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Green energy

Does anyone here use or know someone that uses solar or windmill energy? What do you know about it? What do you think of it?

Shelton 8 Apr 18

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I use solar, I have 9kw grid connected (I sell to the grid) and 1 kw off grid for the garden. At work I have 11 kw and am negotiating another 12. Have a friend in Wales I havent seen for a few years who has a wind farm. I have zero details. Re solar, ask away in general terms, I won't know your local specifics. I think by far the majority of panels world are now made in China. I believe it is the way to go, sadly our Gov (OZ) is the conservative COAL-ition and they will do what ever they can to kill off renewables and sell our dirty coal to the rest of the world.


Me, I'm installing a 14k solar/wind generation system.


I just installed 200W solar on my RV. The panels are so amazing! As an engineer I love the creativity of harnessing environmental energy to work for us.

@Shelton Very! I take it to the beach all the time!

@cvccosplay What is the life expectancy of an average solar panel for home use, in your opinion?

@MacTavish having never experienced degradation of electrical production from mine, I had to turn to google for factual info. Degradation is about .5-1% per year, manufacturer guaranteed for at least 20 years. Considering open circuit voltage is typically rated at 25VDC (and typically regulated to 12-13VDC), 40-50 years for standard 100W panels I suppose to be safe.

Wow, that's a lot longer than I expected. Thanks for the reply!


I find it interesting that everyone here seems to have assumed that "solar" means exclusively PV cells, as opposed to solar collection or some other means.

Photovoltaic cells are not quite the godsend (irony intended) most seem to think they are. Have a look into production costs. By "costs", I don't mean monetary. I mean energy and environment. Have a look at the back end, as well, after the cells deplete through decay.

Now, I'm not saying PV isn't better than coal or oil. It absolutely is. I AM saying there's more to it than has been put forth to market them and that there are better alternatives.

Basic physics tells us there is ALWAYS a cost, somehow, to energy production. Conservation is a fundamental principle of our universe and there's no escaping it entirely. What's needed is the minimization of that cost and to do that we have to broaden our scope and consider the full picture.

Decentralization of energy production is a very good start for a lot of very good reasons. In that sense, yes, solar and wind (as well as many other means) are very good ideas.

Torq Level 5 Apr 18, 2018

Everyone who has installed panels (including myself) has been pleasantly surprised by their high power production. For a free energy source, there are no downsides.

Its not free, @cvccosplay . Fundamental law of physics: TANSTAAFL. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. There's always some cost.

This is why I suggested looking into means of production and eventual waste. PV cells degrade and lose efficiency over time. Eventually they become too inefficient to be useful, and now you have a non-recyclable chunk of heavy metals and other long term garbage.

PV cells don't just magically appear before being installed on your house. The cost begins BEFORE you get them.

@Torq lol I suppose I should specify for those who aren't electrical engineers: the energy is freely and readily available. Studying engineering was a practical decision for me. The panels aren't really that expensive and I've never experienced degradation of electrical production from panels.

Panels are designed to produce more than theorized so that charge controllers and voltage regulators maintain a reliable stable output. Your theory is a bit inaccurate.

I think maybe you aren't quite getting my point, @cvccosplay . The subject here is the "green-ness" of PV cells. In order to determine that we need to consider the entire "life cycle" of a PV cell.

A life cycle that begins with mining heavy metals and other somewhat rare materials. I say "somewhat" because they aren't as rare as, say, plutonium, but they aren't as common as silicon, for example.

The next stage is the real kicker, though, and it involves large outputs of energy to refine said materials and to bake them at extremely high heat in preparation for becoming PV cells.

These are front loaded environmental costs that PV cell manufacturers don't advertise when selling you their product. Not that they should necessarily be obliged to, mind you. Caveat emptor, as always, still applies. It seems to me, however, that the majority of consumers don't bother to look into that and prefer to think the PV cells just magically appear to provide them with electricity, with no previous cost to the environment.

Degradation is a fact of physics, as well, that PV cell providers and consumers seem to tend to not consider. PV cells have a lifespan. That includes an eventual death. PV cells are doing work. Work means degradation or decay. That leads ultimately to failure of the system. Early PV technology had about a 30 year lifespan. Last I heard, that had been bumped up to 50 (that bump may have come at a greater front end cost in production, but I don't know that for certain). It's been a while since I did hard research on this, so that lifespan may have been extended even further in the interim.

