Welcome to the World of Solar

I have enjoyed experimenting with electricity, electronics and electro-mechanics ever since I was a child. I graduated from DeVry with a BSEET, a hands-on electronics degree. Electricity does flow through my heart and brain.

I was first interested in Solar Power in 2000. Started reading Home Power Magazine in 2001 and really enjoyed the tinkering and do-it-yourself stories. I took my bedroom "off the grid" in 2001, and when it really worked, I was hooked!

My Roof Panels: 4 each BP Solarex 60W
My first solar power project: "Take the Bedroom off the Grid".
4 each 60W Panels, a 350w Inverter and four GC-2 Batteries.

Solar Energy is the most romantic of the electrical generating methods. Hydro is ok, but the water is hard to control, nuke is no good, and wind is difficult in the suburbs. Coal and gas have hidden costs. These are not political statements. I am only thinking of it from the stand-point the little electrons moving down the wire. Where did they come from, and where are they going?

Solar energy is very simple to operate on the consumer side. The panels lay there and produce electricity. For years and years.

Manufacturing Solar panels is no more complicated than making any computer chip (not to dumb that down having worked in that industry for many years). Think of all the older empty computer chip factories that could be making solar cells to help our energy future?

My Outback PS2 Combo with GVFX3524 Inverter, 20 each 60W Solar Panels, 8 GC-2 Batteries.

I love the way solar power works. There are two types of solar power systems:

1. Photovoltaic - Convert sunlight directly into electricity...
2. Thermal - Convert Sunlight into hot water...


Photovoltaic - Electrical

1a. Grid connected systems: They produce energy and send it through your electric meter (that is if you don't use it first).

Image from www.homepower.com.


1b. Back-up or stand-a-lone systems: The panels (not shown in the diagram below) charge the batteries and you consume the energy from the batteries.
1c. Combination Grid-tie and Backup: The Outback Power GVFX series inverters does both. As more power comes into the batteries than the DC-AC inverter needs, the inverter pushes power on your meter, effectively reducing how fast it is spinning forward and can even spin it backwards.

Image from www.homepower.com.


Solar Thermal: The sun heats water and you don't have to use as much gas or electricity to keep it warm.

Solar_Thermal.jpg (79402 bytes)

Image from www.homepower.com.



The down side to solar energy is that it can be expensive. Very expensive. The systems I mentioned above are $5,000-to-$30,000 each and they do not cover your entire electrical consumption. The key is to reduce consumption, and this is absolutely possible without giving up on the good life.

I pay about 12 cents per kilo-watt-hour to my electric company. The Solar kilo-watt-hour costs about 35 cents to produce. Under some conditions it pays to use solar. That 500 acres you were thinking about buying, might need solar if you are not near existing power lines, or don't want to cut down any trees for the power company...

My favorite energy diet example is Compact Fluorescent light bulbs. You get all the light you are used to, but it only consumes 1/5 the energy. I replaced every normal shaped bulb in my house and saved 18% on my electric bill. It will take about one year to break even from the cost of the bulbs versus the savings in electricity. The bulbs are designed to last about 4 years. Some of the bulbs are already five years old. Some barely made it to one year. I write the date on each bulb to know if they made it through the pay off date or not. Enough have made it far enough past that date for the ones that did not...

Learn More:

News: http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/
Development: http://www.eere.energy.gov/solar_decathlon/index.html
Forums: http://www.outbackpower.com/forum/


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Updated: July 02, 2010