Using Solar Panels

A place to discuss all things involving power and technology (including cameras). Generator tips, alternative energy, lighting your camp/bike/art/self, sound systems and more.
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maryanimal
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Using Solar Panels

Post by maryanimal » Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:41 pm

Can anyone give me information on using solar panels for, say, appliances like blenders, or toaster ovens. Anything that can be run on electricity. How would you set up the panels, and would a battery be involved? I just really curious as I've heard of people using solor panels for the things I've mentioned.

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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by essjay » Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:56 pm

maryanimal wrote:Can anyone give me information on using solar panels for, say, appliances like blenders, or toaster ovens. Anything that can be run on electricity. How would you set up the panels, and would a battery be involved? I just really curious as I've heard of people using solor panels for the things I've mentioned.

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All I know is that dust can hinder their performance. This year, I saw a camp with a large framed canopy with solar panels over the top of the whole thing - dozens of the full-size rooftop types. One morning, I saw a guy walking on top of the panels with a leaf-blower, blowing the dust off. That would be the camp to ask. Not sure who it was, though.

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maryanimal
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by maryanimal » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:36 pm

Thanks essjay! Thet're probably using more than I plant to use!!
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by essjay » Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:31 pm

I wish I could remember the camp better . . . it was in the neighborhood of 6:30 & E

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some seeing eye
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by some seeing eye » Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:38 pm

Solar and power involve the dreaded maths! It's not like the plug at home that's connected to a virtually infinite network.

The panels are in peak DC watts. Best case sun overhead and the panel aimed at it.

The panel can be connected to a charge controller and batteries. Those are in DC amp hours which can be easily converted to Watt hours

The appliances are in AC watts.

The appliances are connected to the batteries and panels by an inverter which converts the DC watts to AC watts. The appliances are labeled with the Watts they need.

The inverter has to be able to convert at least if not more DC Watts to AC watts than the appliance needs. The batteries need to be sized to the panel and the charge controller.

Suggest finding someone at the AEZ or in your town who has put together a few systems to size it. It takes a lot of panels and batteries to run everyday appliances, but not so much to run some LED lights, a laptop and a boom box. Forget toaster ovens, hair driers, clothes irons or anything that produces heat, even microwave ovens. Theoretically those could run on the diesel BMORG grid, but it would be antisocial.

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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by motskyroonmatick » Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:46 pm

Here is a link to get you started.
http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles ... asics.html
Look at the Stand Alone Power System for the basics of what is done at BRC.

In general solar puts out little power per $ invested and that is why so many people use generators. I do have a few small solar panels that I charge 12 volt deep cycle batteries with at the burn. They keep up with small loads. I was able to run a small 12 volt bilge pump for my evaporator continuously with my 4 panels and a deep cycle battery. Operating ovens and blenders takes allot of power so you would need to size your solar array and battery bank appropriately(as in big).

Have fun exploring this. :)
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by maryanimal » Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:50 pm

some seeing eye wrote:Solar and power involve the dreaded maths! It's not like the plug at home that's connected to a virtually infinite network.

The panels are in peak DC watts. Best case sun overhead and the panel aimed at it.

The panel can be connected to a charge controller and batteries. Those are in DC amp hours which can be easily converted to Watt hours

The appliances are in AC watts.

The appliances are connected to the batteries and panels by an inverter which converts the DC watts to AC watts. The appliances are labeled with the Watts they need.

The inverter has to be able to convert at least if not more DC Watts to AC watts than the appliance needs. The batteries need to be sized to the panel and the charge controller.

Suggest finding someone at the AEZ or in your town who has put together a few systems to size it. It takes a lot of panels and batteries to run everyday appliances, but not so much to run some LED lights, a laptop and a boom box. Forget toaster ovens, hair driers, clothes irons or anything that produces heat, even microwave ovens. Theoretically those could run on the diesel BMORG grid, but it would be antisocial.

(AEZ = alternative energy zone - ae-zone.org)

Well I think I'll pass on the solar panels.
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by BBadger » Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:57 am

Every time I look into the cost of making a panel, I end up disappointed. I'd love to believe the news that solar can get as low as $1 a watt, but I doubt it'll really reach those levels for a long time, especially for small-scale arrays. In the absence of subsidies, I see solar panels as a waste of money in almost every context short of a 30-year continuous-use investment.

