Yesterday, heard a talking head on TV say that solar energy kits are
NOT cost savings. At the most, when you consider the tax breaks, they
generate zero net energy savings.
All I want is enough panel to run a 12,000 btu AC during the summer
when the sun is shining. What is it going to cost?
You need to do some studying.
Solar panels produce electricity. However, this electricity runs only small
electrical items. In order to get enough energy to power larger items, it
takes a system.
A system will consist of panels, batteries, switching devices, and
converters. You don't just plug an air conditioner into a bunch of solar
Systems are available for whole houses where people live in remote areas.
They power air conditioners, microwaves, tvs, clothes dryers, and all. But
it is a system, and not just panels you plug into your air conditioner.
There was an article in EE Times a few weeks ago from the guy who runs
Cypress. He says PV panels should wholesale in the $4 a watt range
based on his cost. That may end up being double by the time it gets to
the consumer. Your A/C probably pulls 1200-1800 watts, depending on
SEER. Depending on how close you can get to a wholesaler and what
machine you have it looks like you are talking about $5000 to $10,000
anyway and it could be more like $15,000 if you pay somerone to do it.
At my FPL electric rate (12 cents a kwh) it would take 50 years to get
$15,000 back. (based on $8 a watt)
A real problem with solar panel is the plastic and rubber parts fail
because of continuous sun exposure. The MTBF is shorter than the payoff
period. Nobody has reinstalled them after they fail around Boston.
That seems to be the most common outcome of most of these things. It
is hard to beat the stuff that comes in that service drop for
reliability and cost. The solar that really seems to work is a pool
heater but you still have to be careful with the installation. Most of
them get thrown away when the roof leaks.
I've had my solaroll pool heating system for 27 years. I rolled up and
removed the whole shebang when i re-roofed to a metal roof 5 years ago. I
hear they've gone out of business, but my system keeps on producing
prodigious pool heating 6 months of the year.
You can't run this country (or much of anything) off of sunbeams.
The amount of the sun's energy falling on the earth is about 1300 watts/sq
meter. At the equator. At noon. With no clouds. In North America, the
average is about 250 watts/sq meter (about 5 kwhr/day). The only way to
increase these numbers is to move the orbit of the earth closer to the sun.
At roughly 16 cents/kwh, one square meter of solar collector at 50%
efficiency will save about 40 cents per day.
Assuming 50% efficiency, it would take a solar collector the size of the Los
Angeles basin to generate sufficient electricity for California (~1200 sq
miles). Plus, you'd have to light Los Angeles since they would be in
darkeness due to the collector system.
Or, you could leave Los Angeles in the dark, which, come to think of it, has
a great deal of merit.
With the exception of nuclear power, all energy used is from the sun.
Wind, oil, soy based bio-diesel, ethanol from corn, wood, you name it - all that
energy came from the sun
BTW - in spite of your pessimism, you can do a lot with 5kwh/sq m/day.
Nuclear power is from another sun, FWIW, but long ago sources are only
really interesting to acedemics and shouldn't be brought into this
But not economicly. Take the money you might have thrown at solar, throw
it in the bank and use the interest to buy regular power (made from
whatever the power company finds to be the best buy at the time) and
you'll find that you can buy power forever.
Solars time (for PV panels anyway) has not yet arrived.
Remove the dead poet to e-mail, tho CC\'d posts are unwelcome.
Mean People Suck - It takes two deviations to get cool.
Let's see... the power company offers to connect you to the grid for $50,000.
You still think that solar is a bad idea?
If you're in a city, you can tap in to the grid easily. Not everyone lives on
the grid. For others, solar can be economical. I know folks a few hours from
my house who only get electricity because of solar and wind. They'd go broke
trying to buy it off the utilities.
In many parts of the world, there are people who can do a lot with nothing more
than one solar panel, a single battery and charge controller. That technology
is bringing computers, cell phones, lights and other things to remote areas that
have nothing and it's doing it economically. There's no way you could build a
grid for those locations with the financial resources they have. Solar is
boot-strapping economies in parts of the third world.
Solar has a problem matching the needs of people who live in the west and are
accustomed to wasting energy.
With all the interest in alternative sources of energy (like ethanol for fuel or
biodiesel) ignoring the time+sun element is foolish. The energy we use next
year may depend on what's planted today.
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