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Interesting facts about solar power
Old 12-23-2013, 05:05 PM   #1
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Interesting facts about solar power

Here are some interesting facts about solar power. There is certainly a great opportunity here for a person of vision.

7 impressive solar energy facts (+ charts) - ABB Conversations
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Old 12-23-2013, 07:44 PM   #2
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Interesting charts. Thanks for the link.

Solar panels that tie into the grid aren't cost effective for us, but I love all my little solar gadgets from Amazon. I get a few more cool ones each year.

We have a big box of assorted rechargeable batteries with a variety of solar chargers and various devices that run off batteries. It is my poor man's version of using solar power. Plus I line dry my laundry. I don't know why I used to dry clothes in an electric dryer on sunny 100 degree days.
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Old 12-23-2013, 10:23 PM   #3
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Interesting charts. Thanks for the link.

Solar panels that tie into the gird aren't cost effective for us, but I love all my little solar gadgets from Amazon. I get a few more cool ones each year.

We have a big box of assorted rechargeable batteries with a variety of solar chargers and various devices that run off batteries. It is my poor man's version of using solar power. Plus I line dry my laundry. I don't know why I used to dry clothes in an electric dryer on sunny 100 degree days.
Yep, I solar dry my clothes too. I love the smell. We have PV panels too which probably won't pay for themselves although they are popular for resale of the house.
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Old 12-24-2013, 09:37 AM   #4
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Here are some interesting facts about solar power. There is certainly a great opportunity here for a person of vision.

7 impressive solar energy facts (+ charts) - ABB Conversations
As Chuckanut may be aware, the most interest in PV is in places that are overcast much of the year. It seems to coincide with cannabis demographics.
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Old 12-24-2013, 10:47 AM   #5
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Solar is catching on in the RV industry too. Lots of RVs have a solar panel on the roof and a few "electric" models are beginning to roll off assembly lines with no propane nor generators. There is a learning curve to understand which appliances are "energy eaters" but the technology has grown to a point that it is practical for some users. A few friends have solar equipped RVs and enjoy the freedom camping in remote areas without worrying about plugging in.

Improved PV is probably the biggest improvement but controllers, storage batteries and appliance technology is also getting better.
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Old 12-24-2013, 01:43 PM   #6
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I'd say that residential solar is getting very close to be a viable investment w/o government subsidy in the next year or two, If the rate of decline in cost of installation continues.

US solar power costs fall 60% in just 18 months: pv-magazine
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Old 12-24-2013, 03:19 PM   #7
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I don't know why I used to dry clothes in an electric dryer on sunny 100 degree days.

This^^^^
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Old 12-24-2013, 03:20 PM   #8
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If I had a large lot in my suburban home, I would have spent money, something like $20-30K even without subsidy, to have a solar array on the ground. It's to have something to tinker with and to tweak, so I get to do something all day. As it is, I cannot put anything on the roof as it is not at the right orientation. The tile roof also already gave me bad leaks, and I cannot stand any more hassle.

Regarding RV installation, it is quite easy, common, and inexpensive now to have enough panels on the roof to supply enough juice for lighting and powering electronics like computers and TV. There is a guy who is more ambitious, however. As described in his blog, he is building a custom super-insulated travel trailer, with the top completely covered by solar panels. The idea is to be able to run the A/C by solar power. As RVs have limited roof area and poor insulation compared to a stick-built home, this is no small feat.
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Old 12-24-2013, 03:46 PM   #9
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It'll be interesting to see how wind and solar, both intermittent sources, play out long term. Costs for PV power have come down dramatically, and early adopters will be rewarded with savings, especially while subsidies last.

But unless battery technology improves dramatically and/or huge smart grid systems are deployed (both at considerable expense) and/or citizens accept far more frequent power outages, as acceptance grows substantially it's not a given that solar and wind just keep getting more and more economically attractive vs conventional sources.

And the shale oil discoveries have improved the outlook for conventional fuels.

It's easy to find articles detailing all the promising near term economic benefits, but few that address how this plays out with widespread adoption rates. Some understandably promote solar and wind to reduce emissions or conserve conventional fuels.

EV (cars) raise the same questions, early adopters do well, but widespread acceptance could break either way.

Time will tell...and technology has provided one unbelievable surprise after another throughout time, presumably that will continue.
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Old 12-24-2013, 03:49 PM   #10
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Regarding RV installation, it is quite easy, common, and inexpensive now to have enough panels on the roof to supply enough juice for lighting and powering electronics like computers and TV.
I have have been looking at doing that for a regular stick house. We plan to downsize to a smaller house once the kids are done with college so we aren't in the market for 20K panels on the roof.

But why not use the same RV methodology for at least some of the power replacement? I am finding it fun to reduce our electric grid usage just from low cost gadgets from Amazon. Many of our outside lights are now either solar or motion detection LED lights that run on rechargeable batteries that can be recharged with a solar charger.

