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Solar Power: Stop funding Islamic Terrorism, Save the Environment and Money
A few months ago I published a story on how we can help stop funding Islamic terrorism by purchasing the Toyota Prius, a hybrid/electric car that gets over fifty miles per gallon (click here for more details).
After doing additional research I also learned that in most US states, over 80% of our energy consumption is still based on fossil fuels! Since I sincerely don’t want any of my energy needs to generate funds for Islamic terrorists, I started looking for alternatives.
Solar Power Panels generate Clean and Safe Energy
A friend of mine had installed a solar power system and had been enjoying it for a few weeks, so I decided to ask him some questions and understand how it worked. I was simply amazed! Here are some benefits:
1) Your system generates power from the sun and feeds it back to your utilities company: your meter starts rolling backwards!
2) Your electricity bill becomes irrelevant (a couple of dollars per month) – you are not hostage anymore to your utilities price increases.
3) Depending on where you live you can get huge rebates for purchasing the system. For example the State of California pays for 50% of the system and gives you a 15% tax credit (saving you literally thousands of dollars).
4) You won’t be burning fossil fuels that directly finance Saudi Arabia and therefore the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda, and other Islamic mass murderers.
5) You’ll be saving the environment: contrary to fossil fuels or atomic energy, solar power is clean and safe!
6) The system will pay for itself in a few years – after that you’ll have 20-30 years of free electricty!
With so many advantages, I had to do it: a couple of weeks ago, my family and I became the proud owners of a working 4.9 kW solar power system!
See below for the rest of the article - I’ll cover some of the additional advantages of such a system, including the technical aspects, the finances, and more.
Once you have purchased and installed the system (see the “Finances” section below), you’ll have a bunch of solar panels installed on your roof. In my system the panels come in sets of cthree:
Typical solar panels
As the sun light hits the panels, they will generate a certain amount of DC power. In my case every panel can generate 165 Watts at its peak. All of this DC power has to be transformed into AC power before you can feed it back to your utility company. For this we use inverters:
A Sunny Boy (SMA) 2500 Watts inverter
My inverters can handle up to 2,500 Watts, and since my system can generate a bit under 5,000 Watts, we have two inverters. The inverters then feed AC power back into your utility company (in our case PG&E, Pacific Gas and Electric):
The DC power (from the left) is Routed through the inverters
(in the middle), Which transform it into AC power
The AC power is then routed Back to your utility company
Once the inverter(s) have converted the DC power into AC power it is simply routed back to your utility company – your meter starts rolling backwards!
You can’t see it in this picture, But the meter is rolling backwards
Rolling back your meter is done through something called “Net Metering”. This is something relatively new that makes it worthwhile to purchase a solar power system:
1) During the day while your system is generating energy, any additional energy you are not using goes back to your utility company.
For this reason it is important to find out the size of the system you’ll need to cover your energy needs.
In the past, when “Net Metering” wasn’t available, you had to purchase batteries and be completely off the grid. This made the system expensive and unreliable. Today after you’ve installed your solar power system, you’ll see no difference in your electricity usage - just a big difference in your electricity bill! Note: please check if the utility company in your Country or State allows for “Net Metering”.
1) You don’t want a system too small – it won’t be able to cover your energy needs and you’ll have to continue paying every month your utility company for additional energy.
When you first contact a solar power company, you’ll be asked to provide one year’s worth of electricity bills. Here’s an example:
Click on image to see a sample electricity bill
As you can see, in October 2002 we consumed 767 kWh of electricity. By looking at one year’s worth of bills, the industry professionals can run simulations based on your energy needs, your ZIP code, the amount of sun your city gets, the amount of energy that can be produced during summer and winter, etc…
They then come up with a magic number of how many Watts your system must be able to produce for your system to cover your electricity needs and for your energy bill to become zero over the year. In our case, the magic number was 4,900 Watts or 4.9 kW.
Depending on how big your system is your final cost can go from $2,000 to $50,000 or more. In fact this is the only downside of getting a solar power system installed: you have to come up with the money up front. In other words, you’re paying for your energy needs in one lump sum, instead of giving small monthly payments to your utility company (this is similar to renting vs. owning your home, but more on that later).
In our case, here was the total cost breakdown:
So as you can see, due to the great rebate and tax credit we get from the State of California, the cost of the system went from $44,965 to $22,393, over a 50% reduction!
Big cost up front, big savings over time
Now, you might think that $22,393 is a big chunk of money – and you’re right. But let’s break it down again. By looking at our energy bills, we saw that we spent on average $200 per month on electricity (some months we spent $100, other months we spent $300, etc...).
Now, supposing that the cost of electricity stays constant, it will take us 112 months (22,393 divided by 200) or roughly 10 years for the system to pay for itself. But since the price of electricity goes up on average 3% to 5% per year (in California it went up 30% two years ago!), we will actually probably break even in 6 to 7 years.
The system comes with a warranty on all its parts for 5 years, and is guaranteed to work for at least 30 years. This means that after it has paid for itself in 7 years, we will get at least 23 years of free electricity!
This means the solar power system will save us at least $55,000 (23 * 12 * $200)! What other system can you purchase that will not only pay for itself, but will make you money?
San Francisco Environment: Solar Power
California Energy Commission
Home Power Magazine
Adelman’s photovoltaic system (30.5 kW)
Solar Electric Power Association
SMA, a German company that makes the “Sunny Boy” inverters
How Solar Cells work (a bit outdated, but good info)
The meter in the top right gives a total number of kWh produced
Our system is made up of two sets of 18 solar panels
Our main monitoring server
We use the SMA "Sunny Control Light" to monitor our inverters and the system
Sample Java applet that gives us real time info
on the system (click on image to enlarge)
As mentioned above, the big hurdle in getting a solar power system is to come up with the funds for purchasing the system up front. One of your options is to refinance: in our case, after refinancing, we got such a rate that our monthly mortgage payment went down even though we asked for over $30,000 in cash to pay for the solar power system.
A Star-Trek “Wall Replicator”
Another analogy I have thought of is comparing a solar power system to a Star Trek “Replicator”. In the Hollywood series “Star Trek” (original, Next Generation, Voyager, etc…) the crew could order any type of food from a machine called a “Replicator”. This machine would then within seconds produce the requested food item, from banana splits to Klingon (or French) blood sausages.
Well, knowing that you have to eat pretty much every day of your life, how much would you pay for a machine that could produce food for you? You’d probably pay a pretty high price up front, knowing that a few years down the line it would pay for itself and you’d enjoy free food for years!
I’d argue that you probably will need electricity for life as well, but the “energy replicator” is not some sci-fi invention, but is right here: solar power technology.
Get one now: you’ll be producing clean and safe energy, you’ll stop funding Islamic terrorism, and you’ll save the environment and money!
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Posted by David Melle at December 27, 2003 01:12 PM
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