If you'd like to cook things using solar, try buying a large Fresnel lens. You'll get direct light-to-heat conversion that way. Spend the money you save on some good goggles to protect your eyes.
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Just_Joe » Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:04 am

BBadger wrote: In the absence of subsidies, I see solar panels as a waste of money in almost every context short of a 30-year continuous-use investment.
Agree. Mostly.
If you can "rough it" and do without microwave, toaster, A/C and curling iron, then solar can be a good choice for an RV. RV's need electricity for lights, fans, water pumps and maybe a couple small appliances (TV, coffee maker, camera charger). Our moderate sized panel easily takes care of these needs. We spent 10 nights at the burn this year and never gave power a thought-it was just there. Our two, 12v marine batteries were kept fully charged and never missed a beat, including running (via a $20 inverter) several hundred 110V LED lights most every night.

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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by theCryptofishist » Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:11 am

I think investing in solar is a good thing. But for one week out of a year it's a huge amount of cash for very little use.
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by some seeing eye » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:32 am

Don't give up yet!

What my friends at the AEZ say, is start with a simple setup to get a feel for solar systems, because you will learn by making the mistakes that will destroy one or more components of the system, blow fuses or melt something. Stop by at the next burn, or see if they have campers in your area.

You can ask on the AEZ message board, but use a disposable email address to post, I think they show the email in the clear.

You can also start simple with a battery, LED lights and maybe an inverter, then take that over to Snow Koan Solar every day for a charge.

Spokane is an excellent place for solar year round. As was mentioned, solar RV's are a great use case. And once you learn about it, you could probably start a business giving talks and demonstrations, or even go into residential solar sales.

Solar panels have a continuous us life of 10s of years, inverters about 10, batteries 3-5. A generator is good for a few months max of continuous use. But I wouldn't disagree that a generator is cheaper for a few hundred hours of use over 3-5 years.

The subsidies we give fossil fuels are a crime, so I think the subsidies we give renewables are a virtue.
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Sola Gangsta » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:46 am

I recommend you read this because Solar Mike makes it really simple:

http://thesunworks.com/id6.htm

Typically I was paying $80 / month on utilities when I lived a cubicle lifestyle. After cutting away significant waste I found I was able to do well with a single 120 Watt panel, a charge controller, an absorbed glass mat deep cycle battery and a 1500 watt inverter (the 1500 Watt inverter was overkill but many people mistakenly believe that the higher the wattage the greater the waste, but that isn't so). There are certain items that you will want to avoid and if you can do so, then solar power is a viable alternative. I ditched the A/C and went with a fan. My TV is a laptop computer. My guitar uses a Roland J/C 30/120 watt amplifier. Then I mounted the solar panel to the top my my truck with slides to angle it toward the sun.

In the past I used to use it to keep the charge up on my Airstream trailer seen below, but realized that the trailer was extremely wasteful in many ways so I sold it. Below are 3 pics showing you how it is set up:

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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by BBadger » Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:15 pm

Sola Gangsta wrote:Typically I was paying $80 / month on utilities when I lived a cubicle lifestyle.
$80 a month on utilities? It wasn't the electricity that was the major cost. Even at a high 11 cents per kWh (only 7 cents here) you're looking at about $10 for 120W running 24/7 for an entire year. Even at the fabled $1/W for panels (which I'm sure you did not pay), that's a minimum of 10 years before you even break even. It was probably a change of habit that reduced the bill rather than any solar investment.

Compare that to a better investment: swapping out an incandescent light bulb for a CFL. $9 (HIGH price) to reduce power from about 100W to 25W for 5 years. I've probably saved more with light bulbs than I'd ever get from solar panels. For a real investment, buying insulation for your house will pay huge dividends.

