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.
Cash, credit, and snark accepted
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)
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.
Sola Gangsta wrote:Typically I was paying $80 / month on utilities when I lived a cubicle lifestyle.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
So now the grid comprises everything, and not just electricity?
Sold the Airstream? Now how do you carry all those panels around?
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.
You must really live in extraordinary circumstances then. I guess you can put a price on freedom.
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