar runs on that until the batteries get down to a certain level - then everything kicks over to the grid. This has happened only once in the year I have been running and that was after 5 cloudy days.
Posted By: pagan

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/24/15 10:37 PM

Shyboy, your assumption that a starter system contains "no batteries" is false. A solar electric "system" consists of, 1) a solar panel 2) a charge controller 3) a battery. This is all Direct current (DC). If you wish to power something in your grid connected home you will need to convert this DC into AC (alternating current). This is done via an 4) inverter. In Belize, we cannot, at this time, connect this to the grid's meter. This is a simplistic explanation. There are solar panels with inverters attached that do produce AC electric, intended to go right back into the grid via the meter. The humans have not yet invented a way to store AC power. It must be consumed or lost immediately upon production. The ONLY way to store electrical energy is in the form of chemical/electrical device. The DC battery.
Posted By: Shyboy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/24/15 11:31 PM

Thanks.. I "assumed" no batteries as I thought we could hook up to the meter and I just wanted to "assist" the grid. See; we're all learning more with every reply.
Posted By: pagan

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/25/15 12:06 AM

Shy, your thinking is not wrong, the technology exists and in the States there was a big push to install these batteryless systems. Complete with gov't subsidies and loans to off-set costs. These systems run about 30% more than a battery system and do not offer the benefit of energy independence. They certainly have their place. In Hawaii recently they had to reduce or quit buying back power from solar arrays because there was no one to sell the grid power to.
Posted By: CaptOneIron

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/25/15 10:14 AM

I recently completed installation of a 7.6Kw system on my roof here in Florida. Each panel has a 'micro-inverter' and there really is no other equipment required other than that required to put it back into the grid and metering. If I had known it would be this simple I would have done it a long time ago as our main consumption of electricity is for air conditioning which nicely coincides with the energy available via the sun.

If BEL would even do net metering and I could do an installation on our house in Belize I would do it in a heartbeat. It really is a 'no brainer' but when battery banks etc., enter into the equation it gets much more complicated.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/25/15 10:22 AM

Originally Posted by Shyboy
Diane: What is "IMHO" solar power?


IMHO = in my humble opinion
Posted By: Shyboy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/25/15 02:38 PM

See Diane; I don't "text", what do I know?
Posted By: ckocian

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/25/15 03:23 PM

@Shyboy

http://www.gaarde.org/acronyms/
Posted By: Shyboy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/25/15 04:20 PM

AIIC..................................Just kidding.
Posted By: Bear

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/25/15 05:14 PM

Originally Posted by CaptOneIron
.....Each panel has a 'micro-inverter' and there really is no other equipment required other than that required to put it back into the grid and metering...our main consumption of electricity is for air conditioning which nicely coincides with the energy available via the sun.

If BEL would even do net metering and I could do an installation on our house in Belize I would do it in a heartbeat....


Exactly the application I was considering for our place.I wonder if you could post the manufacturer of the panels you used and maybe describe how an internal micro inverter works when wiring several panels together in an array. Are they wired in series or parallel or does that even matter?..Is net metering reversing the meter readings when there is a surplus? Frankly if i could just supplement the electricity and use less BEL i'd still consider an array.
Posted By: Shyboy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/25/15 06:01 PM

BUT.... Pagan advises that you CAN'T hook up to the meter.... That is why you need the battery system. Bear; my thought was exactly that: just slow down or reverse the meter... Looks like that won't work until BEL allows it... Next lifetime
Posted By: Maya House

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/25/15 07:38 PM

We're going to try to get started on our conversion this coming December Dave. Hope you can fit us in!! Think Sam Adams. ;-)
Posted By: CaptOneIron

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/25/15 08:15 PM

There is essentially very little wiring. If you were to use a normal inverter you would have to wire in a series and then if one is malfunctioning is impacts the others. If you will send me a private email I will be happy to send you some more information. The panels are mono made by SolarWorld (in the US) Sunmodule Plus SW 285 with Enphase M250-IG. Email: [email protected]

Net metering is essentially the meter running backwards when you are producing more than you are using. It is a little more complicated than that but in essence that's it.
Posted By: Bear

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/29/15 12:34 AM

Originally Posted by Shyboy
...Bear; my thought was exactly that: just slow down or reverse the meter... Looks like that won't work until BEL allows it...


Shy, I'm not immediately convinced thats the case. I'm not looking to reverse the meter simply provide another source of juice after the meter but before the main breaker. It may be that the surplus doesn't reverse the meter, but it may be that one is not using as much metered juice. I guess the question that remains is: Is such a hook up allowed, or do they even know or care? If they're being paid for metered use why would they? Don't answer that!! lol I know..its Belize...

Assuming you're putting a battery system in to provide power during an outage (as opposed to coming off grid entirely) you'll still be plugging in after the meter and before your main. The application I'm interested in seems to be a common application in CA. I have a friend who does solar installations all over the state. I'll give him a call and ask how this works rather than barrage Captone Iron with emails. Its easier to talk than type, well for me anyway. I also certainly appreciate Pagan(Dave)'s input, the information about importation duties was an eye-opener. I'll be looking into that as well.

All this is still subject to the base decision about such an investment like when my roof top is subject to hurricane force winds.

CaptOneIron, thanks I'll check those systems out and again thanks for the clarification on terminology. I've got your email and look forward to corresponding once I get some more background.
Posted By: Murdoch

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/06/18 09:11 PM

I need solar installed in Belize. Please let me know if you can help
Posted By: Travelinsolarguy

Re: Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/14/18 06:09 AM

Hi there Iím interested on seeing how everyone gets their power on the island and who is doing Solar. I am a renewable energy contractor in California and my family lives Off the grid.
If your interested in chatting Iíll have some time and will be there for a week starting May 24/2018.
If you would like to see what I do you can go to www.westcoatsustainables.com and it will take you to my YouTube channel, I can build about anything with renewables from Power systems, water systems, solar air conditioning
Jason
Posted By: Travelinsolarguy

Solar Panels and Systems. - 05/14/18 06:13 AM

Hi there Iím interested on seeing how everyone gets their power on the island and who is doing Solar. I am a renewable energy contractor in California and my family lives Off the grid.
If your interested in chatting Iíll have some time and will be there for a week starting May 24/2018.
If you would like to see what I do you can go to www.westcoastsustainables.com and it will take you to my YouTube channel, I can build about anything with renewables from Power systems, water systems, solar air conditioning
Jason
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