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Basic principles behind solar energy usage

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  • Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - 12:23pm

    #1
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    Basic principles behind solar energy usage

The light and heat emitted by the sun in the form of electromagnetic radiation is the main source solar energy.  Solar energy is trapped and turned in to an utilizable form with the help of solar cells. Thus it is used for heating or for the preparation of low cost electricity.

 

Solar energy is one of the cleanest energy resources for your homes and offices. In order to get the maximum benefit of using solar energy, the user has to know certain basic facts. An average person who plans to use solar panel for the extraction of solar energy has to know only these and need not make a technical dissertation on the electromagnetic radiation obtained or the conversion of these radiations to solar energy. These basic facts will help the user to take wise and timely decisions about solar energy extraction and usage.

 

The area that you choose to place solar panel or solar heater should have plentiful amount of sunlight. The amount of sunlight is one of the most important factors behind solar energy extraction. A few other factors that determine the possibility of solar energy extraction include

 

  • Geographic location
  • Time
  • Seasons
  • Landscape & weather of the local area

 

These factors will help in the easy extraction of solar energy. Solar energy is one of the cleanest energy resources, and is one of the perfect substitutes to fossil fuels. Read the latest energy news on solar energy to know more about the principles and benefits of using solar energy resources.

  • Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - 01:36pm

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    leasing your rooftop?

I don’t mean to hijack this thread, but I have a related comment/question:

Here in Ontario, Canada, there have been some amazing developments which (I think) will be the catalyst we need to see the solar industry really take off.  Regular people who could not afford a solar setup can now get one by leasing their rooftop out to companies.  ( You pay absolutely zero to install it/maintain it and get to keep it after the 20 year contract expires.  There are other ways you can set it up, you can lease the equipment from them instead, etc.) 

http://www.yourhome.ca/homes/green/article/777492–solar-panel-startup-to-lease-residential-rooftops

Even though we would not be getting the direct benefits of solar generation, there are many good things that come out of it.  I think the biggest factor for why people don’t go solar is that they can’t afford it- this neutralizes this tendency, allows people to think long term.  I also think it will KEEP OUR ROOF COOL on the hottest days, similar to the “paint your roof white” theory put forth by the US Secretary of Energy and a Nobel prize-winning scientist Steven Chu. 

We have a perfect unobstructed south exposure.  Even with our best case scenario, we would not be able to afford solar panels for another 10 years.  We could really use the extra income.  I also feel that a lot of people are reluctant to “be the first one on the block” to do such a thing- I want to set an example (I also realize that there are some people who might consider it a visual blight, and might want to challenge my enthusiasm.  For the exact same reasons of setting an example, I relish the opportunity to debate).

HERE IS MY QUESTION:  I am ready to sign the contract.  My wife, however, is skeptical.  (I love the idea so much that I admittedly feel that it is “to good to be true”.)  Are there factors I have not considered?  Am I wrong about the idea that it could keep my attic cooler?  I would like to hear from anyone out there with panels on their roof (paid for by themselves or otherwise) who have regretted the decision or (conversely) love it and maybe even won over converts in their neighbourhoods.

  • Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - 03:45pm

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    Re: Basic principles behind solar energy usage

Hey Yosh —

The only thing I can think of is that in 20 years the solar panels will be obsolete.  Assuming that R&D in this department continues.  Otherwise that seems pretty sweet.  And yes, I’d think that you’d be helping the process of getting solar a deeper penetration into the mind and marketplace because everybody on your block will want to ask you questions and so forth.  Assuming your experience is a positive one and you have good things to say, I’d bet other folks would jump on the bandwagon.

In *my* United States, we’d have done something like this 30 years ago…

Viva — Sager

  • Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - 04:12pm

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    Re: Basic principles behind solar energy usage

I believe Berkeley Ca. Has made it possible to finance solar panels  through property taxes. The payout is 20 years. It just gets added on to your property taxes. Of course with tax revenue falling this may not be feasible now.

In the future the government will install light meters on buildings and you will have to pay a tax on how much sunlight falls on your roof. God they think of everything.

I have an issue with the statement that solar energy is one of the perfect substitutes for fossil fuels. Waine you got some splainin to do with that comment. Do you have an alternative energy business?

V

  • Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - 04:20pm

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    Re: Basic principles behind solar energy usage

[quote=V]

I believe Berkeley Ca. Has made it possible to finance solar panels  through property taxes. The payout is 20 years. It just gets added on to your property taxes. Of course with tax revenue falling this may not be feasible now.[/quote]

 

Boulder County (Colorado) where I live also has this program. The problem is the interest rates are 8+% and the program fees make it a bad deal for most. And it adds a mortgage (tax) obligation to your property that frankly, I don’t want to have.

  • Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - 07:01pm

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    Re: Basic principles behind solar energy usage

[quote=V]I have an issue with the statement that solar energy is one of the perfect substitutes for fossil fuels. Waine you got some splainin to do with that comment. Do you have an alternative energy business?[/quote]

I was about to flag this forum topic as SPAM.  Pretty sure it is since it’s a new member, 1st post, and reads like an advertisement, but people seem to want a conversation.