Regardless, though, the fact remains that, just like everything else, PV cells have a finite lifespan and eventually become junk. Junk comprised of toxic metals that we, so far, have no facility for dealing with in an environmentally safe manner.

To be clear here, I'm not saying PV cells are bad, per se. I'm certainly not saying coal and oil are better alternatives. All I AM saying is that everything comes at some cost and that includes PV cell technology. Yes, it's better than many of the means of energy production currently in use, but it is NOT as good as has been made out by those making a buck off them. And also not as good, overall, as some other means.

@Torq no, I got all your points before, just didn't entertain them. I've studied semiconductor construction extensively during my undergraduate experience. It's not nearly as labor intensive as you have stated. Degradation of panels is .5% per year, manufacture guaranteed for 20+ years; The life span of my PV panels will likely exceed my own.

I didn't say it was labour intensive, @cvccosplay. I said it was energy intensive, which it is, as you must likely know given your extensive experience.

So, that last part seems very much like you're saying it's not your problem because you'll be dead long before your PV cell panels are. Screw the next generation, amirite?

Heh. Isn't it that attitude that got us into this mess to begin with?


Just had the solar panels checked this morning. Love 'em. The Scottish government is running a massive green energy scheme for social housing, and I've just benefitted by having panels installed for free. During the day time, my electricity costs are almost £0.00 at this time of year. Shortly we will be getting about 22 hours of usable daylight out of every 24


Anyone interested in a group for power generation? []

I am.

I would be, as well


I installed solar panels a year or more ago. I over collect in the summer and get credits and use those up in the winter. Works well enough.


I have green supliers .. so they only use solar or wind but run through the grid.. If you can get it up and running for your own use it's cool .. Don't know anything on the technical side personaly. I know some people who are running enough to sell some back to the grid though.

Grid-tie is a rip off. If the power grid goes down, you're screwed unless you're banking some of it.

@cvccosplay I don't mean that... I mean I cannot use sustainable but there are independent energy suppliers in the UK who run off solar wind and renewable so if you cannot use renewable directly at least you can choose a supplier who is !! I said, "if you can get it up and running for your own use it's cool" as in I can't ... Submarine batteries or water displacement system on archimedes screws is your best option 😉 .. but I can't do that.


Check that out ... energy all day and night and only limited by the amount you can gather .. You run solar which pumps water up to the header area .. That gives you overnight full power or if your header is big enough for days.. If you have a stream that is okay but header don't reduce flow is the idea so consistent and can use pretty much same water over and over if you don't have stream near... really interesting and very efficient .. sadly you can't run that in a tower block lol. You only pump what you need to the header on solar assuming you don't have a dammed stream


I looked into solar for my house but the upfront cost was enormous. I haven't given up on the idea. Everyone I know who has solar is very happy.

@Shelton i was told approximately $30K. I'm thinking/hoping that it could be done for less than that.


Windmills and solar are every where here but we still overuse fossil fuel. My university has a biomass boiler...rather amazing but does smell of poo


I have a solar heated floor and sell electricity back to the electric company

@Shelton yes. It is not completely done. I still have about an inch of earth to put down. I think I am going to mix mica in that last layer to slow the release of heat.In Midwinter when I am getting the greatest passive solar gain if I keep all the windows shut it can get to 100 degrees.If I don't make a fire it might be chilly in the morning


The initial cost of solar electric is a lot out of pocket. Over time not paying for electric if you put that money away in a blue chip stock it could pay off. Solar hot water is very good if you invest in an extra holding tank. Again the initial cost is high. The benefits are less reliance on utility companies. If you have the money a closed solar electric system is a more self-reliant system.


Only ever used small scale while camping. Solar and kinetic charging of batteries for inverter use of lights, device charging and entertainment while camping. Mainly to keep children happy.


I live in the city, so no, I don't use it. It's cool though.


Just got grid connected solar. Judging by the last bill it's going to worth about $2k per year to me. Of course the rent went up a bit, but I'm still saving.

Grid-tie is not a great way to go.

@cvccosplay Staged install. The bloke who set it up has left provision for batteries as they can be afforded.


