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Do-it-Yourself Plug-in Solar Panels

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  • Do-it-Yourself Plug-in Solar Panels

    Do-it-Yourself Plug-in Solar Panels- lower cost, ease of use, new tech available in 2011.

    Too long to post, but it is an interesting innovation. They are talking about a device that costs $600, you take it home and install it on your roof, and just plug it into your existing electrical wiring. No more $20,000-$30,000 installation + panels. No more feeding your energy to the utility company who then jacks up the price to sell it back to you. It is a move toward electrical energy independence per building. Not efficient enough yet perhaps to get a house totally off-grid, but a step in the right direction.

    And you build one instead of buying it, reducing the cost even more.

    What do you think?

  • #2
    Re: Do-it-Yourself Plug-in Solar Panels

    interesting concept. problem is still the upfront cost and payback time.

    the 1 thing going for it right now is the federal tax credits. at an anticipated cost of $599. - 799. for each 200 watt panel. it would take 12-16 years to pay off. the tax credits would offset this. they anticipate roughly a $40.-50 a year energy savings.

    the problem with all this green stuff is for people to buy it, the government has to subsidize it. they did it in the 70's with solar water heating. with all the money spent, i have 1 customer that still has a working system. problem is he's clueless to the cost it offsets. he's spent more out of his pocket to maintain it than it has saved. he's changed the solar storage tank 2 times and the same with the circ pump. and this is just in the 10 years he's lived there. this being a system that was existing in the house when he purchased it.

    same with tankless heaters. take away the 30% $1500 tax credit and you've got a system that will never pay for itself. add in all the maintenance cost that are associated with tankless and there is no savings.

    fluorescent compact bulbs are being sold at a loss to get people to buy them. they cost less than standard lights with the instant rebate. and they do generate a large cost savings.

    an example for the 200 watt panel they are describing would take 5 hours to produce 1000 watts/ 1kwh. at 10 cents a kwh. i would save 20 cents a day if i could get 10 hours of full output from the panel. that's $ 1.40 a week during the summer and less during the winter. you do the math.

    forget the tax credits, sell them for the rebated rate and get the public to buy them. since these are portable panels, there is no resale value when you sell your home like there is with conventional solar.

    but i do like the plug and play design.

    phoebe it is


    • #3
      Re: Do-it-Yourself Plug-in Solar Panels

      Rick you've got it all correct as I see it.

      The only thing I would add is that I have become a fan, believe it or not, of flourescent recessed can lights. Even thought a flourescent can costs $30 instead of $6 for an incandescent can, and even more if you want the kind that allows dimming... I use them now almost always.

      The reason is... heat. If you put enough incandescents in a kitchen or bathroom to light the place up adequately, it generates a noticeable and often uncomfortable amount of heat. Fluorescents DO take a few minutes after turn on to reach full brightness... but way, way less heat. IT's really noticeable in smaller spaces like a bathroom.

      So I like them and put them in for the heat reason!


      • #4
        Re: Do-it-Yourself Plug-in Solar Panels

        Good analysis Rick,

        Too many people just think "Gee what a great idea!" and plunge ahead, without any comprehension of the cost associated or the fact that there's little return on the investment and most likely it would take many, many years to actually have the savings offset the purchase price.

        One factor that few of us know, or want to know, is the amount of energy that it takes to make and later dispose of the product. Often that cost outweighs the energy that is saved over traditional methods, so while they may be "green" in their actual usage, their manufacture and disposal may be worse than traditional means.

        Still, having a "portable" or modular panel has it's benefits. It may not save (based on initial cost and energy savings over time), but it does give us a place to start and to learn about the technological benefits and pitfalls.

        For someone like me, (a person in the Northeast with miserable winters and lots of cloudy days the rest of the year), solar is probably not very viable. However, I'd probably look to see if this could be used to run something like my radio and/or computer equipment... thus taking that stuff off the grid. While it may not provide adequate ROI, it would still provide some benefit in taking some of my hobby-type electrical consumption off the grid some of the time. Basically it's sort of like an experiment... what works, what doesn't, what do I learn from this, and what's the next step in solar voltaic technolgy and how can I effectively apply it. And of course, can it supply me some backup level of power when the grid goes down? (As it often does.)

        Hey, it could just be an investment in a hobby that offers some practical payback, even if minor.

        Last edited by CWSmith; 08-18-2010, 01:19 PM.


        • #5
          Re: Do-it-Yourself Plug-in Solar Panels

          Originally posted by Andy_M View Post
          The reason is... heat. If you put enough incandescents in a kitchen or bathroom to light the place up adequately, it generates a noticeable and often uncomfortable amount of heat.
          Actually, up north in the winter, the fact that incandescents give off heat is kind of a bonus!


          • #6
            Re: Do-it-Yourself Plug-in Solar Panels

            actually i'm a big fan of fluorescent and my power bill reflects this. my ceiling fans have dimmable fluorescents but i rarely use the dimmer. it's so cheap to operate that the dimmer isn't worth the lower light output.

            i think sooner than we think, led's will be replacing the fluorescents.

            amazing light for literally pennies a year.

            phoebe it is


            • #7
              Re: Do-it-Yourself Plug-in Solar Panels

              I agree with you Rick, with all this green technology I think some of it will wind up costing people more in the long run. I think once the technology becomes mainstream and everyone has it, that's when we will see the cost savings from lower prices. I have been wanting to convert a gas car to electric, but every time I crunch the numbers I would have to get at least 10 years out of the batteries to break even and from my research they get anywhere from 7 - 10. I do think LED will be the next big thing, we have been installing LED lights here and there on some of our commercial jobs. It is amazing how much light you can get from a LED Flashlight that runs off of two AAA batteries. What will they think of next?