I'd like to step it up a notch with some panels less than the roof size panels but more surface area than the little solar chargers.
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Old 12-24-2013, 04:02 PM   #11
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The little solar lights are fun and easy to set up, but they do not really save a lot of money. The small panels put out power measured in watts. I want power in bulk measured in kilowatts, something that can offset the power that my home A/C consumes in the summer (to be able to be grid-independent with a 5-ton A/C takes a lot of panels, and may not be achievable with rooftop installations). I would need to downsize to a smaller and more energy efficient home, but that actually costs more money.

The single panel that I installed on my motorhome measures 13 sq.ft. and puts out 215W, but that is in optimal condition which is rarely achieved. I have been thinking about adding more.
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Old 12-25-2013, 12:04 AM   #12
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I'm surprised by how much power we crank out, even on gloomy (for San Diego) days. Those little suckers start generating electricity at dawn, even on overcast, winter days. Our roof orientation was good. Unfortunately, the side the panels are on is exposed to the golf course, but we got fire department approval to run them along the ridgeline of the roof to keep them as far ways from errant balls as possible.

Between our power output and our steady harvest of ripe golf balls, this house is a money maker.
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Old 12-25-2013, 06:59 AM   #13
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I think solar will have to get more efficient for it to become a primary electricity source. Battery technology also needs to get better. There will be a lot of hazardous waste in the future from depleted batteries as solar systems get older. But as technology moves forward solar will be an real option. It is a real option now in places out in the woods off the grid.

I am not ready to get on the bandwagon on solar till it gets more efficient. We still need hydro, nuclear and coal. The real test would be to take away all the subsidies and see if solar really can fly. Right now, it won't. Fossil energy is cheaper and money is what makes the world go around.

But I do think it is a much better alternative, (more passive), than those noisy wind turbines eating all our bald eagles and little hummingbirds, too. (Sarcastic humor for you guys).
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Old 12-25-2013, 11:16 AM   #14
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I agree with you about ending the subsidies for solar power, but at the same time I'd want to end subsidies for nuclear and carbon-based power....
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Old 12-25-2013, 11:17 AM   #15
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Solar has its limitations, but here in the Southwest it can help alleviate the surge of summer A/C demand at midday. That supplemental role does not require storage capacity.

I am no utility expert, however. There might be other ramifications that prevent it from being as simple as it seems.

For my RV installation, as I am not a full-timer, the cost of my solar installation may take a long time to be offset by the monetary gain from not having to run the genset (which already comes with the motorhome). However, the quietness and absence of exhaust fume have benefits that far outweigh the dollar cost of fuel for the genset. This is not quite the same for large-scale public utilities whose financial aspects have to be given more consideration than that from an RV'er viewpoint.
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Old 12-25-2013, 12:52 PM   #16
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I agree with you about ending the subsidies for solar power, but at the same time I'd want to end subsidies for nuclear and carbon-based power....
Yes! And for the corn grown to make the alcohol that messes up our gas.
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Old 12-25-2013, 01:00 PM   #17
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I've never been a big fan of wind power. Too inconsistent for my tastes. I have nothing against nuclear as some do. I would think that in the future solar and maybe tidal/wave action can really help out. But......if you want the air to stay cleaner......I still think nuclear at this time is as good as anything. Radiation is a bugger to store though.....
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Old 12-25-2013, 01:04 PM   #18
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In my RV travel, I have seen many wind tower farms in the West. Many are in open plains, and I cannot imagine much hazard caused to birds. Wind power complements solar energy very well, they say. Plus you've got no solar power at night, while the wind can blow 24 hrs/day.
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Old 12-25-2013, 01:44 PM   #19
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I saw only one minor mention of solar hot-water heating in the article. In fact, this application has been viable for many years in many parts of the country. (My dad put together his own system almost 60 years ago!) In areas such as ours (HI) where typical hot water heating is by (the country's most expensive) electricity, solar is a no brainer - yet it still lags in after-market installation. Some areas (again, for example, Hawaii) are beginning to mandate SHW for new construction (with exemptions available).

I think PV panel technology is cool, but tying it into the grid in large scale has been problematic. We'll get there eventually, of course. It would be nice if there were some more "rational" effort to integrate wind, solar, hydro, nuke, fossil, etc. Kind of like herding cats. Fun, but not always effective IMHO. Of course, YMMV. Thanks for the article, Chuckanut
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Old 12-25-2013, 02:05 PM   #20
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I had solar water heater in the previous home as well as the one I live in now. Sadly, I lost the present one due to freezing, because of a dumb thing I did prior to a freezing winter night, the only freezing night that year. Anti-freezing sensors are also failure-prone.

Anyway, if one is in a frost-free area like Hawaii, then solar water heating is even better than solar power. The best solar PV panel can capture 20% of the solar power, but solar heating can capture up to 70%. The drawback of solar water heating is that its capacity may be underused and cannot be transferred to another user as can be done with solar electric.
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