New to alt. energy, looking for advice.

1 Posts
May 25, 2008 01:50 am
New to alt. energy, looking for advice.

As gas prices have soared recently, i have realized that I want to change my energy habits.

I live with my parents near the ocean in Maine. I was debating whether solar panels would be a smarter choice or a wind turbine.

My dad is an electrician, but I dont think he is "sold" on the new technologies that involve energy, specifically, he thinks that solar panels and wind turbines look stupid.

Does anyone have any suggestions for solutions that could help start a change in my family's energy habits?  I was looking into installing a small wind turbine on the roof, or small solar panels to help reduce the energy cost.

Thank You,
184 Posts
Jun 2, 2008 07:17 pm
Re: New to alt. energy, looking for advice.

As you do your research into solar and wind you'll find that you'll need to spend a lot of money for a relatively small amount of power.  You'll soon realize that conservation and efficiency improvements are a better use of your money.  Having done that, if you still want to invest in solar and wind, go for it.  However, unless your electricity rates are exceptionally high, don't argue with your dad about the financial benefits of alternative energy.     
18 Posts
Jun 3, 2008 02:59 pm
Re: New to alt. energy, looking for advice.

Good for you on wanting to change up.

The best way to start out is to start small.  Think about this - a small portable (wheels) solar energy system.  It would be kind of a "demo" version of a bigger system.  I built mine from scratch - hand truck, wood box, 2 T125 batts, charge controller, desulphator, 2 inverters 400/1200W and a meter.  You can just buy an X1500 (check portable power) with batteries, inverter, meter and wheels.  Add a solar panel and charge control for a complete mini grid.  I would add another smaller (150-400W) inverter because the 1500W inverter is a little big (1/3 amp no load power draw) for 30 Watt fans and 10 Watt radios.

Since it is portable you can keep it in a corner of the yard and your dad won't have that shiny solar panel gleam in his eye.  You should use it for your electric needs (and wants) because when Peak Oil really hits then you will be the only one with power.  See if you can get your dad to help - it is kind of a science project after all.

Whats "Peak Oil"?  A condition where easy to get oil is used up leaving only expensive hard to get oil.  The harder it is to get the more it costs.  Eventually it costs more than you get back - costs of $160 for 1 barrel $130~ of oil would NOT be profitable.  Would you like a better explaination?  Type in "latoc" (life after the oil crash) in a web searcher.  This is not like Y2k which was an event (happens once) this is a chronic (continues, worsening) condition.
184 Posts
Jun 3, 2008 10:23 pm
Re: New to alt. energy, looking for advice.

I agree, there's nothing wrong with starting small.  High oil prices will be followed by high electricity prices.  That will trigger a big demand for solar panels, making them hard to get and more expensive.  Meanwhile, you'll be enjoying the benefits of free electricity while others are turning things off to cut costs.
18 Posts
Jun 4, 2008 02:40 pm
Re: New to alt. energy, looking for advice.

They are already hard to get and more expensive.  In 2003 I was caught up in the August 14 power outage.  A little while after that I bought solar panels for under $3.10 a Watt.  Look at prices now $5 - $7 a Watt.  Silicon is also in big demand by panel makers - who used to just take the silicon leftovers off of chip maker's hands.  Chip maker's now sell each barrel for more than $100 (US dollars) and they mostly don't have extra (purified silicon) any more.

But solar panels are solid state and will last longer then a wind turbine.  There are no parts to replace, they are quiet and can be scaled from "one panel/one battery" to utility sized "farms".

If you do add wind in some time in the future - don't put it on the house, the vibration will make you feel like your inside a transformer.

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