I know how to install it. Worked as an Electrical Contractor before retirement. Just solar not wind. It's getting better.


I always wanted to use solar and geothermal for my home. If I lived next to a creek/river, I would install a electric damn as well (of course, approved by the state and federal levels). Collect rainwater from the gutters. Grow my own veggies. Chickens for eggs. Now I maybe going off-course to what this post is all about.

You mean eggs for chickens, don't you ?


Nuclear is the only truly green energy. but few people will accept that. watch “Pandora’s Promise” its highly educational.


I had an off the grid cabin where everything was solar. If you set it up well, it works. I had 7 or 8 panels, charge controllers, 20 deep cycle marine batteries, and a 5000 Watt inverter and a backup generator. I only used the cabin on weekends so all the batteries were fully charged when I got there and I seldom ever had to use the generator. I would have needed a better system if I lived there full time.

For an on the grid house the investment might be worth it depending on where you live, how much electricity you use and so on. If you have a grid tie in system (you sell your excess power back to the utility) and storage batteries for nighttime, the upfront cost is high, like $25K or so. There are incentives which might lower that by as much as 50%.

So if you end up after tax & utility incentives paying $12K. Say your electric bill is $100 / month and will drop to zero. It will take 10 years before you recover the upfront costs, not to mention the maintenance / replacement of the batteries which have a limited lifespan...

Wow, that is a lot of battery power.
I have friends who have power bills over $900 a month, even though they have a small solar setup. I am lucky, I get a month payback of about $120 after all our use and infrastructure charges. I think we must have the highest power costs in the world in Oz.


I currently have a solar power remote water pumping syatem and I am in the proccess of installing a 7.5 kVa grid tie solar set up.
I built the remote solar water pump system myself, it produces 465 watts of DC power that is stored in 4 1200 amp 6 volt batterriesin 2 and 2 in series hooked parralel as pairs, input power runs through a charge controller and output power can either be as 12 volt DC or as 120 volt AC from a modified sine wave 3000 watt inverter.
The grid tie system is to be be a series of paired 37 volt panels hooked in a daisey chain of true sine wave inverters with an output voltage of 240 AC. all inverterare digitally link to normalize the sine wave to the utility.

@Shelton It works fine for most applications but, will not operate a deep well AC pump motor. What most people don't realize is that most motors that require instant full ;oat need to have a starter and these starters require a momentary load of 32 or more amps which exceeds the maxim of most low and medium end inverters. To overcome this I had to switch to a variable speed pump that has a low start up amp requirement, these are about 4 times the price of a regular motor and require a different type of pressure troller. The other option was a DC pump but they are even more costly. The system does operate any electric tool or lights and small appliances, It will operate a 2 hp motor on a table saw, a large microwave, heat gun, stock tough heater or a 2 burner hot plate. In the summer here it average a continuous load of about 300 watts without any interruption but in the winter it does less than 100 continuous which is still enough to supply water to about 100animals.

I'm running my 110vac waterpump on my solar on just a 15 amp breaker and have had no problems. I was worried about the startup amps, but it is working okay so far. The well is about 100 feet deep.

@DaveSchumacher Our wells are 50' to 100' deeper. Do you use a submersible? How big of an inverter do you use?

Yes it is a submersible, the inverter is 48vdc to 110vac 5k pure sine wave.

@DaveSchumacher That is a lot heftier system than my 12 vDC job, no wander it runs it, it would probably run mine at 200 ft. as well.


I don't know anyone who utilizes such tech, and I don't know a whole about it. I do think it's a step in the right direction where alternative energy sources are concerned. Your post has brought to my attention a topic I need to do some more research on.


I don't use it knowingly but it seems like a really good idea, like all energy however it's not any cheaper. this is just proof that the people at the top still want there huge cut. also, you know humans are going to take every fossil fuel they can find anyway.

yes it disgusts me @Shelton it really does


My sister was really disappointed that when she needed to put on a new roof severalyears ago, that the Tesla shingles, which have saolr panels built into them were to yet ready.

I have seen windmills out in the mor erural areas, but don't know anyone who has one.

@Shelton I wasn't talking about a field, but just single wind mills on properties, I coudl see drivign from Portland OR to the Oregon Coast.

I have seen wind farms all around Palm Springs CA though.

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