This isn't to say that solar doesn't have a place. I keep looking at it (I actually do want to use it some day) to see when it might be worth actually buying. Unfortunately not now. Solar panels are still only good if you're isolated or need mobility with your power, not really for savings. That fits the bill for a rover on Mars, or even on an RV, but the reality of solar on RVs is that it is for convenience, not for money saved. I doubt that even a hippie in an Airstream will get a return on investment anytime within 20 years. A 20 year wait before net income may seem like a good long-term investment, but with technology and pricing changing all the time solar just doesn't seem mature enough to be worth dumping money unnecessarily into it. Just a price change from $3/W to $2/W would mean that you could've waited half a decade to get better payback, or investing in other things like better lights, insulation, more efficient devices, even a better used car.
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Just_Joe » Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:37 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:...... a huge amount of cash for very little use.
Isn't that one of the Principles?

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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Sola Gangsta » Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:56 pm

BBadger wrote:
Sola Gangsta wrote:Typically I was paying $80 / month on utilities when I lived a cubicle lifestyle.
$80 a month on utilities? It wasn't the electricity that was the major cost. Even at a high 11 cents per kWh (only 7 cents here) you're looking at about $10 for 120W running 24/7 for an entire year. Even at the fabled $1/W for panels (which I'm sure you did not pay), that's a minimum of 10 years before you even break even. It was probably a change of habit that reduced the bill rather than any solar investment.

Compare that to a better investment: swapping out an incandescent light bulb for a CFL. $9 (HIGH price) to reduce power from about 100W to 25W for 5 years. I've probably saved more with light bulbs than I'd ever get from solar panels. For a real investment, buying insulation for your house will pay huge dividends.
The fact is that I've spent less than $1200 and have been using this now for 4 years which is $300/year on electricity. Part of this is a change in habits, but being hooked into the grid is extremely wasteful. I'm just as comfortable now as when I was living a wasteful grid bound lifestyle. It puts me completely in control of my energy usage and not at the mercy of utility companies.

Buying a house can potentially sink you into the system of taxation so bad that all savings are wasted. I managed to get out while the getting was good, have no debt and am liquid enough to last for years without a paycheck well past retirement (assuming that the govt doesn't steal that too). As George Carlin said, "there's a reason why it's called the American dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it".
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by BBadger » Sat Oct 22, 2011 6:53 pm

Sola Gangsta wrote:The fact is that I've spent less than $1200 and have been using this now for 4 years which is $300/year on electricity.
Ouch! $300/year? Good luck getting that back. That's not money saved, that's money you're paying back, a debt on yourself.
Part of this is a change in habits, but being hooked into the grid is extremely wasteful.
Wasteful how? Waste is generally a function of your own usage habits. Beyond that it has no effect if you're on or off the grid on resource usage. We're not saving the water in the dam behind the turbines for other purposes. Or is it that we're "wasting" coal when it could be better used for.. uh, what?
I'm just as comfortable now as when I was living a wasteful grid bound lifestyle. It puts me completely in control of my energy usage and not at the mercy of utility companies.
Oh right, because the utility companies are incredibly oppressive. Those darn 7 cents/kWh rates are just designed to keep the good man down. Forget treated water too, all the fluoride and other chemicals in there to mind control people. Gotta using camping filters.
Buying a house can potentially sink you into the system of taxation so bad that all savings are wasted. I managed to get out while the getting was good, have no debt and am liquid enough to last for years without a paycheck well past retirement (assuming that the govt doesn't steal that too). As George Carlin said, "there's a reason why it's called the American dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it".
You keep telling yourself that.
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Sola Gangsta » Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:40 pm

BBadger wrote:Ouch! $300/year? Good luck getting that back. That's not money saved, that's money you're paying back, a debt on yourself.
Don't be an idiot. The math is pretty clear that if you have an apt somewhere you will pay much more than $300 annually. The problem with utility companies is the charges they add on for services that you won't use which encourage waste. I was paying $80/month while trying to keep my usage down and they kept jacking up rates over the years despite attempts at conservation.

While it is obvious that your math is sound on the rates, we aren't talking about what is the "best buy" here or what will give you the most for your money, but what will make you stable and independent and what gives you the most freedom from nickel and dime business models. Your model is a discount rate for being a typical American consumer hooked into the system. Show me a house owner or renter who pays less than I do and is still able to get internet out in the middle of the desert.

