Electric Solar Panels

Brett Said:

What is the most cost-effective place to buy large solar electric panels?

We Answered:

Great answers here. Just to summarize, in order of priority:

1) Reduce usage first. For every $1 you spend on conservation, that’s about $4 less you need to spend on your solar system. It costs less to use less electricity than to make your own.

2) Research solar hot water. Solar hot water is ~ 85% efficient, as opposed to ~20% for solar electric. You get a better bang for your buck installing solar thermal than solar electric.

3) Install solar electric. Prices for solar panels have dropped dramatically this year as the demand in Europe has dropped and people are having trouble getting home equity loans in the US. You can get better pricing if you buy by the pallet (depending on the panel, 20 – 30 panels). You are right that you don’t need to generate all that you use, and if you do steps 1 and 2, you’ll be using less anyways.

Tamara Said:

are solar electric panels viable in the northwest?

We Answered:

Take a look at the list of incentives for your state.
http://www.dsireusa.org/library/includes…

You need to keep in mind that as long as you are renting your electric from the public utility you are doing just that and renting. You can resale the solar electric system if you move or if you just want to sale it and get some of your money back if not 20 % extra. Then all the years you used the system was all free electric. So it is already viable as you put it. Anything other then buying a system would not be.

Here is a thought. The housing market slumped and if you paid 150K for your home it is now only worth if you can even sale it about 100K. Not worth the money but people are still buying homes even if they are not worth what they are being sold for. And then the cars and trucks people buy will never pay for themselves but people still buy them and spend extra the more wasteful the car is. So why does solar have to pay for it’s self or prove it’s self? It has many times over but because you can’t drive a solar panel drunk and party out in the bars with it is is not worth the money. I guess the is just being human and a double standard.

What about the big up front cost of solar? I remember a 20% up front cost when I bought my home and my car and it is the same 20% or less for a solar loan. Plus the value of solar is going up not down like with homes and a car is not worth but half what you paid for it the minute you drive it off the car lot.

I can only see good from solar unlike other things we buy.

Charlie Said:

Is it ok to cut off plumbing roof vent pipes and allow them to vent under my solar electric panels?

We Answered:

In most areas, you cannot cut the vent lines. The height is to assure the wind does not take the fumes back into the pipe and house. You could have the lines moved though.

Cheryl Said:

are solar panels sufficient for electric heating?

We Answered:

In truth, unless you was willing to spend about £50,000 ($75,000), you will not be able to gain the electricity needed to power a house full of electric heaters by using photovoltaic solar panels. Electric heaters just demand too much electricity to run them off a battery bank.

However, you could use solar water panels to at least preheat your hot water system and so, reduce your gas/oil usage. It is also possible to arrange your internal plumbing, so that you can use the natural rising of hot water (gravity system), to circulate around your building. This is easier to do, if you are plumbing in a new system instead of adapting an existing system. But you can buy a electric solar panel to run a 12 volts continuous water pump, either storing the power in a battery or incorporating a large capacitor which automatically runs the pump on full “charge”.

But if it is cost of your electrical bills you are aiming to reduce, there are many other things that a small amount of panels can do, such as lighting, charging your phone and running a T.V., or laptop. It helps if, when buying items, you try to get ones which use a small amount of power, as different makes and models use different amounts of power. If you wanted to do your lighting, all you have to do, is at your fuse box, disconnect from the mains and hook up to your battery bank. You would also need special 12 volt bulbs, which can be pricey due to there only being a small amount of manufacturers, but I personally prefer using the white light led bulbs, as they use about 1000th of the electric a 12 volt bulb does.

If you need any help advice, you can either contact me, or place an advert in your local newspaper or shop, saying what you want to do and asking for help or ideas. You should get a lot of replies, as most of the people who currently have these types of systems set up, are keen to help others convert.

It is also worth considering a small wind turbine (in many areas, these need no planning permission), as they are both cheap to buy, run well and provide quite a lot of power if you get the right one.

Don’t be too put off by the prices that some installers and suppliers charge, as there are many systems that can be home built for very little cost.

Leonard Said:

What size solar panels (electric) and inverter do I need for 1 1/2 horse power water pump?

We Answered:

You may be better off getting a booster pump that is designed to work directly off solar. They are more efficient, use less power, and would not suffer power loss from batteries and an inverter.http://www.altestore.com/store/Solar-Wat…

As far as a grid-tied battery backup system, you would need an inverter that is designed to do this. It is programmable so you can set the preference for the power source, so it will first fill the batteries from the solar. http://www.altestore.com/store/Inverters…

Felix Said:

Why photo electric solar panels may not produce net energy during its life span?

We Answered:

It takes energy to refine the silicon or other raw materials for the panels, to manufacture the glass covering, the aluminum frame, wires, hardware, and to ship the panels to a location.

In the vast majority of cases, the solar panels will pay back their net energy, many times. For the case of crystalline silicon panels, the time to pay back the energy is estimated to be 4 years or less, and the panels last 25 years.

The exceptions would be places where having a standalone power source was more valuable than the energy cost of the panels. An example would be the Mars landers, or a tiny buoy meant to measure the level of the deep ocean over a period of a few years. It could also be true for a cabin that is in the far north, where solar panels won’t produce much, but are still better than trying to bring gasoline in to power a generator.

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