Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Helena, MT
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Re: Solar Power?
For the most part, a Solar "Powered" system takes from 8-10 years to see a return on your investment.
However, that return time keeps dropping, as the price of electricity goes up, and the efficiency of the panels improve.
Most States (and at the Federal level as well) offer grants and no/low interest loans to help with the conversion.
There's gobs of information out there if you look.
We have a few people in our area using the panels for their electricity.
Generally, the panels are around 100 sq ft to power up a 2000 sq ft home.
Total cost, including the cells, storage batteries, and DC/AC conversion components,
has typically been between $10,000-$12,000 for those home's systems.
Every one of them has the meter running backwards more often than not.
They are hooked to the grid, and feed power back to the grid when the demand is less than the supply.
Virtually, free electricity, sans the system cost.
Maintenance issues have dropped dramatically in the last few years as well.
Granted, energy saving devices were also incorporated into these systems.
I.E. Front loading washers. Energy saving lighting. Good insulation in the home. Turn off devices not in use. Yada Yada. It all helps.
Now, for the real good return on investment using the "sun":
Solar "hot water heating" barely takes 3 years to pay for itself versus gas/oil/electric heat.
These would be the panels/boxes you see on roofs with water plumbing running through them.
Again, loans/grants are available for the systems.
Our first "conversion" will be the solar hot water heating.
Since we have a gas boiler, and hot water radiant heat (albeit wood-stove now, see below), we'd see the biggest gain.
Hot water for washing/showers/etc has been the biggest "energy" appetite for us.
Especially, since the well water that goes into the tank is so cold all year long.
In the last couple years, we've used a high-efficiency wood-stove for heat.
2 cords of wood each year @$65 a cord, has been cheap enough for me.
However, we're also in a pretty small space at 1200 sq ft.
Gees, sorry about that. Didn't realize I had that much to say. [img]images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img]
Before you go looking to do any major "energy production conversion";
Make sure you've also done all the other chores, like,
insulation, stop outside air intrusion, energy star appliances, low "E" windows.....etc etc.
Another thing to think about when using Solar Panels for electricity, is to utilize 12 volt lighting and devices when possible.