BTW, the only thing that I'll have to replace is the battery in about a year or so which means that over the years the cost will actually be much less than $300 annually.
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by BBadger » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:22 pm

Sola Gangsta wrote:Don't be an idiot. The math is pretty clear that if you have an apt somewhere you will pay much more than $300 annually. The problem with utility companies is the charges they add on for services that you won't use which encourage waste. I was paying $80/month while trying to keep my usage down and they kept jacking up rates over the years despite attempts at conservation.
"Encourages waste?" Are you somehow incapable of managing your usage? Does using grid power encourage you to leave your lights on all the time? Does treated water encourage you to run the taps while you lather up? I don't think so. What you essentially did with your solar setup is force yourself to assume certain habits. The utility company was never preventing that. The fact that you're now able to survive using such an incredibly weak power source that forces drastic conservation proves that the cost of power was a function of habit, not of utility pricing.
While it is obvious that your math is sound on the rates, we aren't talking about what is the "best buy" here or what will give you the most for your money, but what will make you stable and independent and what gives you the most freedom from nickel and dime business models. Your model is a discount rate for being a typical American consumer hooked into the system.
You're living in a van--no a trailer--down by the river. You're essentially camping. I could live on practically nothing eating Ramen and living and sleeping in a car. Anybody could. Hell, let's take it further. Why pay into the "fossil fuel subsidies"? I could live in a shack, or a cardboard box, or a cave. I could get internet access at the local library, and plug into the wall and use their power. Wow, what a life. That is "independence" and "freedom"? Freedom from what? Nickle-and-dime charges?
Show me a house owner or renter who pays less than I do and is still able to get internet out in the middle of the desert.
Both getting what they paid for, yup.
BTW, the only thing that I'll have to replace is the battery in about a year or so which means that over the years the cost will actually be much less than $300 annually.
You're looking at it the wrong way. What you pay per year goes down anyway simply because of the timespan of usage versus what you already paid. That battery ends up being an additional cost to whatever you would have paid. Until you've generated as much power as you would have spent while on the grid (watt per watt, not compared to whatever usage habit you had back when you lived at the apartment) it's basically back the debt for those panels.
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Sola Gangsta » Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:18 am

BBadger wrote:
Sola Gangsta wrote:Don't be an idiot. The math is pretty clear that if you have an apt somewhere you will pay much more than $300 annually. The problem with utility companies is the charges they add on for services that you won't use which encourage waste. I was paying $80/month while trying to keep my usage down and they kept jacking up rates over the years despite attempts at conservation.
"Encourages waste?" Are you somehow incapable of managing your usage? Does using grid power encourage you to leave your lights on all the time? Does treated water encourage you to run the taps while you lather up? I don't think so. What you essentially did with your solar setup is force yourself to assume certain habits. The utility company was never preventing that. The fact that you're now able to survive using such an incredibly weak power source that forces drastic conservation proves that the cost of power was a function of habit, not of utility pricing.
While it is obvious that your math is sound on the rates, we aren't talking about what is the "best buy" here or what will give you the most for your money, but what will make you stable and independent and what gives you the most freedom from nickel and dime business models. Your model is a discount rate for being a typical American consumer hooked into the system.
You're living in a van--no a trailer--down by the river. You're essentially camping. I could live on practically nothing eating Ramen and living and sleeping in a car. Anybody could. Hell, let's take it further. Why pay into the "fossil fuel subsidies"? I could live in a shack, or a cardboard box, or a cave. I could get internet access at the local library, and plug into the wall and use their power. Wow, what a life. That is "independence" and "freedom"? Freedom from what? Nickle-and-dime charges?
Show me a house owner or renter who pays less than I do and is still able to get internet out in the middle of the desert.
Both getting what they paid for, yup.
BTW, the only thing that I'll have to replace is the battery in about a year or so which means that over the years the cost will actually be much less than $300 annually.
You're looking at it the wrong way. What you pay per year goes down anyway simply because of the timespan of usage versus what you already paid. That battery ends up being an additional cost to whatever you would have paid. Until you've generated as much power as you would have spent while on the grid (watt per watt, not compared to whatever usage habit you had back when you lived at the apartment) it's basically back the debt for those panels.
This is how it actually breaks down: $1200 to start and $50 / year for battery so in 20 years I'd end up spending $2200 for electricity (assuming I don't need another charge controller or inverter). The warranty on my panel is for 25 years. In 20 years on grid assuming I turned everything off and kept the utilities on standby, I'd still be paying $30/month which works out to $360 annually for absolutely no usage. In 20 years you've paid $7200 with nothing to show for it. My way saves $5000 over the course of that time just in energy usage alone and as most people know, if your electronics don't break within the first year, chances are you're good to go for a long time so I probably won't need an inverter or charge controller for more than a decade. I also have warranties on the charge controller and inverter...