I can tell you here in NM, it’s quite easy to cost justify PV if you have the money to buy the system.  For about 50K, you can get a 7kW system (depending on your racking which can make a big difference in your cost).  With the tax credits (10% state and 30% federal), you get down to about 30K.  Then you get the current utility incentives (vary by utility), but here you get REC credits and net metering, which means you get paid for what you produce and you get to use it as well (that is about to change with my utility).  With the REC credits and the savings in power costs the ROI is about 10% and the savings portion is essentially inflation adjusted.  So very very easy to justify.  Note – this is not a DIY, but having a contractor do the work.

As far as having the panels in 20 years, most panels degrade at about 1%/year. In fact most manufacturers seem to warantee their panels for 80% performance at the end of 20 years.  Panels will continue to be useful, just produce less power.  As far as becoming obsolete, unless things change drastically, probably not.  If you look at the past 35 years, you will see that while panels efficiencies have improved, it’s not dramatic.  What has changed is the price.  So the panels should still be useful at the end of 20 years, but will be producing less and replacing them would be cheaper.  Of course if TSHTF, then you may not be able to buy new panels due to energy and resource availablity. 

So my opinion, if you have the $, have incentives that make it cost justified, do it.  After all where else are you getting 10% return on an investment that is realitively guaranteed?

 

  • Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - 11:59pm

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    Re: Basic principles behind solar energy usage

[quote=rhare]

I was about to flag this forum topic as SPAM.  Pretty sure it is since it’s a new member, 1st post, and reads like an advertisement, but people seem to want a conversation.

 

[/quote]

+1        I too smelled SPAM here, but hesitated on pulling the trigger because CMers were participating. I’ll flag it and let the moderaters decide how to proceed.

 

  • Sun, Apr 18, 2010 - 01:08am

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    Re: Basic principles behind solar energy usage

Yosh-

Several countries, including Germany and Canada have incentives programs for solar. I was just talking to another Canadian who was thinking about the same thing and thought it sounded too good to be true. Do keep us posted.

  • Sun, Apr 18, 2010 - 02:55am

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    Re: leasing your rooftop?

[quote=yoshhash]

I don’t mean to hijack this thread, but I have a related comment/question:

Here in Ontario, Canada, there have been some amazing developments which (I think) will be the catalyst we need to see the solar industry really take off.  Regular people who could not afford a solar setup can now get one by leasing their rooftop out to companies.  ( You pay absolutely zero to install it/maintain it and get to keep it after the 20 year contract expires.  There are other ways you can set it up, you can lease the equipment from them instead, etc.) 

http://www.yourhome.ca/homes/green/article/777492–solar-panel-startup-to-lease-residential-rooftops

Even though we would not be getting the direct benefits of solar generation, there are many good things that come out of it.  I think the biggest factor for why people don’t go solar is that they can’t afford it- this neutralizes this tendency, allows people to think long term.  I also think it will KEEP OUR ROOF COOL on the hottest days, similar to the “paint your roof white” theory put forth by the US Secretary of Energy and a Nobel prize-winning scientist Steven Chu. 

We have a perfect unobstructed south exposure.  Even with our best case scenario, we would not be able to afford solar panels for another 10 years.  We could really use the extra income.  I also feel that a lot of people are reluctant to “be the first one on the block” to do such a thing- I want to set an example (I also realize that there are some people who might consider it a visual blight, and might want to challenge my enthusiasm.  For the exact same reasons of setting an example, I relish the opportunity to debate).

HERE IS MY QUESTION:  I am ready to sign the contract.  My wife, however, is skeptical.  (I love the idea so much that I admittedly feel that it is “to good to be true”.)  Are there factors I have not considered?  Am I wrong about the idea that it could keep my attic cooler?  I would like to hear from anyone out there with panels on their roof (paid for by themselves or otherwise) who have regretted the decision or (conversely) love it and maybe even won over converts in their neighbourhoods.

[/quote]Hello Yoshhash:

I’d be hesitant for a few reasons:

  1. About 3 years or so ago when we built I looked into solar. I did a ROI on the back of an envelope and found it to be about 20 years — providing rates for electric don’t tank or soar. 
  2. Then I looked at the specs on the panels, they degradate about 1% per year (tapping memory, you’d want to Google that), so in 20 in 20 years when the warranty goes, then is it time to get new panels?
  3. Re-roofing, shingles are 20 and 30 year, if all goes well. I’d assume roofs last longer with panels, but in places they may fade, the panels will add to the cost of roofing I suspect as you can’t nail under them, or take the existing roof off and I would want to as to avoid even more weight.
  4. What sort of right-of-way are they getting?
  5. Resale value, someone may want some of that new R&D SagerXX was talking about, not all buyers are green and are there any restrictions in the mortgage (if you have one).
  6. When things go to heck in a handbasket (energy wise) governments may give massive solar incentives (don’t know if they will do it that far north) but things do change.

Best wishes with whatever you decide! Take care

  • Thu, Apr 22, 2010 - 07:24am

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    Re: leasing your rooftop?

I don’t see any comments about the batteries. I don’t think they will last 20 years and I also don’t think they are cheap to replace.

Even the DC/AC converter might also need repair/replacement at some point…nothing lasts forever.

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