Solar, Wind, and Fire

A Membership Renewable Energy Information Website

Solar Energy Is Awesome!

Text Box: Solar energy is awesome! It is a form of a group of energy types called Renewable Energy, since is energy that simply renews itself all the time. You Don’t have to mine coal or drill for natural gas to get it. It is simply there. Solar is sunshine.

  You put up a solar panel, and when the sun shines you get electricity. You build a windmill, and when the wind blows you get more electricity. You push air into a geo-thermal unit in the ground where it is 65 degrees, and it will give you 65 degree air coming out, or run water through a pipe buried at 65 degrees ground temperature, and you can run your heat pump with 65 degree water year-round. These are renewable, since you don't have to destroy something to make more electricity. They just keep going, and going, and going.
 Non-renewable energy runs out of supply and ceases. Think of a coal plant making electricity. They have to burn the coal to create the electricity. We have a huge supply of coal, but when the coal is all gone, no more energy. The sun keeps shining, letting you continue to create free electricity.

 I can tell you though; none of the free electricity comes cheap. Solar on your rooftop can be $20,000 installed or more. (National average is $27,000.) Parts and labor to put in geo-thermal can easily run $40,000. With a really big house, you can expect double that amount. A windmill requires a large area where the noise of the continual windmill running won't affect your neighbors. You would probably want to use this on a farm. 

 Let's talk about getting real. Let's talk about low cost solar. There are several online ads for Do It Yourself solar. Several companies out there advertise that you can build the following.
 	$200 for a usable solar panel and storage battery setup, and
 	$200 for a usable windmill system 
 All of them send you the instructions for less than $50.

 Now comes the fun part. You want to know about these Do It Yourself ads.
 If you go online looking for "Do It Yourself solar panels", there are over 1,225,000 responses. Go ahead, Google it. That is over a million people that claim to have built a solar panel for less than $200, integrated it into a system, and reduced their energy costs about 75 % percent. (I'll give you a hint- no way! It's all sales pitch. There aren't that many free forklift batteries in the world.) Or stay right here and get the information you need. 
 You see, there are basically only three companies out there getting 90% of those hits. So you're going to get a FAQ page and a signup form. They don't have time to talk to you directly. Fill it out, send them their fifty bucks, and get your instruction book. If that is you want, click on my resource page at the bottom of the article. I'll send you directly to the folks at one of these fine companies. No problem. I’ll accept their commission.

 So, the rest of that online traffic is going to honest, tree hugging solar enthusiasts. They have forums that have laymen and engineers participating. They have parts, true life examples, and advice. For instance, in the US, panels must be certified before they can go into your electrical system. Electric Codes! Insurance Company Underwriters will deny your home-owners insurance if you don't meet Code on self-installs. You can find out how to get that done. 

 However, if you want to know the good, bad, and ugly, read on.

 The Good:
 	Solar electricity is great for the environment. I'm into that. I want to save trees, and breathe clean air, and drink non-polluted water. My favorite charity is Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky (RROKI). You can see that from my vantage point, great for the environment is my favorite.
 	Saves you money. We're both into that, too. If you build an entire array of solar panels, you can produce a lot of electricity. If you make the electricity yourself, then you don't have to give the power company as much money each month. For instance, my personal electric bills have doubled twice in the last seven years. If a solar array cuts my usage by 75%, my power bills would be back to what they were seven years ago. I would be making 75% of the power I am using, and paying the power company for 25% of it at full price.

 The Bad:
 *	You have to have a place with sunshine. A solar panel covered with snow is not going to work either.
 *	You need power inverters, batteries, cables and wires and hardware to connect it into your electric panel
 *	A single panel will not independently run a refrigerator, washer, and dryer at the same time. You will need an array for all that. 

 The Ugly:
 *	This is electricity. Most States have strict laws called Electrical Codes. You must have a licensed electrician do the hook up into your house wiring. If you do not have a licensed electrician do the hook up into your house wiring, you are in a very sensitive area. Legally. I said ugly. Long story short, use a licensed electrician to do the hook up. Build it yourself, but have a pro link it into your system. Also, most communities require a permit.

 *	Bottom Line???	Yes, you can build a solar panel and create your own electricity. However, one panel isn't going to be enough. One solar panel produces about 1 KwH of electricity per week. That would be what it takes to run your computer for about 40 hours. When you look at the average cost of a solar setup for your house being $27,000, they aren't talking about a single $200 panel. They mean an array. Building your own panels will save you a lot, but you will still need to be on the grid until you connect a lot of panels.


Solar Energy Is Awesome!