Solar Energy: No further word
July 17, 2009
As mentioned in my two previous posts I had a consultant come to my house and take some measurements to see if I would benefit from solar energy. Well there has been no follow up by them (after I rejected their proposal), although I didn’t expect it to be.
My previous conclusion:
Unless you use a lot of electricity it will not be cost effective in most cases to switch to solar power or solar energy. If you are a large family and waste electricity it might be practical. If you are in an area of the country where the rates are considerably more than we pay here in Southern California under Edison it might be worthwhile.
Before the consultant came to my house I had told (through my sister) that it might be a good idea too for some friends to check out the feasibility of solar power. I later found out (before I got my solar proposal) that they has already checked into it and found it was not cost effective. I remember they told me before, that last year their summer electricity bill was about $1500 one month and I think around $1200 another.
Yes they have a big house, but it’s a single story so not a lot of wasted energy needed to cool a normally hot second story.
I had figured, that if solar power was really practical, then almost certainly they would benefit due to the large electric bills in the summer. They live in Palm Springs. You in Southern California know how hot it gets there in the summer.
I also found out that they already knew others in their city with solar power, but after checking it out further they came to the conclusion that it was not cost effective. The payback would take too long.
In my case, with the proposal I received the payback would have been negative, but you’d have to read between the lines to find that out.
In the meantime I had a discussion about solar power with one of my neighbors who works for Edison (I used to work for So. California Edison too). He didn’t have anything good to say about solar power. I didn’t necessarily agree with him, but one thing he stressed, that I had not thought about was – what if the power goes out? It has happened much more the past few years than in previous years, so there might be some concern about that situation.
They don’t tell you, but if the power from the electric utility company goes out – you are screwed. That’s putting it bluntly, but because of the process of converting the solar cell power from DC to AC 60 cycles AND the necessity to sync up the 60 cycles with any electricity the electric company has (in the areas where there is no power outage) it won’t be possible.
So in those instances where the power goes out you will not be able to feed electricity back into the electrical grid or get credit for excess electricity. Yes you can power your house if your solar energy system system has enough capacity, but any excess power will not be able to be fed back to the electric company, Edison in my case.
As I was talking to that neighbor another neighbor came up and joined the conversation. He is an amateur radio operator, a “Ham” [so am I]. He had investigated the idea of solar power a couple of years before. He was going to do it himself. He found he could get the solar panels relatively cheap wholesale.
But for those he would need to do all the needed electronics himself. That would be far cheaper than having a contractor do the job. Even then, the payback period would have been too long and the cost he figured would have been about $22,000 for the size system he needed. That was too much to spend for such a project, even thought he could afford it.
My estimated cost was slightly over $52,000, and that did not include whatever monthly electric bill I would still have with Edison. In addition to the expensive solar cells there is some expensive electronics needed to convert the solar cell DC output to 60 cycles AC, monitor it, and feed excess electricity back into the electric grid.
So with all the information I have at my disposal I stick with my conclusion that it is not practical for most homes in this area at least, to go solar, if they want to save money. Now if you just want to go green, that’s another story, but it will cost you, maybe dearly, if solar power is one of the ways of going green.
Certainly there will be many that might disagree with me so I would like to hear your story or experiences with solar power. I especially would like to see how you justify spending $50,000[estimated] costs to save on monthly electric costs. Businesses can be a legitimate exception and are not considered in my conclusion.
I should say that rates are somewhat elusive. Two of my neighbors around the corner pay several times more for electricity than I do. Maybe they use their A/C a lot more than we do. One of them wanted to put up a solar energy system by himself instead of paying a company to do it. However he figured it would cost about $22,000 even doing it himself.
That was about 2 years ago and too much to justify the cost. Cost may be a little cheaper nowadays. It is still not cost effective for me. My estimate two years ago for a company to convert to solar was about $52,000 total over 18 years. That’s way more than I pay currently.
Comment on your experiences below.