Has anyone gone solar?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Dave, May 14, 2008.

  1. Dave

    Thread Starter Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    Just saw another thread asking about solar kits and this got me thinking has anyone gone solar (completely or partial) at home (or work)?

    Was it expensive? Did you DIY? Comments on how good/bad it is?

  2. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    I've got some friends in California that put solar panels on their house. On a sunny day, they get enough output that they sell power to the utility company.

    The down side is that it cost quite a bit, and the panels may lose efficiency before they pay back that cost. There are now newer and more efficient panels that may have better lifetimes - I have no input on that.

    It seems a drop in the bucket approach, but enough drops make a difference. I'm not approaching it because of the $20,000 cost.
  3. roddefig

    Active Member

    Apr 29, 2008
    A class I was in looked into to it. How cost effective it is has a lot to do with where you live which determines how powerful the sun is. In Northern Michigan it would have taken us 70 years to break even (not taking into account that we'll probably be out of oil in 50).

    However, Circuit Cellar ran a three-part series on installing a solar system that started in December. You can read it online in their archives for free.
  4. HarveyH42

    Active Member

    Jul 22, 2007
    I play around on a small scale, power a few gadgets. The panels are getting bigger, and getting closer to something on a more practical level. About $1500 away from paying off the house, definitely considering getting off the grid. Need to get rid of 5 large oak trees, and I could generate a good amount of power.
  5. nomurphy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 8, 2005
    No, but I've gone ballistic a few times. :eek:

  6. Audioguru


    Dec 20, 2007
    There is a big advertising sign in a field beside the road. It had solar power to charge a battery but it didn't light after a cloudy day and didn't light long after a sunny day in winter. So instead of laying expensive electical wiring from a utility pole the owner added a windmill. Now it lights the ad sign for a few hours every night.
  7. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    The obvious question there is if solar is simply undependable, or did an incompetent decide on the solar panel/battery combo?
  8. Audioguru


    Dec 20, 2007
    It looks like a windmill is a lot better than an expensive solar panel that doesn't work following a cloudy day.

    The combination of solar plus a windmill seems to make the electricity reliable under most weather conditions.
  9. recca02

    Senior Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    The problem is that we haven't found a way to store solar energy.
    Wind energy is solar energy, nature's way of storing it.

    Solar thermal power is more favoured than solar power, but how long can we store & maintain the temperature of water. Even the most economical solutions out there do not seem economical enough.