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Solar "power"

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Solar "power"

Postby drinkinblackcoffee » Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:20 pm

http://www.thedailypage.com/isthmus/art ... icle=28227

A part of this article kind of surprised me....

"Officials also started "MadiSUN," a program to help develop solar energy, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. The city operates 12 solar hot-water systems at each of its fire stations for showers and cooking. It also owns eight solar panels across the city that generate 62 kilowatts, or enough power to light a 60-watt light bulb for 1,000 hours."

Really, it takes 8 solar panels to dimly light a room for six weeks? It seems like solar power is hardly worth the effort if this is accurate. Anyone have perspective on this?
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Re: Solar "power"

Postby Galoot » Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:49 pm

We have a solar panel on top of East High that probably cost tens of thousands of dollars, and it will take 50 or more years for it to be cost effective. Not that MMSD had to pay for it, I think MG&E donated it, but you get the point.

Photovoltaic panels rate pretty low on the scale of cost-effective alternative energy technologies. I keep hearing that there are more efficient panels on the horizon (grin). Some of the most interesting ones are the ones that are NOT particularly efficient, but are so cheap to mass produce that they could be used as the siding or roofing for a building.
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Re: Solar "power"

Postby joesmith » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:46 pm

I'm an electrician, but not an expert in solar. The thing I do know is that there are MANY variables in how much energy can be produced in a given location. The biggest are the size of the panels, the angle that the sun hits the panels, and the amout of sun. Not knowing anything about the instalations mentioned in the story, it is impossible to comment. I can comment on MY installation. I put 1 200 watt solar panel on top of my RV and hooked it to a battery. The reason I used the battery is I do not have a generator or a connection to any permenant power. So, with my one panel I can light the RV, pump all my water, use my laptop, coffee grinder, a small electric crockpot, and recharge all my micscellaneous AA and AAA batteries. I can do this indefinately with sun for 4 days per week. If is rainy for a few days straight, I need to start conserving a bit. Of course any installation on a house or commercial would dump all of the power it produces back onto the grid, so in the end it all works out if it is sunny for 7 days then cloudy for 7 days.
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Re: Solar "power"

Postby rabble » Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:01 pm

joesmith wrote: I put 1 200 watt solar panel on top of my RV and hooked it to a battery. The reason I used the battery is I do not have a generator or a connection to any permenant power. So, with my one panel I can light the RV, pump all my water, use my laptop, coffee grinder, a small electric crockpot, and recharge all my micscellaneous AA and AAA batteries. I can do this indefinately with sun for 4 days per week. If is rainy for a few days straight, I need to start conserving a bit.

Freakin wow. :-) All DC? Could you rig up a bicycle or wind generator to supplement?
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Re: Solar "power"

Postby Dairylander » Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:22 pm

Warning: these are very rough and variable statistics-
A general rule of thumb for residential panels is that they need 3 years to offset the energy used to produce them, and 15 years to pay for themselves. Their average lifespan is 30 years, so it it's worth it for a homeowner with long-term commitment.
The bummer is that you'll need approximately $30,000 worth of panels to supply the electrical needs of an average family.
However, there's no need to be completely self-sufficient, $10,000 will get you a nice system.
Like others said, these numbers will be rapidly improving in the coming years.
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Re: Solar "power"

Postby joesmith » Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:11 am

rabble wrote:
joesmith wrote: I put 1 200 watt solar panel on top of my RV and hooked it to a battery. The reason I used the battery is I do not have a generator or a connection to any permenant power. So, with my one panel I can light the RV, pump all my water, use my laptop, coffee grinder, a small electric crockpot, and recharge all my micscellaneous AA and AAA batteries. I can do this indefinately with sun for 4 days per week. If is rainy for a few days straight, I need to start conserving a bit.

Freakin wow. :-) All DC? Could you rig up a bicycle or wind generator to supplement?


Most is on 12 volts DC. I do also have a small 120 volt inverter so I can run small 120 volt loads, in fact the coffe grinder and laptop just plug into the inverter loke at home.
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Re: Solar "power"

Postby narcoleptish » Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:14 am

Dairylander wrote:
Like others said, these numbers will be rapidly improving in the coming years.


But will you get what you pay for? I know a certain large country on the other side of the world is starting to make cheap solar panels, but as with most of there stuff, they'll probably be landfill in 2 years.
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Re: Solar "power"

Postby rabble » Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:44 am

narcoleptish wrote:
Dairylander wrote:
Like others said, these numbers will be rapidly improving in the coming years.


But will you get what you pay for? I know a certain large country on the other side of the world is starting to make cheap solar panels, but as with most of there stuff, they'll probably be landfill in 2 years.

That's not how it's going to work. The meat of the panel will be the part that converts light to electricity. Those have a long life if they aren't mistreated and can be manufactured really cheap if there's enough demand. Panels can be built around it as chintzy or well-made as you like.

It'll be like the early cars; Ford made a basic car and shops sprang up all over the country to convert it into whatever kind of truck you needed. When things get tight, the same thing will happen to solar panels. And inverters.
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Re: Solar "power"

Postby narcoleptish » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:01 am

Hopefully you're right. But you know if there's a cheaper way of building em so they work on arrival, longevity be damned, they'll find it. What's the solar panel equivalent of melamine in dog food or cadmium in kids jewelry?

I'll stop now.
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Re: Solar "power"

Postby rabble » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:19 am

narcoleptish wrote:Hopefully you're right. But you know if there's a cheaper way of building em so they work on arrival, longevity be damned, they'll find it. What's the solar panel equivalent of melamine in dog food or cadmium in kids jewelry?

They'll try. No doubt about that, we've got the chinese drywall from hell to prove it. But this is one case where the free market will dictate. They'll send us cheap panels; we'll pull the photovoltaics and put them into something better. Recycling of those things will go through the same process as aluminum did.

And in one generation people will be looking back and marveling at all the things we considered to be "necessary" services and the amazing number of items we considered "staples." Why, at restaurants, they give us free water just for the asking! And then they'll fill the glass up again!
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Re: Solar "power"

Postby LoneWolf » Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:03 pm

drinkinblackcoffee wrote:
" It also owns eight solar panels across the city that generate 62 kilowatts, or enough power to light a 60-watt light bulb for 1,000 hours."

Really, it takes 8 solar panels to dimly light a room for six weeks? It seems like solar power is hardly worth the effort if this is accurate. Anyone have perspective on this?


This quote is wrong because they are mixing power and energy, which are two different units of measurement. Power is a rate, and energy is a quantity. The analogy would be velocity and distance. So by introducing the "for 1,000 hours" they are implying Kilowatt Hours, which is a unit of energy and they are comparing it to a 60 - watt light bulb, 60 watt being a unit of power. For the quote to make sense they should have said.

" It also owns eight solar panels across the city that generate 62 kilowatts, or enough power to light 1,000 60-watt light bulbs for the lifetime of the solar panels."
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Re: Solar "power"

Postby Galoot » Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:19 pm

<forehead slap>

Good point, LoneWolf. Thanks for clearing this up.
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Re: Solar "power"

Postby drinkinblackcoffee » Mon Feb 22, 2010 8:53 pm

LoneWolf wrote:" It also owns eight solar panels across the city that generate 62 kilowatts, or enough power to light 1,000 60-watt light bulbs for the lifetime of the solar panels."


Well that's certainly more like it. Thanks for clarifying.
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