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Why solar power is insanity.....

Discussion in 'Science & Technology' started by nobull, Apr 4, 2011.

  1. nobull

    nobull Well-Known Member

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    Why solar power is insanity and anyone doing the math will agree!

    A typical home in America can use either electricity or gas to provide heat -- heat for the house, the hot water, the clothes dryer and the stove/oven. If you were to power a house with solar electricity, you would certainly use gas appliances because solar electricity is so expensive. This means that what you would be powering with solar electricity are things like the refrigerator, the lights, the compute*r, the TV, stereo equipment, motors in things like furnace fans and the washer, etc. Let's say that all of those things average out to 600 watts on average. Over the course of 24 hours, you need 600 watts * 24 hours = 14,400 watt-hours per day.

    From mine and others calculations and assumptions above, we know that a solar panel can generate 70 milliwatts per square inch * 5 hours = 350 milliwatt hours per day. Therefore you need about 41,000 square inches of solar panel for the house. That's a solar panel that measures about 285 square feet (about 26 square meters). That would cost around $16,000 right now. Then, because the sun only shines part of the time, you would need to purchase a battery bank, an inverter, etc., and that often doubles the cost of the installation. Now up to $32,000!

    If you want to have a small room air conditioner in your bedroom, double everything. $64,000...

    Because solar electricity is so expensive, you would normally go to great lengths to reduce your electricity consumption. Instead of a desktop computer and a monitor you would use a laptop computer. You would use fluorescent lights instead of incandescent. You would use a small B&W TV instead of a large color set. You would get a small, extremely efficient refrigerator*. By doing these things you might be able to reduce your average power consumption to 100 watts. This would cut the size of your solar panel and its cost by a factor of 6, and this might bring it into the realm of possibility. [you would live like some slumdog in India]

    The thing to remember, however, is that 100 watts per hour purchased from the power grid would only cost about 24 cents a day right now, or $91 a year. That's why you don't see many solar houses unless they are in very remote locations. When it only costs about $100 a year to purchase power from the grid, it is hard to justify spending thousands of dollars on a solar system. But just ask any Green idiot... they think solar is just freakin great... of course they don't do math.

    just sayin
    doug
     
  2. Hobo1

    Hobo1 Well-Known Member

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    I think your power usage is kind of low. Here is a list of common household power grabbers. Even the 600W taken over a 24-hour period may be closer to giving you the correct average daily power demand. However, my electric bill is a heck of a lot higher than $91 per year!
    * Microwave : 600-1500W
    * Dishwasher : 1200-1500W
    * Washing Machine : 500W
    * Vacuum Cleaner : 200-700W
    * Iron : 1000W
    * Electric Mower : 1500W
    * Clothes dryer : 4000W
    * Ceiling Fan : 10-50W
    * Table Fan : 10-25W
    * Laptop Computer : 20-50W
    * Desktop Computer : 200-500W
    * TV (19" color) : 70W
    * Fridge / Freezer : 500W
    * 25" color TV : 150W
    * Electric Kettle : 2000W

    Being retired, I spend a lot of time in Indonesia. The electric company here uses electric meters rated by the number of watts that it can handle. The meter on my house will blow the circuit breaker if electric consumption exceeds 900 watts (vs the average house in the US where the breaker trips at 24,000 watts).

    Since every house has the same limit, the stores only sell very efficient appliances and everybody uses fluorescent light bulbs. Nobody uses appliances like microwave ovens or toaster ovens. I do have a desktop computer but it is amazing how little electric power we use - especially when the breaker will trip if I someone uses too many appliances at the same time.

    So it is possible to reduce electrical consumption significantly if necessity demands it, but still not live like "slumdog" Still, no one has a solar system because the cost is so high. The batteries are really expensive because they must be replaced every couple of years. If someone could find a way of storing electricity other than batteries, then you may have to revisit your calculations.

    Another significant cost are the the inverters and the control devices which supply the house with the proper amount of electricity to meet the ever-changing household demand. However, unless technology can increase the efficiency and significantly lower the cost of the component parts, individual solar systems for a house will never be cost effective.

    I too wish the "green people" would get their heads out of their compost bin and learn how to do some arithmetic to check if their ideas are feasible.
     