I sold the trailer so that isn't a factor anymore. Second it is about getting off grid so that you can save money. You will pay over $1000/month typically if you live on grid somewhere for everything. This is now less than $100/month excluding food and business expenses. I don't pay rent because it is not a tax deduction. You can try to look at this only through energy efficiency and that is the only way you are correct. But no one in practice is going to make out in the way you suggest because there will be strings attached that will cause you to pay more in other ways. The grid will not give back what you save and will tack on service charges and various fees, taxes, etc. In other words I could turn off all appliances have practically 0 kilowatt hour usage and still end up paying $30/month due to wire fee, use taxes and so on because local politicians use your property as a hook to extort fees just for existing in the space they control. So my truck becomes more like my house, my bicycle becomes a car, etc and I no longer technically need the gym because the bike keeps me in shape.

As for paying for fossil fuel, yes, because our govt in their ultimate wisdom made it a tax deduction while rent is not. I'm a business owner and this is the reason why I structured my life this way and because of it I'm secure for years and a paycheck (for me this would be internet software sales) is just a bonus, not a necessity.

Most people assume that this would be too tough to do and what I found out is that living the grid lifestyle was far worse, sucking the life out of you like a vampire even when you cut way back because the system is designed to be a hook to keep you paying with strings attached. The only way to get past this into the realm of reasonableness is to cut the strings and that means being off the grid.
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by maryanimal » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:39 pm

weather man wrote:
BBadger wrote: In the absence of subsidies, I see solar panels as a waste of money in almost every context short of a 30-year continuous-use investment.
Agree. Mostly.
If you can "rough it" and do without microwave, toaster, A/C and curling iron, then solar can be a good choice for an RV. RV's need electricity for lights, fans, water pumps and maybe a couple small appliances (TV, coffee maker, camera charger). Our moderate sized panel easily takes care of these needs. We spent 10 nights at the burn this year and never gave power a thought-it was just there. Our two, 12v marine batteries were kept fully charged and never missed a beat, including running (via a $20 inverter) several hundred 110V LED lights most every night.[/quote

OOoooh, I don't want to use a microwave or toaster. I was thinking more along the lines of a camera battery charger. And I don't use the curling iron or blow dryer on th eplaya. I can't even think anyone would want to watch tv at the burn!!
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Sola Gangsta » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:32 am

A/C is the only thing that requires an array of panels and batteries to operate and this is usually because it is continuously used throughout the day. I had no problems with anything else, including a Microwave oven, TV, etc with just one panel and battery in my RV, but this is because use times are shorter and there is less amp drainage. I've run my 130 watt dell laptop continuously through the day and night no problems even with no sun for about 2 and 1/2 days before I need a charge.

Really one should figure it out mathematically (or have Solar Mike do it) to be sure or you run into problems. Basically you have to find your appliances and figure out how many amp/hours all of these consume, add about 10-20% for inverter inefficiency and then match the battery bank for how many days you can be without sun in your area. The math is basically grade school and not difficult at all.
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by BBadger » Mon Oct 24, 2011 6:04 am

Sola Gangsta wrote:This is how it actually breaks down: $1200 to start and $50 / year for battery so in 20 years I'd end up spending $2200 for electricity (assuming I don't need another charge controller or inverter). The warranty on my panel is for 25 years. In 20 years on grid assuming I turned everything off and kept the utilities on standby, I'd still be paying $30/month which works out to $360 annually for absolutely no usage. In 20 years you've paid $7200 with nothing to show for it. My way saves $5000 over the course of that time just in energy usage alone and as most people know, if your electronics don't break within the first year, chances are you're good to go for a long time so I probably won't need an inverter or charge controller for more than a decade. I also have warranties on the charge controller and inverter...
Let's talk apples to apples, kWh to kWh. The average usage for a typical home is approximately 920kWh per month, totaling about $95 per month in charges @ 10.5 cents/kWh. That's approximately $1100 per year spent on electricity, for ~1200W of power used 24/7 for a year. Using this calculator, for solar power setup that would provide 100% power offset, for a typical 7.5hrs of average sunlight per day in the US, you need a 5.38kW solar array. Going rates for solar cells can vary depending on array size; I used $6/W as the average cost for an array like this. An array that size would cost roughly $32,000 to install.

