DIY Solar

solar_gridtieStaying away from solar energy for your home or business because it’s too expensive? Guess what — it’s more affordable! Because it’s more affordable, it’s more practical. Photovoltaic [PV] Solar Electric has been on the market for almost 50 years now. People started to move towards solar in the 70’s when the Peak Oil study came out and there was a general panic that we were going to run out of fuel soon.

Soon is relative and when we found out that soon means there will begin to be a decline in oil production sometime after 2000, the panic subsided. Those who study these things in depth know that we will begin to see a rapid decline in petroleum availability within the next couple of years.

Governments around the world, and especially here in the US, follow these trends closely and have been formulating strategies to prepare for the energy transitions that are inevitable. The Department of Energy is looking to renewable energy to bridge the gap and the government is offering substantial incentives to encourage the public to participate individually in the solution. A full thirty percent [30%] of installed cost, including insulation, radiant barrier, equipment and installation costs of solar electric and solar hot water heating will be given as a tax credit incentive between December 31, 2008 and December 31, 2016 to encourage homeowners across the US to turn their homes into micro power stations in order to reduce the load on the national electric grid. It has never been more economical to install solar and it may not ever get more economical, especially when electric prices begin to rise significantly and they could double or triple in the next 3 to 10 years.

solar_panels01What you do about it is a decision that will impact your family for the foreseeable future. My recommendation for urban and suburban populations is to begin a solar installation as soon as possible. Wind power is okay for rural areas, but noise levels and visual distraction will hamper cities from being wind friendly for some time.

There are several choices available as far as PV solar installations are concerned. For practical reasons, let’s limit this discussion to grid tie solar installations. You could go off grid, but unless you live in a secluded area, the grid offers a fairly reliable backup to your system.

Grid tie systems can be installed without storage batteries for backup power. Depending on the amount of electricity you are producing, the PV panels produce electric power for your home in the daytime, while pumping excess power into the grid. At night you draw electric power from the grid. The smart money is on overproduction to the point of getting a check from your electric company every month for the excess electric production.

solar_battery_bank01If your budget will allow, I recommend adding a battery backup power supply to your grid tie system, which will be recharged by your PV solar system every day. Checks to you from your electric service provider will eventually pay off the extra cost for the batteries. The main benefit of the battery backup system is that you will have uninterrupted electric power in the event of power outages and you will have cleaner, more constant electric power all the time since it will be filtered through your battery system.

You can install everything yourself or you can have a professional installation, depending on available funds and your own comfort level for installing the system.

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