  3. nobull

    nobull Well-Known Member

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    My point was made on the bare minimum..and I do mean bare..LOL
     
  4. steveox

    steveox Well-Known Member

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    Now if you wanna cheaper engery cost then start invading nations like the Old Soviet Union did. We need the Middle east invaded by westerners. Obama and George Bush arent bully enough like Stallin and Krushev were. Even Hitler was more tougher than Stallin and Krushev. If i was the president id bring back the draft and every 18,19 and 20 year olds would be going off to war instead to college. Id invade PAKISTAN,IRAN,AGAINSTAN,IRAQ,SYRIA,JORDAN,SAUDI ARABIA and OMAN. And it would be all ours. Plus there wont be anymore OPEC we set our own prices cause We own them. And if Any nation interferes would face Nuclear weapons which i dont think they try it if i threaten to use them. Cause they know Nuclear Weapons means total destruction and im not afraid to use them. So if you want to fight us prepare the end of everything. Its your choice. We can continue to live under our rules or we all die its that simple. Ill even bet they wouldnt interfere us.
     
  5. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    People who are interested in living off he grid or homesteading or simply being green usually focus on reducing the need for power much more than they focus on supplying enough through solar. Sometimes whole houses are wired with DC bulbs just so the power does not need to be inverted back to AC again with the accompanying loss.

    If you read any of the articles about living life in any of these ways you will see an emphasis on washing dishes by hand. hanging out laundry to dry, going without things, etc.

    The dirty little secret of the green movement is that all the talk about unplugging your toaster when you are not using it is just to make people feel good about being a part of the green movement. If people are a part of the movement they will support it and its political goals.

    And make no mistake the political goals will eventually be about restricting what you can use and how much power you can use.

    Real green savings are moderate at best and result in market forces being allowed to influence power use. (which is why I started the thread called I'm greener than you)
     
  6. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    I am agreeing with you and adding:

    Until this year my biggest electric expense was the motor on my gas furnace (which is missing from your list). It is not the largest user per hour but it runs an awful lot during the winter. (This year my largest expense is the electric heater I had installed in the floor on an addition that did not have another good heat source)

    Of course I don't use many of the things on that list because it is more efficient to have, as an example, a gas dryer rather than an electric one. And it is possible to have a gas or LP fridge but they cost more to start and there is less selection.

    If you read articles from people who really know, they install their own systems and it is quite complicated and they still have to cut what they use drastically just like your experience in Indonesia.

    Cuts are the future of energy use if dems get their way. It may be the future anyway.
     
  7. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    I wonder.

    I asked a vendor at a home show how much his solar panels really cost. Pinning them down to cost is not easy. He told me that enough panels to run a home air conditioner (the major power draw here in the summer) would cost about $5,000. We compared costs, and he agreed solar was not for me, too expensive. Since he was in the business of selling solar, I believed him.

    Still, I have friends who pay as much as $600 a month in the summer, people with big houses, kids, and a pool.

    If you could save say, half of that $600 by installing five grand in solar panels, that's $300 a month. At that rate, you'd pay back the $5,000 cost in less than two years.

    Solar isn't for everyone. The panels are expensive, no question. They do have some applications, however.
     
  8. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    I wonder...

    When things get bad and there are restrictions on use will there be an underground economy for wood powered electric generators? Without hopping on a bike it is the only inexpensive system I know where you can generate your own power and not depend on buying it from someone else. How would they hide the smoke from the informants?
     
  9. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    Have you checked the price of a cord of wood lately?:eek:
     
  10. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Remember that the whole point I was making was that people would need to use things that they did not buy.

    I was considering that people who live in wooded areas like myself would pick it up or cut it. In urban areas there is no shortage of burnable material in dumpsters.
     
  11. nobull

    nobull Well-Known Member

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    Guy's..I said..[you would have to live like some slumdog in India] lol

    regards
    doug
     
  12. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Not irony but something along those lines. :)
     
  13. Hobo1

    Hobo1 Well-Known Member

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    For the practical minded, here are a few facts worth remembering:

    1. 70-80% of the petroleum consumed in the US is for transportation, not for power generation.

    2. Solar energy, like wind energy, is much more efficiently generated in large, single projects, such as by power companies.

    3. After the nuclear power plant failures caused by earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the nuclear power option is dead in the US for another 40 years.

    4. Their is no good, all-purpose alternative fuel to replace gasoline in cars. The other power sources for vehicles have significant disadvantages, including limited range, limited trunk space, higher initial cost, and lack of refueling infrastructure.

    Short of reducing our population and/or significantly changing our life-style, there is no "green solution" to both eliminate our dependence on foreign oil and significantly reduce the use of carbon-based fuels.
     
  14. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm picturing urban dwellers going through the dumpsters looking for combustible items to run generators so they don't have to buy electricity.

    Somehow, it's really difficult to picture this happening in the real world.
     
  15. Hobo1

    Hobo1 Well-Known Member

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    Ya, more likely people would burn trash in their fire place, burn whale oil in the lamps, and ride a horse to work. Oh, ya, and have ice blocks delivered to put in the refrigerator to keep it cold. Sound familiar?
     
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