That ends up being, well, about a 30-year investment, like I said. And yes, you get to keep the array too. But as for the person on the grid: having nothing to show for it? That's not right. That person has $30000+ that can be spent on investing in other, higher-payback investments, like: energy saving rather than generating devices (insulation, bulbs, better car), traditional financial investments, or even buying solar panels years later when they're a mere fraction of their current price.
I sold the trailer so that isn't a factor anymore. Second it is about getting off grid so that you can save money. You will pay over $1000/month typically if you live on grid somewhere for everything.
So now the grid comprises everything, and not just electricity?
This is now less than $100/month excluding food and business expenses. I don't pay rent because it is not a tax deduction.
Sold the Airstream? Now how do you carry all those panels around?
You can try to look at this only through energy efficiency and that is the only way you are correct. But no one in practice is going to make out in the way you suggest because there will be strings attached that will cause you to pay more in other ways. The grid will not give back what you save and will tack on service charges and various fees, taxes, etc. In other words I could turn off all appliances have practically 0 kilowatt hour usage and still end up paying $30/month due to wire fee, use taxes and so on because local politicians use your property as a hook to extort fees just for existing in the space they control. So my truck becomes more like my house, my bicycle becomes a car, etc and I no longer technically need the gym because the bike keeps me in shape.
Sure, if you're using 0W, but that's a ridiculous corner case. When you're using the kind of wattage most regular people use, it really isn't that bad. $95/mo is for a 4-person home, like typical American family that wastes energy on ridiculous shit and keeping the AC unit on all the time.
As for paying for fossil fuel, yes, because our govt in their ultimate wisdom made it a tax deduction while rent is not. I'm a business owner and this is the reason why I structured my life this way and because of it I'm secure for years and a paycheck (for me this would be internet software sales) is just a bonus, not a necessity.
For what? Just occupying the home, or for business? Gas for heat, or gas for transportation, and again for business or personal use?
Most people assume that this would be too tough to do and what I found out is that living the grid lifestyle was far worse, sucking the life out of you like a vampire even when you cut way back because the system is designed to be a hook to keep you paying with strings attached. The only way to get past this into the realm of reasonableness is to cut the strings and that means being off the grid.
You must really live in extraordinary circumstances then. I guess you can put a price on freedom.
"The essence of tyranny is not iron law. It is capricious law." -- Christopher Hitchens

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Sola Gangsta
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Sola Gangsta » Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:01 am

BBadger wrote:Let's talk apples to apples, kWh to kWh. The average usage for a typical home is approximately 920kWh per month, totaling about $95 per month in charges @ 10.5 cents/kWh. That's approximately $1100 per year spent on electricity, for ~1200W of power used 24/7 for a year. Using this calculator, for solar power setup that would provide 100% power offset, for a typical 7.5hrs of average sunlight per day in the US, you need a 5.38kW solar array. Going rates for solar cells can vary depending on array size; I used $6/W as the average cost for an array like this. An array that size would cost roughly $32,000 to install.

That ends up being, well, about a 30-year investment, like I said. And yes, you get to keep the array too. But as for the person on the grid: having nothing to show for it? That's not right. That person has $30000+ that can be spent on investing in other, higher-payback investments, like: energy saving rather than generating devices (insulation, bulbs, better car), traditional financial investments, or even buying solar panels years later when they're a mere fraction of their current price.
No such thing as a free lunch in physics. In politics, a "free lunch" is passed on as expenses to the taxpayer. Otherwise I have no argument with the math here except it only works for rich people.
So now the grid comprises everything, and not just electricity?
To get your bargain rate you must buy into the system of taxation which you haven't figured into your calculations. The only way to come out ahead is to invest in land and hope to pass the increase onto future generations.

The real world situation comprises everything, the grid company is a small fraction of this. Living in an apt with everything that goes along with this would come to about $1000 for the average person not "owning a home" (I put this in quotes because home ownership is really renting with the federal govt as your landlord).
Sold the Airstream? Now how do you carry all those panels around?
On the roof of my truck. Didn't see the picture did you?
Sure, if you're using 0W, but that's a ridiculous corner case. When you're using the kind of wattage most regular people use, it really isn't that bad. $95/mo is for a 4-person home, like typical American family that wastes energy on ridiculous shit and keeping the AC unit on all the time.
I had a 1 person apt in NY years ago and this was typically $80/month. I don't have tons of electrical appliances either. Utah must be a different animal.
You must really live in extraordinary circumstances then. I guess you can put a price on freedom.
What I do would not work for many people (for instance if you have health issues). But it kept me off unemployment and away from using food stamps when times were bad a couple of years ago and becoming a further drain on the system. I figure that the government owes me thanks for radical self reliance which has led to saving the tax payers money.
1II1I11I

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Foxfur
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Foxfur » Fri Nov 25, 2011 3:02 pm

I'll stick to my illegal Guamanian immigrants peddling bikes hooked to gensets and feeding them tarotaro and Spam.
He's a mystery wrapped in a riddle, inside an enigma, painted in hot pants. - Savannah
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Tiahaar
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Tiahaar » Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:04 am

I am getting 576 watts for .66/watt on solar panels. You just have to know where to look. It helps to have been with Black Rock Solar. If you want info pm me.
Burning Man 2003-19-FO2020; Desert Carillon, HypnoHorse, Ulaume's Chimes, Iron Native, Black Rock Solar, Portal Collective, Center Camp Café Stage and Sound Tech, 747 Project
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Marscrumbs
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Marscrumbs » Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:57 pm

You could get your batteries recharged at Sno-cone solar camp if you're near them. They set up big units for just that purpose and have extra electrons to gift.

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Tiahaar
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Tiahaar » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:03 pm

my 4 uni-solar flex panels arrived tonight, 144 watts each, will unroll them tomorrow in the sun and see how they check out. there are still some available if you're into that. I plan to put them on top of my shade this year 8)

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Tiahaar
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Tiahaar » Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:15 pm

Image
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6654883299/
Unrolled my slightly used panels today, they look nice, all at 40-43vdc OC, surface is a bit dirty and some scuffs here and there but I think they will do fine. 95 each delivered which is excellent especially as their box weighed @ 60 pounds. PM for info :roll: Forward with playa prep for 2012 8)

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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by teardropper » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:55 am

I use a 64 watt panel to charge my batteries on the playa. I run a small sound system, a bunch of 12 volt LED rope light and some other small things. No blenders or toaster ovens. I keep my requirements small and essential and it works great. I could run more stuff, and probably will next year, 'cause I have the power. No, if you want those things or air conditioning, it would take too large a set up. Just too much. You'll need a generator. I use a pair of fully charged when I reach the playa 6 volt golf cart batteries, @ 225 amp/hours. I may run my swamp cooler (thanks figjam) for my motorhome off this set up. I also carry a couple of 12 volt 105 amp/hour batteries for just-in-case.

Yes, dust cuts down the charge. I clean my panel, a thin film UniSolar I've had for a dozen years, every day and it adds about half an amp when I do. It looks a little dusty in the pic. That's the battery box next to it and I keep my charge controller in that plastic bag, 'cause playa may be hard on its electronics.

I think it's a very good thing. I use 12 volt accessories as much as possible to eliminate the need for an inverter, used to convert the 12 volt DC to 120 volt AC. Just one less thing that can, and has, go bad.

As has been said, keep it simple. I could run a blender, but then I'd have to keep it clean and I don't want to...

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Saguache
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Re: Using Solar Panels

Post by Saguache » Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:39 pm

Best book evah! Seriously, this will walk you through everything you need to know to build, from scratch, a PV set-up customized for your purposes.

ImageSolar Electricity Handbook
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